Adventure Travel Blogging

Trains, Travails and the Taj

Trains, Travails and the Taj
There was an air of tension and excitement as the light of day was fading…would we make it in time to see the Taj Mahal at the end of the day after our long, unexpected 24 hour India adventure ? It all started in Varanasi after we finished concluded our sunrise boat excursion on the Ganges River. After free time we visited Sarnath in the afternoon where Buddha came to preach his message after reaching nirvana. Today, Sarnath is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world; we encountered groups of religious travelers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand chanting, burning incense and making the five obligatory circumnavigations around the huge stupa with prayer beads in hand. Then it was off to enjoy dinner at Sanjay’s family home before boarding the overnight train to Agra to see the Taj. Our travails started when we couldn’t find the...
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A Wild Anniversary Party - Only in Incredible India

A Wild Anniversary Party - Only in Incredible India
Celebrating our wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day always requires advance planning, but this year I was organizing the big event a year in advance with the help of our friends in far away India    .    I kept it a secret from Anne and all the members of our group until the day before when I took everyone to a textile shop in Jaipur where all the men were fitted with white linen Indian pajama outfits, and all the women were given a sari. I picked out a dressy black kurta for myself and one of the hotel staff topped it off with a local turban. For Anne, I had measured her in her sleep months before and sent her dimensions to a tailor in India and had an orange wedding dress made for her.    As the sun set behind our Samode Palace hotel two women arrived to painted...
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Varanasi: "Blindingly colorful and unrelentingly chaotic"

Varanasi: "Blindingly colorful and unrelentingly chaotic"
  Let me start with the most visceral sight on my first visit to Varanasi: While floating on a boat down the mother Ganga River in the early light of dawn, in the smoky haze of fire and smoke from funeral pyres on shore, a dog was chewing on the bone of a human skull. What life did this skull contain? Who was the person among the masses of Hindus who come here, one of the holist places in India, to be cremated or otherwise to wash away their sins? Perhaps he was the Indian army soldier who fought in the Bangladesh war who came here seeking penance and reparation for those he had killed in his life. Did he come here, like thousands upon thousands of refugees we saw searching for peace of mind? The streets, river banks and funeral ghats are crowded with pilgrims from all over the...
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Tiger Lodges in India

Tiger Lodges in India
At Kanha National Park, the Banjaar Tola Luxury Tent camp deck overlooks the river and forest below.  While there are many places to stay around Kanha and Bandavgarh National Parks, there are only a few that I would recommend. For luxury there are the & Beyond properties where I stayed when I was there in 2008 and they are spectacular lodges and tent camps.  Banjar Tola Camp  in Kanha features huge canvas tents hoisted high and stretched wide by massive ropes creating a vast open bedroom and double sink bathroom with a wide curving deck overlooking the river and the forest of the park.  Mahua Kothi Luxury Camp  is equally fabulous with 12 spacious suites designed as luxurious jungle huts connected by sinuous pathways through the forest leading to the spa, pool, and open dining hall looking out to a meadow.    Amit Sankhala, Managing Director of Kanha and Bandavgarh...
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Tigers of Kanha and Bandavgarh

Tigers of Kanha and Bandavgarh
Leaving the unorganized chaos of Delhi behind we sought the peace and quiet of the jungle, and the anticipation of spending 6 days on 8 safari game drives in search of the Bengal tiger. It takes 5 hours drive from the Jabalpur airport to get to Kanha National Park and our accommodations at the Kanha Jungle Lodge, but here the sounds are squawking parrots, barking deer, and monkeys rattling the tree branches . Every morning at 6:15 AM we pass through the gates, returning by 10:30 after a bush breakfast in the field, then back into the park at 2:45 until we must exit by 5:45 dusk. We try not to be too "tiger centric" but the anticipation of driving through carnivore territory, hearing the alarm calls of monkey and deer, knowing that Bengal tigers and leopards are lurking in the tall grass and bamboo thickets watching us is a...
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