Heart of India


Day 15 - Friday, November 11, 2016 - Train to Jhansi; Overland to Khajuraho

We were up at 5:30 and the hotel prepared breakfast for us early. We were all ready and on our OAT bus at 7:00. We drove directly to the train station.

Sujay talked to us about the latest currency crisis. Many people who have hoarded the large bills gotten from the black market are burning the money rather than to risk going to jail or paying taxes. Many illegal fortunes have been lost and the Prime Minister is hoping this will clean up the corruption in all of India.

Porters took care of our bags and we went to the platform for the Century Express and Car C11. The train paused for five minutes and passengers hustled to get on and off all through the same narrow door. Sujay reminded all of us that we only had one mission this morning and that was to get on the train.

We all made it - we helped each other and moved with our elbows out to protect each other. We found our assigned seats but had to ask several people to move. For the second best class of train in India, let's just say the TGV French Bullet Train it was not. Water and a lime drink were served as well as a "hot breakfast" by the Meals on Wheels staff.

Our group had seats in the same car but not all together. The train goes from Delhi to Bhopal, the site where the natural gas explosion took place in 1984. Many of the Indian passengers were riding for the whole journey; over 7 hours.

While Vic walked around to take a few photos, most people read or relaxed. Gennie began the journal and watched the countryside pass by. We made frequent stops for passengers to get on and off along the way.

Our stop was at Jhansi at 11:30. We immediately felt the drier and cleaner air. Another OAT bus met us at the station and the porters brought our bags to the bus. Both OAT groups were traveling the same route today but we each had our own bus and drivers. We have gotten to know quite a few people in their group and their Tour Director, Narendra.

Our bags came at 11:50 and we were off for a short ride to the Jhansi Hotel for a buffet lunch. On the roundabout we stopped for a photo of the statues of Gandhi's Salt March. He led a march in protest of paying the British salt tax.

Jhansi was the center of the Sepoy Revolution in 1857. The rebellion of 1857 is also called the Indian Mutiny, the Sepoy Mutiny, or India's First War of Independence.

At 1:15 we set off again in our new bus with Raj, our driver and another Raj, our helper. We continued on a bumpy two-lane road with drivers weaving in and out and passing with reckless abandon.

Raj was on full alert as we made our way over narrow bridges and through small villages. We crossed a large river, a tributary to the Ganges. We traveled on Highway 39 connecting Jhansi with Varanasi.

We came upon a group of men from central India. They had filled vessels of water from the high Himalayas and were carrying it to a Shiva shrine on the Ganges. This pilgrimage was a part of their devotion to Hinduism.

Ruby from our group sang one of the Gayatri mantra she had been singing on our travels. The men were mesmerized by her beautiful voice. The guru of the group blessed us all and in a short time we had made 20 new friends and were ambassadors for our country.

Our afternoon stop was at 3:45 at the Maharaja Motel, near Nowgong. We had 20 minutes to get a cold drink or a cup of tea. At 4:15 we were on our way again to reach our evening destination, Khajuraho.

While we had time on the bus, Sujay gave us much more information about the lives of women in India. Decades ago, Indian girls were raised as "homely" meaning, raised at home, educated in a minimal basic way, and arranged marriages were the rule.

After independence, women had more rights and were more respected and educated. After Prime Minister Indira Gandhi first took office in 1966, the rise of Indian woman was prevalent.

At this time caste barriers also were broken down. With the influence of cable TV and the Internet Indian women have been westernized in the last 10 years.

Sujay also explained the role of widows in Indian society. The moment the husband dies, the wife's life is miserable. The eldest son takes over as the head of the family. She must wear all white clothing and they are not allowed to attend any family celebrations.

Widows are shunned by many families and are often sent to widows's shelters. Even widows who were born into high casts and were wealthy are considered to bring bad karma to the rest of the family. As times are changing in India so is this intolerable custom, but in many rural and conservative communities it is still practiced.

It was 6:30 when we arrived and checked into the hotel. The AC was rattling in our room so the porter said he would report it right away, Vic talked to Sujay in the lobby and in five minutes we had a new room, just down the hall.

The OAT Handbook advised us that in order to enjoy and make the most of this very long, overland, travel day, we would need to approach it with curiosity, an adventurous spirit, and a healthy sense of humor. We learned so much, but the women’s issues were disheartening and Sujay apologized for having to tell us about them.

Thank goodness for people like Indira Gandhi.

There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.

Accommodations: Radisson Jass Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, D

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  Comments

What an interesting day!!! Thanks for your most description of everything you encounter and see. I was surprised that women are not important in most countries. What would men do with women telling them what to do, when, where, how, etc. Oops......did I just say that? LOL Thanks for keeping me in your pockets -- love this way of traveling!!

Pat   November 11, 2016 - 6:21pm

So unbelievably sad for the widows to not be allowed to attend family celebrations when they are most in need of family!

Susan P.   November 11, 2016 - 9:19am
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Indian Train Station

Indian Train Station

Train Station at Khajuraho

Train Station at Khajuraho

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Pilgrims

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Hindu Holy Man

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