Ch. 27, Turn Right at the Two Cows
If God had intended us to fly, he'd have never given us railways.—Michael Flanders
Wishing I could stay and roam through Agra Fort for a week, I dejectedly went with the group to the coach and back to the hotel for lunch. I’d been lost three times in the fort when we were given time to explore on our own. The assistant guide had to find me and herd me back to the group.
We’d been told to stay put if we got lost and couldn’t find the meeting place, and that’s what I did…somewhat… while I waited to be found. (Ooooh, what’s in the next room….)
|Peas, baby corn, roasted balsamic pineapple, chicken Stroganoff on pasta, and lemon for the fried fish.|
After lunch, we said our goodbyes to this wonderful ITC Mughal hotel and boarded the coach for a two-hour ride to the town of Bharatpur. I reveled in the scenes along the way, especially a man with at least a dozen goats on tethers, trying to get them all going in the same direction at the same time.
Then, out in the country, I was sitting in my usual place—last row, left side—when the driver slammed on the brakes and the coach came to a lurching stop. I looked out the window as a large antelope ran into the bush. We had just missed hitting it. That was our first look at India’s largest antelope—the Bluebull. Males stand almost five feet at the shoulders and can weigh more than 600 lbs.
|Note the fencing material. This is WWII Marsden Matting, section of steel used to create fast, temporary airstrips for planes. This particular batch of matting came from a Flying Tigers airfield in India.|
|Sign at a toll booth.|
|Out of focus as we whizzed past. I saw many, many vendor stalls with dozens of eggs. Never found out what they did with them. Perhaps they just fried or boiled them.|
|A rest stop along the way. Vantage made arrangements for their groups to stop and use the facilities.|
|Taxis and cows.|
|There's a water buffalo in the truck.|
|These cattle look like Brahmas, and they might be. However, there are a number of different breeds of cattle in India and I can't tell them apart.|
Eventually, we arrived at Bharatpur, or, more specifically, Bhartapur Junction railroad station. We crossed over a pedestrian bridge and waited at C-1, the point where the train would stop for our coach.
|We could have boarded a train in Agra, but Denish said this railway stop was not as crowded. In other words, it was easier to keep track of us here.|
|To get to our proper boarding platform, we had to cross over the tracks on this pedestrian bridge. Take note of how big this bridge is because it will come into play later.|
|A sweetie posing for photos.|
|This is where our coach will stop.|
|All steel. The rails are welded so there's no clickety-clack. Smooth ride.|
|Though there was a pedestrian bridge to the platform on the other side of this train, these folks decided this was easier and faster.|
|Cows crossing the tracks. I have not tinkered with many of the photos here. This is how think the smog/fog was.|
|He's posing. I did ask permission.|
|Think you'd be able to ride on the steps like this in the USA? I was disappointed there weren't any people riding on top.|
The train was a kick! We were in an air conditioned coach, though I’m not sure it was on or needed.
|Different color, same design as our coach. India Railways photo.|
|Here it comes.|
|This is my reserved seat. I got a big kick out of it.|
|A bottle bag!!! These are ingenious.|
|The two rows of seats in front of me faced each other with a small table between them. The toddler in green entertained the whole coach.|
|Dinesh counting his ducklings.|
|I thought these kids were playing in the dirt. Not until I loaded my photos onto my computer did I see what they were actually doing, which is why you don't see the photo of their faces.|
|I pity whatever has to drag this iron-wheeled cement mixer around.|
|Typical Indian family. The father walks ahead holding a small child by its hand. The mother walks in back, carrying an infant in her arms and all the family luggage on her head.|
|Sunset over the mustard fields through the cracked glass..|
Two hours later, we got off in Sawai Madhopur, in the state of Rajasthan. And this is where I discovered one way to drive a tour guide crazy (besides getting lost in forts).
Remember those HUGE pedestrian bridges over the tracks? This young bull had to walk up, over, and down one of those to get to this platform. I know because I saw its dung on one ramp. Since it went to all that effort, I figured it was here to greet me, so I petted it. First on the side of the neck, then on its face. It didn't move. I guess it was as astonished as the assistant guide who came after me, begging me not to touch the animal. "They aren't used to it," he pleaded. "It might charge."
Well, I think not. It just stood there and looked at me as the guide dragged me away. I might be the only person in India who ever petted a young bull.
|A different cow in the station. This one didn't have to use the pedestrian bridge.|
The orange group went to stay at a local hotel, while we, the green group, loaded up in a 20-seat canter for a chilly 20 minute drive to Dev Vilas hotel.
|This photo from the internet show a 20-passenger canter used on safaris.|
|Loading up for a chilly drive to the hotel.|
There was a small reception in the lobby and Dinesh presented us with a gift—real Rajasthan turbans. We dropped our luggage in our rooms and went to the dining room for a late dinner.
|The man on the right on the beret is part of the Dev Vilas staff. Even the waiters word this uniform.|
|Sesame fish, Icelandic carrot salad, 3 French fries, rice with dal, Mangodi, cabbage capsicum, and creamed spinach. The cabbage with pepper was wonderful. I could have eaten a plate full of it.|
|Elie (right) is eating hot fresh naan.|
We had to be up and ready by 7 A.M., so I plugged in my camera battery chargers (plural) and changed for bed. Wearily, I lifted the covers and got in bed. As I stretched out my legs, my feet came in contact with something very warm and almost unyielding!
I immediately thought of the horse’s head in the Godfather....
More photos of dinner and my hotel room.
|Cabbage Capsicum. I knew capsicum means peppers, which I don't like, but this was delicious and not too hot.|
|Mangodi--sun-dried split lentil dumplings.|
|My bread pudding and my ever-present notebook.|
|The full bath with tub and shower. Across front it is a half-bath.|
Some interesting facts about the Indian railway system:
The system has been in use for more than 150 years. It is the largest railroad network in Asia and the largest system under a single management.
It employs 1.6 million people, making itself the second largest commercial or utility employer in the world.
There are more than 7500 stations, with 7800 locomotives, 40,000 coaches, and other associated cars.
Every day the 14,300 trains travel a distance equal to three and a half times the distance to the moon.
It carried 13 million passengers and 1.3 million tons of freight each day.
There are 7000 stations.