www.albytravel.com

India

ABOUT THIS TRAVEL

Northern India- Kashmir

21 days,  august- sept  2005


INDIA INTRO

Kind of travel: me and a sweet girl through an independent travel

When: 13rd august- 4th sept 2005

How I moved: bus, train and one flight

Where I slept: houseboat (Srinagar), hotel, guesthouse, on the train and on the bus

What I liked: the amazing variety of religions, cultures, languages and environments. The huge but efficient railway system. The kindness of the people. The easiness in the comunication by English. The A/C room in Kolkata

What I disliked: .The endless horning everywhere. The food sucks and I hope you like chicken. The permanent headache due to the altitude in Ladak. Getting robbed on the night train to Varanasi.   The 101% humidity in Kolkata. The continuos blackouts.

How much daily: India is cheap, anyway travelling in two people, the daily budget has been 17euro each. Because of the hotness we travelled on the A/C train class and (sometimes) slept in A/C rooms, at the end the train became the main expense (read the prices). Anyway with some sacrifices you can keep a lower budget, left alone the trips by jeep in Ladak that are very expensive.

Freezing or baking?: In Kashmir, Ladak and Manali there was a nice temperature (a sweter in the evening without sleeping bags for the night). In New Delhi it was hot, but  in Kolkata it was like an unbearable sticky sauna.

Dangers/ hassles: watch out your stuff on the train around Varanasi expecially in the night; my camera and most of the pics had gone. Don't underrate the altitude in Ladak, even a 3 day acclimatation in Leh might not be enough for the 5000m.. Driver riscio' in Varanasi and Agra bring you where they want despite what you say. Keep away from the control line with Pakistan in Kashmir.

What you do need: a good flash lamp and stomach good as well! :-)


THE TRAVEL

From Milan stopover in Frankfurt and New Delhi to get to Srinagar (N. Delhi- Srinagar, 130 euro, one way). In Srinagar the temperature was perfect and we stayed in a cute houseboat on the river (1200 rp/day 2 people, full board). I’ve an extremely nice memory of the days we spent there. We walked around the desert town really seized by the Indian army being the following day the Indian independence anniversary. We enjoyed a boat trip on the wonderful Dal Lake visiting the gardens, the mosque, and the floating cultivation.
Beside we had a day trip to the winter ski resort of Gulmarg, where we took a cable car to get over the 3300m and then riding horses we reached a tongue of snow of a glacier. Here I had a short but bumpy sledge ride driven by a funny Pakistan-like man.
We would have stayed longer in Srinagar, but we had to proceed towards Leh. It took two days by bus, staying overnight in Kargil. It had been a tiring journey but really worthwhile: first of all for the variety of environments this narrow twisting dirty road passes through: from the very green valley near Srinagar to the desert like mountains approaching Leh. In addition for the radical cultural change: the long bears of the Muslims were swapped with the rounded faces of the Tibetans, while the mosque with their minarets turned in the Buddhist monasteries called "gompas".
Leh is over 3200 m, so the altitude began to have his effect.. In Leh every movement costs energies, a lot of energies I mean. Here you can find several different proposals of trekking by 4X4 and day trips to the gompas in the region by taxi. No way to bargain since all the itineraries and their relative prices are officially laid down. You have to gather a bunch of people if you don’t want to leave there all your money doing the trip alone.
The area around Leh is breathless, but after 3 days we had seen enough gompas for the whole our life. Besides Leh, relatively to his size and location, turned out to be quite touristy. After a while we were a little fed up of souvenir shops and 4x4 filled with Italians, Israelians and Germans.
Then we had the longest and toughest journey of the trip: Leh- Manali in 2 days by bus throught the over 5000 m passes. Amazing landscapes, surreal atmospheres but I would have skipped it with pleasure, since it’s hard to enjoy a trip when at best you are dizzy for the whole time.
Manali is a heaven to rest in: super cheap guesthouses, green environment, fresh temperature and being below the 3000m the altitude was harmless. Anyway to me appeared a kind of soften India; I wanted to see the striking one, hence we settled off to the 2000 km far Kolkata. 17 hours by bus and 20 by train led us to the hot damp but charming capital of Bengala. Here we spent 3 days enjoying the risci rides around the town and the shower in our A\C room to survive the 100% humidity rate.
Despite of the climate I really liked Kolkata!
12 unforgettable hours by train led us to the hindu holy town of Varanasi; in fact during the night travel we got robbed of our small backbags, hence camera and pictures gone :-( (read the tips)
Varanasi is crossed by the holy Ganga river and the hindu here dip and throw their dead bodies, burnt or not (read the story). Definitely it’s an impressive place, but generally speaking, locals and riscio’ drivers are the most dodgy we have found in India: at the end I didn’t fall in love with the town.
Another night on the train led us to Agra to visit the famous Taj Mahal. Despite of my expectations to be an ugly touristy town, it was not. Tourists were concentrated in few places and locals turned out to be far better than in Varanasi, besides there’s much more to see than just the Taj Mahal.
4 hours by train separated us to New Delhi from where we finally flew back to "our world".


Alby

IMPRESSIONS ABOUT KASHMIR

Kashmir is wonderful and safe (at least when I visited it (08/2005)).
It’s a Muslim area so obviously this is the culture you will face with, although any covering is mandatory for females you have to respect their sensitivity to it.
I found people extremely hospitable, not pushy at all, and especially the soldiers (plenty of) were so nice to us. It’s true that considering the militaries around it seems to be in a war status, but at the end your risk is minimal.
Temperature in Srinagar turned out ok, being hot but dry and sleeping in the houseboat was so relaxing.
Srinagar lies under 3000m so you won’t feel any altitude effect, and tourism is just from Indians; from both of these points of view it’s quite far from Leh.
The 2 days journey from Srinagar to Leh is amazing and still not too tiring, unlike Leh- Manali that is more similar to a pilgrimage.

In short, Go There!

Alby

IMPRESSIONS ABOUT INDIA

India, namely New Delhi, Varanasi, Kolkata are quite shocking realities.
However it’s not just dirt and smell around you, but a philosophy of life that comes from the Hindu religion. I think a Western can hardly understand their perception of the cycle of death and life without looking just the appearances.
People are nice, and apart from the pushy riscio’ drivers and some sucker hotelkeeper, they want to speak to you because of their curiosity. I had fun in exchanging points of view on the Indian habits concerning the engagement for the couples. On the other hand it’s true that after a while this curiosity can be quite tiring and you'll long to stay alone.
The last but not the least, the humidity and the hotness got a big slice of the amount of energies I needed to travel in the low lands. The same travel one month later would have meant half of the efforts.

Alby

Travelogues

 
  1. SEARCHING HUSBAND FOR MY SISTER

  2. DICTATION AT THE POLICE STATION

  3. FLOATING CEMETERY IN VARANASI

  4. MAIL DA KOLKATA AI MIEI AMICI (in Italian)


 

SEARCHING HUSBAND FOR MY SISTER

I was in Kolkata walking to visit the world biggest bananio tree (ignorant, it’s not a banana tree!! :-), when a young guy approached me. In India it’s quite common that locals want to speak with you, often without any other purpose than their curiosity, so I didn’t hesitate to keep on the talk.
He was around 30 years old, good looking and wearing elegant, but what impressed me more was his sophisticated and educated english accent.
"I’m a cricket commentator in Sidney" told me.
And I had no doubt believing in it!
"I spent in Australia 7 years, but now I’m back here in my hometown to find a husband for my sister". In fact being Muslim, as many in this area of India bordering with Bangladesh, his sister couldn’t look for a man by herself, but she had to choose the ones selected by the brother. Hence he had to consider all the candidates, usually the friends of the family, and to check all the relevant elements.
Which were the relevant elements?
"It’s obvious: the education, the work position and the salary. Then the houses or lands he owns. Aren’t the essential requirements to decide if he is the right person to have a family with my sister??" he claimed
"And what if at the end they don’t get on well together?" I asked
"It’s simple: if she knows she has no alternatives for her life, she will get along with him" he hit back.
We spent the whole afternoon chatting together while reaching the botanical garden to visit the huge tree. He has been a so kind company also insisting to pay the boat trip. Besides it was amazing his educated and polite tone reasoning about his religion, and when I asked about the aim to cover the women he answered:
" Women are the weakness of the men, isn’t?"
Impossible to disagree to such affirmation.
"Hence to avoid to be dragged by our weakness we cover them", he concluded.
Smooth, isn’t?? :-)

alby

 

DICTATION AT THE POLICE STATION

During the night travelling from Kolkata to Varanasi we paid hardly the carelessness to have not kept our small bagback tight to us, but "just" placed under the beds, in fact they disappeared. Quite pissed off, we decided to report it to the police at the train station of Varanasi, just to have a document to claim a possible refund from the insurance (obviously vain).
It was a hot morning (as every morning) when already sweated, like a soaked sponge, we entered a bleak room. An old wooden bed was in a corner, while at the centre a worn out table and a proud official in white uniform sitting in front of it. It seemed the atmosphere was frozen as it had been since the last 20 years.
We explained him what happened, then he turned out to be the chief of the police station. After a while with an understandable english he asked where it happened.
"On the train!" we answered disappointed by the question
"Ok, but near which station?" he replied.
"We don’t know since we where sleeping"
It seemed it was essential to know the exact location of the train when it happened. No way to convince him that it could have happened from 11.00 pm to 7.00 am, hence in a several hundreds km area. So to make him happy I just said at 3.00 am , then we checked where the train was at that time, and he seemed quite satisfied to conclude that the train was at the station of Patna when we got robbed.
Then he folded a normal page ripped from a copybook, he gave me and said: "TO"
"To?" I asked puzzled
"TO, please write" he repeated
I realised he was dictating me the report I had to write addressing to him.
He proceeded: " TO MR XXXX"
"I TRAVELLING FROM…"
"I travelling? I was travelling, you mean" I asked for a confirmation.
"No, I TRAVELLING" he insisted
So I wrote it.
Few lines later he dictated: "I STARDED…"
"I starded??" I asked very doubtful
" STARDED, STARDED!!!" he insisted quite upset
When I saw he was getting upset I wrote it without investigating the meaning. Seeing me doubtful he hesitated thinking few seconds and said "no STARDED, it’s I STARTDED". I just wrote.
The reports turns out quite long with other similar situation, but I wrote without trying to understand the meaning. The funny things were the subservience to his person he dictated me, like: "WITH THE BEST REGARDS, SINCERELY, BEST WISHES TO…."
Then he called another policeman and handed the paper saying something.
We started a long waiting.
After a while a man holding a big bag entered the police station. He asked me something I couldn’t understand, so he entered on one inner room where more militaries gathered around him. Few seconds later the chief caught up with them. This guy opened the big bag and showed a lot of colourful pairs of shoes: he was a seller. The others let the chief choose as first then took the left over. It took time for everybody to choose and discuss about the choices; in the meanwhile I was waiting….
After 40 minutes one of the militaries appeared holding some papers: it was the translation in hindi and the rewriting of the report I just wrote. I had a read to the nicely written english version and I saw he typed exactly the same errors the chief dictated to me, but I’m still wondering how the hell translated "I startded"????

alby

 

FLOATING CEMETERY IN VARANASI

Varanasi hasn’t been my preferred place in India, but definitely the most impressive I’ve seen.
It's believed to be a Hindu holy town in India, in particular to die in the Ganga river that crosses the town lets the believer to get the liberation. Hence all the billion of Hindus dream to die here or somehow, once dead, to end up here.
A boat trip on the Ganga at the dawn it’s something you will not forget quickly.
The six people crowded riscio’ slaloms and horns trough the traffic paying attention to his precious load tied up over the roof: a wrapped dead body.
They got to the riverbank, unload the body and let it dipped in the river while arrange the purchase of the wood. It takes time since they weight it, pay and finally stack it few meters from the Ganga. Then they took the body, place at the top of the stack and burn the whole stuff.
Once everything is just ash it’s shovelled in the water.
This is what happens at best; in fact if the dead is a baby, a pregnant woman or simply the family cannot afford the wood, then they tie the body to a stone and throw everything in the river as it is. Meanwhile nearby in the river hundreds of people bathe praying and rinsing themselves.
Welcome in India.

alby

 

MAIL DA KOLKATA AI MIEI AMICI (in Italian)


Finalmente atterro nella stranominata India, desiderioso di assagiarne anch'io la mia fettina...
In realta' ci atterro due volte perche' da Delhi, dopo non molte ore, ridecollo verso la capitale del Kashmir, il tanto conteso territorio tra Pakistan e India.
Sono i primi anni ke gli stranieri hanno ripreso a tornare in questa strana terra immersa nella catena Himalayana e tanto tormentata dalla guerra specialmente negli anni 90. Ho chiesto molte opinioni in rete perke' fino all'ultimo sono stato abbastanza indeciso se convenisse andarci e i pareri discordanti non mancavano. In particolare mi avevano parlato di una massiccia presenza militare, ma quello che ho trovato al mio arrivo proprio non ma lo aspettavo.
Quando l'aereo inizia la discesa lo spettacolo del K2 che svetta non molto lontano e' affascinante.
Scendo dall'aereo.
Srinagar, nonostante i suoi 1800m, e' abbastanza calda, ma piacevole.
Mi chiedono di registrare la mia presenza e qualche altra formalita'; devo rilasciare un recapito locale, non ce' l'ho.
E' un problema, non si esce dall'aeroporto se non dici dove stai andando. Con me avevo una mail di un tipo che mi aveva consigliato un posto, lascio quello, sono contenti ed esco.
Nel viaggio verso la citta' rimango a bocca aperta: presenza militare??? e questa la chiamano presenza militare? Io lo chiamo schieramento completo dell'esercito pronto per una difesa della citta': meno di ogni 50 m c'e' un militare su entrambi i lati della strada e almeno ogni 10 militari c'e' un posto di blocco con casetta di sacchi di sabbia e barriere.
Il taxi deve fare una continua serpentina a cui sembra abbastanza abituato, rallentando e scambiando due parole con il militare di turno.
Le strade sono completamente deserte: niente macchine, niente mucche vaganti, niente carretti, insomma niente di niente, solo tante armi e filo spinato ovunque: c'e' qualkosa ke non capisco. Nessuno mi avrebbe mai consigliato di venire in un posto dove praticamente non posso camminare.
Seguo un tipo che mi ha offerto un posto da dormire sulla sua casa galleggiante. E' un signore anziano, sembra in buona fede: mi fido. La sua houseboat e' praticamente sotto un grande ponte: obbiettivo militare e quindi nei 30m che faccio a piedi abbondano militari e filo spinato.
Lo fermano, si parlano, mi sorridono e proseguiamo.
La barchetta che mi propone e' carina: tutta in legno, "camera con bagno" , un piccolo soggiorno e non balla neppure tanto, inoltre ai pasti ci pensa la moglie:
"Va bene la prendo".
Lui, Yusuf, parla un discreto inglese, ci mettiamo a chiacchierare e subito inizia a 'fumare':
"l'hashish e' un dramma per me, ma non riesco a smettere, troppi problemi" mi dice, intuisco che qui non e' l'unico a farsi dalla mattina alla sera.
"Domani e' la giornata dell'indipendenza indiana,(15 ago) ci sara' il primo ministro e la parata militare, tutto il Kashmir e' in sciopero per protestare per l'indipendenza. E' tutto fermo."
E adesso mi e' tutto piu' chiaro: la possibilità che domani ci sia un attentato e' assoluta.
Il Kashmir non apparteneva agli Inglesi, ma era un principato a se' incastonato nelle montagne Himalayane tra Pakistan e India che apparteneva ad un Maraja'. Quando c'e' stata l'indipendenza Indiana hanno lasciato a lui decidere a chi conglobarlo, Questo ha fatto l'indeciso per anni, allora meta' se lo sono cuccato con la forza i Pakistani, agli Indiani non ha fatto piacere e quindi dal '48 si sono messi a fare la guerra. Poi l'ONU con la penna ha tracciato sulla cartina un bella linea che lo separava (come ha fatto per la Bosnia), ma nessuno ha capito che valli appartenevano ad uno e quali all'altro e quindi ancora guerra, fino al suo apice nel 92. Ora sembra vada meglio, ma gli eserciti sono ancora schierati lungo questa linea chiamata "control line"e si ammazzano a oltre 5000m.
Voglio fare un giro per la citta', la famiglia non mi sembra entusiasta e non mi fanno uscire senza avermi accollato il figlio. Pero' torna molto utile perche' parla con tutti i militari che ci fermano. Sono molto simpatici con me: sempre pronti a ricambiare un saluto o ha dare qualsiasi spiegazione.
Nessuno che mi abbia dato problemi.
La citta' e' veramanente deserta.
Torniamo a casa. La sera la cena non e' male, ma ben presto realizzo che non ho acqua da bere; voglio andare a comprarla, ma proprio questa volta non se ne parla.
La famiglia e' categorica, alle 20.00 c'e' il coprifuoco e non si esce.
Inutile frignare!!
Vado a letto.
La mattina dopo mi sveglia la moschea alle 5.00 che spara la preghiera del mattino; il Kashmir e' rigorosamente musulmano e le donne hanno il chador ma non e' obbligatorio per legge.
Mi riaddormento, ma verso le 7.00 altra sveglia: il bivacco di persone su una barca accostata alla mia.
Mi affaccio dal letto.
Sono militari e mo' che vogliono?
"Escort, escort!!!" mi dice Yusuf. Mo' abbiamo pure la scorta, speriamo non chiedano soldi e che non rumoreggino troppo perche' ho sonno.
Oggi non e' giornata da giro in centro per ovvie ragioni quindi e' meglio farsi un bel giro in barca lontano lontano.
Colgo la proposta di Yusuf e andiamo.
Srinagar e' famosa per essere una specie di Venezia sull'acqua. E' la meta tipica di tutte le coppiette indiane in luna di miele; e' strapieno di case galleggianti con tutto il loro contorno, ank'esso galleggiante. Quindi non mancano barche negozio che vendono di tutto. In piu' se ci si aggiunge come sfondo le montagne Himalayane, la cartolina e' completa.
Non pensate alla tipica India, Srinagar avvolta nel suo Islam, e' molto piu' Pakistana che Indiana.
Stiamo in giro fino alle 7.00 di sera.
In citta' la bomba e' scoppiata la mattina allo stadio dove c'era l'alza bandiera.
Il giorno dopo la citta' si smilitarizza e si torna alla normalita': le strade si riempiono di ogni sorta di veicolo, essere umano o animale che circola liberamente. Sempre tanti militari ma non cosi' tanti.
Dopo qualke giorno parto per in direzione Ladak, quello che chiamano "il piccolo Tibet".
2 gg lunghissimo di autobus su strade scavate ai lati delle montagne.
Viaggio mozzafiato e un po' di ansia in qualke punto.
Esco dalla zona Musulmana ed entro in quella Buddista. Cambia tutto di colpo. Alle moschee si sostituiscono i monasteri, ai veli che coprono le donne, i rossi mantelli dei monaci e alle preghiere urlate dal minareto 5 volte al di', il sussurrare dei monaci accovacciati leggendo i testi sacri.
Mi fermo un po' di giorni in un paese a 3400m. Ho il fiatone per l'altezza, ma molti turisti, anzi troppi.
Altri 2 gg massacranti di cui un bel pezzo sopra i 5000m (un passo a 5400m). Tanti stranieri che si sono dimenticati di tornare a casa, e che si fumano il loro hashish sul balcone delle guesthouse.
No, non e' l'India che cercavo: cioè quell'India che devi odiare prima di amare o che poi alla fine odi e basta, quell'India che deve essere il peggiore o il migliore paese che abbia visto, quell'India che non puo' stare in mezzo.
Insomma cambio rotta.
Cestino l'itinerario e parto per un altro luunngooo viaggio di 2gg per andare dal confine con il Pakistan a quello con il Bangladesh, esattamente dall'altra parte del paese: destinazione Kalcutta!!
Lo so bene che a Kalcutta in questa stagione ci sono i monsoni e si muore dal caldo, insomma che sei un po' scemo se vai a Kalcutta adesso, in generale sei un po'scemo se vai a Kalcutta. Ma per me rappresenta l'India che voglio vedere.
E ci sono arrivato sperimentando tra l'altro anke un bel viaggio di 20h in treno assolutamente non male con allegata infinita chiacchierata con due sciure e giovanotto sull'approvazione dei genitori delle fidanzate prima di frequentarsi, con tanto di resoconto sui relativi stipendi e sui possedimenti (lo sapevate che puo' fare la differenza il tipo di macchina posseduta per l'accettazione da parte dei genitori?).
Scendere dal treno a Calcutta e' stato un shock: cercavo la vera India, bene eccola qui! In confronto la stazione di Delhi era il chiostro dell'oratorio. Un bel display che segnava l'umidita' a 101% e la temp a 33 C mi ha dato il benvenuto. In citta' ci vivono sui 14 milioni di persone e penso che almeno un campione di ogni tipologia fosse in piedi o sdraiato in qualke punto della stazione. Abbondano le menomazioni e gli odori, roba proprio di chiudere gli okki e camminare, ma guardando ki o kosa calpesti.
Considerando che non c'e' persona che non si lavi in strada e che ci faccia tutto quello che ci deve fare, camminare per la citta' fa abbastanza vomitare, soprattutto appena arrivati.
Ma la gente non e' disperata come sembra. E' il loro modo di vivere. Infatti per le strade nessuno ti assale; c'e' rispetto e cortesia anche scattando una foto che a noi puo' sembrare davvero sconveniente. Inoltre se la si guarda con altri occhi, cioe' quelli della filosofia hindu, del continuo ciclo della vita e della morte indistintamente per gli umani che per gli animali, allora ha il suo fascino ed e' tutta da capire, o almeno da osservare.


alby

PS: per le mie care nonnine che guardano sull'enciclopedia dove e' andato il nipote :
New Delhi-(flight)- Srinigar-(bus)- Gunmarg--(bus)- Srinigar- -(bus)- Sonmarg- -(bus)- Kargil--(bus)- Leh-(bus)- - Manali--(bus, via Mandi)- New Delhi---(train)- Kolkata (Calcutta)--(train)- - Varanasi---(train)- New Delhi (Agra)

 

 

 

 

Tips

  1.   DOCUMENTS

  2.   HEALTH

  3.   ALTTITUDE EFFECTS

  4.   MONEY

  5.   TIPS/ SAFETY IN INDIA

  6.   TIPS/ SAFETY IN KASHMIR

  7.   EQUIPMENT IN GENERAL

  8.   EQUIPMENT IN LADAKH & KASHMIR

  9.   TRAINS


 

DOCUMENTS

     You can get the visa at the borders or at the airports. Anyway I was already holding mine got at the Italian embassy (50 euro for a 90 days visa)

      To enter Kashmir you do not need any special permission besides your Indian visa

      To visit some areas of Ladakh, like the ones near the Tibetan border you need some permission you can get when you organise the trip in Leh

 

HEALTH

No compulsory vaccination for italian citizens, anyway what I reccomend is:

     meningitis

      hepatitis A/B  

    typhus 

    tetanus 

Since I had not planned to go to Kolkata, but only in the mountains, I didn’t take any anti-malaria pill and I didn’t have any mosquito net, and I don’t think they are really necessary. Don’t forget a good mosquito repellent

 

ALTITUDE EFFECTS

The altitude can be a problem and for us it has been a huge one.
The sensitivity is very personal and unfortunately there’re no medicine to prevent it beside a good training. We acclimatised for 4 days in Leh, but I was far from being in my best shape, and then the journey by bus to Manali has been a tragedy. I would not do it again, although the amazing landscape we passed through.

 

MONEY

I changed Euros and Dollars, both of them are easily changeable.

 

TIPS/ SAFETY INDIA

      Pay attention to your belongings during the night on the train. We paid the carelessness having our small bagbacks stolen from Kolkata to Varanasi, losing pics and camera (this was a great pity). Don’t get paranoid, it’s enough you use the small backbag as pillow, and keep ALWAYS your passport and money in the money belt! Hardly you will get robbed violently, but you’ll pay any carelessness

      Watch out the blackouts especially in Varanasi and Agra. If you take a A/C rooms, it could be useless most of the time

      Watch out the riscio’ drivers, they are the biggest cheater we found in India. Especially in Varanasi and Agra they take you where they want despite what you asked for. In Varanasi they  will take you to hotel with a name similar to the one you have asked for; give them the address and  not the name of the accommodation. Never accept to visit a shop proposed by a riscio' driver, even "just to look". It'll be only a hassle.

 

SAFETY IN KASHMIR

     Kashmir is safe despite it’s plenty of militaries and check points every few hundreds metres, here be ready to show your passport and be registered on some crappy piece of paper. Keep away from any military celebration and base.

      When I landed in Srinagar they asked me to give an address of a booked accommodation to be registered in the country, otherwise I had to book one from the reservation office of the airport. It’s enough you just have a name of a houseboat.

      Obviously keep away from the line of control between Pakistan and India

      Due to the past and present tensions, avoid even naming in public the word Pakistan

      In summer book the bus from Srinagar to Leh (2 day sleeping in Kargil) at least 2 days in advance

 

EQUIPMENT IN GENERAL

I'll list just the main stuffs:

      There are a lot of places where you can burn your CD so you don’t need to have tons of memory sticks for your camera (2$ per CD, CD included)

     Mosquito repellent burning stuff

    Mosquito repellent spray

    A flash lamp with batteries change

    A good knife

 

EQUIPMENT IN LADAKH & KASHMIR

In Kashmir and Ladakh while I was there (15- 30 August) the daily temperature: 15-30 C (in Leh the sun burns a lot), while the minimum night temperature: 10 C

    A cap and sun cream will turn out useful

    Unless you are not going to trek you don’t need a thick sleeping bag, since the guesthouses have the blankets.

    I do not recommend trekking shoes; I had sport shoes

  Long pants are important but short ones useful during the day. In kashmir for females in it’s convenient to covers legs and shoulders, and the same in Ladakh to enter the Gompa (monasteries).

 

TRAINS

     Train is always more comfortable than bus.

       For long distance trains (New Delhi- Varanasi), book at least 2 days in advance

   Safety in train (read above)

    There are efficient reservation offices for foreigners at the station

Table price

One way and change 1 euro= 51 Rs (08/2005)

Varanasi- New Delhi 3A 825 Rs 16 euro
Varanasi- Tundla (Agra) 3A 680 Rs 13 euro
New Delhi-Kolkata 2A 2335 Rs 46 euro
Kolkata- Varanasi 2A 1240 Rs 24 euro
Agra- New Delhi CC 280 Rs 5.5 euro

Classes:

  • 1A tier: couchette at one level (2 beds) with A/C

  • 2A tier: couchette at two levels (4 beds) with A/C

  • 3A tier: couchette at 3 levels (6 beds) with A/C

  • 1A: beds without A/C

  • 2A: beds (benches) without A/C

  • CC with A/C: seats

  • CC without A/C: seats

  • Seat without reservation (more or less like cages at the zoo)

2A is a very good standard and in some trains the meals are included in the price

Generaly speaking even long journeys by train in India are a pleasure