Friday, 22 August 2008

22 August 2008: Sanchi

Located 46km from Bhopal, the small village of Sanchi is famous for its Buddhist stupas. Built in 262 BC, the stupas were forgotten about until they were rediscovered by the British in 1819. The site was restored between 1881 and 1919.

We travelled by a packed public bus to Sanchi, with Jen sitting on the row behind me. Unfortunately, some dirty man repeatedly tried to grope her through a gap between the seat back and bench. It stopped when a furious Jen tried to grab the offending hand to give the owner a public telling off. Not a very pleasant situation, and it put a downer on the rest of the day.

Arriving at the stupa, we felt further harassed by groups of guys who gave us very long, intrusive stares and whose gazes followed our every movement. What a contrast to the women we've seen here. They carry themselves impeccably, and would never stare like some of the men do.

The stupas themselves were well worth the visit. By mid-afternoon, the number of visitors had dwindled, and we enjoyed the views in the peace and quiet. The four carved gateways surrounding the main stupa were a highlight.

On our journey back to Bhopal, the water buffalo were having a great time. They were wallowing in the lakes in the late afternoon sun. What a classic postcard picture image of India!
Our Lonely Planet guide book summed up the day nicely. India has the “ability to inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound all at once”. We agree. And because we don't want the post to be too negative, here's a list of ten things we like about India.

1.Cows holding up the traffic and cute Indian Palm Squirrels.

2.Gulab Jamun (super rich treacle pudding).
3.Masala Dosa (crispy pancakes with potato filling).

4.Chai tea (spiced tea which you can't get enough of).

5.Superfast internet everywhere.
6.Whizzing though town in a rickshaw.
7.Atmospheric evening markets.
8.The trains – they're so comfortable.
9.Ancient historical sites.

10.Women's colourful clothing: sarees and salwar kameez (tunic & trouser combo) .