Travelogs & Reflections > Carrol's Travelog > India



Delhi: January 2006


We have arrived in Delhi and are spending three nights in the luxury of the Welcome Marriott on the outskirts of town. This city has over 12 million people and is extremely large and spread out.


Our goal while we are here is to finish our shopping for friends and relatives with items that are made in India. We must mail home another package to reduce the weight on our backpacks, and update the travelogs, especially mine.  I am so far behind that it will take me a couple of days work to accomplish all of the computer work that is long overdue. We have not been able to keep up with the internet as well as we would like while in India. We also need to pick up additional personal supplies before entering Africa. We will be leaving this spacious country on the 22nd. 

Goodbye to a wonderful country, it has been a special time and you have taken my breath away with your beauty and graciousness.


Jaisalmer: January 2006


We are still about five hours away from Jaisalmer.  We are going to try and find our hotel inside the fort that is up on a hill and take it easy for a few days before heading toward Delhi.  The surrounding area reminds me of Arizona, except there seems to be more dust instead of sand.


We met a gentleman on the train who will guide us to a hotel “Deepak Guest House” that is inside the fort. Peter and I both fell in love with one of the rooms.  It looked like the inside of an old palace. They had furnished the room with antiques dating back many years.  We went up on the rooftop for lunch and could look over the town below the fort.  The sun was shining and it was so good to have the warmth soak into our skin. They had fruit and yogurt on the menu and we were all happy.  Especially Paul as he got his porridge (oatmeal).  We each have our favorites as we travel through each country.


I went for a short walk and found a shop that sold handmade jackets designed in the local quilting design of Rajasthan, which includes embroidery.  I would return later and see about ordering one of these jackets.  I found a bakery with cinnamon rolls and wheat bread rolls, it was time to return and check on the Camel Safari and locate a place for dinner and retire for he night.


Steve and I are on the hotel rooftop having our usual morning milk coffee and enjoying our conservation.  This is a special time for the two of us.  Today I will order my jacket in a beautiful Turquoise Blue.


Camel Safari:  We rode the jeep for about one hour and then met up with the camels and their drivers.  We watched as they got all the equipment ready and loaded onto the camels. When it was time to go I watched as Therese got on her camel with the help of a driver, she screamed as the camel stood up. I wasn’t sure about this. I was next.  I thought I might not get my leg over the hump as it was piled so high with blankets, sleeping bags, and other gear.  I swung my leg over and the drivers just grabbed my other leg and pushed me up.  Then it was necessary to hold on tight as the camel stood up.  Its rear goes up first and then the front so you must lean back to prevent falling forward.  Once you are in the air it is a great feeling as you look out over the desert.  We only went a little over an hour before we stopped for the evening.  I was surprised that I was doing so well.  I didn’t have any knee or muscle problems after the ride.  I even learned a little about how to guide the camel.  They are magnificent animals. I had gotten several pictures of the family as we left camp.  The food is great and the bedrolls were comfortable and lay out in the open sand dunes.  We had a wonderful moon and were able to see the beauty of the sky with the stars scattered throughout the night.


The next day we got up around 7:30 am and found that one of the stray dogs had slept between Peter and me.  It was a little foggy and there was some moisture in the air.  The camel drivers brought us Chi tea in bed that sure was good and took away the chill of our bodies.  We had breakfast and got ready the hit the trail once again. We stopped at a village and had the problem of the children asking for rupee and other things.  They were very assertive in their requests.  We proceeded with our ride and stopped for lunch and a rest time about an hour later. I wrote in my journal while waiting for lunch.  We should be back by 5:00 pm.


As we were ending the ride our camel’s, (mine and Peter and Paul’s) broke into a fast trot.  This was such a feeling of exhilaration and just plain fun to be running over the desert on the top of a camel.  I really enjoyed this run on my camel gunyeh.



Bharatpur: January 2006


The Keoladeo Ghana National Park:  The first half hour was slow as we had bicycles rickshaws and there not as many sightings.  We had the drivers as our guides; they were experts and identified over fifty species of birds over the next three hours.


This National Park consists of several habitats.  One third of this park is wetland systems. The area that we spent the most time in was the wetlands. It is the largest wetlands area that I have seen so far.  It is filled with over 370 species of birds.  This area was spectacular and it was amazing to see so many birds in one place.


The Painted Stork has hundreds of nests and their babies could be heard as they were crying for food.  Feeding their young ones or shielding them from the sun by spreading their huge wings is a common sight. The view was unbelievable as you looked over the tree tops and spotted the many nests and saw hundreds of the Painted Stork before you.


As we moved deeper into the park we were able to see many more birds.  If you saw one species there usually was a larger amount of the same species that could be seen in the area.


In the winter months, the park has their maximum bird population.  More then 20 species of ducks are also scattered throughout the park. This park has also been the regular wintering area in India for the rare and highly endangered Siberian Crane, which we were unable to locate during this visit.


Agra: January 2006


The wonderful news is that we are getting care packages from Marcia Hafner when she joins us in Nairobi Africa.  We are all excited as there was mention of chocolate and bubble gum along with messages from friends.


We got up early and are on our way to see the third wonder of the world the “Taj Mahal”. We hired a guide to enable us to get all the history of this fabulous mausoleum, which was built for the fourth wife of the Maharajah.  She was the wife who gave him 14 children.  So he built this wonderful burial site to honor her.  He is also buried alongside of her.  It was extremely interesting to be in the presence of such a grand monument.  We were able to see and understand the construction of this wonderful site that is made from white marble. As the sun rose in the sky a rosy cast was spread over the Taj Mahal.


We finished our tour and went to a roof top restaurant and had a great breakfast.  We were able to once again see the Taj Mahal from this site the.



Khana National Park and Tiger Reserve: January 2006


We stayed at a wonderful place on the outskirts of the park. The owner enjoyed showing us the many sights of this area. We went for a walk that was close to 5 KM the first evening and just missed seeing a leopard by a couple of minutes.  We walked in what is called the buffer zone—where the village people also live.  We were able to go through the village and see what it is like to live within the boundaries of the National Park. 


We got up at 5:30 am for our safari into the Kanha National Park.  How excited we all were. We arrived at the Core gate and picked up the ranger that would spend the day with us.  We immediately spotted many different species of birds and lots of Chital Deer.  We were still searching and hoping to spot the larger mammals.  We drove for a long distance and arrived at another ranger station to see if any tigers have been spotted during the morning by other trackers.  While the ranger checked for the tigers we were able to purchase tickets to ride the elephants that were needed to see the tigers.  We also ate the breakfast that had been prepared from the owner’s restaurant.  We were in luck there had been a sighting and we got a number so we would be able to ride an elephant to get closer to the tiger.  We drove to the site and saw several other people in jeeps waiting for their turn to take the elephants over the hill to see these beautiful large creatures.  We were surprised to hear that there were three tigers, a mother and her two cubs.


The excitement grew for us as we waited our turn in line.  We had our cameras ready and were prepared for this marvelous opportunity. 


As I climbed up the ladder and got on the elephant I thought back to the beginning of the trip when we all took a pleasure ride on an elephant in Thailand.  The purpose for this trek would be so much more rewarding and memories so different. As we approached the rich green bamboo mountain side to see the tigers I was overwhelmed by the beauty around me.  We saw a bit of the mother’s head that was hidden in the foliage.  The cubs were sitting in another location above the site of the mother.  It was difficult to get photographs and I was on the other side of the elephant and had to shoot through Steve and Paul.  Just as I was ready to take my first shot the driver moved and I was so disappointed that I lost the moment—then I realized that one of the tigers had moved to a different location higher on the mountain and we were moving even closer up the mountain.


Then there he was—I was surprised as the cubs were around 15 months and looked full grown.  I was looking at both of the cubs and couldn’t believe the vibrant colors of their fur and the majestic look and tilt of their heads.  I began shooting immediately and was able to get many pictures.  I had to stop at one point to just admire their beauty.  I paused, thinking what a fantastic animal, with such grace and beauty.  The glorious surrounding area overwhelmed me as I memorized this scene before me. 


We headed back to the jeep and moved on to search for other animals in the park.  We were all talking at once.  It was a great experience and we loved sharing our feelings with each other. We stopped for lunch at a new resort that was owned by our hotel owner. We returned in the afternoon to begin searching for additional wildlife. We saw many different birds and also spotted the Gaur (Bison) Sambar Deer, Barasangha, and Jackel.  The only animals in the park that had alluded us where the leopard and the wild dogs.


 All in all the day was really successful in so many ways.  We all had a great time and were in good spirits about the sightings.  One of the first goals of our out of door experiences had been accomplished.  We arrived back at our resort and ate dinner and decided to spend another day at this beautiful site.


Darjeeling: December 2005


We arrived to a completely different climate.  It was really cold. I have heard from Kathryn that there was some cold weather in Evansville. I guess I have not escaped the cold altogether.


One of the main things to do here is to go on the Sunrise trip to Tiger Hill.  We left at 5:30 am and took a jeep up a winding road that seemed to continue to go up forever into the mountains that would take us to Tiger Hill area.   We arrived early and went to the second level of a large viewing Pavilion. They were serving milk tea with sugar and ginger.  On this cold morning it warmed my body.  I went outside the Pavilion as it was so crowded inside and you couldn’t see anything with the frost on the glass. I stayed on the walkway and then proceeded out to the stairs on the top level and moved in right behind the first row of people that seemed to be facing the place for the sunrise.  It was nice and warm because of all our bodies.  Everyone was friendly and explained to me where the sun would rise and offered me the opportunities to get the sunrise shoots that I wanted. As you looked into the night sky you could see all the darkness in the bottom of the sky and then the many layers of orange and yellow mixed into the next layer.  Then the misty look that became darkness in the upper sky. The moon was only partially showing and there was the one star in the sky above the moon.

As the sun rose there became a lot more light in the darkness below the horizon that became stronger and fuller until it broke into the orange and yellow of the sky and let its light shine brightly for all to see. The orange was more pronounced and the yellow of the sky projected into the misty color of the top layer and spread its beautiful color over all of us. When the sun came through the mist there was a sigh among all of us and also one “fantastic” from a man standing high on a cement post.  It is so difficult to explain my feelings during this time.  We were all silent for a time after the sighs and photographs we realized that we had shared something very special with each other. I also realized that this was another example of the wonder of God’s presence in our lives.


I went in search of the family and as I moved into the pavilion I saw them and wanted to share this wonder, however as I took a seat among them I looked out the window and there highlighted by the sun was the Kanchendzonda Mountain Range in all its glory.  Below me there were rows and rows of the Tibetan prayer flags flying over the landscape.  As I walked over to another view of the mountain range someone pointed out to me the peak of Mt. Everest. What a glorious morning this was and how God’s presence was with all of us as he showed us the beauty of the sky and the mountains.


Kolkata: December 2005


Indians value simple material comforts, physical purity, & spiritual refinement.  Even in hardship, one is to accept one’s course in life as the will of God or fate. This was written in the forward of one of the reference books that I read about India.


Kolkate (Calcutta) is a city of poverty, neglect, homelessness, and pollution; however it is also a city of hope, friendliness, laughter, and love.


As I walk down the unkempt streets there are people everywhere in all stages of their life.  Many people sleep, work, and play on the streets they were born.  The people of Kolkata have a lot of courage and ware eager to share their time with us.


Steve, Peter, and I went to visit the tomb of Mother Teresa at her convent in the impoverished area of Kolkata.  It was such a solemn moment when I was able to kneel and say my prayers to her.  This was a special time for me to be in the presence of such a sainted woman who gave her love to God and the poor of Kolkata.


We had heard from Sister Collista during our visit earlier in the week that there would be a candle light walk from the Salvation Army on Sutter Street to the convent on Christmas Eve and this would be follow by Christmas Carols, A reenactment of the Christmas story and then followed by mass in the chapel.  As we walked through the worst streets in Calcutta we were able to see the places and people that are given assistance through the Sisters of Charity convent.  They were wishing us a Merry Christmas even though many of them were Hindi’s or Muslims.


People bathe from the same area that provides drinking water throughout the city.  There is constant noise from the cars, buses and taxi’s that are forever honking horns or clanging bells as they try to get ahead of each other.


I became familiar with the two places of business during our stay.  The DeWat restaurant was where we had our morning breakfast and learned about many of the foods of this area.  We expanded our love of the breads of South East Asia from Roti’s to Parathe and Naan. Which was served with Dal.  We would then head back to the hotel and stop for our morning lassi’s at a small stand where they were making the curd outside the shop and we learned about the amount of time it took to make this delicious drink.  We also got familiar with the family that owned the stand.  What a joy they were as they shared their language, laughter, and lassi’s with us.  I also bought fruit, vegetables, and a piece of cloth for the quilt from another street vendor.  As our train was pulling out of the station there was a moment of time when I realized that this place had touched my life in many ways.