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Imli-ji in Madhya Pradesh - Part 2

 What a contrast between over busy Gwalior fort and the completely empty Orchha fort we visited the next day! With beautiful surroundings!! Full of flashy greenery due to the great monsoon we have been having this year! 

On the following Sunday we visited the Maheshwar fort and the ghats, both crawling with people. Which meant we had to pose on a hundred of pictures (see my previous post regarding this). So I learnt a lesson: if I travel in India and have to visit a touristy place on a Sunday or a bank holiday I should think of either going there very early or get a massage in the hotel… 


I had been told about Mandu (2 hours from Maheshwar) and was really looking forward to seeing it. And it was really nice! There is a lot to see, a lot of history and a lot of greenery as well. 


But Maheswar was the highlight of the trip. A place with an amazing vibe! And the hotel in the fort (Ahilya Fort) just added to the surprise: a friendly staff (even if they are really anti-Indian tourists (themselves being Indian)), a nice pool, a vegetable garden, hardly anybody, unlimited booze. Wow!!  


hey even arranged for the driver to kill a baby goat (by driving twice on it), escape, get chased by the bakri wallah (goat keeper) who had traded his bull cart for a bike (kinda faster), be part of village fight with guys surrounding the car, reach the police station, pay off the bakri walla (1500 rupees) and the police walla (1000 rupees) to avoid a report, meet the MLA (some local political eminence) who saved the driver’s ass (so that he didn’t have to call the hotel for help and lose his job).


india,madhya pradesh,road,maheshwar,mandu,ahilya fort


Imli-ji in Madhya Pradesh - Part 1

When I moved back to Mumbai in January I was dead on doing a road trip from Delhi with my best friend, like Thelma and Louise and all! 

Well, it would have been an I20 instead of a convertible and Madhya Pradesh instead of the American far-west in the background. Maybe not as glamorous but you do with what you have right?! Thelma and Louise IndianSamourai-style! 

Because of lack of time, unavaibility of Thelma, cold winter, cat to transport, bad states of the roads and all my Indian friends recommending against my road trip, I finally flew to Mumbai… 


But I did more or less the planned itinerary with my parents this summer and I have zero regret to have cancelled the road trip! My car would probably be good for a toss, and my back as well. That is if we had made it at all… 

India,road trip,Madhya Pradesh,Delhi,Gwalior,fort

5 hours to travel 250 kilometers from Gwalior to Orchha. On the good road. The bad road is only 125 kilometers but apparently too bad to be travelled. I can’t even imagine what the bad road is like after travelling the good road. The first part is full of holes which are not there in the second part (the new highway) but both are equally full of trucks, people, carts, cows and god knows what else… Total anarchy… 

Which made me even happier to have opted for train rides from Delhi to Gwalior (3 hours) and from Gwalior to Indore (overnight)! I hesitated a lot with a car drive for the whole trip… 


Gwalior appeared to me as a very busy city. But this may be due to the fact that we visited the fort on Independence day. It felt like the one million inhabitants of Gwalior had decided to do the same thing… We were constantly surrounded. It was even funny to see how fast a crowd would gather around us when we would move to another place in the fort… Unfortunately my GoPro had no more battery. 

After an hour or so my smile faded though. It was a very hot day (38 degrees) and I started suffocating.  


We found shelter in the Taj heritage hotel. Nice but soulless. So we fled back to our heritage hotel, the great Deo Bagh by Neemrana!


F... me I'm famous!

 Something funny happened in Gwalior… As I was strolling around the fort, on Independence day, some local reporter spotted me and asked to take a picture of me. I was in a good mood so I agreed to the same! I was even so “nice” that he got bolder and gave me his Indian flag, then moved me twenty meters so as to have the fort in the background. All the while dozens of people were clicking dozens of pictures… 

And here is the result:


india,looks,photos,gwalior,delirious delhi

india,looks,photos,gwalior,delirious delhi

Dave Prager described in Delirious Delhi this whole tourist picture thing perfectly (in my opinion) so I will just quote him here: 


“ There's a middle-class India that thrives far beyond Saket Citywalk Mall, we learned, and many of them are just as interested in their narion's attractions as we are. And as they'd come to Delhi from around the region, these domestic tourists had the same goals that we foreign tourists did: they wanted to take pictures of things they can't see at home.

But while our list includes sidewalk tailors and roadside shrines, their list includes Western tourists like us. So as we'd rest in the shade at the Red Fort or Jama Masjid, it wasn't usual for a mother to place a baby in our lap and a father to take a picture. [...]

At first we were offended by all this unwanted attention. We wondered how people could be so rude as to take pictures of us as if we had been posed there by the Ministry of Tourism. Jenny initially made sport of teasing the men who approached her, agreeing to 'take a picture' and then pulling out her own camera and snapping shot after shot of the baffled men until they left her alone. Sometimes we'd scowl and chastise people who approached us with their cameras at the ready. 


But as time went on, and our own photo album swelled with pictures of vegetable vendors, wandering saddhus and streetside omelette makers, we realized how hypocritical we were being. If we found the people around us to be fascinating, beautiful and photo-worthy - subjecting them to the sudden blink of our black lens and then disappearing without so much as a moment of eye contact - it was disingenuous not to accept ourselves as objects of equal interest. We vowed to happily accept photo requests from that moment onward, putting broad grins on our faces while anybody who pleased put their arms around our shoulders and stared into the cameras. [...]


After some time, we realized that it was much nicer when people asked permission to take our photo as opposed to when they attempted paparazzi-style photos from far. Which taught us that we owed our own photographic subjects the same consideration. Instead of suddenly stopping, snapping and speeding off, we began requesting permission for pictures and then thanking our subjects and showing them the output on the screen. Not only did that make our interactions with people more satisfying, but our photos got better as well.”