Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I've been living in this city off and on for the last ten months and have yet to see the fun and exciting touristy sights, until the other day. This used to be the capitol of the Nawab kingdom, between the fall of the Mughal empire and the British occupation, and there are plenty of palaces, mosques, gardens and other places to see. The first is from the palace roof looking at the mosque and part of the courtyard.
Here's the main gate, behind the motorcycle.
These are the steps leading down to the queen's pool, whose water level rises and falls with the water table and is seven stories from top to bottom
The entire top 3-4 floors of the palace is a labyrinth and it's almost impossible to get out without a guide.
And here's just a normal sign on one of the walls.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
A few weeks ago, I heard that the house of Mr. Everest (the guy they named the mountain after) is somewhere nearby, so this weekend I set out to find it. I got up early in the morning, found a semi-reliable map, which was hand-drawn on notebook paper, and set out on my quest. I had walked for about 2 hours before I came to what I thought was it, but turned out to be the ruins of some other house. I asked a family that was having a picnic at the house I came to where this place was and they said it was on the other side of the mountain. Great. I searched around for another path that might take me the direction I wanted to go and found only one. This one took me through a small market where I asked if I was headed the right way, but no one seemed to know what I was talking about, so I kept walking. I came to another shop a little way's down the road and asked for directions and he told me to keep heading that way and when the road forks, take the higher road and after a little distance, the pavement will end and a dirt road will go way down and then back up again right to the house.
That seemed to work, and when I got to where the dirt road reached the bottom, there was an open field. But the field was filled with at least a dozen military personel carriers. I was convinced that I had made a wrong turn and ended up in some outpost, so I asked the closest soldier if the house was near here. He called one of the higher officers over for me to ask. Told him where I was headed and at this point I had been walking for at least 3 hours without ever sitting down and was content to be turned away. He seemed to be a bit shocked to see a white guy with only a water bottle and a camera by himself in the lower Himalayas and asked "Where did you walk from?" I told him I came from the next closest city, where I was staying. He said he would have to ask his supervisor if I could go. So he stepped away with a radio and came back a few minutes later and said "If anyone stops you, just say I (and gave me his name) said you could go" and pointed up the other side of the valley.
When I got there I realized that there was a graduation or some other school function in front of the house and there were at least 200 or 300 middle- and highschoolers there and apparently the government uses the personel carriers for school buses for field trips. As soon as I got to the top, I heard sever voices yelling with excitement "Angrez! Angrez!" (that's Hindi for "gringo") and dozens of kids running towards me. Not wanting to disturb their meeting and really not wanting 200 kids trying to get an autograph or something like that, I decided to just start the 3 hour walk back. I had a nice walk and afterward I went to sleep.