Away from the mountains there was always a longer distance to cover through India by public transport. On the way from Kargil to Nanga Parbat I passed Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir with its famous Dal Lake and Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs. Longer stays were not possible because of the time pressure, always only two or three days to recover from the overlong journeys by bus, jeep or train. Therefore I would like to refer in this article mainly to photos, which should give a short and very colourful overview of the travel stations – so this time more “looking at pictures” is called for.
Srinagar – Dal-Lake
Further south in the state of Punjab is Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs with the famous Golden Temple as its landmark. Already around seven o’clock in the morning hundreds of pilgrims and onlookers lined up to bathe in the artificial lake surrounding the temple or to enter directly into the prayer room.
The return journey from Pakistan towards Kathmandu was long awaited – the waiting time in a hotel in Islamabad seemed to pass by hardly at all, the greater was the joy to stand in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra after a long train journey. Although I have been to India several times before, I had never been able to see this “wonder of the world” live. Admittedly it is an extraordinary building, but after having visited the Medreses of Bukhara and the Registan of Samarqand in Uzbekistan before, it kept my euphoria within limits. As so often in life, reality once again failed to keep up with my own imagination of the monument and the anticipation of it.
Also in Agra is the “Red Fort”, which was also built by the same ruler in a similar style as the fortress of the same name in Delhi.
Indian cities are something special – by Western standards usually synonymous with dirt, traffic chaos, stench, noise and crowded streets with cows and goats. The pilgrimage city of Varanasi is the most Indian of all Indian cities – at temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius an almost unbearable pleasure. Only the evening river ride along the banks of the Ganges provided some relaxation.
The next destination after Varanasi was again Kathmandu, to finally get back to the mountains after a long wait and to continue the hikes along the Great Himalaya Trail as soon as possible.