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Written by: MD

12 January 2001

Well since we last wrote we were heading for India.

On our way there we stopped in at Chitwan Nat. Park (Nepal Border) to experience elephant riding while looking for various species of animal including the one horned rhino and the tiger in the local jungle. We were lucky to spot the one horned rhino but no luck on the tiger front. We also had fun bathing the elephant. We joined it in the river sitting on its back and getting soaked in the process by either it spraying us with its trunk or just dunking us. A great experience.

Varanasi was our next stop where we enjoyed a dawn boat ride on the Ganges veiwing the locals daily ritual of bathing, washing and even dying in the Ganges. With respect to the latter, before the bodies are cremated next to the Ganges, they are doused into the Ganges to purify their soul for afterlife. Varanasi or Benares as it is known to the locals has to be seen to be believed for the out and out polution, be it from carbon monoxide to cowshit!! Cows are allowed to roam free in Hindu countries which causes chaos at times with the traffic. I also got to play cricket with the locals in the narrow alleys of the old town but had to avoid the brown cowpatts in the process! It was quite coincidental that the NZ cricket team was playing India at the same time.

We then headed to Bandhavgarh Nat Park where we struck lucky seeing the Bengal tiger in the wild on a number of occasions. It was pretty awesome to see it in the flesh so close in its natural environment. Definitely a highlight in India so far. For the record this park has the highest density of tigers for any national park in India, so the odds of getting to see a tiger are better than average.

Khajuraho was where Victoria and I got to view the famous erotic sculptures embedded in the temples of the village. I will be sure to practice a few new positions for the honeymoon!!

Orchha was our next stop which is famous for its palace and outerlying temples which were built in the 17 century during the Mughal period. The Mughals certainly know how to build - massive. We spoilt ourselves with a night in the palace. I’m definitely in Victoria’s good books for that!!

In Bharatpur we visited Keoladeo Ghana Natl Park, a famous migratory birds sanctuary built 300 years ago by a local Maharaja for his sporting pleasure of shooting waterfowl. Now, about a third of the park is flooded which makes a perfect location to see the endangered Siberian crane along with many herons, stags, and geese to name just a few, which we did while riding on bicycles.

Then another major highlight, in Agra - the Taj Mahal. This has got to one of the most amazing man made wonders of the world. The whole building is built out of solid marble and took 22 years to build yet only one day to take down the scaffolding! Once again the Mughals are resonsible for the building of the mausoleum. Agra is also famous for its Red Fort which has been the most impressive we’ve seen thus far, although I hear the forts in Rajastan are equally impressive.

Now we are in New Delhi and have caught up on chores and spoilt ourselves with a few western comforts. Not to mention do some shopping. We have also had a lot of fun riding around in the auto-rickshaws (3 wheeled 2 stroke engine taxis) visiting both New Delhi (British colonial influence) and Old Delhi (just manic traffic and bazaars)

Thanks to those who responded and gave us a run down of what you have been up to.