Madhya Pradesh, India

Sanchi

The AC sleeper train went smoothly but it wouldn’t stop at Sanchi, so I had to get off at the next largest city named Vidisha. From here I asked around about buses, but everyone was saying it was a far walk to get to them. I decided on an autorickshaw to get me all the way to Sanchi. I traveled through the rain and found a place to stay.

When the rain stopped, I visited the local musuem and walked up the hill to the great Sanchi stupa, one of the most impressive stone carved structures in the country. It was the only thing to see here, so the following day I decided to leave. (photos)

Sanchi to Khajuraho

Day 1

I started the rainy day by walking to the train station, buying my ticket (I had to search the whole city for change since the station only took extact change) and getting on the local train to the larger city of Vidisha. Then I got off and bought a 2nd class unreserved ticket for Jhansi, an even larger city yet. With this ticket, I could only go inside an unreserved car. When the train arrived, it was so full people were hanging out of the doors and I couldn’t see how I could squeeze on board. I decided to wait for the next train to come by. After another hour wait and some help from some local students, I stood in the rain and prepared for another chance. This time I didn’t see all the unreserved cars, they were at the other end of the train! There were about 18 cars on the train, and it stops for 2 minutes. Impossible to make it.

I didn’t know what to do. Every train passing by was overfilled, there were no buses going to the next city, there were no hotels with vacancies in this town, so I decided to go back to Sanchi where I knew I could stay and maybe reserve a better train. It was a total of 6 hours waiting at the Vidisha train station for nothing.

Back in Sanchi, I tried to reserve a ticket at the station but the man said the system goes offline at 4:30 and I made it there a few minutes past 4:30. I’d have to wait until tomorrow.

I tried to go back to the guesthouse I stayed in before, walking through the mud in the pouring rain only to get turned away. I did find another guesthouse for the night.

Day 2

I reserved a ticket (again, had to go ask everyone in town if they would make change) to Bhopal, the largest city in the state. It is in the wrong direction, but they have a 1st class train that goes all the way to Jhansi. So in the morning I took a crowded 2nd class seat to Bhopal and had some lunch there. Not much to see in this city, it is only known for the Bhopal disaster.

In the afternoon I waited for the 1st class AC train, arriving an hour late, which is normal in India. It seems like they would put more padding in between the trains. Bhopal is the last stop of this train and according to the schedule, it departs the other direction 30 minutes after arrival. So if the arrival delayed 1 hour, the departure will be delayed at least 1 hour too, doomed to never catch up.

This was the nicest train I’ve been on in India. They give you water, tea, mango juice, a sandwich and electric outlets. I was finally on my way to Jhansi, but still that was only half way to Khajuraho.

I arrived in Jhansi at about 9:00PM. Next I had to wait for my train to my final destination, scheduled at around 3:00AM. This was my opportunity to spend the night in an Indian train station. Luckily, I found an upper class waiting room that had some chairs, TV, and electricity. I just used my PC to pass the time. Other people began coming in and sleeping on the floor. One man sat beside he and stared at my computer for hours which was kind of annoying me. And to give a measure of how interesting my computer is to Indian people, on the TV news they were showing over and over a video of a man committing suicide by throwing himself into fire.

Day 3

As it was getting close to the time for my train to arrive, I went out to the cold platform and waited. Of course the train was delayed at least an hour. I found a dirty place to sit down next to the rats before boarding the train. I watched some Indian mothers instructing their children to squat down over tracks and use that has a bathroom. No wonder people fly to Khajuraho.

Khajuraho

I got a few hours of sleep on the train before the train arrived in the morning. Unfortunately, the train station was quite far away from the city, so I needed an autorickshaw. There were no buses or anything. After getting inside, another man from a hotel came inside and kept asking me to see his hotel. I kept saying no but finally I agreed to take a look and the room wasn’t too bad.

In the afternoon, I decided to rent a bicycle and see some of the temples in this ancient city. I walked down the main street to look for some bicycles, dodging all the people trying to talk to me. It is common to hear “Hello, my friend!” Sometimes I have to respond, “I’m not your friend!” As I was getting my bicycle a kid started talking to me. And then he started following me on his bicycle. I read in my book that these kids are up to no good too, since they try to lure you into a school and extract money from you. So I was being chased by a kid, but good thing I could ride fast so I got away from him. The whole day seemed to be running away from tour guides, sales people, and kids.

The next day I had some good news, the main temple complex had free entry because of some special week. At noon I went back to the train station to head back to Jhansi junction. Again, the train arrived and departed late, even though it was the end of the line. After 6 hours or so (was not asked for my ticket the entire time), I was back in the same train station I spent the night in a couple days earlier. This time I only had a few minutes to get on the next train I had reserved. I did make it on board and was heading north back to Uttar Pradesh and towards Nepal. (photos)