Amritsar and Wagah

Last month we travelled to Amritsar by road. Eleven people in a Tempo Traveller. The journey took a long time with a few breaks to stretch legs, have a bite and sip on a cup of tea. Roads have improved a lot in India and it is a smooth journey.

We went to Wagah border near Amritsar for the lowering of flags ceremony at the India Pakistan border. It was very crowded. It is possible to look across the border into the amphitheater in Pakistan when seated high enough.

Afterwards we had a sumptuous dinner and retired for the night.

Next morning we woke up early. Really early at 4 am and got ready to visit the Golden Temple. We arrived at the Golden Temple before 6 am and there were only a few people outside. The adjoining area has been renovated and looked very beautiful. After removing our shoes we dipped our feet into the water at the entrance to the Golden Temple. To our surprise we found the water was heated!

Inside it was crowded. We realised our visit coincided with a public holiday in Punjab. Afterwards, we visited Jallianwala Bagh.

The air was much cleaner than in Delhi. On the return journey we came across a field in which crops were being burnt.

Since, we had our own bus we didn’t need to hire a taxi. Didn’t see any Uber in Amritsar. Didn’t see any Ola in Amritsar. Didn’t see any radio taxis in Amritsar.

On the way back we stopped at a food court on the highway and had dinner and tea.

We decided a train would have been more comfortable for such a long journey. If possible, an overnight train.

Here are a few photos I clicked.

A Beach Holiday in Goa

Recently I travelled to Goa twice. A beach holiday each time. Doesn’t usually happen. The first trip was self-funded. The second was a reward in an office contest.

Dabolim airport in Goa is much smaller than the Delhi airport. This results in shorter walks in and out of the airport.

The beach resorts were an hour away both times I travelled. The first trip was spent in South Goa and the second trip in North Goa. Both are delightful. There is no Uber in Goa. There is no Ola in Goa. Looks like there are no radio taxis in Goa. But, there are pre-paid taxis available at the airport. Or, one can ask the hotel to provide a taxi. Sometimes, hotels include airport transfers in the holiday package.

I enjoyed my stays at Varca beach and at Candolim beach. A walk on the beach in the morning and evening is refreshing and good exercise. Though I can swim in a pool I restrict myself to floating in the shallow water by the beach. Catching a wave as it comes in and floating on it is a great experience. Para sailing in the Arabian sea is good fun. The boat men suggested we take a dip in the sea with the life belts on and we did after some coaxing. A few minutes of backstrokes a kilometer from the shore is awesome.

Walking along on Candolim road in the night I could hear music wafting out from the cafes along the road. Many had karaokes and it was the guests singing. People of all nationalities throng this road. The breeze is cool and the traffic is gentler than in Delhi.

Here are a few photos I took in Goa.

Odd Even formula to say OKTATA to Pollution

Day 1 of the Odd Even formula to curb pollution seems to have gone well. News on TV said that.
I had gone out and counted only 20 even numbered private cars over a 15 km distance. On the drive later in the night past 8 pm there were more even numbered cars. Looks like the people of Delhi are adhering to the Odd Even formula.

Odd-even plan: Delhi, you deserve a bow for rising to the occasion

On Odd-Even’s Delhi Debut, Temporary Drop In Pollution Level: 10 Developments

Odd-even scheme: On Day 1, Delhi’s air quality fluctuates

Say OKTATA to Pollution

With Odd Even implementation for vehicles in Delhi around the corner it is time to say OKTATA to pollution as far as possible.

Numerous questions have been posed. Many solutions have been proposed.

Hopefully this step will help. If not, it is on a trial basis for 15 days and might be withdrawn.

I’m going to set up a Car Pool solution on this site soon.

Wonder if the below suggestions would help curb pollution?

1. Should diesel vehicles be completely banned?

Should diesel car owners be provided tax subsidy on purchase of CNG vehicles & assured fair market value for their diesel cars? Or, should diesel car be fitted with petrol engines which are then run on CNG? (if that is possible). In old days there used to be advertisements on TV to replace Petrol engines with Diesel engines for cost efficiency. Is vice versa possible now?

2. Should SUV sales be completely banned?

3. What is the contribution of the Metro construction on Ring Road and other stretches to the current pollution levels in Delhi? If that is significant should it be halted and work carried out in phases on particular stretches? Initial Metro construction had been in phases.

4. Would it be possible to have the Ring Rail service augmented and brought under the aegis of the Delhi Metro? Would there still be a need for the construction of the Metro line on Ring Road?

5. Are trams really not meant for big cities? Those might be slow but surely are easier to implement?

6. Maybe we need more buses (CNG?) than the Metro?

7. What is the contribution to pollution of the construction of the elevated stretches on Outer Ring Road? Read in the newspaper recently that more elevated roads are planned. What will be the impact on pollution?

Northern Ireland

A beautiful countryside and a friendly people welcome you to Northern Ireland. The emerald island is blessed with lots of rainfall which gives its countryside a lush outlook.

The giant’s causeway, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption is a sight to see. Rocks with  hexagonal cross section seem to rise up from the ground aiming towards the sky.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge gives a wonderful (and scary) view of the sea and – on a clear day – Scotland.

Whisky lovers would cherish the pilgrimage to the oldest licensed distillery – the ol

d Bushmills distillery.

Bordeaux and the wine country

Most visitors to France will go to Paris or the south coast. However, the Bordeaux region is just as attractive for a leisurely holiday.

Left largely untouched by the second world war, Bordeaux has buildings which are outstanding architecturally. Due to its proximity to the sea, its relatively mild weather is ideal for wine cultivation.

There are many cave complexes on the Dordogne Valley prehistoric humans lived in fairly elaborate communities.

On the way back to Paris, you can visit Rouen, where Joan of Arc was martyred. Rouen cathedral spire was the tallest structure in the world till late 19th century.

The land of the Rising Sun

For someone whose travels were limited to South Asia and Europe, Japan was different. I cannot describe the difference in words, you have to go and experience it. A mixture of ancient culture seamlessly juxtaposed with modern technology. The hustle of Tokyo and the relatively relaxed way of life in the ancient capital Kyoto.

Tokyo is the largest city in the world and it shows in the crowds and also the efficiency with which the city operates. Shinkansen or the bullet train form the backbone of intercity travel. Mt. Fuji, a mere hour away by train (and a long trek up of course) beckons in the summer months.

Kyoto will mesmerize you with its beautiful temples and awesome food.

 

Turkey

Being on the frontier of the Occident and the Orient, Istanbul is one of the architecturally richest cities in the world. Examples of Christian and Islamic architecture abound in the city which will keep you busy for a few days or a lifetime.

Ephesus, an ancient Greek city, near the present day town of Selcuk boasts of magnificent antiquities and a carefully restored library building. Driving east will get you to Pamukkale, a site of amazing beauty with white calcified terraces covering a whole mountain side.

Cappadocia, with it’s Martian relief, is a out-worldly experience. Massive fairy chimneys and hillocks carved into living communities has to be seen to be believed.

Italy

Asterix went to Rome only once, and he limited his stay to the great city. But when in Italy, Rome should be only one of the destinations to visit. Rome will keep you busy with its Coliseum, the Roman Forum next door and of course the Vatican. Do not miss the Sistine Chapel. If you are there on a Sunday, the Pope addresses the audience on St. Peter’s Square at noon.

Head south to the commercial city of Naples, which is adjacent to two archeologically magnificent ruins of Pompeii and Heraklion. Most of the tourists head to the larger site Pompeii, but the quality of the antiquities at Heraklion is much better. A drive up to see the crater of Vesuvius with the some coming out is another high point.

A day’s drive north will get you to Pisa, which is famous for a tower. Florence is an hour away and is home to some of the best architecture, paintings and statues from the Renaissance period. While Venice is a big tourist draw, Padua nearby is very beautiful too. And also where Petrucio tamed the shrew.

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Coliseum at Rome

 

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St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican

 

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Sistine Chapel, The Vatican

 

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Crater of the Vesuvius

 

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The prominent lean

 

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David by Michelangelo

 

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Row of Gondolas in Venice

 

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Duomo di Milano