During our first stay in India, we would spend only five nights in this vast country. So it was rather a short detour, but should be expanded by the travel section from Nepal to Bangladesh and the final days in Kolkata for more highlights. After successfully crossing the Pakistani-Indian border, we headed straight to Jim Corbett National Park, which is about 570 km away from the Indian border town of Wagah. The Indian road conditions and the disastrous traffic situation, resulted in a journey of about twelve hours, so we had to set up our mid-night camp halfway.
It is hard to imagine what is happening on the streets in India and in what a miserable condition the streets are. In addition to the usual road users such as cars, vans and trucks of all sizes, there is of course a seemingly endless number of motorcycles and rickshaws. It gets really wild when donkey, horse, water buffalo and camel teams are added, dogs and monkeys jump out of nowhere on the street and you have to avoid the ownerless cows that get comfortable on the median strip. Fortunately, we were prepared for the chaos through the previous journey, so that we survived unscathed.
The landscape is characterized by cow dung and sugar cane processing plants along the way. The animal excrements in dried form are a very good and free fuel and the rudimentary five man farms process the sugar cane cultivated by almost all farmers into sugar. Of course, we did not hesitate to stop at one of these establishments to have the whole process explained to us. After we had been greeted in a very friendly way and we were able to understand the whole process despite the language barrier, we were left with a lump of sugar in our pockets and drove the last bit to the national park. Since the tours through the park are offered there only by a state institution, a price comparison between different travel agencies was not necessary and the booking of the safari was a matter of fifteen minutes. On the four-hour trip alone in the backseat of an open jeep, we really enjoyed being able to spend some time in nature. Even though we unfortunately could not see a tiger, the flora and fauna has shown its most beautiful side and we were fortunate to be able to admire a herd of elephants, as well as various monkeys and countless bird species in addition to the fantastic landscape.
With the thoughts still immersed in the loneliness of the national park we would be blown away two days later at the Indian tourist attraction. The Taj Mahal was the destination of travelers from all over the world as well as a large number of locals on that day, as expected. At the entrance one is indeed asked to pay twenty times the prices of what the indian population has to pay, but its worth the trip anyway. A surprisingly inexpensive guide led us through the impressive terrain and fed us continuously with interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that the builder of the Taj Mahal, whose historical significance has already been brought to us in Lahore, had planned an identical construction in black, on the other side of the river as his own future tomb just like the white magnificent building for his third wife and during his lifetime even started implementing this plan? After his death, only his son and heir to the throne thwarted his plans, because he discontinued the construction project due to the horrendous costs and placed his father in the tomb of his mother.
We couldn’d let go of the idea that there could have been a black Taj Mahal on the other side of the river until the Nepalese border, which we reached and crossed the next day without any noteworthy incidents.