Khajuraho and Bhopal

From Varanasi, we take an overnight train to Khajuraho.

Khajuraho is famous for its collection of temples built by a relatively minor dynasty about a thousand years ago.

The surviving temples have some of the most skillful carvings we’ve seen on this trip so far.

A woman plucks a thorn from her foot

Another appealing factor of Khajuraho is that it is a small town, deep in rural India and far from a main road. The surrounding villages are probably more representative of the way people live away from the grim cities.

The surrounding scenery is nice as well.

Like water buffalo the world over, these local ones love hanging out submerged in ponds and mud-pools.

As mentioned in an earlier entry, we spend my birthday here at the luxurious Lalit Temple View Hotel.

My birthday breakfast

Here are some more views of the Khajuraho temples.

We admire the lotus-carved ceiling in a temple that features Shiva in the form of a boar.

We take the train to Bhopal. Our first stop is Bhopal’s incredible Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum.

(We weren’t even aware that there were tribal people in this state. Of course, there’s a lot we don’t know about the country.

This is unlike any other museum we’ve seen in India. In fact, it’s unique. Often, museums about tribal people are not much more than dusty cases of bows and arrows, with a few woven baskets and fishnets.

This museum is different. Built in 2013, it explains the lifestyle and world view of the tribes using a riot of artistic exuberance.

The displays kind of… explode all around you.

This exhibit of mountains of pottery reminds us eerily of Cambodia’s piles of skulls.

Any of the exhibits here would be a hit at any museum in London or New York.

Bhopal itself a large and rather gritty city.

Bhopal pedestrians
Nice sari
Abandoned – but picturesque – building
Bhopal traffic
Schoolkids on the move

We hire a car and driver one afternoon and visit Sanchi.

The Great Stupa

Sanchi was built by King Ashoka to house some Buddhist relics.

The gates tell, among other things, tales from the life of Buddha.

The remains of one of Ashoka’s pillars.

The West Gate. Or is it the East Gate?

Next day, we depart for Delhi on the train.

Then it’s off to Iran.

Sight or Insight of the Day

We visit the abandoned site of the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The deadly accident that takes place here in 1984 – long before many people were born, including 75% of Indians – is what places Bhopal on the map for much of the world.

This is what the plant looked like in 1984.

This is the main gate today. It’s not officially open to the public.

Being at ground zero of the world’s worst industrial accident is chilling.

An overgrown forest now stands where offices and administrative buildings once covered the grounds. We’re told to ‘be careful of snakes’.