Can I get PG in Guwahati

NORTH INDIA - Part 2: North West Bengal - Sikkim - Assam - Kolkata

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1 1 of: 46 NORTHERN INDIA - Part 2: North West Bengal - Sikkim - Assam - Kolkata Day 7: Fri, The jet of the Indian airline Kingfisher Airlines takes us to Bagdogra on the edge of the Himalayas. Kingfisher's slogan "Fly Five Star" is incomprehensible to us, seat spacing and on-board service are more reminiscent of a European low-cost airline. At airport E we are greeted by employees of the local travel agency N, who, according to old tradition, hang white silk scarves U around us - a symbol of appreciation. Our personable local guide is called Udai and will prove to be extremely knowledgeable over the next few days. He only speaks English, but that doesn't matter as most of us understand him well. We are in the far north of the state of West Bengal on the southern edge of the Himalayas. With our luggage we are distributed to 3 SUVs, whose drivers will take us on winding serpentine roads through a beautiful mountain landscape to Darjeeling. Given the local road conditions, we need 3 hours of driving time for the 90 km route. The road surface is characterized by deep potholes and provisionally repaired landslides. When there is oncoming traffic, the drivers are required to maneuver with millimeter precision. There are no cows or water buffalo on the streets here. We take our lunch on a viewing platform. The drivers have brought packed lunches with sandwiches, egg and banana. Completely adequate. The physiognomy of the population in the Himalayan region is more similar to the Nepalese and Tibetans than the Indians. This probably also explains that this part of India has not developed a strong bond with the fatherland, although in 1973 about 97% of the population spoke out in favor of Sikkim joining India. In addition to Sikkim, northern West Bengal is the settlement area of ​​the Gurkhas or Gorkhas, an ethnic group of people fighting for their independence from India. "We want Gorkhaland!" you can read it on many house walls and on posters on the side of the road. In the mid-1980s there were bloody clashes with the Indian central government. At that time, the fighting ended by giving the region greater autonomy. The soldiers of the Gurkha regiments were incidentally in the wars of the 20th century. on British

2 2 of: 46 Page known as extremely tough and frugal. On the way we meet the narrow-gauge rails of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and a short time later the legendary Toy Train, whose steam locomotive is just getting its boiler filled with water. The railway line was built by the English about 120 years ago for faster tea transport. It runs from Shiliguri to Darjeeling, along the road and through the middle of the small towns. There are still the original old locomotives that work their way up the slope, puffing and panting loudly. In the event of defects, it is therefore increasingly difficult to get replacement parts. The little train is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We arrive in Darjeeling in the late afternoon. The city lies at a height of meters and has inhabitants. Their houses stretch like swallow nests over several kilometers along a steep mountain slope. Steep streets, alleys and stairs connect the individual districts. Because of its pleasant climate, Darjeeling has not only become a growing area for the famous top-quality tea, but also a place of relaxation for people from the hot and humid plains in summer. Our hotel for the next two days is the *** Hotel Cedar Inn, a very cozy old house built with lots of wood, in which we feel completely at ease. There are not many tourists in Darjeeling at this time. So we and our small group have the hotel almost to ourselves. The entire hotel staff takes care to make our stay as pleasant as possible. Our rooms each have two levels and a wonderful view of the 8,000-meter peaks. On the lower level, seating is grouped around an open fireplace. A boy is responsible for starting the fire, who is waiting in front of our rooms with his leather apron and a basket full of firewood to be able to do his job. We also have our dinner here in the hotel. We are served by two table waiters who constantly watch where they can add or refill. In addition, a Chinese-looking pianist plays the grand piano. I can't help but get the impression that in this environment the scenario has something of colonial decadence. We are not stingy with tips. When we come to our room after a nightcap in the bar, there is a hot water bottle for everyone in their bed. We are very

3 3 von: 46 impressed with this service. Incidentally, what we have often noticed in hotel rooms in India: The cupboards smell of mothballs - probably not by chance. Day 8: Sa, During the night, temperatures in Darjeeling now drop to 5C. Despite the open fire and hot water bottle, it gets uncomfortable for me. I have to go to the toilet repeatedly and in the morning I am so weak that I have to drop out for the morning program. Günter also got it. The rest of the group set off for Tiger Hill shortly before 5 a.m. There you will experience an impressive sunrise with a wonderful view of the Himalayan mountains, the Kangchenjunga, with the third largest mountain on earth and, according to local belief, the seat of the gods, and other snow-capped peaks. My fellow travelers enthusiastically return to the hotel for breakfast. Then it goes on for a short ride on the toy train. You later report that they had difficulty removing the soot emitted by the locomotive from their skin and clothes. Those who sat on the mountain side of the wagons should not have seen much of the landscape. Nevertheless, it was an experience for our train drivers. On the way back, the group visits the Ghoom Monastery, which is also called Yigacholing Monastery. In the meditation hall there is a statue of the coming Buddha, Maitreya. In the afternoon, the two of us with stomach ailments will be there again. We visit the local zoo, which is said to have the only breeding station for white snow leopards in the world. In addition to black panthers, spotted leopards and tigers can also be admired here. In our opinion, the enclosures for these majestic big cats, which are far too small, cannot inspire us. In Europe we mean something different by species-appropriate husbandry. It continues to the adjacent Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Museum, which was headed by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay until his death in 1986. As is well known, Tenzing Norgay was the first person to climb Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. In the museum rooms we marvel at the comparatively simple equipment with which the first ascent was possible in 1953 - an enormous achievement by the mountaineers. In Darjeeling, Miku would like to show us the Lloyd Botanical Gardens, where a selection of the Himalayan flora can be admired. To do this, we first have to climb down into the valley on steep paths to find out that these plants can also be seen everywhere in our home. With a weakened body, the subsequent climb to the entrance of the garden is a real ordeal. We are not amused. In the village we visit a tea shop that offers all types of tea for tasting. So we do a tea tasting. The coffee drinkers among us learn that besides black (fermented)

4 ORDINDIES 4 of: 46 tea also gives green tea (unfermented), oolong (semi-fermented) and white tea (only the tea tips). The top tea harvested in Darjeeling is also divided into first flush, second flush and autumnal. I like the second flush in premium quality best. Day 9: So, today we continue north through the mountains to the ancient kingdom of Sikkim. But first we visit the tea plantations on the slopes around Darjeeling. The harvest of the first flush, "The Champaign of Tea", is imminent, but has not yet started. Darjeeling tea grows at altitudes over 500 m, at lower altitudes it is Assam tea, which is much more bitter and serves as the basis for masala tea (spiced tea) or the East Frisian mixture that is popular with us. It is usually drunk with milk and sugar. Tea belongs to the camellia family. In the plantations, the bushes are regularly cut back so that they do not grow taller than 1.0 to 1.5 m. Otherwise they would grow up to a height of 5 m. The pickers have to pluck at least 5 kg of the green leaves per day. Some can manage up to 15 kg. What is picked above the norm is paid extra. Ahead of us are 130 km of driving distance. That means 5 hours on the road again. The road conditions are unbelievably bad. Broken asphalt, gravel, sheer rock and clay slopes alternate. The drivers of our SUVs have mercy on us and make numerous stops to pee, shop, refuel or just to take photos of the beautiful mountain landscape. The route initially leads over breathtaking stretches of road downhill to a height of approx. 450 m. Here on the Rangit River, behind a dilapidated suspension bridge, which we have to cross with the cars, is the district transition from West Bengal to Sikkim. And whoever travels here needs a "Sikkim Permit", a separate entry permit. Chinese, Pakistani and Bangladeshi are not allowed to enter Sikkim, so a special visa is required, which we had applied for in advance. Imagine a Japanese traveling to Germany and needing an additional visa to enter Bavaria ... But Bavaria has been part of Germany for a little longer than Sikkim has been part of India. After the internal border crossing, the path winds up again on narrow serpentines. We cross coniferous mountain forests as well as barren ones

5 ORDINDIES 5 of: 46 rock landscapes. In a valley there are so-called hot spots, hot springs. Residents and visitors alike take a dip in the natural rock pools. Udai draws our attention to the cars from Bhutan that some pool visitors used to come here. At m altitude, the air in the Pemayangtse becomes noticeably thinner again for us lowland Tyroleans. I didn't really notice that in Darjeeling at about the same altitude. In the afternoon, a visit to the Pemayangtse Monastery is on the program. It is the oldest and most important monastery in Sikkim, which was built in 1705 against an inspiring backdrop of the Himalayan giants. Udai is an excellent expert on the Buddhism practiced here and can explain a lot to us. Sikkim, originally Sukkim, means something like "beautiful new house". Nomad tribes from Assam and Tibet settled in the region in the 13th century. Three lamas who had come here from Tibet, religious leaders named Lhatsun, Ngadag and Kathog, founded monasteries on each hill in the 17th century as the home of the Buddhist movement they represented. One of these monasteries is the Pemayangtse Monastery we visited. It represents the oldest belief in Nyingmapa. His followers are known as "red hat monks" or "red hats". The three lamas also founded Sikkim's first capital, Yuksom, and were the first Sikkim king to crown the Chogyal named Phuntsog Namgyal. It struck me that in the form of Buddhism practiced in Sikkim, the bodhisattvas are of paramount importance. In the monasteries there are numerous statues of these "enlightening beings", but only a small number of Buddha images. Another irritation for me is the inscription of a Buddha statue with "Lord Buddha". As far as I know, Buddha is a teacher and founder of religion, but not God. Udai thinks "Lord" is just a title, which is why e.g. in Hinduism the term "Lord Vishnu" is also common. On the upper floor of the monastery there is an approximately 3 m high pyramid on which numerous small figures in several levels represent the path to enlightenment, starting below with demons of hell, continuing through the earthly life of people to several levels with bodhisattvas and Ghosts. Buddha is absent. Udai justifies it with the fact that he has already left the top level and reached nirvana. This world of thought is very difficult for us to understand. Udai reports on miraculous healings that take place in this monastery to this day. They cannot be explained with scientific methods. During magical ceremonies, objects would suddenly float into the room or be moved without being touched by human hands. As Hamlet said to Horatio: "There are more things

6 6 from: 46 between heaven and earth as our school wisdom can be dreamed of ... ". Udai wants to have seen it with his own eyes and to have already made this experience possible for tourists. Unfortunately, there are no such ceremonies today. I would have to Shambala. Not far from here, north in Tibet, the legendary Shangri La, the epitome of a place of longing and of paradise lost, is said to be found. For the Buddhists it is the mythological realm of Mir so many images whiz through The head and the journey through Buddhist mythology and thoughts should go on. But first we find peace and relaxation in the Lodge Norbu Ghang Resort in nearby Pelling. Day 10: Mon, After breakfast we visit the northeastern monastery of Tashiding. Es Because of its secluded location in the quiet of nature, it offers an ideal place for meditation. Here, too, we find the red hat monks, of whom around 50 live here all the time. A special vase is kept in this monastery, which is constantly filled with water and, according to legend, never gets empty even though it is not refilled. It is only opened once a year by the abbot of the monastery and otherwise kept locked. The Chogyal, King of Sikkim, used the vase as an oracle in the past. If it was only half full, the land was in for a bad harvest. Unfortunately, we cannot visit the inside of the monastery because the key guard cannot be found. The entire monastery complex is lined with many colorful prayer flags and mantra boards, so-called "Mani walls" - a colorful spectacle. Once again we are faced with an endless journey through the Himalayan mountains. Bad roads that don't really deserve this name, ramshackle suspension bridges and repeated rockfalls and landslides slow down the journey. We need 7 hours for 120 km. Then we reach Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The place has about inhabitants and is located on

7 7 from: m height. Our local quarter is the *** Hotel NorKhill, which means something like "House of Jewels". This hotel was the former guest house of the last king of Sikkim. Since I do not agree with the room allocated to me because of the humming exhaust air system in front of it in the kitchen, I am given the only suite in the house. I have no idea which heads of state have stayed here before me - that's fine with me. A stroll through the town ends in the afternoon before we meet again at the hotel for dinner. The waiters at NorKhill are all wearing operetta costumes, a kind of Don Cossack outfit. That fits the Mongolian-Chinese interior design style. The waiters sometimes serve a bit impetuously, they actually throw some dishes on the plate - it takes a lot of getting used to. If someone has not emptied their plate, the waiter grumbles audibly to his displeasure while it is being removed. Tonight we have a typical national drink for dinner, the Tongba Sikkimese drink. It is served in large wooden cups in which fermented millet and dry yeast ("alcohol stones") have been filled. The waiters pour hot water over the mixture, then let it ferment for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. With all politeness - the millet beer tasted awful, like liquid yeast. A deep drag with the bamboo stalk is enough for me ... Later Udai teaches us that we had let the drink draw too short, it should have been at least twice as long. I doubt I would have liked it better afterwards. Something spicy from the Mongolian fire pot is served as a meal. In the lobby of the hotel hang photos of the last King Palden Thondup Namgyal and his wife Hope, who was a native of America. Chogyal and Gyalmo were the official names for the King and Queen of Sikkim. Day 11: Tue, Rumtek means "meeting place of all gods". It is the most famous monastery in Sikkim, although it was only built after the Chinese occupation of Tibet - as a true-to-original copy of the ancestral monastery of the Kagyu order in Lhasa. Its head is the Karmapa. Up to 600 monks live here. They belong to the "black hat monks" or "black hats". In the West it is largely unknown that there are three other high ones in addition to the Dalai Lama

8 ORDINDIES 8 of: 46 religious leaders of Tibetan Buddhism exist. They are the Panchen Lama, whose 11th incarnation Gendun Choekyi Nyima was born in 1990 and lives under political arrest somewhere in China, as well as the Karmapa, whose 17th incarnation Thaye Dorje was born in Tibet in 1983 and like the Dalai Lama (14th incarnation) lives in exile in Dharamsala, India. The reincarnations of the lamas are the umpteenth reborn original religious leaders who represent different schools of faith. Hubert reports about a friend who, as a stewardess, happened to have looked after the Dalai Lama twice.She said that he was surrounded by a supernatural aura, which had an immediate effect on those standing around and which one could not avoid. We are eagerly listening to Udai's stories. After that, only the Karmapa has the ability to physically float above the ground. The same quality is said of the Karmapa's black hat or crown. The people here are no nuts, their statements are to be taken seriously! On the top level of the monastery building, the rooms are kept free for the Karmapa, who has not yet moved here because the monastery is near the border with China - formerly Tibet. Udai thinks that the Chinese are so afraid of the three lamas that they can exert decisive political influence in addition to their religious leadership that they would do anything to prevent their return to Tibet. An example is the arrest of the Panchen Lama when he was still a child. According to Udai, China occupied Tibet in 1951 because of its immeasurable mineral wealth, without which the economic development of the gigantic country would not have been possible. Historically, however, Tibet belonged to China until the beginning of the 20th century. In another part of the monastery we see the large gem-adorned stupa with the relics of the previous Karmapa, i.e. his 16th incarnation. In Rumtek Udai also tells us the legends of Guru Rinpoche - or in Sanskrit "Guru Padmasambhava", the founder of Buddhism in Tibet and patron saint of Sikkim. He is said to have defeated the spirits and demons of the snow country who opposed the new faith. Padmasambhava himself is often depicted as a demon-like red figure - in contrast to the blue depiction of Vajrakilaya, the "manifestation of the activities of all Buddhas in a wrathful form", one of the highest teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. Admittedly, we don't even begin to understand any of this. Udai comforts us: Why do monks need a lifetime to ultimately understand even a little? The Buddhist doctrine of the three world ages does not open up to us either. So there is a Golden Age in which the gods lived, the following Silver Age and that

9 9 from: 46 Dark ages in which people live today. What we hear about Tibetan Buddhism that day is really heavy religious fare. In Gangtok we visit the Institute of Tibetology, which was founded in 1958. The Dalai Lama laid the foundation stone and Nehru inaugurated the institute. Numerous writings, miniatures and photos are exhibited here. In the adjoining seminar rooms around the large central stupa, we watch young monks praying and reciting formulaic word sequences, the so-called mantras. A visit to the Sikkim Art Institute is on the agenda in the afternoon. Here young people are trained in painting and wood carving over several years. Contrary to expectations, there is no sales event afterwards. The planned trip with the Damovar cable car via Gangtok has to be canceled because it is currently closed for maintenance work. Bad luck! A walk through the less spectacular Flowerhouse, a greenhouse, and through the fruit and vegetable market at the end of the bazaar street concludes the afternoon. In the mountain air of Sikkim you get tired quickly. At 10 p.m. we are in bed, sleep is really restful here. Day 12: Wed, We first descend into the green valley of the Testa River, from here then up again to the Hill Station Kalimpong at a comfortable height. Mountain forests and tea plantations alternate on the winding route. A running gag is born on this route: the request to "blow horn" (honking at the beginning of an overtaking maneuver) can be read on many of the truck's loading flaps. When she sees one of these trucks, Doris asks Udai whether the vehicle belongs to the "Blow Horn Company". We can't stop laughing in our car. In Kalimpong we move into our rooms in the excellent Hotel Silver Oaks, we are very impressed by its colonial charm and well-tended gardens. Our daily program includes a visit to the Tharpe Choling monastery. This is where the "yellow hat monks" are at home. I still don't understand why the monks are named after the colors red, black and yellow. They are neither made up like that, nor do they wear hats in the respective color in everyday life. Anyway, I didn't see it. We are even allowed to take photos inside this temple - a major exception to the otherwise everywhere ban on photography. Representations of three Buddhas are from here

10 10 of: 46 To see past, present and future. There are extremely divergent prognoses among religious scholars about the time of the appearance of the future Buddha, the world teacher Maitreya. Of course, Guru Patmasambhava can also be found here. He is shown with a Dorje in hand. A dorje is also called a vajra or in German as a thunderbolt. I had always imagined a weapon underneath. But it is one of the most important cult objects of Buddhism, the symbol of the indestructible, which is why it is called "diamond" and the translation of thunderbolt in the Buddhist context is actually wrong. Patmasambhava's mantra is recited in endless repetitions by the monks of the monastery: "Om - Ah - Hun - Vajra - Guru - Padma - Siddhi - Hum". Udai's favorite mantra, however, is "Om - mani - padme - hum" and he likes to hum and sing to himself again and again. It sounds pleasant and calming. As I learned later, it is the oldest and still most popular mantra of Tibetan Buddhism. Because we like it so much, Udai later obtained a pirated CD of recordings from a monastery on Bazaar Street. Here, too, we end the day with a walk through the weekly market, which takes place here twice a week and where, in addition to vegetables and fruit, everyday items are also offered. In the evening we sit together in a garden pavilion of the hotel and review the last few days over a beer. Day 13: Thu, Udai leaves us at the airport in Bagdogra. This time we are flying with Jet Airways, another major Indian airline. It goes to Guwahati in Assam. This state is home to a large number of illegal Bangladeshi workers, mostly Muslim. They can be recognized by the poor clothes they have torn off and wear on their bodies. The Indian police turn a blind eye to bribe payments. Donations to police officers are part of everyday life in India. Their salaries are so low that they depend on them. This is how the political system promotes corruption. Our new local guide in Assam is called Mitu, not to be confused with Miku, our constant companion. Ahead of us are 250 km of route, i.e. 6-7 hours of driving time. After a short refreshment in a "restaurant", which has the charm and comfort of a shell and the furniture consists of plastic chairs and tables, we set off with two minibuses. We cross the Brahmaputra and take the slightly longer but better northern one

11 ORDINDIES 11 from: 46 Route heading east. In the plain, the journey goes through rice and millet fields. The villages are dusty and populated by many people. The traffic on the highway is a mess. Trucks, buses, cars, TucTucs, mopeds, rickshaws and ox carts whirl around. To overtake, you drive head-on towards each other and at the very last moment you get back on your lane. Absolute madness! At first we tremble for our lives, but in time we surrender to our fate. Et would still have joot jejange - we will keep up with the Rhinelanders. After dark, however, the journey becomes a ride in hell, because now there is a further challenge for the driver to recognize many unlit road users. Unfortunately, we are not spared seeing the tattered corpse of an accident victim lying on the street that has not yet been covered. Presumably the victim took a wrong and therefore fatal evasive step onto the street and was caught by a truck. The military term "collateral damage" occurs to me, but I quickly dismiss this idea. A few kilometers further on, there is another human body on the road. Mitu says he's a drunk. The cars on the street speed past him by a hair's breadth at 70 km / h. Nobody cares about him and pulls him away from there. The images of these two people have an effect. At 9 p.m. we arrive at Lodge Wildgrass Resort on the edge of Kaziranga National Park. The lodge is said to be the best accommodation in the area. We wonder what the other hostels might look like. The previous day actually only consisted of a bus ride and a flight. Day 14: Fri, Kaziranga National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has an area of ​​430 square kilometers and consists of high grass fields, forests and swamps. The national park is particularly known as the habitat of the Indian rhinoceros, but Asian elephants, water buffalo, wild boar, deer, wild dogs, collar bears, otters and many other animal species also live there. Our elephant safari starts at 6 a.m. So it means getting up early as always. We drive with jeeps to the entrance of the park, where there is an "elephant dock". Other safari participants are also waiting here for the start. The saddled pachyderms are climbed by 2-4 people from a raised platform. The mahout, the elephant handler, sits directly behind the animal's ears. The elephants can carry up to 400 kg. I share a cow elephant with Brigitte and Miku, whose cub follows us every step of the way.

12 12 from: 46 The elephants bring us to the plain, which is partly meters high with elephant grass, very close to the famous white rhinos grazing here. These massive animals can run up to 60 km / h despite their enormous weight. If they have offspring or become irritable, they can become extremely dangerous. This also applies to the water buffalo. There are also tigers here, which is why the safari group is accompanied by armed rangers. After all, we are not in Hagenbeck's zoo. The approx. One hour ride gives us a first impression of the flora and fauna of the national park. In addition to numerous rhinos, we meet antelopes, wild boars, buffalo, the beautiful blue Kingfisher bird, storks and - last but not least - wild elephants. After breakfast in the lodge, safari no. 2 starts. This time, we go to the national park for several hours in open jeeps. If you stand upright while driving over the bumpy paths, hold on to the bars of the loading area and look out for big game, you get a certain "Daktari feeling". The direct contact with the wilderness is breathtaking. Safari No. 3, which starts after lunch, brings us to the Brahmaputra bank. On the other side of the river, many animals can be seen with binoculars. Jumping fish prove that the river is not so polluted up here. A British ornithological group has also taken up residence in the lodge. They all wear safari suits and carry a large amount of photo equipment with them with which they shoot the birdies. Day 15: Sa, back to Guwahati early in the morning we take the slightly shorter south route. We pay for the hour we save with our lungs. I have seldom "eaten" so much dust and exhaust fumes. I wonder how the Indians can take it and why they don't do anything about it. At noon we fly to Kolkata with Jet Airways, the last stop on our North India trip. Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, was called Calkutta during colonial times. The big city on the Ganges Delta has 19 million inhabitants during the day and 15 million at night, Miku tells us. This is due to the many migrant workers who hire out here during the day, e.g. the illegal rickshaw drivers from Bangladesh. Unfortunately we only have a very small time window to see something of the city and leave it

13 ORDINDIEN 13 von: 46 us first on Miku's selection of sights. But I'm really disappointed with that. Miku leads us to the Anglican Cathedral of St. Paul and then to the Victoria Memorial, where a bronze statue of her sits in front of a massive building in honor of the fat English queen. What does this have to do with India, except that both places are reminiscent of the British colonial rulers? The following goal has a much greater connection to Kolkata and life in this city. We visit Mother Theresa's place of work. Here in a backyard building she founded her own order, the Missionaries of Charity. In the 1970s, the media made her known as the angel of the poor, in 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 2003 after her death she was sanctified by the Pope. In her simple marble coffin, which stands in a room on the ground floor of the monastery, and when looking at the partition walls with pictures and documents from her life and work, I cannot deny a certain emotion. Unfortunately, there are also downsides to the founder of the order, which are often kept secret. So it should e.g. have refused to give painkillers to the sick and dying "so that they could be much closer to Jesus Christ in their suffering and pain". That is why the slum dwellers called her the "Angel of Death of Calcutta". And there are other very negative reviews. I cannot judge which representation of Mother Theresa is correct. Maybe she was just human like all of us, with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other - and not a saint. Who knows? A real contrast program is the subsequent visit to the Kali Temple. Kali is the goddess with the "two faces". She embodies at the same time the destructive element of Parvati, the wife of Shiva, and the archetype of the loving mother. Kali is represented as a black demon with a blood-red tongue and a wreath of human skulls. The area here is staring with dirt, there is a ban on photos. Only Hindus are allowed to visit the inside of the Kali Temple, but we also get a very good impression of the religious atmosphere that prevails here. Young women pray at an altar niche for the blessing of children, allow themselves to be blessed with red paint and drink holy water in portions. Another place is reserved for animal sacrifices, which are practiced here almost every day. It is very narrow. The mass of believers spiral into the temple. We are in close contact with them.

14 14 from: 46 Kali is the patron goddess and namesake of the city. The district in which their temple is located was formerly called Kalikata. The British corrupted the name of Calkutta. Before our return flight to Frankfurt, we have dinner at the Hotel Lytton in the evening, there is Thai food for a change. Some of us lie down for 2-3 hours before the bus picks us up to the airport. The trip from the city center out of town will be remembered for a long time. Of course I've heard of it, but what I see here exceeds my worst expectations. The poorest of the poor have lay down to sleep on the roadsides. They are right next to the road, next to sewer rivulets and stinking piles of rubbish. Rats run over them. They don't even have a piece of cardboard or a sheet to cover them with. And the worst is that it is not just about a few, no, every 10 meters a person sleeps here under circumstances that one would not expect from any animal. The apocalyptic horsemen must rush past here at any moment! Day 16: Sun, the Lufthansa jet takes off at 2:45 a.m., arriving in the morning at 8:45 a.m. CET. I booked a miles upgrade to Business Class for this route in advance, but I still don't arrive in Frankfurt rested and refreshed. The impressions of last night in Kolkata occupy me too much. The person sitting next to me is a professor from Heidelberg who is returning from a congress. In the conversation I mention the charitable element in Indian society that was not recognizable to me. The members of the upper castes apparently don't care if the poor die. He contradicts this and compares the situation with the European landlord system of the time and the care of the industrial barons for their workers. The wealthy Indian worries about his employees and their families. He definitely knows that from an Indian colleague who is doing very well financially. I can't tell if he's right. Photos: * ² Rüdiger Bromm, * ³ Marion Maul, Günter Seitz Here you can find the travel report, part 2, as a PDF for printing ....

15 15 from: 46 My travel literature recommendations for North India: (a click on the book / DVD title leads you to order directly from amazon.de) India - The North from Reise Know How publishing house offers everything a good travel guide needs needs: Detailed background information about the country and its people, practical tips and everything about the various sights. Whether the eternal competitor of the Reise Know How series, the alternative by Stefan Loose, is better or less good, can rightly be declared a war of faith. India - a journey in pictures, was published by National Geographic Germany. The bound picture book tells over 500 pages in words and of course many wonderful pictures about India then and now. Anyone who has already been there flips through this book with sadness, it whets the others' appetite for the discovery of the subcontinent.The price of 29.95 for the opulent band is really reasonable. And these are my DVD tips on the subject of "India" - all of which have received Oscar awards: - Richard Attenborough's brilliant film "Gandhi" about the life of Mahatma Gandhi with Ben Kingsley in the lead role, - "Journey to India", a colorful literary adaptation the time of colonialism, and - "Slumdog Millionär", the captivating story of the young Jamal from the slums of Mumbai And here you go back to the home page: (if the slide-in menu on the left does not work ...) Joachim Beneke / Version:: 45