Asia | India – Khajuraho, a little faith restored…

Asia | India – Khajuraho, a little faith restored…

Being stranded in Jhansi on thursday afternoon, forced me into getting up really early this time, to be able to catch the first bus to Khajuraho. I had arranged for my riksja driver to pick me up at 5.10 am so we would have plenty of time to get to the 5.30 am bus… or so I thought. At 5.10 am no riksja to be seen and Murphy’s law is as much in effect here as anywhere else: normally you can’t get away from all the riksjas that want to drive you around, but when you need one, there is none around!
Off I went therefore, packed and all, still in the dark, on my way to the train and bus station.
Got a huge scare when something in the dark made this ominous kind of ‘NGRE’ sound. First of all I thought it was an angry dog I had woken up, but it turned out to be a semi wild pig…
To be followed by a pack of barking dogs a few meters down the road.
Fortunately a riskja did come up after 15 minutes of walking and I was able to catch my first bus in India.
What can I say? It is like having a movie played before your eyes with the landscape passing by, small villages along the road with people sitting around at all hours, and life seemingly having been turned back if not centuries, than at least several decades…

Luckily enough I had figured out where I wanted to stay before getting off the bus, and could return a firm ‘how much to Yogi lodge’. Judging by the way 20 or so guys jumped on the only 4 tourists that were on this bus, you’d have thought they had not seen a tourist in weeks…
As getting up early this still does not go too well with me, I took it easy, strolling around this small town in the middle of nowhere.
Khajuraho is a quiet little place which is a heaven of peace after Delhi and Agra. It has some astonishing old temples from around 1000 AD with beautiful carvings on the outsides, bot depicting everyday life as well as the better part of the Kama Sutra.
At the end of the day I rented a bike to go and see the Eastern Templegroup and got upto my usual defensive and mistrusting attitude when one of the guys at the temple came up to me to give me some explanations. However, he assured me that this was not Delhi or Agra and that he genuinely only wanted to inform me, without wanting any money in return. He just wanted to know visitors about the temples and what was special about them… a refreshing attitude after all the Delhi and Agra money seekers and I indeed enjoyed his explanations.
The more I was taken aback when on coming out of the temple, he insisted I buy something from his trolley… being not completely cold hearted I ended up buying a little statue of Ghanesh, god and protector of, amongst others, travellers. A usefull nice buy, but I felt somehow even more cheated than before…

The next day however made up for a lot of my bad vibes…
I started off early again, because my first yoga lesson would start at 7 am at Yogi Sharma’s Ashram. Off by bike to meet up with the Yogi and 2 Italians I had already met at the hotel.
It turned out to be very interesting, mostly a filosophical kind of discussion about the soul (I am), that just inhabites your body, emotional attachments and the ultimate happiness. Even though I could not go along with all of his thinking, it makes you think about a lot of things and we had a very interesting morning, especially afterwards when he read my karma.
Don’t worry, I still have my feet on the ground, but it gives a lot of food for thoughts!

After a further leisurely morning I went to visit the main group of temples right in the centre of town. I must admit that it feels kind of weird to be standing around 1000 year old temples in a soaring hot sun, having an unknown Indian guide of around 40-50 years telling you about all kind of different sculptures coming from the Kama Sutra…
The temples and sculptures, together with the nice atmosphere in Khajuraho are absolutely worth the visit though and I can recommend to anybody going to India to make the detour.

And the best part is yet to come!
At Raja’s cafe I met up with a Danish guy, Claus who is travelling around India for 2 months. He had bought a beautiful small painting in one of the shops and the guy had invited him to come to his a house to have dinner. As soon as we passed his shop, he came out and reconfirmed his invitation, extending it also to me…
At 7 pm, we rented a bike and after a small chai (Indian tea with milk, sugar and cardomon), we headed for his village, not far from the Southern temples.
An adventurous ride, knowing that it is pitch dark by then and that the average Indian bike does not have lights… we made it in one piece to Ram’s house though where we were invited in.
A great experience and amazing to see how Ram gets on with his life. Working hard to take care of his sister in law and her 9 children (his brother died), he takes very little for himself, but tries to travel a little bit and is genuinely interested in other cultures. A small house, with one room for himself, with one bed he doesn’t sleep on and a TV for the children to watch, he is sleeping and eating on the ground on a blanket.
You can imagine we had a wonderful evening, with terrific food and interesting discussions.
This evening definitely restored my faith in people and was one of my best India experiences.
Claus and Ram, thanks!

Category : Asia | India , Uncategorized