Bordi Shimla

An Indian Journal | Bordi to Shimla

Bordi | October 2010


Maharashtra State

Bordi and Dahanu | Oct. 16 to 19

The first two stops were rather short, jet lagged and I have spent them mostly awestruck and being occupied with acclimatising myself to an entirely new environment. Therefore I have left my camera mostly in the bag and when I have put it out the results were mostly rather clumsy. So not much to show here. I however quickly discovered the of mavels of Indian food.

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Gujarat State

Gujarat on the Arabian Sea is one of the dry states of the Indian republic, with the majority of the Gujaratis following the austere and conservative Jain variety of Hinduism. It is one of the economic powerhouses of India and home of the current (as of 2020) prime minister Narendra Modi from the Hindu-nationalist BJP party.

Ahmedabad | Oct. 19 to 21, 27

Thums Up Indian vintage coke | Ahmedabad | October 2010

The hometown of Mohandas K. Ghandi – more often known as »great soul« or in Sanskrit »Mahatma« – was our third stop. We arrived there after the first of many long train hauls of that journey. Since all I saw of Mumbai so far was a sleeping city during a taxi ride in the dark and silhouettes at dawn at a suburbian railway station, Ahmedabad (pronounciation Amm-debad) with its 5.5 million inhabitants was the first big city I expirienced in India. I got a fever after arrival and was still not fully acclimatised. That shows in the photographic output which is often pretentious and consequently not on display here. Things should change at our next station, the port city of Veraval.

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Veraval Oct. 22 to 26

An actor is visiting his old neighborhood in Veraval and is being celebrated by local men. | Veraval | October 2010

Veraval is a big port city and fishing industry hub at the Arabian Sea. Founded by a Rajput in the 13th or 14th century it was part of the Kingdom of Junagadh until 1947 when Junagadh was merged with India. There is almost no international tourism in Veraval. Domestic tourism is attracted by Somnath temple that is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Before the rise of the city of Surat, Veraval was the main seaport for pilgrims to Mecca. One of the my personal highlights was a thali stall that served three different varieties of freshly baked flatbread and fried chillis with a salt crust to its masalas. I’d stop short of killing but would do many things to get some of that stuff now.

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Take a look at the shipbuilders of Veraval here in the Stories.

Rajasthan State

Rajasthan – the Land of the Kings – is one of the big touristy regions in India. We went to Bikaner in the north first because it is not the obvious destination within the obvious destination. From there we made a daytrip to Kolayat, a little town in the desert that is the destination of many pilgrimages. Then we left for the north to visit Chandigarh, Shimla, Mussoorie, and Delhi before we decided that we had to come back once more to take a look at Jodhpur and Jaipur.

Bikaner | Oct. 28 to Nov. 5

Bikaner | October 2010

Bikaner ist a hot and dusty city in the middle of the desert. Once the capital of the princely state of the same name it is today the home of the National Research Centre on Camels. We stayed at the guest house of a camel safari operator who confirmed many of the less favorable stereotypes about the Indian international tourist industry but otherwise tried to stay clear of that sphere. On the fringes and in the bylanes Bikaner had all of the harsh and rugged allure that fascinated me all over the north of the subcontinent – no less than the regionally typical heavy and oily masalas with freshly baked flatbreads are a source of deep longing until today.

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Take a look at the dyers at the bazar of Bikaner here in the Stories.

Kolayat | Oct. 31

Kolayat | October 2010

The small town of Kolayat is located some 50 kilometers to the southwest of Bikaner on Highway 15 to Jaisalmer. It is a historic center of pilgrimage with various bathing ghats and temples situated around an artificial lake named Kapil Sarovar. We went there off season with the effect to see the town in an eerily deserted mood on a hazy lighted day. The atmosphere of the day was set fittingly for Halloween when one of the first things we encountered after leaving the train from Bikaner was an abandoned and dying puppy struggling across the road in front of us. All we could do was to give it a sip of water to drink and to hope for its suffering to end soon before we ventured into town.

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Union Territory

Chandigarh | Nov. 6 to 11

Punjab and Haryana High Court at the Capitol Complex

Chandigarh, Le Corbusiers planned capital city for the Punjab and Haryana is the modernist dream of Jawaharlal Nehru and the cleanest, richest, and happiest city in India. Yet I rarely took pictures there for the following reason. My travelmate had developed a really high fever when we arrived there on the night train from Bikaner. After we reached our hotel I urged the manager to organize a taxi for us that would bring us to a physician. When I led my shaking companion outside after being noticed about the arrival of our ride, I saw to my astonishement a bicycle-rickshaw waiting for us.

Slow Motion Rickshaw Ride

The poor pilot weighed what I estimated to be about 45 kilograms and consequently managed to drive us to the doctor at about strolling pace. When we reached the doctor, he was not the least impressed by the condition of my companion. He felt her pulse, looked her in the eye, grunted slightly, and told us that its just a wild fever that will go away after three days. After another bizarre slo-mo rickshaw ride to a pharmacist and back to our hotel I spent most of the time in Chandigarh looking after my companion and carrying loads of botteled water to our room. The wild fever did indeed dissipate after some days, but except for two short strolls we sadly did not see much of Chandigarh and I did not take many photographs there.

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Himachal Pradesh State

Shimla | Nov. 11 to 15

Shimla | Lower Bazar | November 2010

For more than a century up to 1939 the top echelons of the British colonial administration in India retreated to the hill station of Shimla in the foothills of the great Hymalayas range during the summer months. While temparatures first in Calcutta, then in New Delhi by far exceeded the range upper class Brits were prepared to endure, Shimla summers at 2000 meters above sea level offered perfect conditions for the favorite British colonial pasttime: to reenact the club, sports and dinner party lifstyle of the well off classes back home in England.

Today Shimla is a sprawling city of 170.000 people located on a number of neighbouring ridges. Its old town is truly impressively cast into a steep mountainside with a replica of an English nineteenth century small town center atop of it. Looking to the north in the crisp and clear morning air, one can see the awe inspiring panorama of the Himalayas proper in the distance.

Vertical Communications

Because of its location, there is a fairly limited number of roads broad as well as level enough to be negotiable by car. Instead a myriad of stairways crisscross the upper reaches of the city and provide vertical communications. In the colonial past only the viceroy of the British Indian Empire, the commander in chief of the British Indian Army and the governor of the Punjab were allowed to travel first by coach and then by car in Shimla. All lesser beings had to resort to rickshaws or simply shake a leg.

The logistics of supplying a city of 170.000 people on a mountaintop would be unthinkable even today, without an army of cargo-porters, feet clad in flip flops or sandals at best, that provide an uniterrupted stream of all sorts of goods flowing uphill.

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