Last night I spent quite a bit of time reading my guide books to try and get some idea as to what to do next. My next stop is Jabalpur by train tomorrow but after that I had no idea. After quite a lot of thought I have decided to head down to Chennai as soon as possible and start my trip round the South Coast. The main reason for this is that though the days are warm here 20 – 25 C the nights get very cold 5 – 8 c this really makes the evenings fairly limited for walking around. Also the hotels don’t really cater to well for the cold evening, at every hotel I have managed to get an electric heater but unfortunately they are not great and also with frequent power cuts fairly useless!! I recon I can always come back in this direction after South India when it becomes warmer at night, I am told this is anytime after mid February. Therefore first thing this morning I headed of to a rail booking agency that I have walked past many times. I was pleased to find out that trains from Jabalpur go direct to Chennai I was not so pleased when I found out it takes 24 hours!!! I had a big debate as to whether I fancied 24 hours on one train……I decided to go for it on the basis that it does go through some quite nice towns and I can always jump off and catch another train after a rest, but hopefully I will manage the full 24 hours. The next slight problem was that the trains all seemed booked and I wanted a confirmed booking. The problem with going on the wait list is that if you do not make the train as confirmed you drop out of the system until he try and re book. I managed to get the last available bunk/seat in 2AC scheduled to depart at 10:50 am on the 21st January but this train takes 29 hours!!! I must be mad, I did leave the booking office thinking what are you doing??? At my age I should not be trying to relive my youth as a easy come easy go backpacker!! The fair for this mammoth 1500 km rail trip is 1,243 rupees (£17)
With all that sorted I set off on my second days sight seeing around Pachmarhi hoping that today we would not be doing to much downhill freewheeling. First stop was Christ church a protestant church built by the British in 1875 walking round the church yard was just like being back in England inside there was a quite impressive stained glass window. Once outside I was approached by and Indian lady and her 3 sons as they wanted to take some photos of me with them before going to church, she told me she travels 120 miles every Sunday to go to church, I have to admit I was quite surprised at the amount of people gathering for the service.
Next it was off to some caves this involved quite a long walk uphill but the scenery made it well worth the strain. I should mention with all the walking I have been doing in India my belt has been tightened 2 notches!! On the way back to Pachmarhi we passed a lake where the locals were out enjoying the water sports and a bit further on they were paragliding on a long strip of land. We were back in Pachmarhi for about 1pm for lunch with the tour to recommence at 4pm. I took this opportunity to go on the Internet and update my website.
After lunch we set off again for Bison Lodge on the outskirts this is the first house built in Pachmarhi by said Captain Forsyth of The Bengal Lancers, it now houses a museum. It is difficult to describe but I guess you would call it a Natural History Museum in its own way it was quite interesting though everything was written in Hindu I did recognise a stuffed Tiger.
Next it was to the top of another hill where India’s firs President used to come and meditate and has now been turned into a small National Park it was certainly very pleasant.