The difference is immediately noticeable as you drive down the road from the Wagah border crossing from Pakistan into India. Everything is cleaner, the population more prosperous and even the traffic is more ‘up-market’. The atmosphere is also more relaxed as people do not have to worry about whether or not they will be returning home in the evening.
None of that is to decry Pakistan and I stand by everything I have already said, but there is a difference and it is very noticeable.
We went straight to Amritsar, a journey of around 35 miles. Amritsar is an unremarkable city with one or two places to visit plus a trump card in any game; the Golden Temple. I had heard of it from news bulletins and I knew it was the central place of worship for the Sikhs. I had even seen television pictures of it, but nothing prepares you for the spectacle that is the temple itself. Nothing I can write will do it justice; all I can say is if you ever get the opportunity to visit it, grasp it with both hands.
Bridget’s engine still has a tendency to almost backfire when she is first started but settles down after a short run. I would really like to be able to check the timing and I know that one of the carburettors is leaking air. I will have to overhaul the carb’s in Australia as well as refurbishing the shocks and possibly replacing the rear springs.
From Amritsar we drove down to Ambala which is on the main route to Dehli, however that was not my objective on this occasion. I had arranged with a chap at the hotel in Amritsar to leave Bridget at a hotel in Ambala and then be driven up to Mcleodganj in the Himachal Pradesh region. The idea was to go trekking in the mountains there, an area of outstanding beauty.
Just as well I left Bridget behind this time as the road we took is still waiting to be built. There was also some tree felling going on supposedly beside the road. Just moments after I was wondering ‘what happens if they get it wrong’ and we ground to a halt in a long line of traffic. Sure enough the road was blocked by…… a fallen tree! After about an hour they managed to make a large enough gap for single line traffic to pass.
At Mcleodganj, sometimes called Little Lhasa, is the residence of the Dalai Lama and the exiled Government of Tibet. Close by I also viewed St John’s Church, which could have been a church in any English village except for the corrugated iron roof over the tower.
From there I went to Dharamkot with a beautiful panoramic view of the Kangra Valley, Pong Dam and Dhauladhar mountain range. I went mountain trekking on the Saturday (pictures in gallery). The trek was a total of 11.3km climbing to a height of 2800 metres, and it was just beautiful.
The wildlife is interesting with monkeys galore and several Mongooses, or should that be mongeese, including one on the balcony of my hotel room.
From here it’s back to Ambala to collect Bridget and then, after a good nights sleep, on to Delhi. An arriving back at the hotel, just as I thought this was the end of this part of my journey, there was an Indian wedding taking place. I asked the hotel manager if it would be alright to take one or two photos and he said it would be no problem.
Whilst taking the first photo I was spotted by the groom’s mother who immediately insisted that I join them. I held back not wishing to intrude on the couples day but I was gradually coaxed into the proceedings and ended up having my photo taken with the happy couple. They have promised to e-mail a copy which I will post on the site with their permission.