The best part of the trip was the road journey from Dakra to Bodh gaya to Nalanda. It takes about 5.5 hrs to reach Nalanda, and the road is quite bad for the first hr or so but it is decent for the rest of the trip. This is the Jharkhand/Bihar part of India and i had not seen this part of India much before. There are many villages along the way. I was glad to see open lands, roads under construction ( a sign of development), agri fields, huts made of hay and a general feeling of calm and serenity on the trip. The villages/small towns grew along the roads which is understandable from localite's perspectives but not good for traffic and road safety. I didn't find any good dhabas which is indeed a big disappointment for me. Since i was not driving, i was able to enjoy it even more, although having a driver makes me totally uncomfortable. Here is a driving perspective -
We went first straight to Nalanda but at Rajgir, we saw the first Visitor information center. I dont know whether i have blogged about this before but here it is how i plan my travel - I never do any planning. I believe that it makes the trip much more enjoyable (since there are no expectations). In US, i just drive to place and go the tourist information center and ask them politely - what should i do or what would you recommend me :) And thats it. So, i rely on experts and it has worked greatly so far. So, seeing the tourist info place at Rajgir totally excited me and i had to go in. Apparently Bihar govt. is investing a lot in tourism and the whole place was under construction but the guy did gave me a list of things that i should do. There was a map of couple of hiking trails, its a shame that i didn't had time to do those hikes.
|From India trip - Dec 2012|
The Nalanda ruins was not as interesting as the museum next to it which is quite decently maintained. I think a little more of education will go a long way in preserving those artifacts. The actual ruins could have had more restoration efforts as it appeared neglected. The tourist guide was reasonably helpful. I think in its hay days, Nalanda would have been a masterpiece. I think we should build Nalanda 2.0 commemorate the institution. While coming back from Nalanda, i stopped at the Japanese temple and Bramha Kund. Bramha Kund is actually a hot spring but for some reason we like to associate religion to everything natural in this world. As a result there were hundreds of people taking a dip in that totally dirty water. I was totally grossed out, very sad that a natural beauty was so exploited and the local police were just not doing anything. There were scores of beggars, people watching clothes, bathing etc etc. This made me very sad.
We drove back to Bodh gaya, the plan was to stay there for the night but due to holiday season, they had blocked the road a km before the spot. Since i do not like my tourist places to be filled with people (gosh, how would i survive Indian toursim ( i smile as i write this)) i decided to ditch Bodh gaya and get back home. I also had a running cough so that was also a factor in getting back.
Listening to the Cricket commentary on AM while going and listening to local AM stations while coming back in night was quite an highlight. I like the govt. run radio and their mix of programmes. I had the kachori and litti as the local food place at Gaya, it was decent but not that great. Homemade parathe with Karela was a big respite and an awesome delight!
The pics of the day trip and the entire India trip can be found here - https://picasaweb.google.com/104532372595633553382/IndiaTripDec2012#