Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eight Day in India: Champaner

We get up at 6am, have breakfast at 6:30, then our taxi arrives at 7am. Dr Piyush Joshi and Dr Falguni Bharateeya accompany us, and all four of us are in the travel group. We head off in the direction of south-east, to the heritage site of Champaner. Before we visit this archaeological site with its mosques and stone carvings, we first drive into a wild rural area and visit a temple that is hidden away. Photography is forbidden there, which irks me a bit - well, then the world will not know about this fabulous temple site with its strange red idol god (which looks a lot like a cartoon character).

We then visit Champaner: a large mosque, where I also meet a group of people from Switzerland (easily recognisable by their unique accent) who are on a family visit in Gujarat. There is another mosque, and there is a large fortress. Within the fortress walls there are people living in a village.

We head up the nearby mountain and visit a site with seven arches, from where we enjoy a great view over the plain down there with the Champaner site. Driving further up we end up in a queue for entering a parking lot. Cars are parked here for going further with a cable car to another temple site. It is quite difficult to enter and exit, and the exiting cars block the entering cars. Finally we get a spot, and then go to the restaurant to have a meal.

Afterwards we have the privilege to see a panther who has recently (4 weeks ago) been captured from the wild. It has killed 4 people, and so they had to put it into a cage. It is not a black panther but a yellow one with black dots. In my opinion this would count as a leopard, but then I have been told that leopards are larger. When we approach the cage, the panther ferociously bites into the metal bars of the window, and she hisses loudly and angrily. The strategy to deal with this panther is to feed her very little so that she gets weaker, and then would not be a danger to people. In my opinion this is completely wrong: a hungry panther is so much more dangerous than a well fed one. There are enough cows running around which are of no use to anyone (because nobody here eats meat anyway), and they could feed this panther with some of those cows to make her really fat and lethargic. Then the panther would also be more happy. But my suggestion seems not to be welcomed...

We drive further, and after a few wrong turns and detours we reach the town of Lunavada, where we visit a friend of Piyush and Falguni who is a doctor. We have a tea, and he prescribes something to Brian against his chest cough. It is getting late already, and the sun has set as we take off for the final travel segment to the guesthouse which is located near a dam.

Very simple accommodations... our ladies share a room: the VIP Suite #3, and Brian and myself share room #7. Both rooms differ slightly in their amenities and their funishing.

We go to sleep early as we will have another early start tomorrow.

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