Day 36 : 26th October 2019
Happy Kali Chaudas and Choti Diwali to all. My day end destination would have lots of relevance to Diwali and a very important place in India and Indian history. Guess it and will disclose it later. To start with, my Siliguri hotel booking process was confusing, and don’t understand how it works. Didn’t book it through any portal and directly went to the hotel and asked for the bookings. He quoted me 2000 rupees and I showed him how much the portals are quoting (1200 rupees).
He asked me to go ahead and book it through portal. I have seen hotels (in the past) guys asking me not to book through the portal and book it directly and gives me discount over and above the portals quotes. In this case, it was totally opposite and I was sort of amused. Need to sit with somebody who understands the logic or rational behond the aggregation concept and that can be useful during future rides. Met a Bengali and started discussing about the current political environment. He blasted BJP for how they handle Bengal politics.
He (as per him many other Bengalis as well) likes Narendra Modi and would vote for him to be the PM for any number of times and they are happy with the central government performance. He would vote for Didi in the state elections even though he is not happy with her style of governance. When I asked him for the reason, his response was “BJP is trying to come to the power by including frauds/thief’s from other parties and that’s not correct”. No BJP local leaders are capable of running the state and they should nurture good local talent.
The current mechanism of BJP has created some sort of unhappiness with the bengalis. Have heard similar statements in Goa and Gujarat (and many other states). Looks like they need to do some repair work or change their style of party functioning in the near future. Just sharing the conversation and my personal views and not inviting any political discussion or comments on this.
Started at 6:40 am and empty roads made me feel happy. Early morning roads are like “2 or 3-year-old babies” and you would love to play with them all the time. Later during the day, it becomes like “8 or 9-year-old naughty or mischievous kids” and you stay some distance away from them.
Same thing with Siliguri roads. Took 15 minutes to cover 1 Km last evening and it took 15 seconds this morning. Love early morning roads and 2 year old kids. Was thinking about covering a lot of distance today and set the Google maps for “Toll roads”. Body is tired of bad roads and don’t want anymore such roads for the remainder of this journey.
NH 27 was the main one and traveled on it for 90% of the day’s ride. All the roads I used today are super stuff and would rate 4.9 out of 5. Another thing about the names of the highways. Google maps stated it as NH27 whereas the physical signboards had NH28 or NH57 written on it.
Observed the same for some other highways as well. Don’t know which one is correct and the reason for having 3 different numbers for the same highway. Anyone has a logical answer, please share that with me. It’s festival season and can see the effect of it on people’s action and their face was exuberant.
Particularly Diwali is one festival the entire country celebrates with full involvement and that can be seen everywhere. Crossed Kesariya market and was difficult to cross the small stretch because of the Diwali business. I have gone to this market last year (as part of Incredible India by Road trip) and it was dull and boring.
Met some locals who are returning back to their village (daily wage labourers) from West Bengal and to celebrate Diwali with the family. So happy and energized people and see the video for their reaction. Our forefathers or ancestors knew what would make people happy and how to do that as well.
Festivals are a great thing in making people or community come together and celebrate the occasion or the event. Good time we all try to understand the meaning of each festival and start participating in the celebrations. Time to stop being a “Liberal”.
Also visited 4th century Mud stupa at Kesariya and have written about it last year. Search my Facebook page and you’ll find more details about this stupa. Was planning to ride around 750 km today and some reasons for that:° Told Sonal that I would come back by 30th and have to travel long-distance one of the remaining days to make it happen. ° Wanted to spend a day at the birthplace of Diwali and be part of the celebrations. Have been thinking about it for quite some years and finally found the right moment to fulfill the wish.
Yes, Traveled close to 800 kms and reached “Ayodhya” after 13 hours (includes an hour of safe night riding as well) .The good roads helped me do this and my bike also added value by performing “above and beyond” expectations. Entered the city and immediately stopped by police. Apparently the entire UP people had come down to Ayodhya to celebrate Diwali or Deepostav here. Found an alternate route to the hotel I used last year during incredible India by Road trip. All the rooms were booked by police who are escorting VVIPs. Same is the case with many hotels and found one Oyo hotel.
Entire city or town is full of people and most of the houses had “Diya’s” lit or electrical bulb series on their walls. Can hear devotional songs or Slokas everywhere and that’s the way to celebrate the festival. All kind of people (rich or poor, literate or illiterate, government officials or unemployed) moved around with equal right (except for the VVVIPs who can move around in their official vehicle along with the police escorts). Asked a policeman about hotels, his response was “I am new to this place and don’t know anything” but he moved away from me in regulating the pedestrians. Didn’t want to to trouble them any further given the pain they are going through here.
Booked online but the hotel refused to allow me. Don’t know the reason and they were ready to give me the room if I do the booking directly with them. Called MMT support and asked them to cancel the bookings and did the deal directly with the hotel manager. Also a strange behavior and don’t know why they are listing it on the portal if they are not going to honour the bookings (checked again and apparently they don’t get the money from the aggregator on a timely basis). Paid more than what the portal quoted. Strange but true. Asked for dinner and served with excellent “Paneer Mutter, butter dal fry and rotis”.
Even though the day was long and tiring, my body allowed me to venture out and see the deepostav celebrations. My interest came from the series of whatsapp pictures of the past years and wanted to see that. Some major features:° 5.51 lakh diyaa have been lit on the eleven banks or ghats of river Saryu. Believe it is a guiness record. ° Celebrations happens for 3 days. ° Mega Aarti performed on the banks of river saryu and by Yogiji (CM of the state) ° Ram Ki Paidi (one of the ghats) is the main attraction and majority of the diyas were lit by common people.
And the lit diyas were placed on the river also. I reached really late and half of the diyas were broken or extinguished (on its own). But the number of people waiting around and taking selfies with the well lit old temples in the background gives the entire scene a colorful atmosphere. Went around the place (don’t know why people look at me as if they are watching an alien walking) and sat on the banks of saryu for some time. Tried to take in the calmness of the river but the mind wanted to be active for some more time.
Everything here revolves around Bhagwan Ram. Ram road, janki Street,, Ram Hospital etc.. In fact, at the ram ki paidi spot I found a large screen playing “Ramayan” serial and lots of people were sitting and watching it. That’s pure bhakti and bowed down (not physically) once for that. Blessed souls. Too late in the night and thinking about tomorrow made me leave the place and head back to the hotel. Originally was thinking about visiting couple of temples and the contentious “spot”.
After seeing the crowd, don’t have energy to stand in long queues and go through the human walls. Would be leaving in the morning for the next destination and “Diwali Celebrations in Ayodhya” hasn’t been removed from the wish list. Tasted it but not the right time to consume it. You don’t get bored irrespective of the repeated visits to ayodhya and Varanasi. Need to plan a detailed visit to both the places again. Another 1,500 kms to be done in the next 4 days. If everything goes well, then I would be reaching home on Wednesday. Please don’t plan any welcome party .