Wednesday 27th October
I awake to find my head doesn’t actually hurt very much. Quite a surprise.
After breakfast we head off to Bhimbekta, about an hour south of Bhopal. The road is packed with traffic, as we slowly make our way through the sprawling suburbs of Bhopal. Heavy engineering and various other factories line the road for miles. Bhopal is clearly a fast developing industrial city.
Bhimbekta is a World Heritage site with cave paintings executed by stone age man starting 12,000 years ago. The government has limited access to 15 sites, but large stone outcrops, overhangs and caves, where the primitive drawings of animals and men are located, gives an evocative sense of what the area would have looked like thousands of years ago. It’s impressive and thought provoking, but for those who have visited the caves in the Dordogne, France, don’t expect the paintings to be of the same quality or quantity.
Next we drive for two hours to a second world heritage site at Sanchi. This is a beautifully maintained collection of Buddhist stupas, located on top of a hill and dating from 300BC. The central stupa, build by the Buddhist King Ashoka, is supposed to contain the ashes of Buddha himself and under two smaller stupas the probable remains of two of Buddha’s closest disciples have been found.
The main gateways to the stupas are exquisitely decorated with sculptures of the life of Buddha. The whole site could have been wonderfully serene were it not for a group of Indian schoolchildren, who followed us everywhere taking our photos and playing music loudly through their mobile phones.
Back to the hotel and Sarah goes down with her second migraine of the holiday and so Jake and I eat alone in the excellent hotel restaurant and I have the signature dish of Bhopal, Rogan Josh