With Bijapur, Bidar is on of the ex-capitals of the glorious Deccan Sultanates era are linked. As we really enjoyed the first, we visisted the second one with the same formula: a small team loving to discover heritage sites, visiting without a hurry (they remain cities one can visit in a single day) and a open-mind on the limited local hotels and restaurants scene in this kind of mid-sized cities of deep India.
In Bidar, concerning heritage sites, the real star is the fort. And it deserves this status. On the edge of the city, its double or even triple walls have protected it from the ennemies and even from the Indian modern hectic development. So after having passed the zig-zag way (anti elephants charge!) leading to the majestic main gate, you’ll find yourself in a kind of sanctuary where calme and green are taking over. Then, the visit is quite original. As just a few tourists (even Indians) are coming in this remote city of Karnataka, monuments aren’t really opened to visit… but not completely closed neither. No tickets, no guides but some “security guards” and firm grids instead (to protect the monuments). But finally, if you show some interest, local guards are opening up the gates and even guiding you through the monuments and the backchich isn’t even mandatory (even if well appreciated obviously).
Beyond the fort, we also found next to the city or in its “memoral park” delicate mausoleums, tombs and even some nice remains of a big madrasa, still partially covered by blue mosaic. We’ll notice too the nice Ali Bareed tomb, opened on 4 sides with elegant archs and with the particularity of being surrounded by the tombs of… its 61 wives!
As in Bijapur, we spent a suprising night in one of the only restaurants serving alcohol with all the usual ingredients of this kind of places: low light, sticky tables, empty bottles, men patrons only and even some private tables closed by curtains. Not your usual pub…
Let’s be honest, we’re no big fans of traditional and other folks shows that one can find almost in every tourist place… We always feel like kids at Disneyland where people are trying to make you think that the Mickey mascot is the REAL Mickey.
Now, when it’s one of our friends, Uttara, who is performing, we knew it was a not to be missed show, even if it was in Chennai.
So at the end of last July, we reached the capital of Tamil Nadu for an easy-going week-end and to enjoy our first Bharata natyam show.
And then, the shock! Uttara, morphed into a kind of super-Hindu goddess performed relentlessly during an hour and a half with precise gestures and moves between the mime and the dance, the sacred and the secular to the rhythm of drums, chants or the solo jolting voice of her “guru”.
In the theatre, we were the only “tourists”, proof that this art is still well alive in this magical India always combining tradition and modernity.
If you ever want to organize shows with Uttara and her guru, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’ll put you in touch.
For our “last mandatory exit” of the Indian territory, we wanted a change so we went to Nepal, even if it’s not the easiest one when living in Bangalore… We had kept in mind a wonderful memory of Kathmandu when we went there for the first time, 5 years back but we knew this time it would be almost impossible to trek due to the monsoon.
We didn’t have a lot of expectations this time apart from eating more momos (little stuffed dumplings) as possible and have some rest. We finally really loved to re-discove Kathmandu and its Valley. We also knew what to expect and that the time of hippies’ paradise or “little town in the mountain” is now over. Kathmandu is a big city, chaotic and polluted (but when one comes from India it’s not that obvious) but it also has hidden treasures when taking time to walk around.
On a cultural and historic point of view it’s also a very rich city. Wandering in the back alleys, you discover ancient temples very easily, going through a gate, you can end up in very peaceful courtyards, decorated with stupas and which are the center of community life… This time we also took time to discover other cities of the valley, (Bhaktapur, Patan), all as (and even maybe more) beautiful as Kathmadu but less crowded. The architecture is very different from what we can experience in India due to the multiple roofs pagodas which reminds more of China. The biggest surprise is that all these places are finally… Hindu! Because it was and it’s still the main religion in the country… Before leaving, we also checked again the magnificent and impressive Bodhnath Stupa, a Buddhist worship place and the center of a real Tibetan neighbourhood.
Other surprise: we went there just before the soccer World Cup final and Nepalese are completely fond of Football! An impressive number of people were wearing the German or Argentinian jersey (Argentina outnumbered Germany here though), huge flags of every countries were deployed in all the cities and giant screens were waiting for the d-day.
Leaving the country and flying along the mountains (which we were unable to see before due to the clouds) we promised ourselves to come back to trek and come closer to these splendid monsters.