It’s Been a While ……….
The more observant among you may have noticed I haven’t posted for a while, well quite a long time actually. This is because I have been travelling in India without a laptop and only intermittent access to the internet. On our return we had visitors from Norway almost immediately, which was great fun but meant I was spending my time tour-guiding rather than blogging.
There is so much to say about India that I almost don’t know where to start. It is a magical country and a totally immersive experience. This was our third trip to India. We have previously travelled in north India so this time the south was our destination. We wondered what changes we would find as our last visit was back in 1989!
One of the changes we noticed was that fewer people (especially men) were wearing traditional dress, especially in Bangalore where we landed, although this changed as we travelled further south. The other big change was the cars, hardly an Ambassador (based on the Morris Oxford and the most popular car in India for decades) to be seen anywhere! The lorries were much the same though.
If you are British, visiting India tends to elicit a mixture of feelings. In some ways it’s familiar – they drive on the left (though you wouldn’t always know it!) lots of the posters and notices are in English and many people speak it. Because there are so many regional languages in India, people from different parts of the country often communicate with each other in English and it is not uncommon for educated people to speak five or more languages.
In other ways it is guilt inducing. You can argue that the British did good things for India, the language, the railways, the civil service, but there is also no doubt we did some terrible things too, which I am not going to atempt to list. It’s not a situation one can feel quite comfortable about. Yet for the visitor there is something very attractive about some parts of the colonial legacy.
One of our stops was at Ooty, formerly Ootacamund now known as Udhagamandalam (though the locals and many of the signs still seem to be calling it Ooty . Formerly the hill station to which the British based in Madras decamped for the summer, Ooty is still a popular holiday destination for Indians and foriegners alike. In Ooty you can find a traditional English church, a botanical garden and a boating lake, together with hotels that appear stuck in the early part of the last century.
We stayed at the Savoy which opened in 1841 and was constructed in part using beams from the defeated Tippu Sultan’s summer palace. These had been dragged up from the plains by elephant. Although additions have been made since then, there is a definite feeling of a byegone age which is only enhanced by the fact you can have a fire lit in your room in the evening. – such luxury!
Don’t be surprised to see more posts featuring my travels but for now I can’t resist sharing a few of my favourite photos.If you have been fortunate enough to travel to India I’d love to hear your stories!