Day 7, Thenzawl, the Worlds Largest Family!

Today is Sunday. No work happens on Sunday’s. The mizo people are good Christians and Sunday is for church and church only. They go three times through the day. I however am not a good Christian and so would like to use my time to see some of the surrounding area of Mizoram on my day off. Compared to the last few days, the roads feel very quiet.

We head south towards Thenzawl, it’s 60km on the map, I’m told it will take a minimum of three hours to reach there. I don’t believe it. After driving for an hour and only covering 25km on the heavily potholes and twisty roads, I start to believe it.

We take a diversion to find the largest Banyan tree in Mizoram, it is a hugely impressive specimen supported by a network of huge prominent buttress roots from which a vast mass of strong limbs reach out skywards in 360 degrees. I’m a real tree geek, I can watch, read about and observe trees happily for hours, I find ancient trees spiritual and feel humbled in their presence.

Only with people in the photo can you get a sense of the scale of this Banyan

Today, after three days, I finally solve the dragging brakes on the truck mystery. I’d heard a high pitched brake squealing coming and going as we’d been driving over the past few days. It never seemed to stay on, I tell Michael he should get the brakes adjusted. He says ‘why?’, ‘Due to the squealing’.

‘Oh that’s not the truck, they are insects!’

I’ll be damned. It makes total sense now how it comes and go’s regularly, but I am amazed that a cricket or other insect, could make a sound so high pitched and piercingly loud.

Happy that our brakes aren’t going to fail anytime soon I move onto the next pressing issue, diesel. Our tank was low and with today being Sunday our chances of being able to buy fuel is greatly reduced. Place after place, garage after garage are all closed. I start to think of a plan B, offering extra cash to take someone’s personal Jerry cans, or spending the night in the jeep. On arrival into Thenzawl after over three hours of motoring, we finally see a station that is open. Relief.

We fill the tank and look around at the surroundings, Thenzawl is a more open and spacious area with some small planes which makes it quite unique in Mizoram where flat space is of a premium and seldom come by.

It’s around 11:30am when we pass through town and the streets are full of people. They’ve come from the church and are all neatly turned out, there’s a real community feel, everyone seems to be involved. I notice a conservation sign in the town warning of big cats, leopards and tigers – easy to forget you are in the India forests where in remote areas, big cats still roam.

We drive onto our destination, Vantawng waterfalls, just a few kilometres south. The access road takes is through forest and brings us out at a vantage point, from which we can look down at the hugely impressive falls from afar. Water cascades down three large tiers and the falls drop over 200 metres in total. Its a natural beauty and we have it all to ourselves, tourism doesn’t exist here as yet.

Vantawng Falls

Whilst the view is excellent, we’re a long way from the falls so we decide that we should try to find a way down the steep valley side and to the base of the fall. We set off on a path we have assumed leads to the river floor. It starts out mellow and after a short while steepens sharply to a set of slippery mud steps. We slither and scramble down holding trees and vegetation to lower ourselves as the path becomes more and more committing. A few bamboo ladders in disrepair allow us to descend down over some steeper and sketchy rock faces and eventually we end up on a narrow rock ledge. It’s off camber, with only a foot hold width on slightly wet mud sitting on the rock. The sheer drop to the outside is around 40 feet onto rock below. I don’t like it, I make a mock attempt but as I feel my supporting foot slide on the camber my head just says no and my legs give out. I’m usually up for anything but here the drop and lack of grip meant the risk/reward balance didn’t seem right and with wobbly legs we decide to back track. Evacuating from this valley would be nigh on impossible.

The Munsyari lads had both easily skipped across, a lifetime growing up in the Himalayas and a combined weight likely equal to mine made them considerably more light and sure footed.

As we had slid down a lot of the steep slope and steps to reach here, Michael suggests taking our trainers off and hiking bare foot to gain more grip on the climb back up. I tie my laces around my neck and let my trainers dangle around my shoulders. The difference in grip and feel is incredible. Wearing socks and trainers every day means I have soft skin and the floor hurts the soles of my feet at times but the direct connection with the ground feels liberating; I must walk barefoot more often.

I later learn that to visit the foot of the falls you must take a guide and access from the river downstream rather than from above. Feeling a little frustrated that we had bailed out of something, we were intent on finding the next waterfall the tourism secretary had told us about which was also nearby.

We locate the car park and walk down, this is a lot more accessible. A few locals are hanging out as we get our first glimpse of the impressive site. A wide horseshoe shape fall with a cave behind allowing you to walk behind the falls and see them from all angles. Hot and bothered from our jungle slither down the precipice at Vantawng, we couldn’t wait to get under this fall and spend an hour or so cooling down under the fall and swimming in the river rock pools below.

Tuirihiau Falls

We decide to drive back a different way to seek out a remote village I had read about on the internet, home to the worlds largest family.

With no idea if we could actually find them and if we did, what we would do when we got there, we decide it will be an adventure whatever the outcome.

I drive over a long narrow steel bridge standing high over a river. Rounding the corner on the other side I look back at the bridge and am shocked to see one of the supports has collapsed. I’m glad I saw this after we passed over it, and not before!

T.I.I. This Is India 🇮🇳

We are chasing the light now and the relentlessly winding and potholed roads don’t go hand in hand with being in a haste.

I round a corner in a village and a small blue Honda comes squealing into view, flat out and on our side of the road. I brace myself for our first collision, he slams his brakes and squeals to a halt leaving a long track of black rubber.

He has to take some time to gather his thoughts, then decides it was my fault and gesticulates till he feels better. We all laugh and carry on reminded that in India there are not really any rules, especially on the road.

We pinpoint the side road on the map that we believe will take us to the village where Ziona lives with his record breaking family. It is a further few kilometres drive up to the isolated hill top village, we ask directions to their home. We seem to be getting a slightly frosty reception so far. It is a Sunday, church day, it is now dark and it is around dinner time and we are planning to locate the house and visit unannounced as a group of outsiders. I guess the locals have every right to be a little suspicious or unfriendly.

We locate their home, correction, their compound. With a set of gates enclosing their home, church, school, medical store and other outbuildings, this is a village within a village.

Looking in to the family compound

No one speaks more than a couple of words of English or Hindi, so communication is hard. They let us into their home. The downstairs is an open communal space, women (wives presumably) are rolling out breads and cooking dinner, kids are playing and some men sit on the perimeter.

The patriarch Ziona has a gold throne. He also has 37 wives and the total family size including grandchildren is 189 people! He has created his own religion to allow multiple spouses. There’s clearly a system here and a sense of order to the place. It’s downright bizarre to experience.

Michael playing the role of Patriarch

We talk in broken English to a son for a while. A little while later, the church doors open and the drums start beating, afraid that we’ve overstated our welcome and may be the victims of a cult ritual, we say thank you, leave a tip and say our goodbyes.

Worlds largest family

As we walk out of the family compound, people are spilling out of all the village homes onto the street in the pitch dark and streaming down the street to the compound and the church to the sound of the beating drum. They have been summoned, it is totally intriguing and downright crazy. I sense mr Ziona must be a badass to keep his family and the village community in check and in the palm of his hand.

We continue on with the final leg of our journey back to Aizawl. We pull over for a comfort break in the countryside and the sky is incredible, with no light pollution the stars shine brightly to the soothing background noises of the crickets and frogs.

It’s been an eventful day!

Day 6, Aizawl, Market day

I wake to the phone ringing at 6am, I’d been fast asleep so am a little fuzzy when Michael asks me if I want to go to the market? ‘When?’, ‘Well it started at 4:30am, so we can go now’. What on earth are people doing shopping at 4:30am?

I’m keen to check out the street market though, so I ready myself quickly. We stroll through the streets, the market is clearly the hub of this city, with modest agriculture the main industry for the people of Mizoram. The area is packed with hundreds of traders and their range of incredibly healthy looking fruit and vegetables, herbs, spices and in one corner, meats.

It’s a melting pot of sights, colours and smells with many exotic fruits and vegetables I’ve never seen before. The climate is perfect for growing, the soils are deep and richly fertile and the weather warm and sunny with regular rains. All the food is organic. We buy papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit, broccoli and river crab.

Some of the sights from the Saturday market

We head back to the Lungdai trail to continue planning the line. Whilst stooping to walk underneath a netted squash farm, I walk into a spiders web and it goes right over my head. I feel the spider on my hair and quickly brush it off in a flustered panic, the cobweb itself is sticky and tough. I’m used to walking through cobwebs in the woods back home but this felt much stickier and thicker. I catch sight of one of the spiders at the next web, they’re massive. I’ll be more careful where I walk.

These spiders weave large webs under the squash farms, hard to spot when you’re ducking down to walk.

It’s another day finishing on the hill in the dark. We walk back down to Lungdai for tea and biscuits, we’re starting to be familiar faces there as people come to join us and chat. The power cuts out whilst in the tea shop, a regular occurrence, the chat and laughter continues under torchlight.

Day 5, Muthi, Heavenly Rainbow

It’s another lovely sunny morning. The first thing on the agenda for today is a trip to the tourist department.

We meet with the Tourism Secretary of State. Michael wanted to introduce me to her and provide an update on the wider tourism infrastructure project, of which the mountain bike trails are just a very small part. She’s a tough woman and gives the cold shoulder ripping into Michael on the project progress and detail. I feel a little uncomfortable sat there quietly while Michael has to squirm a little whilst under interrogation. I spot some landscape photographs on her wall of mountains and waterfalls and ask if they were taken nearby? And with that she begins to soften and open up as she talks us through the places in the photos, her other favourite locations in the state and where she felt I should visit. She is clearly passionate and proud of Mizoram and the Mizo culture.

She asks where I’m from and I tentatively answer ‘Wales’, which is usually followed by a pause where I have to follow up with ‘the United Kingdom’, but not this time, the secretary replies ‘oh Wales, very nice’ and so goes on to tell me that the Mizo people actually hold the Welsh people quite dearly in their hearts. It transpires that the first missionaries that came and converted the Mizo to Christianity one hundred and twenty years ago were from Wales and it’s something the Mizo are very thankful for. They taught the people to read and write with the Mizo people having the second highest literacy rate in India, and gave them the structure that they still follow to this day.

Prior to that the Mizo were hill tribes who followed their own gods, each tribe would have its own beliefs and political system.

Not being a religious person I can’t help thinking, the ancient native religions of tribal people that tend to focus on nature and respect of the environment rather than power and fear, would be better for the people and for our planet as a whole.

However the Mizo are unanimously devout Christians and I respect their beliefs and culture.

It is believed that the Mizo people migrated west from China around 750 AD and slowly moved through Myanmar and into Mizoram where they developed their way of life living on the hill tops above the jungle and forest below. The people and their culture are markedly different to the rest of India, as are their genes and physical appearance.

We finish our discussion by coming to an agreement that I will provide some informal open and honest feedback as a foreign visitor on my time here before I leave. Deal.

With the meetings concluded we drive the half hour to the second trail site in Muthi. On the way we joke that it had been an episode of the apprentice and Michael had just been fired.

It started raining on the drive over and I wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of getting soaked, but when we reach the top of the hill the rain has eased off and a rainbow has started forming as the sun begins to break through. Over the course of a few minutes from our elevated position, a vivid and complete rainbow forms arcing from valley floor to valley floor, we stop and marvel till it eventually fades.

With the rain now passed we review the concept for the route that Michael had originally planned out for the project and conclude that it is a step too far. The access is bad, the terrain too steep and the way out from the end in poor condition making access by jeep not possible. So I start to think of alternative ways of creating a route here that are achievable to both ride and build. The terrain is too steep for switchbacks but the top of the hill sits proud of the lower ridges and flanks like a boiled egg in an egg cup, so I put forward the concept of spiralling right around the mountain, descending gently down the contours.

This will allow us to drop the height without the need for switchbacks – in theory. One that we need to test.

A viewing platform under construction on Muthi

The plan is discussed with the village council and they agree to clear an inspection route for us to review following the line I sketch on the map.

We continue putting a plan together for the remainder of the trail to descend down to the motor road where it will end.

As we had the day before, we end up walking the lower part of the hill in the twilight hour as the sun goes down to a cacophony of noises from crickets, frogs and insects. Looking across the valley towards Aizawl, bit by bit the city lights flicker on, as the orange glow fades over the mountain top.

Looking across the valley from Muthi towards Aizawl at twilight

I had now recced both trail sites and found them both to be challenging but achievable mountains to develop. They are peaceful and beautiful places to spend time, especially at the sunset / twilight hour. They provide the Yang to the cities Ying. Hustle, bustle and tempo, balanced with nature, unspoilt views and peacefulness.

Later that night I join the cities scooter club and Michael and I ride through the city on by far, the quickest mode of transport. We are headed for dinner at one of the staff from the tourist lodges family home, it is their daughters birthday party. We dine on traditional Mizo food and spend time with the family who had welcomed us into their home with great hospitality. The families and society are very close here, people hang out and spend a lot of time together every day.

I pilot the scooter back, it’s perfect for this city and a lot of fun carving through the streets and traffic back to the lodge.

Day 4, Lungdai, Finding my feet

I wake to the first day of blue skies and sunshine since I had arrived, and what a difference it makes. The light pops off the lush green of the surrounding hills and reflects off the many buildings as I look out from the balcony in the morning.

The Sun shines over the city this morning

I build up the bike and the Munsyari boys Pankaj and Abhinash have their first quick ride on the Orange Alpine around the hotel. They are both buzzing to ride a good bike and tell me they can’t wait to try it off-road on some real trails, but we’ve got a lot of work to do before that’s possible!

We head back to Lungdai to try and solve some of the issues that came up with the trail route there.

Every project has constraints when setting the design of the route. They differ from project to project, but here the initial constraints lie with exposed edges, cliffs and steep gradients. I had sat down a couple of evenings prior to firm up the design brief with Michael and due to the lack of local MTB’ers or any real Indian mountain bike scene of note, we had agreed that the build should be aimed at adventure tourism to tie in with the wider project which includes zip lines, high ropes and paragliding. This would also make the sport more accessible to local people from the city. So this presented a slight problem, we had the kind of terrain which would be awesome for experienced riders with little work, but had to create a trail that was suitable for adventurous novices. Lucky I like a challenge.

View from the top of proposed Lungdai trail

Walking down the mountain the heat is stifling but the sun has brought out hundreds of butterflies, some with vibrant colours, others the size of small birds.

The undergrowth is dense and it is tough going battling through to scope out alternative lines. I get a shock when I disturb a small grouse like bird which made a right racket as it shoots up past my head!

We descend through one of the dense jungle sections and emerge into the open to find a golden evening light striking the ridge below, which the trail then runs along. We hike to the ridge and stop to watch and soak in one of nature’s gifts, a stunning light show of warm ambers and red hues as the sun drops down over the hills in the distance. Bliss.

No Words needed

As we walk the few kilometres down to the village in the dark I think to myself, ‘I’m getting into this!’, I was starting to understand the people and their culture a little more, and was beginning to see how the trail layout may work. Today was a good day.

Day 3, Lungdai, First steps

I had hit the sack around ten pm last night as I was feeling wiped out, yet there I was a couple of hours later just after midnight, convinced I’d slept eight hours and it was now morning, and so the jet-lag time adjustment battle began. More hours of broken sleep and vivid crazy dreams ensued.

I eventually rose groggy and tired, to the sound of heavy rainfall. I thought to myself, walking these steep hills is going to be interesting!

We plan to visit the first trail site but I first had to check in with the local CID at the police station, it’s a statutory process for foreigners here. We battle through the city rush hour to reach there, what an experience, I’ve never been anywhere like this. The city is quite literally perched on mountain ridges and the surrounding sheer flanks with a three dimensional maze of narrow steep roads, tight switchbacks and a never ending surge of scooters & motorbikes (carrying three or four not uncommon), and cars all vying for every square inch of available road space. It takes us an hour to drive just two kilometres but I’m loving every second of it, the city’s alive and I’m enjoying just taking it all in.

We arrive at the police CID compound, not a great deal seems to be happening here. We go through to the foreigners registration office, I look around at the dated furnishings and the piles of badly filed paperwork that appear to have not been touched in years. I’m transported to a flashback to the eighties and one of Michael Palin’s customs border control experiences from his ‘Around the World in 80 days’. As it is the process is pretty painless, I have to fill out a form and they ask some questions about where I’m from and what I’m doing in Aizawl. The officer seems disinterested, I satisfy his requirements and after that I’m free to go.

To try and give this city some perspective, imagine for a minute if you can, taking Cardiff, placing it precariously on top of Snowdon, increasing the number of inhabitants, dramatically decreasing the road widths and then removing the pavements. You won’t be too far off the mark.

Michael, I and the two Munsyari boys walk the first part of one of the trail sites and I start to see the landscape and challenge ahead. The two trail sites had been identified and set by the project team long before I’d been brought into work as the consultant at this final design and build stage. The site is beautiful but it was clear that there are some steep slopes to contend with that are going to make the design and build of the trail taxing.

At the summit of the hill a team of workers were digging the foundations for the new skywalk which will project thirty metres over the edge of the cliff, and also for the top gondola station of a short cable car…… by hand! All the materials used so far had been hauled up the steep hillside manually. Both of these tasks required some serious effort, people have to work hard here.

We finish on site and walk down the road to the village of Lungdai where the trail will end. I had found the Mizo generally quite closed to outsiders but the people here in the village here are open to chat and friendly. We are given tea and fresh cooked Puri in the cosy open fronted tea shop.

The central village hub of Lungdai has brightly coloured shops and stall fronts opening directly onto the road and a small covered market area where fresh fruits, vegetables and spices are sold daily. It has a slightly more spacious feel than the other towns or villages we had been to, which can feel quite hemmed in and claustrophobic at first if you are not used to it.

The colourful village of Lungdai

On the way back from Lungdai I get my first clear view of Aizawl city at night. You can easily trick yourself that you’re staring up into space as the white lights of the city appear similar to thousands of twinkling stars draped over the hills like a warm blanket.

The view of Aizawl at night

Day 2, Delhi to Aizawl, the Adventure Begins

A short drive back to Delhi airport and I am relieved to collect the bike intact from the small dark room in which I had entrusted it. I say my thank you’s to Sam and headed to check-in for the internal flight with two hours till departure. Explaining that I had a large box with a bike inside that wouldn’t fit through the roped out slalom queue, I was guided straight to a desk – what a result I thought. Over an hour later and plenty of long and sometimes heated debates in the mother tongue between airline staff, I am eventually presented with a bill of £180 in excess baggage for the bike. They simply didn’t know how to process a bike and had decided it would be treated as standard excess weight rates.

I had argued my case but we were going round in circles and I was now running out of time, so reluctantly I parted with the £180 and hoped for a quick check-in so I could still catch the flight. More dordelling by five more staff than ever needed to be involved at oversized baggage followed, and I am eventually left to run ten minutes through the airport to the gate, which had now closed. I plead my case and board the plane as the last passenger; they’d held the flight for me.

Take away from this, people do not take bikes to Mizoram and Jet Airways are not geared up for bike travel!

I’m hot and bothered from running in thirty degrees through the airport. I had arrived to check in two hours before departure, I boarded late, fifteen minutes before take off.

Onto Aizawl and I’m wondering what it would be like there. I don’t like to research where I’m going more than absolutely necessary when travelling, and as this had all been arranged by the client, I knew nothing of my destination.

It is a three hour internal flight to the state of Mizoram to the Far East of India, bordering Myanmar. The view from the plane window as I approach the airport is of a lush green blanket of forest, over hills and mountains stretching as far as I could see in all directions.

The airstrip has a back country feel to it, A single runway, two flights a day and a tiny terminal. I like it.

I look around and the surrounding hills appear to be densely vegetated with many tropical looking plants.

My kinda airport

Outside the airport, I meet up with Michael the project leader, it’s great to see him again three years since the last project we worked on together in the Indian Himalayas. He has brought two boys Pankaj and Abhinash from Munsyari, the town that we worked in previously, so they can help with the project here and gain more experience to take back to their local area. Both have been exposed to mountain biking through our previous project and are really keen to learn and ride, but simply don’t have the bikes or opportunities to do so where they live.

We load the bike on the roof of our Mahindra jeep and start the hour drive to Aizawl.

You may think this looks sketchy but….
We had Silpaulin on the case, the toughest plastic film!

On first impression the terrain, the vegetation, the roads and the roadside stalls all remind me of the carribean; the blue mountains in Jamaica specifically.

I start to wonder what it will be like to build trails here? It looks very challenging….

We wind along a valley side from the airport and climb up to the outer city limits and past a huge landslide which has wiped out several homes, cars and part of the road, it’s clear the steep slopes and heavy rainfalls here can cause problems. We enter into the craziest rush hour I’ve ever witnessed; steep and narrow roads lined tightly with houses and shops are filled with thousands of cars and bikes all jostling for position. Throw in some tight ascending switchbacks and it’s gridlock with bottlenecks aplenty slowing already slow progress to a halt. Scooters and bikes seem to have more success squeezing past the jams in a continuous flow of two wheeled madness. My eyes are open.

Traffic congestion is a real problem in Aizawl

We had entered the city in daylight and after an hour and a half had tackled the few short KM’s to arrive at the hotel in complete darkness.

This had been my first view of the precariously built buildings on the steep slopes of the city of Aizawl. Perched on bamboo or concrete stilts the houses and buildings sit over impossibly steep slopes of up to sixty degrees, quite literally a balancing act.

Wooden stilts used to built the houses out on the slopes

It is a hive of intense activity with thousands of people in the streets, either stuck in traffic, in the roadside shops and stalls or just hanging out. As darkness sets in, the lights from the thousands of buildings all start to twinkle and make the city stand out from the many miles of darkness and undeveloped ground that surrounds it.

View from the hotel room

I check into my hotel, basic is perhaps the best way to describe it. But it is clean and I have somewhere to rest my head, I’m here to work not for luxury, and besides this is the real India.

Day 1, London to Delhi

I was setting off on a month long project to design and oversee the build of a mountain bike trail in the State of Mizoram, lying to the Far East of India sandwiched in-between Bangladesh and Myanmar. I knew little about the project or the area which I was heading too, but was excited at the prospect of the unknown.

I touched down in Delhi after an overnight flight from London, the unfeasibly large bike box seems to take an eternity to come through to the baggage reclaim area; I imagined it’s wedged in the baggage system somewhere waiting to be freed by a man in a white coat, like in Big Bertha for those who remember.

The airport is decorated to highlight and celebrate Diwali the festival of light and I’m excited to be in India for this. That is until I’m informed that in Mizoram, where I’m heading, they don’t celebrate Diwali due to it being a Christian state, so I’ll be missing out on the firecrackers.

I head outside to meet local entrepreneur Sam, who is tasked with the duty of taking care of me till the onward flight to Aizawl. Where is he? A broken exchange in WhatsApp as I drop in and out of Wi-fi hasn’t helped pinpoint his location. ‘I’m stood by post 10’, ‘Me too!’. I can’t see him or his blue sedan where he says he is. Eventually, we track each other down, we had both been standing at posts marked 10 but at opposite sides of the airport, they do things differently here.

He greets me warmly and I immediately deduce that the cumbersome bike box, which is now being escorted by four over enthusiastic helpers (despite me proclaiming I don’t need any assistance), will clearly not fit into Sams blue Honda.

We decide to put into left luggage overnight and with some trepidation hand over the brand new boxed bike, an Orange Alpine, into a small dark back store room in exchange for a ticket – hopefully it will still be there tomorrow!

En route to the broom cupboard

Sam drops me to my hotel so I could get some rest and arranged to collect me in the evening to have a whistle stop tour around Delhi.

Immediately from leaving the airport I’m reminded of the strangely structured and surprisingly effective chaos that is India’s roads. ‘Honk and head for the gap’ I believe that to be the moto of choice, which drivers adhere to like glue.

SMOG you can’t not talk about it, like a hanging veil of mist over the city but with the added health benefits of 30 Bensons and Hedges; climate change is real people.

After a quick rest up I’m feeling revitalised. We start out in an area of the i.t/tech industries hub and eat good food in a nice if a little soulless establishment. This is the place for the young go getters and professionals, you can feel the energy and aura of success that it’s workforce and clients personify. Sam’s friend joins us for the evening, she is HR manager of a fast expanding Indian coffee shop company – set to rival Starbucks no less I’m told – I wish them every success! Wouldn’t it be pleasing to see each country have its own strong brands and stores, independent, franchised, or chain but with the countries own culture and identity rather than that of the good old US of A imposed upon you; often the first thing you see these days on touchdown in a new country will be a Starbucks, Costa coffee or Burger King, no matter what corner of the globe you are in, these brands provide a dulling ‘magnolia’ effect on global society. I digress.

After dinner, we proceed on a whistle stop tour of the temples, fortresses and significant buildings of Delhi, I see, in no particular order: the red fort, a vast and impressive statement of power from a historical king, the vast priminister’s home and buildings of the government delegates, the old fort which in part ruin looks all the more impressive, India gate illuminated with the Indian flag colours in the evening light, Delhi gate, the scene of an ancient massacre of ten thousand Hindu’s where it was said a river of blood ran, an atrocity to rival any one of histories many horrific and scarily repeated acts of extreme ethnic violence. Last but by no means least we drive around the oldest mosque in Delhi and in doing so enter the historical street market Chandni Chowk, the hustle and bustle, sights and smells of this area perhaps the highlight of it all, I can only begin to imagine how crazy this place must be in the daytime at full flow.

I return to the hotel at midnight to get my head down ready for the next day of travel to reach my destination.

India Gate with the resplendent Tricolour
In India for Diwali and in perhaps the only state that doesn’t celebrate it 🙁
The Prime Minister’s home and civil buildings
Statue showing Gandhi’s civil disobedience march
The Red Fort looks amazing at night