The next day we had been warned was a public holiday so we decided to head to a the Bhopal ropeway which was a cable car taking you to a view point and a temple over looking the city. This was our first introduction to Ola the taxi app and we were already feeling the difference in price, as it’s done by the app you can’t be overcharged so it’s fair for everyone. The taxi dropped us at the ropeway although he did offer to extend our route to the top for another 200INR we politely declined considering the ride here had only cost us 150INR all the way across town. The ropeway was closed! We decided to cross the road and just have a see at what was around, the sun was hot and the direction we had gone took us into a residential area. Since arriving in Bhopal people had been so friendly and we had stopped been so over aware and suspicious of everyone. We were still careful but most people were just intrigued with us and either wanted to take a picture or practice their English. It didn’t take us long to realise that today’s public holiday is associated with Holi as I was splattered in the face and chest with a coloured water bomb from a passing car. The children in the streets were playing with water bombs made from plastic bags and twisted at the top and then a variety of coloured powder. They did head towards us but with a smile followed by a few firm no’s they left us alone. We took refuge outside a corner shop who gave us chairs to sit on until our OLA taxi arrived. It’s a good job we’d discovered this there’s no way we would have flagged a tuk tuk down here!
Due to today been another Holi festival day we decided we would visit Asia’s biggest mosque. I had read about this on trip advisor and was curious to see what happens inside a mosque having never visited one before. The taxi driver dropped us off right outside Taj-Ul-Masajid, we set off through the gate and headed towards to mosque entrance. As we approached the entrance to the mosque a group of men who were leaving started saying no no and pointing at me. One of the chaps then spoke to us and said no ladies, they were polite and showed me somewhere to sit in the shade and gave me a plastic chair to sit on. They told Chris he was welcome to go in so off he set on his way. Whilst I was enjoying my sit down the men sat around me were very polite offering me water which I politely declined and a young guy asked if he could take a selfie with me which I was well accustomed to at this point in the holiday.
15 minutes later I saw a crowd of men escorting Chris back out of the mosque entrance way and towards me. Little did I know that whilst I had been enjoying the shade Chris had very aggressively been told to leave the mosque and told he wasn’t welcome and then told he was, he had been doing the shoe hockey cokey for 10 minutes whilst some people were welcoming him in and others very aggressively wanted him to leave. He thought better of it and let the people escort him out seemed such a shame when we had been welcomed into Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh places of worship that the Muslims weren’t happy at all to welcome us in. Having since looked at the trip advisor reviews it seems a lot of it depends on which day you visit as other British people had been inside including ladies. We did avoid Fridays as trip advisor had advised that visits to the mosque aren’t allowed due to this been a prayer day. I was really disappointed but we decided it best we move on. We left the mosque grounds and again I was shouted at on leaving despite me passing the security on the way in I must look more masculine than I thought lol. As we left the we walked around the outside of the mosque the area in general felt quite unwelcoming and cold. Around 10 minutes of walking we passed through an arch way and again started to see the evidence of Holi with lots of colour and smiling faces. We decided rather than become part of the celebrations again we would find another OLA to take us on our way. We took refuge outside a shop where we were offered seat, people were passing and stopping to talk to us whilst having selfies and pictures taken with us. The atmosphere was completely different but I wasn’t going to get too involved as I had paid for all the bed sheets I was going to this holiday.
We decide to end our days adventures and head to the nice hotel we had been to the day before. At this point in the day a cold pint of beer would be most welcome. We arrived at the hotel and headed upto the public bar to be greeted by a sign telling us it was a dry day till 7pm due to the Holi festival celebrations! It wasn’t all bad though as the hotel had a lovely coffee shop overlooking manicured gardens where we had a cold soft drink and a bite to eat. That evening we decided to stay at the hotel for food as they had 3 restaurants all of which made trip advisors top 10 in the area. The restaurant I chose was called under the mango tree which was in-fact located in the hotel ground under an ancient mango tree. We chose to sit in the glass building below it to try and minimise me becoming another meal for the mozzies of Bhopal. The food was delicious and the prices were on a par with been at home but were certainly worth it.
We did find some difficulties getting ourselves back to our hotel following our meal. It seems our taxi drivers work far later than the ones here in Bhopal, it wasn’t a bad place to be stranded though! Eventually after searching for a good while someone picked up our request and safely delivered us back to our hotel for a good nights sleep ready for tomorrow’s adventures.
The next day we were determined to visit the Bhopal ropeway which we did in the afternoon and were successful this time. The cable car took us both on a return journey upto the top of the hill for 132INR around £1.45, at the top there was a Jain temple which is a modern offshoot of Buddhism. The temple was lovely and we sat here for a while just enjoying the tranquility.
Directly at the top of the hill you could sit and take in the whole of Bhopal which was a huge sprawling city. We decided to relocate and find somewhere else to take in the view but not before taking some pictures of a gorgeous trip of pups which were playing by the enter an extra to the temple. The street dogs here in India broke my heart everyday but sadly it’s just the way of life in India, the locals do put water out and the occasional scraps of food out for the animals dogs, cats, goats and cows all included!
The views from the hill were amazing and it wasn’t long before we were catching the attention of some of the locals. One guy came up-to us and explained it was his birthday and was really keen on sharing his cake with us. It was in-fact delicious so light and creamy. Our meeting resulting in me becoming a star in his very own Bollywood movie as he serenaded me and his friends cheered and filmed it. Goodness knows what he was singing but it was all very sweet, Chris did manage to capture a small snippet of it on camera.
We headed down the hill just as the sun was starting to set it was beautiful.
After our experience in Agra Bhopal has been amazing, the people have been so open and friendly with the exception of our mosque experience. I was really looking forward to our trip continuing further south.