INDIA : Delhi to Amritsar 



Delhi to Amritsar
Driving north from Delhi we headed to Himachal Pradesh and the city of Shimla. The famous hill station of Shimla like that of Darjeeling or McLeod was used by the British to escape from the stifling heat of the Indian plains. After Shimla, we headed East on the Indo-Tibet road. Our aim was to make the round trip and visit the Spiti valley but we had to return the same way as the road was closed. We headed north to Ladakh and its capital Leh. From Leh, altitude 3500 m, we roamed West (to Lamayuru) and North (to the Nubra Valley) before heading south using the same Manali-Leh road. On our way down we turned left to visit the Spiti valley we had not been able to visit 2 weeks earlier. In Himachal Pradesh, we headed to Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in exile then into the plains of Punjab and Amritsar which lies 26 km from the only INDO-PAK border open to foreigners.


Himachal Pradesh
The State of Himachal Pradesh lies north of Delhi and West of Nepal. As we had experienced with Sikkim, which lies to the East of Nepal, the Indian plain will all of a sudden meet the green lush hills. Coming from the desert of Rajasthan and dusty Indian cities, this was a welcome change. Himachal Pradesh is famous in India for its production of apples and apple juice and the countryside is often one large orchard.


If the nature was similar to Sikkim though not as rich, many buildings in Himachal Pradesh have a most peculiar and distinctive architecture. It reminded us of Swiss chalets : the combined use of stone and large wooden beams. In this part of the world, the wooden beams are also meant to protect the building against earthquakes.


Bhimakali temple, 13th century, Sarahan, Himachal Pradesh, India


Because of the altitude and lower temperature, Himachal Pradesh is also where we started to sleep in our tent again. We had lost the winch to rise our tent in Sikkim 2 months earlier. Thanks to family (thanks Mum), friends in Delhi (thanks Isabelle & Tahir) and to a courier (thanks Christine !), we were able to sleep at home again. What a great feeling to go out camping again !


A flower offering on 1920s silver doors, Bhimakali temple, Sarahan, India


The green and lush Kullu valley, Himachal Pradesh


The further north we drove towards Ladakh, nature would become less green. Ladakh is a land of sand and rocks. It is the boundary between the Western Himalaya and the Tibetan plateau.



Grand Canyon style scenery, on our way back from Leh (Ladakh) to Manali (Himachal Pradesh).


Road builders from Nepal and Bihar (India) lead a very rough life. They have only a few months each year to build or maintain roads and weather conditions and the altitude must take their toll on their health. 95% of the work is done by hand. The end of August is the time of year when shepherds lead their sheep and goats down from Ladakh to Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. We saw little village children, not much taller than the goats and sheep, run through these herds and have a lot of fun. The shepherds were not impressed !



The Spiti Valley
On our way down from Ladakh, we did manage to turn left into the Spiti valley. This valley is known for its remoteness, stunning mountains and old monasteries. Tabo gompa, the most famous amongst them, is the monastery where the Dalai Lama has said he wanted to go to retire. The condition of the road was sometimes so bad that, on two occasions, we were very lose to turning back but the scenery made it all worthwhile.




Amritsar was our last city in India before crossing over to Pakistan. Capital of Indian Punjab, it is home to the Golden Temple, centre of Sikh religion. This temple has had a troubled history, even in the last 10 years as Sikh separatists who had taken refuge in the temple had to be dislodged by force by the Indian army. The temple today is a beautiful and peaceful place. We felt it was a privilege to visit the temple and watch Sikh people go about their worship. The other historical place we visited was Jallianwala Bagh (right picture). As shown in the film "Gandhi", this small park was the scene of a massacre by British troops in 1919. 



Here is the first of our extra pages :

Ladakh, abode of the Gods


If you need a travel agency run by a Westerner based in Delhi, contact Isabelle Willemart at :



We are doing well !

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