Travelling India – by train and bus from Mumbai to Chennai

In 2002 we travelled to India for a few weeks of holidays. At that time we lived in Japan and were used to efficient long-distance travel. We had only four weeks or so but wanted to see as much as possible. A split flight to Mumbai and back from Chennai seemed like a good idea. We were going to use trains and busses to follow a tight sightseeing schedule of all the highlights of South India.

Did you find the mistake, already? We only figured out when we were travelling in India that it doesn’t work like that. Our tight schedule lead to a lot of headaches when trains were delayed, tickets anavailable, and sites unexpectedly closed.

But we did see a lot. The sightseeing was indeed spectacular. We managed to see quite a few UNESCO World Heritage sites, many comparable to the spectacular pilgrimage sites of Central Asia we visited later – for instance, the Mausoleum of Ahmed Yassawi, or the cupolas of Kunya Urgench. The vegetarian food we had while travelling India was a revelation (except that we weren’t used to the bacteria, which spoiled the experience occasionally). As for the friendliness of the people, we had very diverging experiences.

Our India trip was before we had a travel blog, but here are some photos of our sightseeing highlights in Southern India.


Mumbai Taj Mahal Hotel
The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai

Around Aurangabad

Both the caves of Ellora and those of Ajanta are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Bibi Ka Maqbara mausoleum in Aurangabad

A Persian garden at the Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad

The Bibi Ka Maqbara mausoleum was built during the 17th century by Azam Shah for his mother and bears a striking resemblance to the mausoleum for his grandmother, the famous Taj Mahal.

Via Pune south to Bijapur

The Mausoleum Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur was built for Mohamed Adil Shah in the 17th century. Running along the inside of the dome is the so-called „Whispering Gallery“: Due to the fantastic acoustics, even a whispering sound can be heard on the other side of the mausoleum (one might wonder about its function in a mausoleum: it would make more sense for a theatre, wouldn’t it?).

Badami cave temples

View from the Badami caves

From the Hindu and Jaina cave temples in Badami we had a good view over the water reservoir and local washing women.

Temples of Pattadakal

Ruins of Pattadakal, India

Pattadakal was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka in Southern India between the 6th and 8th century.


The Virupaksha-Tempel in Hampi

Virupaksha-Temple in Hampi, one of our India sightseeing highlights

Hampi was the capital of a huge kingdom in the 14th to 16th century. At that time, the town may have had 200 000 inhabitants, or even more.

The Virupaksha-Tempel dedicated to Shiva is older than the town of Hampi and dates back to the 9th or 10th century.

Queen’s Bath in Hampi

Queen's bath in Hampi

During the 15th and 16th century, Hampi was one of the richest and largest cities in the world. Although it is named the Queen’s Bath, the complex was probably used as the private bathing chambers of the royal family in general.

Hindu and Jaina Temples of Belur and Halebid

These two temple complexes are not far from each other. While sightseeing, we met many Indian tourists and always had to take group photos with them. The students in particular were excited because we were travelling in Indian dress …

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