|"You coming India only one person?" is a question I'm getting asked frequently. Family is very big in India as is noise and the idea that someone would choose solitude and crave a little peace and quiet is obviously considered odd. So I reply that yes I am only one person, even though that sounds even odder.
I had two very busy days in Bhubaneswar. I was up very early on Wednesday for my flight from Hyderabad. I was flying with budget airline Indigo and it only cost twice the rail fare, but did the journey in about a twelfth of the time. Despite being a budget operation, it was very impressive and certainly miles better than Ryanair, but then that's not difficult. In the afternoon I headed out to see the caves at Udaigiri and Khandagiri which were cut out of rocks two thousand years ago and inhabited by Jain monks. I was expecting some dusty archaeological site, almost deserted, with perhaps the odd pariah dog, but no, this is India and so even on a weekday the place was heaving with people. But in fact it was the human spectacle which proved more interesting than the caves themselves.
The next day I hired an auto rickshaw to see the temples which are the major draw in Bhubaneswar. Several of the temples are over a thousand years old and yet the extraordinary detail of the carvings can still be appreciated. I then went to the zoo which is very well maintained and does a lot of work with conservation and preservation. In fact, there are some large areas where animals such as lions and tigers are allowed to roam freely and the only way to see them is in a barred safari van. I got within a couple of metres of a lion and was also lucky enough to see a white tiger.
I'm off to the coastal town of Puri to relax for a few days, visit some more temples and hopefully escape the hectic cities and get out into the countryside.