Overland to Bangladesh 1973 – Part 8: Lahore to Delhi
We left reasonably punctually and arrived in Lahore next morning after a brief stop in Rawalpindi, where the coach with the ‘Ladies Only’ compartment, in which one of our group, Pat, was required to travel, was detached from ours. Fortunately, Pat was able to join us in our compartment.
Lahore Station was impressively well organised and I reclaimed my trunk with very little bother. The Clifton Hotel was within walking distance of the station and offered as good value as the Kamran for the same price. So we ferried our luggage over and settled in there. John and I set off on foot to find the city centre but soon succumbed to using a three-wheeled motor cycle taxi which belted off, dodging in and out of traffic, people and traffic islands. That evening we splurged on a very good Chinese meal and the next morning set out by taxi for the Indian border.
Lahore to Amritsar
My trunk was borne on the heads of two porters to the Pakistani Customs Office, where our effects were superficially checked and we were ushered through. This time, a single porter carried the trunk – again, on his head – to the lush, green setting of the Indian border post. As we approached, we saw a long human chain of porters in blue clothes carrying bales of jute from a Pakistani lorry into India. At the border, my trunk was ceremonially handed over to an Indian porter, who carried it a further two hundred yards on his head – including a stop while our passports were checked at a table under the shade of a large tree and I filled in a form. Customs checks were a little more thorough, but in exchange for a packet of razor blades, the official was persuaded not to empty the contents of the trunk.
We took a station wagon into Amritsar and were soon taken up by a Sikh restaurateur, who offered us a meal and accommodation. Not only that, he offered to take care of registering my trunk on the train to Delhi, which clinched it for me! The vegetarian meal was disappointing, but the accommodation suited us well, in spite of its dry loos.
We were rickshawed to the Golden Temple through fascinating narrow streets lined with shops selling shawls and sarees, not to mention roadside cows. The sun was setting and the temple looked stunning as hundreds of worshippers filed across the causeway and through the temple in the middle of its square pool. We covered our heads with yellow napkins and removed our shoes to join the procession. It was extraordinarily atmospheric and definitely a high point in the journey.
Amritsar to Delhi
I was able to take my trunk into our carriage on the Delhi train, paying no extra for it. The journey took 12 hours and the seats were hard. We whiled away the time playing endless card games as the train passed through lush, green countryside, unlike anything we had seen since Europe.