It wasn’t easy to find an available seat on any train on its way to Satna. I had to go to the reservation office myself, queue up for a couple of hours and i was lucky enough to get a ticket: there was just one empty seat on the train leaving Howrah station at 10PM!
I love travelling in Second Class Sleeper, it’s the best price/quality deal you can get and it’s relatively fun, of course depending on who your fellow travellers will be.
My only concern was to be able to jump on the train as soon as possible in order to find enough space under the berths, so that i could place my guitar case and properly secure it with a chain and a padlock. And the other thing i forgot about Northern India in November, is that while during the day you enjoy the sunshine in your t-shirt, at night it can get pretty chilli, especially if you spent the last several months in South East Asia, where the only cold you can get is in a shopping mall!
I managed to spend the night without any big problem apart from waking up with a bit of headache as i forgot to get myself to buy an inflatable pillow, so i had to sleep all night with the head laying on my small backpack.
When i woke up all my fellow travellers, a big family going to Mumbai for the wedding of a friend, were already in full activity, chatting, reading newspapers and playing with the kids, but some of them were still asleep sharing the berth with the little babies.
On the way to Mumbai, the route includes a bit of Bihar, probably the poorest state of the whole Subcontinent. i enjoyed the landscape, big open spaces with massive trees, in the early morning hazy light.
After a cup of chai, went to the toilet to brush my theet and have a wee. Missed the old good aroma of Indian trains toilets !
The train was running 3 hours late, so i had to go back to my berth and kill the extra time reading a book.
Approaching Allahabad, a very important city for the Hindus, we crossed a bridge over the holy river Ganges. Everybody suddenly started looking out of the windows, mumbling prayers and showing the scenery to the children.
The city’s original name “Prayaga”, or “place of offerings”, comes from its position at the sacred union of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. This is the reason why the city hosts the largest religious gathering in the world known as Maha Kumbh Mela which is celebrated every twelve years and Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years
Few hours later we made it to Satna, a not very interesting city in the state of Madhya Pradesh, who sporadically sees some foreigners on the way to the nearby Khajuraho, the little village where i’m going, who despite its small size and remoteness, draws a steady flow of tourists coming to visit the famous temples with erotic sculptures. THis is my fourth visit to Khajuraho, and i’m going only to see the kids of the school and take some rest after my nearly 2 weeks in Kolkata!