Avoid if you can !!

Gorakhpur Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 33 › view all entries
Time to head back in to India for the last 4 weeks of the trip.  With the plan to get to Varanasi, reality soon dawned that it was going to take too long to make it in 1 go.  Made it to the Nepal/India border at Sonauli for 2pm having passed on the opportunity to stop over in the tranquil village of Lumbini (birthplace of Buddha).  Instead the Nepal bus stopped 3km short of the border, leaving a quick rickshaw ride to the border.  Easy process walking across and quickly back in mistrust mode as touts promised me that buses cost 120 rupees to Gorukhpur and it was just as cheap to get a taxi.  I had already read and been told in Nepal that it should cost around 55.
  I found a bus for 60. 

A little excitement soon in to the journey as the police flagged our bus down and pointed to a sack on the roof.  Getting on the bus he demanded who the owner was.  After 10 minutes of silence it was apparent that we weren't moving until resolved, an elderly woman reluctantly owned up.  Marched off the bus, we were allowed to set off again with the old woman being pushed to the ground by the police in the rear window.  A bit confused as the police hadn't even looked in the sack.

The countryside to Gorukhpur immediately looking better farmed with field boundaries clearly marked as far as the eye could see, with all  partitions seemingly flourishing with crops.  Vegetable stalls in the town a fine display of colours and healthy specimins.
  A rare positive as the towns generally looking grimy and uninviting.  With it going dark in Gorukhpur on arrival, my last hope of making it to Varanasi dashed as the onward train not until 11 the following morning.  I wasn't allowed to buy a ticket until 4am.  Well that's helpful !! Checked in to a hostal opposite the station ready to swiftly move on and asked the receptionist to sort out the ticket for the train.

Got up in time to make my train only to get my receptionist asking had I overslept.   Quickly transpired that the train arrived in Varanasi at 11 and had left Gorukhpur at 5.  Stuck in Gorukhpur until 4pm for next train.

With a day on my hands and absolutely nothing recommended in the guide only saying it is a transport hub to be avoided if possible (well thanks !), I went for a wander around the local proximity.  Found 1 war statue to photo, but the rest was just of grime and dirt.  Every spare space taken by squalor with a temporary tent to offer a little shelter or rubbish just left out for beggars/cows/dogs to rummage through before leaving the rest to rot. Many kids up to 7 years old walking around completely naked.  A lot of beggars.  I walked as far as the end of the main road where I found a mini shanty town made of any scrap available to offer shelter. 

With enough of a culture shock for one day and sick of being harassed by homeless kids, sought shelter in my hotel until my train was due.  Nearly got caught out again as receptionist said my train was 4.30.  With nothing to do, I went over to the station at 3.30 to find my train on the platform.  It left at 4.

Very happy to be moving on to Varanasi.  The best that can be said for Gorukhpur is it makes you appreciate everywhere else a whole lot more.
Saladin79 says:
Alright And,

This place sounds a bit like some of the border shit nests we passed through in S.America. Nice to hear you had a good Xmas - and you got to see elefootie - bonus!

Am surprised that you managed to see any animals close up in Chitwan though. With your stinking feet would've thought they'd have run a mile!

Good luck for the last month, mate.

Posted on: Jan 03, 2010
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photo by: herman_munster