October 21st - Ananda (Rest day)

A whole group of us sat down in the bar at midnight to watch England in the Final of the Rugby World Cup. A big screen had been set up in the bar and we waited for the start of the match. As the time for kick off approached we couldn't find any of the satellite channels broadcasting the game. Then, a couple of minutes after the start we came across a French channel that was showing it. So, we watched the game with a French commentary. Sadly, the game did not end up as we all had hoped for. England were well beaten by South Africa in a close fought game. It definitely was not a repeat of the thrashing South Africa gave us in the qualifying stages of the tournament. We got to bed at nearly 3 am, so the rest day we are having here at Ananda, will be very much needed. I'll post more about the hotel, as well as some of my thoughts of India, and the Great Tour now that we are halfway through the trip later today.

Today was our first 'proper' rest day of the tour. A chance to chill out by the pool and enjoy this wonderful resort hotel. The main building of the hotel is a Maharajah's palace

The current Maharajah lives in Delhi. The majority of guest rooms are in a six story building that overlooks the Ganges River, as well as the town of Rishikesh, where there are numerous Hindu temples. Rishikesh is one of the Hindu religion's holiest places and thousands of pilgrims come here to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges. It was really relaxing to be able to swim in the pool and not have to think about immediately leaving for another long drive. The marvellous pool at Ananda.

It also gave us a chance to get over the disappointment of the England defeat! Wendy, DeeAnne Croucher and Ernie Nelan enjoying the gardens at Ananda.

At the end of the day we walked through the gardens and as the sun set over the hills we took this photo.

A few thoughts on our tour of India and India itself. The tour so far has exceeded most people's expectations. We have seen so much of the Sub-continent and its wonderful scenery. We have seen at first hand the great strides India is taking to modernise, whilst at the same time a huge number of people live in terrible poverty. As with China four years ago we have seen the huge contrast between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. Even though so many people live below the poverty line, everywhere we have gone we have seen smiling faces. The Indians certainly know how to make you feel at home. The religious influence on Indian culture is profound, with Hinduism and Islam responsible for some of the most beautiful architecture imaginable. I hope the next two weeks are just as good as the first two.

Tomorrow we have our last day of driving in the Himalayas and our destination is the Corbett Tiger Reserve, which is where we will have our first chance of seeing the elusive Indian tiger.

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