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India 2011 - Bangalore / Taj Mahal

Where? India - Bangalore & Delhi
When? February 2011

There are not many chances to see aircraft of the Indian Air Force, and if you think about going to see them in their home country, there actually is only one: Aero India, held bi-annually at Yelahanka AB, located North of Bangalore. My first trip in 2011 should bring me there.

8 hours on board of one of Lufthansa's Jumbo Jet to Bangalore/Bengaluru in Southern India passed quite fast. With the contrails literally zapping by the window at 1000km/h, the sun set somewhere over a snow-covered Eastern Turkey.
It was in the middle of the night when arriving in Bangalore, and shortly before landing the 5-million people city appeared to be covered under a thick layer of haze, illuminated in orange by the many streetlights. I should find out about this hazy and dusty air the next few days, but after the arrival only one thing was important: getting fast to the hotel to get some sleep. Fortunately this late hour was convenient to get a quick ride there.

The next day in the morning a unusual feeling made me wake-up: it was warm and already getting hot quite a while before midday. I was not used to this after a long dark winter without any sun, but the forecast for Bangalore with 30°C during the day and more than 10 hours of sun throughout the whole week seemed to be true.

I used this 'day off' to discover the city. With an auto-rickshaw the first stop of the day was reached in style : the HAL Heritage Centre .

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., promoting itself as Asia's biggest Aeronautical company, did set up this museum adjacent to its main factory buildings at Bangalore's old airport in the East of the City. With an entrance fee of 25 Rupees and 10 for the permission of taking photos it offers an extensive collection, and some shady places if you are not used to the sun and still suffer a bit from the jetlag...

Two buildings present the proud heritage of the company as well as their technical know-how, whereas most of the exhibits are located outside and protected from the strong sun under some sun-sheds. This makes photography difficult, but at least one has the feeling that they really look after their aircraft - though the sheds do not hinder the many Chipmunks running around from getting in all the holes that they find.

Of course the local built aircraft were a special treat, as well as a MiG-21 double-seater. Looking at the Kiran I could not imagine that it flies very well, but I should find out some days later, as this type still flies with Indian Air Force's Display Team "Suryakiran", or SKAT for "Suryakiran Aerobatics Team".

The day was finished later in the afternoon with a visit the famous (well, at least in Bangalore) Cubbon Park and the High Court Building as well as the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka.

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