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Today is our last day in India. We took a few hours to visit some of modern New Delhi and some of it’s government buildings and a Moslem mosque. We fly out tomorrow morning for Nepal. This has been a wonderful visit in a land that is colorful, dirty, unique, noisy, and often enchanting. There is a non-stop pulsing energy here that energizes and drains you at the same time. But what we will remember most are the people. They are delightfully open, accepting, and have a beautiful humor. Everywhere we went we were greeted with smiling faces and open hearts. That is what we will take with us from here.
Like most people who travel, we are mostly voyeurs. We look at and photograph people, places and things. Then we leave, look at our photos, and are happy. But, if we are lucky, we have that “moment” where something in our travel touches us, overwhelms us, and even changes us. Before now, I have had that feeling only once: Egypt! Today, was another such day. Experiencing the sunrise on the River Ganges was a feeling that took me out of myself, as if we belonged to something eternal. The ritual bathing (to wash away one’s sins), ceremonies of blessings, fishing, washing and drying clothes on the huge steps (Ghats), and even cremations that never stop (350+/day) have been happening every day for many thousands of years. It is bigger than us, and is a humbling experience. This is why I came to India!
We visited a World Heritage Site of Khajuraho, some of the most beautiful Hindu temples in the world. Many of it’s cravings you have seen in your history books.
We caught another train from Agra to Jhansi, and then took a bus for 7 hours to Orchha. This little town was quite, quaint, and totally unlike others we had seen. Most of the people you see in the photos were pilgrims to this Hindu holy place.
This photo is of a wedding that just ended (bride veiled in red with yellow sash; husband is to her right). The groom has not yet seen his bride’s face…please note look on his face! The mother-in-law (in green), however, looks positively ecstatic!
Today we visited the ancient Fort of Agura and then the fabulous Taj Mahal. This is the end of India’s winter, and the area is quite cool, humid and foggy. The fog never cleared completely, but The Taj still gave us a magnificent showing.
Well, as Vikas predicted, we did not see a tiger. However, we did see lots of beautiful animals: birds, spotted deer, antelope, Indian crocodiles, monkeys, parrots, and even the illusive mongoose.
We also visited a couple of cooperatives established by women to make and sell their beautifully worked textiles.
This morning we caught an early train to take us to Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal. The train was quite an experience. I think it is everything you’ve seen in the movies…there is just no way to properly describe it. What an experience…and we will do it again in 2 more days.
In the end, it is the people who make this place so unique.
It is 5:30AM. We are in Ranthambore getting ready to take a jeep safari into the Ranthambore National Wildlife Reserve to see if we are lucky enough to see one of the few existing Indian tigers left in all the wild. Poaching is so bad that only about 60 live in this huge reserve, and only about 250 in all the reserves in India. According to our tour guide, Vikas, “I am thinking it is most unlikely we are seeing a tiger itself. To see a tiger is very much a bonus.” Tomorrow we are off to Agra, home of the great Taj Mahal.
For the past 5 days we have been in Udaipur (location of the wedding ceremony) and Jaipur. Both areas are unique, and the landscape quite beautiful. We will post photos as soon as internet speed allows, but I assure you no amount of photos can express the essence of India. The vivid colors, never-ending sounds, exotic smells (pleasant & unpleasant), startling sights; but most of all the gracious, friendliness of the people, can frankly overwhelm. These people are simply amazing in humor, humility and pure joy of just living.
It is terribly hard to overlook the stark poverty, but just about the time you are overwhelmed by it all, you see an example of their amazing resilience, pride of self, and simple humility. There are truly lessons to be learned here.
Believe it or not, the beautiful lady with me in this photo is the great daughter-in-law of the last Royal Maharaja of this area. The sari I am wearing is hers, and she showed me how to fold and wear it. She is truly a lovely and gracious lady.
Internet here is not always easily available, and when it is, it is too slow to download photos in a reasonable time. The wedding went wonderfully, and just as soon as internet speed allows, we will post those photos.
New Delhi land Old Delhi are both very foggy and cool this time of year, as it is ending their winter season. However, we spent our first day here just walking around trying to get accustomed to the time change. Internet is sketchy and slow, but more will be forthcoming.
Oh my, Totto. I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!