Dogs of India: 7

August 12, 2015

This little pup knew how to work the camera!

Ham pup at Khan

Ham dog at Khan collage

Neemrana Fort Palace

July 30, 2015

Although this would have been a great place to share with someone special (um, John!), it was a nice experience flying solo. I would recommend it for anyone in the area particularly if you find India to be a little overwhelming at times. For me, Neemrana was only a two-hour ride out of Gurgaon and got me away from the traffic and the noise and the hotel where I am living.

There are no TVs in the rooms, they say they have WiFi but that’s a joke, and they don’t do room service. You’re forced to relax and that’s OK (unless being sans those items stresses you out). You pretty much need to have the stamina and leg strength of a mountain goat to make your way up, down and around through narrow passages on stone steps to navigate the palace grounds, but that was fine with me too.

Neemrana passage collage

The best part of the palace was the upper pool.

Neemrana pool

The spa treatments were AMAZING too. I had a full body treatment the first day and a facial the morning that I left.  It would be worth going back just for treatments but I could justify the trip for the pool alone.

I only stayed over one night and spent most of my time at the pool. I did hike around and stopped in one dining area for a drink and a bite to eat.  It was good.  I met some fun people, too, but didn’t join them for tea or dinner because mostly the point of my trip was to take some time alone with few distractions and unwind.

Dogs of India: 6

July 29, 2015

dogs of india 6

Ironically enough, I just watched a documentary on the History Channel last night about the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. It was extremely interesting. Much of the architectural detail of the fort was replicated in the Taj. The following pictures show details that I could easily mistake for those from the Taj Mahal. Fortunately, my files are sorted! Compare the flowers below to the ones in a previous post of the Taj detail and you’ll see what I mean.

Agra fort detail collage

The history of the Agra Fort is as interesting as any other story we heard from the guides throughout Jaipur and at the Taj Mahal. One part of the story I enjoy the most is that “At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was deposed and restrained by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumoured that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.” 

I thought the view of the Taj from Agra Fort was even more impressive in some ways than seeing it up close. (Of course you’ll find better pictures than this one in the links I’ve included.)

Taj as viewed from Agra Fort

I want to clearly express how fortunate I am to have the experiences in India that I’ve been sharing. As admitted before, I am by no means a history buff and unfortunately am very ignorant (in the true meaning of the word) when it comes to world history. I now find myself watching history programs that I would have clicked past without a thought, and I am excited to be able to say in many cases that “I’ve been there!”

Dogs of India: 5

July 24, 2015

Dogs of India biker dog 5

I’m not sure I ever thought I would be able to say, “I have seen the Taj Mahal.” I’m pretty sure I hadn’t thought about it until I was presented with the opportunity to come to India for work. I have a funny memory of camping with my brother and his friends one year where someone put up a sign on their tent naming it the Taj Mahal. There have definitely been other references to it that have caused me to pause, but the thoughts of it were short-lived.

Well, now I can say it. Not a picture I would normally share (not good of either of us) but I am in front of the Taj and I have proof.

Taj Mahal 05032015

It was really amazing. Although our guide was getting on my nerves — he was WAY too cheesy — he did a great job of making the history interesting and encouraging us to really enjoy the details (insisting,actually). I am very thankful for that.

Taj collage

The Taj at Night

July 20, 2015

I forget where I first heard/read about seeing the Taj Mahal at night but it was something I was very excited about on the days leading up to my trip to India. Taj night viewings are only open two days before, the night of, and two days after a full moon. Timing was right for John and I to go on May 2.

It was not expensive to buy tickets to see the Taj at night so I have no complaints. We’re really glad we did it but we also kind of had to laugh about it. Literally, seeing the Taj at night is nothing more than being bused to the destination, herded like cattle through gates to the top of the stairs that lead down to the garden, the lights are turned off and there you have it. What it definitely did do is make the visit the next day that much more amazing. I would recommend the night view before going for a day visit with a guide if you get the chance.

The Taj at night 042015

Fatehpur Sikri

July 17, 2015

The last weekend that John was in India with me we headed to the Agra district. The first stop was at Fatehpur Sikri about 40 km away from Agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Fatehpur Sikri is known as one of the best preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture in India.

My favorite memory from the guided tour was the description of the Pachisi Court. It was an area set up for a human board game of Parcheesi (Ludo) where people served as the playing pieces. The guide described the king overlooking the court, ordering his move, and then watching as beautiful women dressed in costume danced from space to space to complete his turn. Stop and think about that for a moment. I literally shook my head…

The description of the court and what took place in it was much more interesting than a picture would be so I don’t have one to include. Instead, the following is the Buland Darwaza entrance (“Gate of Magnificence”). We actually exited (rather than entered) here so I snapped this on our way out. (Better pictures in the previous link provided.)

Fatehpur Sikri Agra India 05022015

This is the last picture I snapped as we were leaving down a side street rather than wading back through the scads of homeless people just inside the Gate of Magnificence. They gather in that area because it is public and sheltered. The guide suggested the alternative route. He’s walking away in the crisp white suit on the right of the picture.

Donkeys carrying bricks outside Fatehpur Sikri 05022015

Dogs of India: 4

July 16, 2015

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I misstated the number of attractions we saw in one day while visiting Jaipur. Technically we saw five because the observatory was at the entrance of the City Palace. Honestly, at the point we went through the entrance to the palace complex we were pretty burned out and we opted out of going into the palace itself. What we saw from the courtyards was equally as impressive architecturally as the other forts and palaces we’d seen but I didn’t take many pictures.

Here’s a picture of John and I at one of the more ornate entrances to the complex. Not a great picture of either of us, but focus on the detail around us. The peacock, being the national bird of India, fills this entrance in a brilliant display of color and craftsmanship.

City Palace Jaipur 04252015

#CowAppreciationDay

July 14, 2015

Some of my friends in India…

Cow appreciation day 2015_2

The observatory (Jantar Mantar) was my favorite part of our visit to Jaipur. (Well, I did do some killer jewelry shopping and we had a lot of fun at the hotel, and…) This particular observatory is the most prominent one among five observatories founded by Sawai Jai Singh. Check out the link above for some decent images of the instruments.

Here are John and I by our birth signs.

Libra Jen and Leo John

Below is a picture to give you an idea of the layout and magnitude of the instruments. There are some 20 instruments total. One of which is the world’s largest stone sundial that works ACCURATELY!

Observatory in Jaipur 042015

I will definitely make the trip to see this again next time I am in India. Were it built today with all of the ease of modern equipment and technology, it would still be impressive; but to think something this spectacular was accomplished in the early 18th century is just baffling to me.

On our way from the Amber Palace we stopped to take pictures at Jal Mahal (the Water Palace) as we headed back into Jaipur. The guide said that there are plans to turn the palace into a restaurant and hotel in the next five or so years. That sounds like a terrific idea and something worth making a trip back to experience although I think it will be VERY expensive.

Water Palace Jaipur 042015

We were eager to get to the next attraction, it was extremely hot (especially after spending a couple of hours walking around the Amber Palace), AND we decided we’d had enough riding large mammals for a while…so here is the camel we didn’t ride.

Camel we didn't ride

I would say that this was John’s favorite part of our visit to Jaipur but it might not have been. We saw some very interesting and incredible things.  Nonetheless this was entertaining.  Enjoy!

https://youtube/tPb6A-9nV2g

John and the Cobra

The slow (SLOW!) ride dropped us at the entrance to the Amber Palace a.k.a. the Amber Fort constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Mirza Raja Jai Singh.

Although I am admittedly not very interested in history, seeing the forts in India with a tour guide did make it much more interesting to me and I have a different appreciation for the history now. John, on the other hand, loves history and probably would have spent triple the amount of time exploring the fort, reading all the plaques and taking photos and videos. The expression on John’s face (below) clearly shows his dislike for being told what to do. Sometimes the guide and I called for him to hurry up when he wasn’t ready. Mostly, I wanted to make sure he heard what the guide had to say. I also snapped at John just before this was taken — it was 107 degrees in the shade, we had other things to do that afternoon, and I did apologize after I did it. So there. I owned it.

Look at how cool the screen is in the background. That is what the picture there was all about. The entire thing was carved out of one piece of marble. If a mistake was made, it was scrapped and started over. It’s these details that finally sunk in with me particularly when I thought about the tools they were using to do this work. Just incredible.

Rushed John at Amber Palace

Here’s a happy picture with an equally as impressive background. Truly amazing in person.

Jen and John at Amber Palace 1

It was very hot but well worth the trip. The history, the colors and the detail will amaze you if you get the chance to visit.

Amber Fort collage

And probably John’s happiest moment at Amber Palace…in the next post.

Cheers!  Jendia

Dogs of India: 3

June 30, 2015

New Friends Colony Dog