Dogs of India: 8

September 14, 2015

black and white India dog_8

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

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

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

IMG_4989[1]

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

The slow (SLOW!) ride

June 28, 2015

On our way to attraction number two in Jaipur the guide told us that an elephant ride had been arranged as part of the fort visit. So, the first thing to note is that when I envisioned riding an elephant in India I didn’t see it taking place in a city. In my mind, we were going to be climbing on an elephant who had knelt down for us to board it out on an open plain or something. Like many things, our presuppositions about what we would experience in India were far off from the reality of it all.

So our elephant ride went more like this:

– Warning from the guide: Do NOT talk to anyone when you get out of the car. The “vendors” here are relentless and they will hound you until the minute you get on the elephant and then there will be more of them trying to sell you things even as you ride up to the fort entrance.

– John talks to the first guy that approaches him when we get out of the car. The “vendor” is indeed relentless. John finally buys a hat. (Somewhere along the way the hat was lost before John left India — I call that karma.)

– The elephant pulls up to the platform and we are instructed to get on. Once seated, the safety bar on our carrying vessel atop the elephant is latched in front of us and we are off.

There are an endless string of elephants pulling up to the platform with people boarding them. This creates a long parade of elephants walking up a steep incline to the fort entrance. We had THE SLOWEST elephant. I actually meant to take down the number of this large mammal so that I could warn others who may visit the Amber Fort in the near future to steer clear of this guy. Other elephants en route were passing us up — he was THAT slow.

John and I get along very well in general and although there were many overwhelming things coming at us quickly as we experienced India for the first time together, we did a very good job of trying to be in the moment, make the most of the situation and keep a positive outlook. That said, some things to consider for your first elephant ride:

  1. Do not take your first elephant ride on a steep incline. I’ll go so far as to say maybe don’t ever ride an elephant up a long incline.
  2. If you find yourself boarding an elephant for an inclined ride, put the bigger person toward the butt of the large mammal. If you do not, the larger person will continue to slide backward during the ride and crush the smaller person against the metal frame of the carrying vessel, causing discomfort and testing of the smaller person’s patience.
  3. Try not to do this in 107 degree Fahrenheit weather at midday when the sun it peaking.
  4. Send out as many positive thoughts as you can to secure your ride on an elephant that is relatively quick on its feet and who doesn’t cause you to wonder if it is going to stroke while you are riding on it.

All said and done, John and I reached the end of the ride where we finished the last few minutes on a flat surface. That would explain the thumbs up and the smiles in the picture below.

Elephant ride Amber Fort Jaipur 042015

True story — John and I were discussing the slowness of the elephant as we rode (as we tried to remain positive AND as we discussed how horrible it would be if the animal did indeed stroke). We decided it must be a really old elephant and this would probably be one of its last seasons doing this. Just as we finally approached level ground at the end of the route another elephant on its way back to the bottom passes us, and the guide says, “That elephant (pointing) is this one’s mother.” So much for our old as dirt elephant theory…