Monday, July 8, 2013

India 9

Kolkata is the former capital of British India, and one of its most beautiful attractions is the Victoria Memorial, built to commemorate Queen Victoria, Empress of India, upon her death in 1901.
Victoria Memorial, Kolkata, West Bengal State, India

India 8

Tea Plantation- Darjeeling
Darjeeling which is home to India's highest railway station. From here, it's a 1 hour ride on the famous "Toy Train" to reach the day's destination...
road to  Darjeeling! 7,000 feet up!

India 7

Mumbai is quite a place! I am staying at the Hotel of Three Rings from Hell! I have a lovely view, it's a little noisy. The real problem is the bed which is a wooden platform with several layers of cloth. I'm really sleeping on a wooden board. It is teaching me GRATITUDE! Everywhere one goes here, folks are sleeping on the street, ground, or floor with just a blanket. I at least have a platform! Last night I slept 11 hours. I walk so much, by the time I hit the bed, I'm ready to sleep.
Gate of India

India 6

There are sooo many things to talk about! Everyday,there are things that break your heart and things that amaze.I was told to bring pens to give to children and since I had 6 boxes left over from the election, I brought them. While I waited for the tour bus, there was a little guy(6?) working like a slave, throwing buckets of garbage away, blah, blah. I walked over to him and gave him a pen. he had no idea what it was and walked over to his father. His dad showed him and then started to pocket it but I shook my finger and he gave it to his son, who beemed. I got on the bus and we were off for a n 8 hour tour. Stopping at a stop light , 4 lanes of traffic there was a little girl doing cartwheels and hip hop dancing in the middle of the street in hopes that someone in a car would give her money... The most heart wrenching was a woman 1,000 years old pulling herself on a bag down the street. Her legs didn't work at all and she weighed 80 lbs. She was smiling and talking to the shop keepers and was having a good old time. The power of her soul was awsome.
More workers


India 5

Yesterday, I was in my "penthouse", with the door open to the balcony and I looked up from my book and there was a huge monkey sitting on the railing watching me read! Yikes, NATURE!

India 4

every once in a while you see something that so engages you, you'll never forget it. Such was the GOLDEN TEMPLE!! IT IS THE VATICAN TO SIKHS. One of the most amazing places, it even made me spiritual. It is surrounded by marble buildings with domes, gleeming white. There is a walkway next and pilgrims are all walking in one direction with their hands clasped. In the center is a reflecting pool that is 5 football fields across. In the center of the pool is the golden temple and yes it's gold. After walking around it for 40 minutes you finally walk on a 2 block long bridge to the temple. as you come into the hall, the is a blue velvet canopy that is embroidered with pearl and silver. The head "rabbi" sits there and to his left is a 5 piece "band" playing golden instruments and singing which is piped out to the rest of the buildings. In front of the "rabbi" is a "carpet of flowers" in a mozaic. There are pilgrims on 2 sides chanting? Above all this is a hugecrystal chandalier. This pavillion is 2 stories tall with worshipers on the 2nd story.
That sundown, I went to the boarder with Pakistan. Every night India and Pakistan have a marching battle.There are huge gates on either side which they open but you can really only see your "team". The uniforms of the Indians were so kooll and I'msure these soldiers were chosen on height and beauty. They do kicks above their heads and all sorts of firery things. Reminded me of cock fighting.
After this , I had to go back to the Golden Temple to see it at night. Very emotional!

The Sikh belief system is fairly down to Earth; One god is the creator of the universe, all human beings are equal, people of all religions and races are welcome in Sikh holy places, women have equal status with men, be peaceful and loving and stand for truth and justice.
Add captionBuilt by the fifth Sikh guru, Arjan Dev, in the 16th Century, the Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, is the holiest temple and spiritual home of the Sikh religion. Called the Golden Temple because it is plated in pure gold. Amritsar, Punjab State, India.

The Taj Mahal Day
All the guide books say see the Taj at sunrise. So, I get into agra@10pm, take a taxi to my hotel which is 5 doors from the entrance. However, the streets leading there are blocked off to traffic, so I'm schleppin with my suitcase down the street making a lot of noise. No one is on the streets. I finally find my hotel and fall immediately asleep. Wake up the next morning and the bed is sooo nice and warm and the room is so cold. I can see my breath! Get up or go back to sleep?? up or down?? Finally after a long battle with myself, I get up. Throw on clothes and step outside. not a soul awake on the planet. I finally get to the entrance of the hotel and there are 2 bicycle rickshaws. They ask me if I want aride to the ticket window. Now, from last night, I know the window is up the block. I say no in a very gruff way, and start walking. It's freezing, I can see my breath! As I'm walking I realize that it's only $2 to have them drive me. I walk back and LaLa the driver takes me there and to the entrance. I wait in line. They open the gate and I walk in. There is a nice garden and I run and get an audio recorder.I start the tour.
In front is a huge structure (15 stories?)built to frame your entrance "to leave earth and go into paradise". You walk up some steps and framed perfectly is the Taj.It is enclouded and you just see this beautiful pure white structure.engulfed in clouds, floating on this planet. Between you and the building are several acres of magnificent fountains and gardens. One gets to the half way point and there is a marble platform to view the building. There are a few tourists but it is mostly me and the most beautiful building on the planet! as one gets closer, one starts to seethe veins in the marble and it takes on a whole different aspect. You start to see the in-lay work of precious stones and the sheer mass of it! They had to use brick scaffolding to build it because the weight of the marble was so heavy that a wooden scafold would collapse. It is amazing, you've heard about this your whole life and here it is!
You know his wife died bearing his 14th child when he made the promise to build it, took 22 years and finally when it's finished ,his eldest son creates a coup de tah (sorry, don't know how to spell it) and de-thrones him and puts him into a palace for the rest of his life and he grieves his dead wife.
The red sandstone mosque at the Taj, a work of art in its own right.
Around the Taj, Koranic verses are inlayed in Jasper and black marble. That is to say, the calligraphy here is not painted on; it is made of finely cut pieces of stone, inlaid into socketed slabs of white marble. The skill and dedication required for such a monumental task are beyond my understanding. And if that isn't enough... the calligraphy gets larger the higher up it goes, to account for the skewing effect of perspective when one is viewing from below.
Photography is not allowed in the central chamber of the Taj, but I hastily snapped this photo when no one was looking. Behind these intricately carved and inlayed marble screens are the cenotaphs of both Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who had the Taj built, and his 3rd wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the woman it was built for.
It's true what they say; she really is the most beautiful building in all the world. Got up before the sun in order to be first in line and have a chance to wander the complex alone, and snap a few pictures without anyone in them. Well worth it. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh State, India

India 2

I am currently in collapse mode. I'm in Khajuraho, a town famous for the erotic sculptures in their many temples. I arrived got into a tuk-tuk and went to my hotel, areally nice place- Casa de William(no kidding, that's the name!) Hit the bed and slept for 4 hours. 
The trains are so funny. i don't care where I sit. So, the last train ,I was in royalty with a berth. It was a lovely trip. This tripwas $.25 and I was in steerage! For an hour, I sat on my luggage and it was really crowded. Lots of poor folks taking sacks of stuff, blocking the aisles, doorways, etc.
So far, I celebrated 3 holidays here, Kite Festival, Mohammad's Birthday and today is India's independence Day!


February, 2013
Ahhh,sunrise at Mt Everest!! What do you mean, you haven't done it??? LOL Woke up at 4AM, shared a jeep and drove to Tiger Hill. Saw the sunrise- Magnificent!! Lots of famous mountains here and they all glowed pink in the early dawn.
Later, I went to a tea plantation and saw the process. In Indonesia, they ae all terraced. Here they just grow on the slopes.