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"India has 2,000,000 gods, and worships them all. In religion, India is the only millionaire - the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined" (Mark Twain)

My dream of a lifetime journey began in Delhi, India's capital. Just as churches are the architectural mainstay in Europe, Indian landmarks consist mostly of Muslim & Hindu temples. The sandstone & marble Jami Masjid (built 1656) is the largest Muslim temple in India, & can fit 20,000 in its courtyard at prayertime.
[left] Rajghat is the site of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation. Garlands of marigold are draped over the granite platform to honor this "Father of the Nation". [right] Across town, Qutb Minar marked the site of the first Muslim kingdom in North India, established in 1193.
In contrast to the symmetrical lines of a Muslim temple, the spires of this Birla Mandir has symbolic Hindu meaning and the courtyard is filled with various Hindu idols.

JAIPUR - the Pink City

"There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten." (Indira Gandhi)

Elephants provided our transportation to Amber Fort, the capital of this walled city. Intricate carvings & inlays of precious stones are evidence of the wealth of this Rajasthan kingdom.
Jal Mahal [left] is the summer palace on the lake, and Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) has screened windows designed to allow the veiled ladies of the harem to observe the lively street scenes below without being seen.
Vishnu & Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, take centerstage at this Birla Mandir in Jaipur.

AGRA and vicinity

"I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill." (Mahatma Gandhi)

No doubt the most famous building of India, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 16th son, It was truly a labor of love. It has a mystical presence that just took my breath away when I approached this grand structure in person.
Agra Fort was the emperor's palace across the river from the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son in Musamman Burj towards the later years of his life, where he had a direct view of the Taj.
Fatehpur Sikri, another UNESCO site, was a Mughal capital in the 15th century. It consists of a complex of sandstone palaces & pavillions.
Scenes from the Agra train station. I thought it was interesting that the station sign resembles the London underground design, probably a remnant of British colonial rule?

KHAJURAHO and vicinity

"India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the Equator." (Winston Churchill)

The medieval city of Orchha was the capital of the Bundela kings in the 15-17th centuries. This Jahangiri Mahal sits on top of a rocky cliff, and I even spotted a pair of Egyptian falcons nesting on one of the carved domes.
The temples at Khajuraho were built between the 9th & 10th century, much earlier than those similar ones at Ankor Wat in Cambodia.
The stone carvings on the temples depict gods & goddesses, beasts & warriors, sensuous maidens & dancers, and most famously, erotic scenes from the Kama Sutra.
A special cultural dance with costumes from different regions of India.

VARANASI - India's holiest Hindu city

India chose her places of pilgrimages on the top of hills and mountains, by the side of the holy rivers, in the heart of forests and by the shores of the ocean, which along with the sky, is our nearest visible symbol of the vast, the boundless, the i" (Rabindranath Tagore)

Sunrise boatride on the Ganges, India's holy river.
Hindu pilgrims come from all over the country to be cleansed by the holy Ganges. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. (Psalm 67:3)


[Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?] Because it's there. (George Leigh Mallory)
There is a big population of Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu. This Bodinath is the largest Buddhist stuppa outside of Tibet. Worshippers pray by walking clockwise circling the stuppa repeatedly.
A cremation ceremony at the Pashupatinath temple.
Durbar Square at Patan. Temples are typically built right outside the palace courts symbolizing the blessing of the royalty by the gods.

People & Scenes...

When I die India will be found engraved on my heart (Queen Mary)

Delhi street Delhi housing Jaipur street
Jaipur carpet weaver Rajasthan puppeteers Varanasi street
Varanasi alley Patan fruit vendor Patan rice chaffers
Patan spice shop Kathmandu henna applique Kathmandu holyman

More photos from my album

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