India and its amazing culture…
For those of you who read my last post, I promised to make a following post about what I got up to on my trip to India so here it is…
What would a perfect two week holiday plan off work sound like? For some of us it would be spending most of our time in our bed sleeping! Well not me! I was on a 8 and a half hour plane journey to one of the most cultured countries in the world!
Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, also known as “The Pink City”. This was my first trip outside of Delhi. I went there with my family. The main attraction was the Amer Fort (also known as “The Amber Fort”). On our way we stopped to take a few snaps at the Hawa Mahal (otherwise known as “Palace of Winds” or “Palace of the Breeze”). This fascinating “palace” is a five story facade full of peep holes where the royal women would come and watch everyday life and special occasions concealed behind the wall.
I bet you’re wondering why it is called “The Pink City” well.. in 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India on a tour. Since pink denotes the colour of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of jaipur painted the whole city pink in colour to welcome the guests…. Isn’t that something ey!
I woke up at 7.30am to prepare myself for the once in a life time trip, to see the sunrise before heading off to see the famous Taj Mahal. The driver was right on time and we drove to Agra- a city situated on the banks of the Yamuna river in Uttar Pradesh, India. Agra is one of the most visited tourist destinations of India so by virtue of that one can visit anytime of the year here and still find a number of fellow visitors. After purchasing the tickets, I was told that no cars were allowed from this point on so I had to take a shared electric bus to the western gate of the Taj Mahal.
I heard many people grasped at the beauty of the Taj Mahal as they approached it. Hell, I even mumbled “WOW” without knowing. This place is just freaking BEAUTIFUL. This place blew all the other monuments I visited, and hands down one of the most memorable experiences I ever had! The Taj has a beautiful entrance. It is an ornately designed structure and a treat to visitors and photographers. It took us a while to cross the entrance to catch the hold of the white marble beauty.
Taj Mahal is believed to be build by Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is a symbol of love and a world heritage site. The domed marble tomb is a part of an integrated complex of gardens and two red-sandstone buildings.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time visiting family in a small village in Kutch. Getting to experience the true village life is not something an outsider gets to do usually. The villages are small with roughly around 500-900 people. I could walk around its perimeter in about half an hour. Walking past the stunning yellow fields of mustard and vibrant green fields of various grain and vegetable crops and beautiful birds dancing along the rice paddles in the afternoon was a treat for a city slicker like me.
It wasn’t Idyllic though. A village is a noisy place and for many there seemed to be virtually no privacy. Each morning the sound of prayers beamed through the still fog before the sun had risen waking me up.
As I walked through the dusty village streets, houses were open and it was hard to find somewhere to look where i wasn’t infringing someone’s privacy. I am discovering privacy is not a luxury afforded to anyone in India, so it shouldn’t have surprised me. What does amaze me is how comfortable and free everyone seems with it, there is little concern for their own space. I watch people wander in and out of each other’s homes with ease and little fanfare. Its a community in the true sense of the word.
Lets not forget the ridiculously large amount of cattle roaming the village streets… A lot of my non-Hindu friends say “Why are there a lot of cows in India?”… weird question right? In Hinduism, the cow is revered as the source of food and symbol of life and may never be killed. However, many non-Hindus interpret these beliefs to man that Hindus worship cows. This is not true. It is more accurate to say that cow is taboo in the Hindu religion, rather than sacred. This is just one example of the misunderstandings people have about the Hindu faith.
For those of you who have not been to India… GO! Indian Culture is something which has now become renowned all across the world. We all refer to India and its culture as something very diverse and unique. Indian Culture is full of several unique customs and traditions, which outsiders such as city folks might find really intriguing. Most of these originate from the Ancient Indian scriptures and texts, which have dictated the way of life in India for thousands of years.
Guys… I can go on and on in this blog post. I had an amazing experience in this beautiful country and enjoy the snaps below.