Monday, October 22, 2012

India . . . . Day 6

Fatehpur Sikri was our first stop for day 6.  Fatehpur Sikri was once the capital of the Mughal empire built by Akbar himself in the 1500’s.  It was abandoned shortly after due to the lack of water and intense heat, which we witnessed firsthand.  It was well over 105 F with about 80-90% humidity.  Today it is a ghost town built of red sandstone . . . but if you looked through the hallucinations of dehydration, you could picture it as it once was a beautiful palace and capital of a huge empire.
From Fatehpur Sikri we continued on our way to Jaipur, stopping at a rural Indian village called Anterhera.  We took a tour of the school and were even able to meet the matriarch of the village.  It was a refreshing experience as none of the children were begging and we did not have to pay for every picture we took.  The villagers seemed to be as intrigued by us as we were by them.  Clayton was very involved in this stop, drawing pictures on the children’s blackboard and asking everyone in sight “Aapka naam kya hai?” (“hello, what is your name?”) At the end of our visit we were all taking turns having our photograph taken with the village matriarch.  Clayton took one side, I took the other.  Apparently she was intrigued by my sunglasses and pulled them off of my face . . . she then asked us something in Hindi and as we had no idea what she was saying (thought she was asking to try them on) we said “yes, go ahead!”  She did indeed try them on and promptly waved good-bye to us.  It was obvious then that she must have asked if she could have them.  As she seemed delighted with her new acquisition I decided to wear my back up $5 Wal-Mart sunglasses with skull and crossbones in the corner for the rest of our vacation. 


Our final stop for the day was the bazaar in Jaipur.  It was both delightful (as the streets were packed with vendors, colorful goods, sights and smells) and frightening (never knowing if you will return to the outside once you entered into a store, pushy vendors, pickpockets, etc).  It does get a little tiring when you know they are increasing the price 10 fold when an American is sighted.  I had wanted an article of clothing and when I asked how much I was told 1,200 rupee ($24 US).  I knew good and well this piece of fabric was not worth that much and offered 100 rupee ($2 US).  The man appeared to be offended and stated that it was hand stamped fabric, worth so much more, I was asking for it for free, etc.  I ended up buying it for 200 rupee ($4 US).  Take that!! My mother would be proud.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

India. . . Day 5

Today started early at 5:30 with a sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal.  I cannot express in words the beauty and awe of that magnificent tomb.  Pictures cannot express either. . . I guess you just have to see it for yourself.  It was stunning, majestic, amazing, beautiful. . . these words just do not capture the essence.  The first view through the gates literally took my breath away and I immediately had goosebumps.  The Taj was built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Sha Jahan as an expression of his love for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  The Taj took 22 years and 20,000 laborers to build and now houses both the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Sha Jahan.  The marble work is inlaid with many semi-precious stones and was quarried 200 miles away and transported by a fleet of 1000 elephants.

(These nice people asked to take a picture with me. . . Never had anyone random asked to take a picture with me before. . . felt like a celebrity)
After the Taj Mahal we returned back to the hotel for the breakfast that we were not able to enjoy earlier in the morning.  We then proceeded to Sikandra, the sandstone and marble tomb of Akbar, the the 3rd Mughal Emperor.   While we were visiting in the courtyard one of the members of our group was holding a pinapple juice box which a rather large male monkey noticed.  The poor woman was charged by a teeth baring monkey and only escaped by tossing the desired juice box to the sandstone floor.  It was rather comical and scary at the same time.  About 15 min later the group broke up to use the facilities.  During this time Clayton decided to take an up close picture of the same monkey.  The monkey, however, did not appreciate having his picture taken and my poor dear husband was then charged as well and escaped by running as fast as his feet could carry him.  Unfortunately I missed seeing this spectacle.

We then proceeded to the Baby Taj which was actually built before the Taj Mahal.  It is also known as Itmad-Ud-Daulah and is the first Mughal structure built totally from marble.

  After the Baby Taj we stopped by a marble store in which we were shown a demonstration of how the semi-precious and carved and inlaid into the marble, the same process used for the Taj Mahal.  The pieces for sale were fantastic and I found a beautiful table made with elephants marching around the perimeter.  I fell in love!  . . . until I found out it was 120,000 rupee ($2,400)!!  I settled for a small magnet for the fridge.


 By the end of this day we had resorted to washing our clothes in the sink.  We had run out of clothing items and could not re-wear items as they were soaked in sweat.