A Train Trip through Rajasthan
Apologies for the quality of the photos - they were done with a box camera since we managed to lose our digital camera (for the second time).
We started from Dehli and boarded our Train car (or saloon) "Jodphur." The 14 cars were named after cities in Rajasthan.
Here is a photo of berth in the Jodphur car (not ours since ours were always full of people and mess!).
Our first stop was Jaipur, the pink city (painted in honor of the 1883 visit of Prince Albert). The Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) was a lattice monument to the Muslim/Hindu tradition of Purdah where women must hide their faces (and themselves). The term Mahal means palace and Hawa means "wind" for how the wind can blow through the lattice. We renamed this the Palace of Breaking Winds after listening to our kids' flatulence jokes on the bus.
Rajastan (and all of India) is full of historical forts that were built during the time that it was a collection of princely states defending themselves from constant invasion. This is the Amber Fort 11 kilometers outside Jaipur. The ruling family of Jaipur ruled from there starting in the 10th century.
Tourists traditionally take an elephant ride up to the fort. Alex declared that he most definitely was not going to ride on an elephant. "No I'm not scared of Elephants they are just too smelly!". I'm sure the elephants were also glad of one less rider, no matter how small. Here are James and Valerie riding in style.
The Royal Observatory in Jaipur built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Ingh II in 1727. This fascinating collection of sundials, sextants, and similar devices for observing the position of the sun was laid out in huge scale. It feels a bit like being an ant in a giant's laboratory.
Our next stop was Jaisalmer, the Golden City, at the edge of the Thar desert about 50 Km from Pakistan in Western India. This fort was on the caravan route in the 12th century and lay abandoned for many years until nearby nucear testing (!) and miltary activity brought it to the attention of international observers and the Indian Government. This is amazing since it was one of the most beautiful forts we saw.
Valerie at one of the gates of the fort.
The carvings inside a Jain Temple. Followers of the Jain religion believe that one must not harm any living thing (mosquitoes included) and that the interior or soul of a person is much more important than the exterior. Since beauty is found within, the insides of their temples are elaborately carved with beautiful sculptures.
Street scenes of a haveli, or merchant's house, and the ever present sacred cows in the narrow medieval streets of the old town of Jaisalmer near the fort.
Sophie, Valerie and Alex at the "cenotaph," or memorial for the Jodphur rulers. Since Hindus cremate their dead no one is buried there, which made Sophie very happy. It is a beautiful white marble building with many pigeons.
In keeping with our theme of the color spectrum, Jodphur is the "blue city". This is a view from the fort of the blue painted houses in the city of Jodphur. Originally the blue color came from adding indigo to the white wash for the walls.
For Part 2 of our trip to Rajasthan click here