Jaipur is simply fantastic. Situated in Rajasthan, Jaipur is one of the three points in the golden triangle, along with Agra and Delhi. Jaipur has much to offer, from dizzying array of historic sites to cultural experiences. Also known as the Pink City, Jaipur is a city of many colors. Of the numerous highlights of our trip, Jaipur provided several, including some of the most spectacular scenery. More on Jaipur to come.
Posts Tagged With: Travel
For APHG Students: India has 24 recognized languages spoken throughout its diverse population and wide-ranging regions. Using the front and back of the 500 Indian Rupees bill (about $8 at the time of this post), answer the following questions:
What evidence do you find for multiple languages in India?
How many languages do you see evidence for?
What language or languages appear to be dominant?
Synthesis: what might be other effective ways for bridging the language barrier when so many languages are spoken in one country?
Who is the main figure depicted on this bill and why would India utilize his image?
Only a few kilometers away from the incomparable Taj Mahal is the Agra Fort, a fortified palace built by the Mughal emporer, Shah Jahan. More than a simple military stronghold, the fort is built with a combination of red sandstone and white marble, and houses a palace of incredible architectural details.
Shaw Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb, eventually seized power from him and he was emprisoned at the palace. From the white marbled palace one can gaze along the banks of the Yamuna River at the incomparable Taj Mahal, where his wife is entombed.
Agra is home to one of the seven wonders of the modern world: the Taj Mahal. It is India’s largest attraction and is the largest tourist attraction in all of Asia. Built as a mausoleum to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631, it was designed by a Persian architect.
One sees countless images of the Taj, and one can read about its details endlessly. What strikes me about the Taj is this: it’s shear beauty is genuinely awesome. It is one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. It was described by Rabindrath Tagore as “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity” (Lonely Planet). Well said.
I am also struck by its exquisite craftsmanship, and its utterly immense size — something usually not depicted in photographs. As a reference of scale, note the size of the people walking into the Taj’s front entrance. Stunning. Simply stunning.
Heading southward from Delhi to Agra, we first pushed though the bustling commotion of Gurgaon, the southern most reaches of the Delhi metro. Typical Indian street scenes include countless people making their way to work and attending to their daily affairs amid the innumerable roadside stands selling snacks and wares under tangles of power lines.
On the road we encountered many Hindu pilgrims dressed in orange and carrying shoulder baskets decorated with religious symbols. These pilgrims were making their way home on foot, walking hundreds of kilometers from Haridwar in the north where they collected water from the Ganga to bring home with them.
The city streets eventually give way to rural scenes. Roaming livestock along the roadsides and throughout the villages become frequent, and cars must be careful to avoid the cattle, goats, and water buffalo, else risk the wrath of the inhabitants. Agricultural fields, workers, and field quarter made of mud and manure dot the landscape. Colorfully dressed workers dot the green of the rice fields, a enormous cash crop for India.
Drivers race ahead in the clear, even stretches of road, but these segments of the journey are punctuated by the many steel gates cars must zig-zag through, designed as speed controls. The many toll gates and numerous potholes are equally effective yet, Indian drivers press on at breakneck speeds.
Tax collection points, of which there are many, provide ample opportunity for hawkers to sell their goods. Jewelry, bottled water, illustrated tourist books, and food items are common, especially when tourists are waiting in their car while their driver goes into the office to pay the tax. At one location, a teenage boy approached our car with a basket. Fortunately, the door was locked and the window rolled up because the boy opened his basket to reveal a cobra flaring his hood! He was seeking payment for photographs of his cobra. My wife recoiled at the sight of the cobra, and the boy soon left when he understood I was not interested in paying for a photo. No sooner did he leave than we were startled by a langur on a leash which suddenly hopped up on the edge of the car door and pressed his face against the glass, fogging the window with is breath. His owner was also looking for payment for photos.
Colorfully painted trucks dot the roadway. Truck horns offer a somewhat musical phrase while various cars announce their presence or intentions with an array of sharp tones, from beeps to blasts.
Traveling the highway to Agra is tiring; the surging speeds, fast lane changes, and frequent breaking wears on you, even as a passenger. It must be exhausting for a driver. After a few hours, we welcomed a washroom break (where a tip to the attendant for paper towels is expected), and lunch. The rest-stop owners know they have a captive tourist audience headed to Agra — the charge for a cold can of Coca Cola is 160 Rupees, or about $3.00!
Eventually the roadway reaches Agra, another busy city with clogged roadways, and home to a Mughal Empire stronghold, and one of the seven wonders of the modern world — the Taj Mahal.
I have been incommunicado due to the difficulty of Internet access, a busy schedule, and getting settled in a foreign land. Although it has been great, everything is difficult in India.
To give you some sense of what I mean, here is an example from a short shopping trip to a Delhi department store. When you choose something for purchase, you don’t put it in a basket to be rang up by a cashier. Instead you give it to a clerk who records your purchase (sometimes this is hand-written), and then gives the items to another person who takes your selections from that area to a central clearing area while you continue to shop. When you are ready to make payment, you go to a large central cashier who totals up all of your slips and charges you for your purchases. You then go to another area where your paid receipt is given to a person who pulls your bagged items for a central location, stamps each slip from each area you made selections from, and then gives it to another person. The last individual then does an inventory check of each item in each bag from each area you have made selections from, then you FINALLY get your purchases.
In my mind I see this as related to the enormous population of India’s 3.2 billion people needing employment, but I could be wrong. Regardless, this is a prime example of how difficult most things can be in India.
This is India.
More updates on the Delhi experiences soon.
After a loooong 26 hours of travel by planes, trains, and automobiles, I made it to Delhi! I can tell you this: driving through the streets of Delhi at 2AM to get to the B&B was definitely a cultural experience unlike any I have ever had! I will try to find the words to describe it later, but I need to try and convince my body to sleep.
I am so appreciative of @HiltonHonors, @iieglobal, my wonderful family & friends who have made this #HHTeacherTreks possible!