While at the OATs camp we were treated to a traditional tribal dance with a small indian music group to provide the exotic (to us) music for the dance. The audience was invited to join in!
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
The holy site of Sarnath is the location where Buddha first preached his teachings of how to live life. There is a modern day shrine and temple with a stunning set of prayer wheels and a gorgeous statue of the Buddha in contemplation. The nearby museum contains terrific statuary found in the site including the original statue of Buddha replicated in the shrine. This is the site where the four lion statue was found, which was oirginally placed on the Ashoka pillar, now one of the national symbols of India. The archeological site as a great stupa along with numerous other smaller stupas and other temple structures. This is a pilgrimage site for buddhist around the world and there were numerous groups dressed in colorful robes.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Mumbai is clearly a dynamic city with the hustle and bustle of a modern city, high rises, and poor areas. The abundance displayed in the market was incredible and of course the Victoria train station was a picture of energy. The open laundry with all of the manual laundering going on was impressive as was the lunch box routine. We had to see some of the movies set in Mumbai or about the activities of Mumbai after coming home.
Monday, August 10, 2015
The country side around Jaipur as seen from the air provides a striking contrast with that at ground level. The land was relatively flat and arid with small farms and some mustard fields in harvest. We also had a great view of a brick factory where camels were used to hall the bricks and raw material. We passed over an extensive reservoir were we noticed a fish kill with dead fish lining the lake banks. We weren't able to get an explanation of what happened. There was a lot of excitement from the people on the ground as we passed over although I suspect the presence of the balloon was not that unusual.
Varanasi is a chaotic mix of humanity and spirituality centered on the ghats along the Ganges river. The celebration of life occurs along side of the marking of death; the Hindu Brahman ceremonies of life celebration with their spectacular torch ceremonies accompanied with chanting/singing from the hindu writings; the cremation ceremonies, the washing of the body and the cremation fire; cleansing the body (spirit) in the Ganges. We experienced spectacular sunsets and sunrises, and a great full moon view. The ride and walk to the Ganges banks has to be experienced to appreciate the total life energy.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
The Chand Baoli (Baoli meaning step well) was built in the 9th century. It was used to store water in the wet season for use when the rains stopped. The steps were used to haul water to the surface wherever the water level happened to be at the time. The visual impact of the wells is very striking with the geometrical patterns creating an arresting view. There are still Hindu statuary on the walls of the well and numerous niches for prayer and worship, and apparently cooling off as the temperature at the bottom of the well is considerably lower than at the top. The area around the well contained a lot of statuary that is now displayed on the top surface level. According to Wikipedia, Chand Baori was used in filming The Fall, The Dark Knight Rises, and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
When visiting the village there were farm animals, running loose and others tethered. Interesting looking people in the village and most of the women wore traditional clothes. During the time in the village we visited a village home where the mother made tea for us on her outside wood fire. The family consisted of mom and dad, and three kids, two of whom were teenagers. The father was off at work. All the kids go to school. They lived in a two room house with two beds and apparently the sleeping strategy was on a first come first served basis. The mother is instrumental in the women's co-op that produces printed fabrics, quilts and a great variety of ready clothes. She was one of the founding members of the co-op. She made masala tea with the appropriate milk and sugar and it was really good.
Women's cooperatives are places were village women can come to produce various products, usually fabric based, that then are sold to supplement their income. The cooperatives also provide them with a feeling of self-confidence, and give them a chance to socialize and find out whats news in the villages. We visited one such cooperative and watched women working at sewing machines producing shirts, pants, etc., using an heritage block printing technique to pattern long lengths of cloth, making quilts and other processes. Usually one or more of their children were close bye.
During our recent trip to India we had an opportunity to visit two schools in small villages, one in the north near the Ranthambore Tiger Park and the other in south India along the waterways near Kochi. The teachers were very happy to have us visit and the kids were delighted. The kids were all over us to make pictures of them, and of us, and were also looking for handouts. They tried out their english skills with standard phases such as "What is your name?", "Where do you come from?", etc. It was of course nice to see the mix of boy and girl students. In the northern school the kids covered a relatively wide age range but the school in the south had kids of about the same age.
The Amber Fort was the palace and fort of the Kachhawaha until the 18th century. Major buildings added by Jai Singh I (reigned 1621 to 1667) created the jewels of the Fort and it's spectacular decorative elements. Visiting the Fort today one can imagine the time when the rulers were active with all of the royal entourage.