India

So many times when I say that we lead tours to India, I get the response from people that they don’t have any desire to go to India. They tell me that it’s dirty, smelly, and the people live in poverty. They have never been there, but they “know.” I, who have been there by now about 15 times, know a bit more.

The landscapes in India are breathtaking- from the foothills of the Himalayas in the north to the rich farmland of Punjab, to the rugged desert climate of Rajasthan, to the exquisite backwaters of Kerala. There are palaces and fortresses of unbelievable beauty. But all of this is just the background to India. Because India is its people- their love of life, their kindness, their smiles, their caring, their gentleness. The women in their modest clothing are almost regal- whether they are dressed in gold and diamonds for an extravagant wedding or whether they are working in the fields or carrying filled baskets on their heads.

But mostly it’s their kindness, their devotion, their caring. They live happily among roaming cows and bulls and buffalo, monkeys, dogs, peacocks. And just as we see when we visit the Galapagos, the animals are for the most part calm and quiet because they are not threatened.

The people we work with in India have become like our family. They are warm and friendly and accepting of us. They are respectful of our religious needs, helping us without having to be asked.

So as I sit here for – how many weeks has it been?- in my living room and think about what I miss most, my first answer is, of course, my children, grandchildren, and extended family- and my second answer is my family in India.

Jodhpur

Jodhpur is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the land of palaces and maharajas. It is known as the “Blue City” because houses of the Brahmans, the highest caste in India, were painted blue. From the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort which was, of course, also a palace, once can look down upon the city and see all of the blue homes.

In addition to the fort, there is a magnificent white Cenotaph, a building dedicated to the memory of one of the Maharajas. Indians are traditionally cremated and their ashes spread in the water of a river- so there are no actual tombs in this memorial area. There are some exceptions to the rule of being cremated- chiefly little children, very pious people, and those with communicable diseases. There is a very interesting article on it here:

Jodhpur has a number of famous products. Among them are fine textiles and spices. Some of the finest Masala spices are mixed and sold in Jodhpur. You can read about the spice girls of India here.

Mehrangarh Fort

Mehrangarh Fort

Detail of the Fort

Detail of the Fort

An inner courtyard

An inner courtyard

A Miniature painting

A Miniature painting

This type of painting was called a miniature not because of its size, but because of the fineness of its detail. This is an art form that is Rajasthani.

A ceiling in one of the rooms

A ceiling in one of the rooms

Inside the palace

Inside the palace

The Blue City

The Blue City

Dreamy Landscape

Dreamy Landscape

The Cenotaph from the outside

The Cenotaph from the outside

Inside the Cenotaph

Inside the Cenotaph- note the sun coming through the translucent marble!

There is so much more to see, but we must go on to our next destination…

 

 

Incredible India!

What do you think about when you hear “India?” Most people think of the Taj Mahal- a dreamy, almost mythical place. Some people think of dirt and poverty. I was one of those who had no desire to visit India, but when my husband and I found ourselves with round trip tickets to Mumbai, how could I say no?

What a surprise I had! Our three week tour of India not only filled me with the most magnificent sights and sounds, but introduced me to a culture and people who were so very special that all I could think of was how much I wanted to return.

Being tour guides, we are among the luckiest people in the world… the company that arranged our tour, India Kosher Travel,  was willing to hire us to lead tours to India!

I want to share with you some of the amazing places we visit and sights we see on our tours to India.

Our tour begins in Udaipur, a very beautiful city in the state of Rajasthan, that is blessed with lakes and gardens and a magnificent city palace. It is the former capital of the Mewar Kingdom. Because of the beauty of the city, it has become a favorite resort of the Indian people as well. Some of the most magnificent and extravagant weddings take place there- using the City Palace and an island in Lake Pichola as venues for the wedding- both of which are lavishly decorated for the weddings by hundred of people. These weddings are attended by thousands of guests and the partying goes on for days!

Entering the City Palace

Entering the City Palace

Mural on the wall of the City Palace

Mural on the wall of the City Palace

On Lake Pichola

On Lake Pichola

Lake Pichola from Maghar Ghat with a view of the Monsoon Palace

Lake Pichola from Maghar Ghat with a view of the Monsoon Palace

Fountain in garden in Udaipur

Fountain in garden in Udaipur

Next time- traveling to Jodhpur!!!

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