Our first trip to India

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Egyptian Pharaoh
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Our first trip to India

Post by Grandad »

Let's try again. :) In response to Ruby Slippers :)

Our first holiday in India
I have put together a travelogue in the form of this text and a slide show that will run for about 8 minutes. Unfortunately the free program that I used is for video editing and reduces photos to very small file size so quality will be seriously affected if viewed full screen.
Best settings on Youtube are quality: 480p and Screen:Large Player (Bottom right on Youtube screen)

This first time that we went to India was in December 1996 and my pictures at that time were on roll film so I have had to scan them which has also not helped with picture quality.

I hope you are not expecting a history lesson to accompany my slide show, as with all my travels I am more interested in the culture and the people. I enjoy the architecture but my historical interest is limited.

The first week was a guided tour of the so called Golden Triangle and that was followed by a second week on the Goan coast, so we flew direct to Vasco da Garma in Goa and stayed at the very modest Bismark hotel. There didn’t seem to be anything grander in Vasco so the Bismark was OK for just the one night.

Vasco is NOT on the tourist trail so it was interesting to wander about an ordinary working town. Fishing is a mainstay of the local economy and the street life was fascinating to see.

Next day we had an early flight to Delhi where we were met by Raj, our guide for the week. We were a party of just 11 so we all soon got to know each other and all got on well together.

After checking in to the Delhi Sheraton for two nights we assembled on our small bus that was to be our conveyance for the week and went to visit old Delhi. This is the Muslim area of Delhi and its centre piece is the 17 century Jama Masjid that we spent some time exploring. The mosque area is surrounded by markets the likes of which we were to find in each Indian city that we visited.

We moved on to The Red Fort and then to The Raj Ghat, the Ghandi memorial. Next day we would visit other places of interest around Delhi so we made our way back to the hotel.

On day two we made a fairly early start beginning with Lutyens New Delhi with its wide avenues, open spaces and grand buildings. Moving on we went to the Qutb Minar complex which include the ruins of a mosque. I climbed the Qutb Minar during a business trip in 1979 but as a result of an accident in the tower in 1980 when 40 people died, the tower is now closed to visitors.

This iron pillar is reputedly 4th century and never rusts. Men are encouraged to try to touch fingers when standing with their back to the pillar. A little help from some young boys usually gets the desired good luck result and a few rupees for the lads.

We returned to the hotel and during some free time we both walked into the city centre to Connaught Place, the smarter part of town, and bought some souvenirs.

Next day we had a fairly early start for our drive to Agra. It is little over 120 miles but the roads at that time were so bad that the trip took more than 5 hours including a refreshment stop. And the middle east is not the only place where you will find camels. We saw herds of dromaderies along the way. We arrived at the splendid Agra Sheraton mid afternoon. Next day would be the highlight of the holiday with a visit to the Taj Mahal so we spent the early evening wandering the local streets and even saw some sacred cows finding their own way home for the night.

The hotel had a small observation tower and an early view of the Taj was stunning even at a distance. Our little bus took us to the gate house and passing through you get that amazing view of what I consider to be the most beautiful building in the world. I have seen the Taj three times and I always find its shear beauty a very emotional sight. It was constructed in the first half of the 17th century by emperor Shahjahan as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Muhal who died while delivering her 14th child which was stillborn. I have included many pictures around the Taj which I think is justified.

There is a local trade where marble topped tables are produced with semi precious inlay in the same style as the decoration of the Taj.

More of those wonderful street scenes as we made our way from the Taj just a short distance up the Yamuna river to Agra fort. Most historical buildings in India are 16th 17th and 18th century and the forts and palaces are all peaceful places with gardens in vast surroundings.

Next day we have another long journey from Agra to Jaipur, the pink city, for two nights at the Jaipur Sheraton, another very comfortable hotel. After 20 or so miles from Agra we stopped at a very favourite place of mine, Fatipur Sikri. This was once a new city but, it is said that after just 15 years, when the water supply failed everyone moved away. I find it the most serene of places particularly in the early morning.

I have included a few of the typical scenes along the road before arriving in Jaipur including one of vultures scavenging on a carcass and the little roadside refreshment stop for the best samosas you have ever eaten. And I find the sari clad ladies so elegant even in the poorest villages.

Next day was very busy with a first stop at the palace of Amber…well actually you stop at the foot of a long climb up to the palace but thankfully there are plenty of four legged transports waiting to convey you to the top. I find elephants the most adorable creatures and what a majestic way to arrive at the palace. The palace is vast and there is plenty to explore and great views over the city of Amber. It was here that I got my all time favourite holiday snap of the young lady in the orange sari looking out over the lake in quiet contemplation.

From the palace we moved on, first visiting The Palace of The Winds in Jaipur, then on to the amazing 18th century observatory created by Jai Singh, the astronomer Maharajah. There are structures located with incredible accuracy to pinpoint the zodiac signs and other astronomical events.

In Jaipur we witnessed people in abject poverty living on pavements and dressed in sackcloth. But for all that their Hindu faith gives them hope of better things to come in the next life. The children responded with broad smiles when offered a few sweets. I would not bring myself to photograph these people in their plight.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a carpet factory and saw a man hand knotting a carpet and young men hand trimming the carpets with long hand shears with amazing precision. We did buy a small very high quality carpet that we still have in one of our bedrooms.

Next day was the journey back to Delhi to complete the Golden Triangle. Although this week included three longish journeys between the three cities they were in no way tedious. There were stops along the way for refreshment and the local scenes were fascinating.

Our stopover was at the Heritage Hotel in Manesar near Delhi. Next morning before our flight back to Goa I saw a young lady in the grounds of the hotel. She was making a new pathway. Her husband was nearby playing with their young son. After work she would go home and make the family meal…..the husband did absolutely nothing….just a thought to ponder at the end of my short account of our first trip to India.

We went to Sri Lanka the following year then in 2001 we returned to India and the trip included a stay at Sariska wildlife park.

Sorry it is rather long but I hope the slideshow will give you a flavour of this fascinating and colourful country. Regretably, the Hindi music track that I had added in my first edition of the slide show was blocked by the Indian license holder who would only allow it to be heard via Youtube in India.

phpBB [video]


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Post by Horus »

That was really excellent Grandad you have certainly put a lot of effort into making this travelogue, so well done and thanks for posting it. :clap: What a shame that those silly people made you remove the sound track, I am sure it would have made it even better by adding a musical flavour of India. It is not as though you were using it in a commercial way, in fact you were doing them all a favour in promoting their country and their music, truly petty to say the least, ah well, their loss. :(

However not to distract from the excellent travelogue and slideshow, it looks like you had a great time, I loved the ‘taxi rank’ of Elephants :lol2: and the Taj is truly inspiring. I read somewhere that it is the fact that the iron pillar is made from an extremely pure form of iron is the reason it does not rust. I would love to see that observatory though, I once saw a TV programme about it and it is another marvel and very advanced for the time. So well done Grandad and thanks for a great effort. :br:

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Post by Kiya »

Excellent Grandad, beautiful video just a shame you were not allowed the music, it would have finished it perfectly :)
Taj Mahal isn't it a sight to behold......would love to see it for real :)

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Post by Ruby Slippers »

Grandad, thanks so much for overcoming all the difficulties and putting this on! I love the photos and you have a really good selection there. Undoubtedly you have hundreds more that you weren't able to put on! :) Choices! :) Can I ask - what made you choose to go in the first place? I know you said you were there on business in 1979 but was that trip enough to make you want to see more? Did you have any trouble selling the idea to your wife? What about the practicalities - e.g. vaccinations; visas; when to go and who to go with etc.? I'm so looking forward to hearing more!

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