It is almost impossible to transmit all the beauty we have encountered on our India trip. In this post we tried to collect the highlights of the 2nd part of our tour with a selection of the best photos we shot. We have visited picturesque forts, temples and palaces, bustling cities, beautiful landscapes, met nice people and saw the king of the Jungles, the tiger. Another try to seduce you to see India for yourself…
(The first part you can read here.)
The holy city of Pushkar
Pushkar was a special spot on our journey. The lake and the Brahma temple (one of only five in India) are important pilgrimage destinations: thousands of Hindus visit it each year for a bath in the holy waters. The lake is told to originate from a flower petal falling from Brahma’s weapon during a fight with the demon Vajranabha. The purification rituals take place at the Ghats (access to the water, in fact stair cases) around the lake.
Pushkar is also famous for the yearly Camel festival the “Pushkar Mela” which takes place during full moon in October-November. The festival lasts for five days with lots of special competitions like “longest moustache”, “bridal competition”, “camel race” and of course a cricket match…
On tiger watch in Ranthambore
India is also known for its tigers. Every year thousands of tourists visit the different reserves to catch a glimpse of this majestic animal. We also visited one of the nature parks in Ranthambore and made 2 safari rides. And although it is not the best season for sighting tigers (vegetation is too dense at the moment) one ride was successful: we saw – at least in the distance – a tiger resting on the hill. 🙂 (a bit of a déjà-vu with our leopard search in Southern Africa).
Amazing forts in Rajasthan
The region is full of amazing forts like Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Amber (Jaipur) or Orchha Fort. All of them are located on strategic places overlooking the surrounding area. They are constructed in a way that invaders would face huge difficulties to attack. Although the exteriors are rather massive and commanding respect, the buildings in the interiors are full of fine stone art and paintings and enclose gorgeous gardens and courtyards.
Our personal favorite was Amber Fort in the vecinity of Jaipur.
Jaipur, the Pink city
The old town of Jaipur featured by red sandstone – hence the name: Pink City – is the capital of Rajasthan. It’s chaotic streets are filled with people and an unimaginable flow of traffic.
Within the city walls that enclose the Old Town we strolled around the never ending busy markets. In this area we found several architectural jewels, like the City Palace, the Jantar Mantar observatory and the Palace of Winds (Hawa Mahal).
Taj Mahal – beauty, symmetry and harmony in Agra
There are no words that could describe the Taj Mahal, it is such a perfect and harmonious construction. And it is also the perfect love declaration. Shah Jahan built it for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal after her death, to remind the coming generations of the story of their love. And so it does.
But once in Agra you must also visit the Agra Fort. It is a remarkable fortress of red sandstone and especially beautiful marble buildings inside. And it also offers a distant, but great view of the Taj Mahal.
Vrindavan, the city of Krishna
A very happy ambiance awaited us in Vrindavan, the city of the Krishna devotees. The city is full of temples, most of them dedicated to him. The temples are all very spectacular, decorated with colorful scenes from the life of Krishna and cheerful music is playing from the loudspeakers.
Among the most prominent ones is the recently built (2001-2012) Prem Mandir, standing in a beautiful garden at the outskirts of Vrindavan; and the Krishna-Balaram Mandir, which is one of the main ISKCON temples in India (International Society for Krishna Consciousness).
Khajuraho – Kamasutra temples
The carvings of Khajuraho are among the finest temple art in the world.
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh. The temples standing here are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and the erotic sculptures decorating them. Seeing these erotic scenes on religious buildings is rather unusual, it was funny to see the reaction of the visitors. 🙂
Varanasi – India intense
Varanasi is considered to be one of the most spiritual cities of India. It lays on the banks of the holy river Ganges, lined up with Ghats (stairs), where Pilgrims immerse in the sacred waters to purify themselves from sin. Hindus believe, that dying here is a fortunate thing, as you will reach the moksha (freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth). Therefore the cremation fires are burning 24/7 at the banks of the river and the ashes of the deceased are thrown into the waters in family rituals.
The days spent in Varanasi were very intense. Firstly due to the mystic, foggy weather, which did not hold us back from taking our early morning boat rides on the Ganges River to attend the ceremonies. Secondly because of the up close experience how Hindu culture deals with the difficult topic of death.
Chilling out in Goa
After this intensive and busy month it was a wonderful enrichment to spend a couple of relaxing days at the seaside. The southern part of Goa was the perfect choice for a fade-out. We took a rest under the coconut palm trees on the still secluded beaches and enjoyed swimming, sunbathing and long beach walks.
If you want to read more about our India trip, check out:
- Beautiful Havelis of Rajasthan
- India Impressions 1
- Udaipur – Venice of the East
- Peculiarities in India