North India in pictures
The following set of photographs was made during our stay in North India (Delhi, Rajasthan, Agra and Varanasi). We visited numerous forts and colourful cities, took part in regional festivals and observed local nature.
One of the buildings in Red Fort. Red Fort (located in Old Delhi) was built between 1638-1648 by emperor Shah Jahan, who is famous for creating Taj Mahal.
India Gate (42 meters high) was built as a memorial for 90000 Indian soldiers who died during WWI and III Anglo-Afgan War in 1919. It is located in New Delhi.
Humayun's (Mughal Emperor) Tomb built by his second wife Haji Begum in the middle of the 16th century.
Vault in Humayun's Tomb
City Palace in Jaipur - former royal family still lives there. Located in the centre of historical Pink City.
Jantar Mantar (Jaipur) is an astronomical observatory, construction of which started in 1728. Consists of many bizarre sculptures. Each of them was built for a specific purpose, e.g. measuring position of the stars, calculating eclipses. The instrument on the photograph is used to calculate local time and various attributes of heavenly bodies. It is still in use, especially in June and July, when it helps to predict local monsoon rains.
Gatore Ki Chhatriyan, Jaipur - Maharajas' tombs.
Amber Fort. Yellow and pink sandstone, as well as white marble were used to built this fort, which was constructed in 1592.
Galwar Bagh. A monkey looks down on the city of Jaipur.
Tiger safari, Sawai Madhopur. Ranthambhore National Park is famous for its small population of tigers, which we weren't lucky to encounter during our safari. Other than tigers there are many other species of mammals that live in the park including antelopes, caracals, leopards, hyenas, jungle cats, foxes and deer. You can also observe crocodiles and over 300 species of birds.
Tiger safari, Sawai Madhopur. Our canter was attacked by a hungry monkey just after we passed the gates of the park. As we didn't have any food with us, it attacked a family behind us, who brought snacks with them.
Sawai Madhopur, cart-camel. In Rajastan camels are still used for transporting goods.
Udaipur, Chari dance. Chari is a Rajasthani dance form with effortless hand and leg movements while keeping brass pots on head.
Udaipur, Bhavai dance. In this dance, also from Rajasthan, women are dancing with at least seven pots on their head, while stepping on broken glass or on the edge of a sword.
Jodhpur, the Blue City seen from the fort. Traditional blue colour signifies the home of Brahmin (highest Hindu caste), however others have started to paint their houses blue as well. The colour is also thought to repel insects.
Jodhpur, stone work on the fort's walls. Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur was built from the rock it stands on. According to one legend, its founder Rao Jodha buried a man named Rajiya Bambi alive in the fort's foundations, what was supposed to bring prosperous future for the fort. In exchange for the sacrifice the royal family looks after Rajiya's descendants till this day.
View from the fort, Jaisalmer. The fort is still living. Unfortunately, new convenience - running water - is causing the fort to be dangerously undermined. So far 3 of its ancient bastions had collapsed and some parts are alarmingly leaning down.
Jain temples, Jaisalmer. Jainism is one of Indian religions that is against any kind of violence towards living beings and emphasising spiritual independence as well as equality between all forms of life.
Courtyard, Patwa-ki-Haveli. Haveli is a private mansion, often decorated with frescoes and having inner courtyard. The word haveli has Persian origins, meaning "an enclosed place".
Mice drinking milk in the Rat Temple - Karni Mata in Deshnok. Karni Mata was a miracle-worker living in the 14th century. When her son drowned, she order the god of death to bring him back. The god replied that he is unable to do this, but Karni Mata, as an incarnation of Durga, can. She restored her son's live declaring that from that time members of her family would be reincarnated as rats. Around 600 families in Deshnok claim to be her descendants.
Locals dancing with a doll symbolising a Hindu goddess during Gangaur Festival in Bikaner.
Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan to commemorate his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during birth of their 14th child. Construction of the mausoleum took place between 1632 and 1653. Shortly after it had been finished, Shah was imprisoned for life in Fort Agra by his son - successor. After his death (1666) Shah was buried next to his wife in Taj Mahal.
Cremation in Varanasi: on a pyre - 5000 rupees (£55), in crematory - 500. Source of information: rower from our boat.
Cow eating rubbish. We finish with this sad and thought-provoking photo of a cow consuming plastic on the side of the road. It presents two problems in India's culture. First of them is littering - the lack of rubbish bins and acceptance of throwing trash anywhere (through a bus/train window, on a street, on rails on a train station) make India a very dirty country. Second problem is cows, which owners don't have enough food to feed them (e.g. because of draught). Such animals can't be killed and eaten (religious reasons). Many owners of such cattle let them roam free to pasture on the streets, where they nurture on plastic bags (sometimes containing leftovers). Is it the right way to treat holy animals? Everyone should answer this question themselves...