Top: Bodhgaya Bottom: Varanasi
We must apologize for our inability to post regularly. This is due to two things: lack of wi-fi, and having too much fun.
After our family parted ways in Dehli, the boys and I hopped on the train to Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh. We had a day there to check out the city with our new driver Rajesh. We went to an incredible Mughal palace that unintentionally featured a labyrinth due to the structural integrity of the large palace hall. We spent a good hour exploring the place, minus a few of the pitch black stairways since Rajesh was uncomfortable with them.
After Lucknow we drove to Shravasti which was the site where the Lord Buddha would spend his time in the rainy days. There were many stupa ruins and monks over the grounds. The next destination was intended to be in Lumbini, Nepal (the birth place of Gautama/Buddha), however the Indian visa office in Vancouver failed to give me a re-entry stamp so we cancelled. Instead we continued on to Kushinagar in Bihar, the death place the Buddha. The main temple there featured an incredible gold statue of Buddha in a reclining pose as was when we past. When looking on the statue from different angles the expression of the Buddha’s face is noticeably different.
The next stop was Patna, for a night then continued on to Raijgir, Nalanda and then Bodhgaya. Bodhgaya is the highlight for most Buddhist doing the circuit since it is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree. The boys and I agree that this was also the highlight of the circuit for us. It had a peaceful atmosphere, friendly locals, thousands of monks, and pleasant accommodation. The city also had a taste of home (literally!). We went to this cafe called “Bee Happy Cafe” run by a young Canadian woman from Salt Spring Island and her partner. We enjoyed a delicious carrot cake, pizza, and one of the first good coffees we’ve had in India.
The circuit came to an end in the colourful and vibrant city of Varanasi, home of the famous ghats along the sacred River Ganges. We were able to take in both sunrise and sunset on the river as well as the daily evening Aarti (prayers) on a boat. Despite being overcrowded with tourists, the magical atmosphere was not lost.
On the 10th day we flew out to Goa, looking forward to the tropical beaches and heat after a challenging yet spiritual experience.
-S, P, A.
I’m Deepika the elder cousin of the Narsings! I have come to India to help my brother with his wedding shopping.
Have done so much shopping in Mumbai, I have experienced so many stores, so many fabrics and some amazing colours. On this trip I have chosen fabrics and had clothes custom made and even chose a dye to colour a fabric!
I then had to go to the tailor and design how I wanted my outfits made, it has been exciting choosing how I wanted to have them custom made!
I then had to go and choose matching jewellery to match my outfits! What a stressful shopping trip! I think I’m kitted out for the next 3 years for Indian outfits:-) I think that’s money well spent!
Actually I’m done with shopping because I’m tired of being hassled now when I go to a store for one thing they open up the entire store and show about 40 different things to completely confuse me!
I’ve enjoyed this trip to India more than my first, I think people are so intelligent and clever, respectable and friendly! Oh yeah and the dogs are alot fatter than 5 years ago, so I think the economy is improving!
I’m heading home tomorrow, also looking forward to being back in London after a very.enjoyable fun filled trip with our cousins!
After our journey back in time at the Neemranas we headed to Dehli or also locally pronounced as ‘Dhi-li’.
The first sight to see was Qutab Manar, a tall mugal tower built in the 11th century (i think). Not certain on its details because we got as far as the gates, saw the tower from the outside and left.
What did spark our interest however was the Ba’hai Lotus Temple. It is beautifully constructed with well maintained grounds. The lotus has a total of 27 free-standing petals and 9 ponds surrounding the structure. After the lotus temple we visited the Swami Narayaran Akshardham Temple and multimedia musem of sorts. In my opinion it was the closest thing to a religious amusement park and had tighter security than the airport. The main attraction of the site is the temple which has some incredible carvings, including over a hundred elephants along the base (each one depicting events in history, myths, or aspects of daily life). After visiting the temple everyone goes to see the story of swami vivekanand presented with robotics! You walk to differnet sets and the scene is played out. Personally, i could not wait for it to be over and didnt find it very amusing; however it was informative since we did learn the story of the swami (and will never forget it after this experience). However, creative props should be given, it was a really creative and unique way to deliver the history and the robitics were surprisingly well done, comparable to what you would see at Disneyworld or Universal Studios. The tour only finsihed after a 40 minute imax-like film (rehashing more of the story) and a ‘boat ride’. About 3 or 4 hours later we were exhausted! For our second day in New Dehli we decided to check out one of the big shopping malls that the city is known for. We went to this one called Select City Walk, apparently one of the largest in the city. Once we passed the Metal detectors and security guards it was as if we stepped into North America. It was all western interms of the building, shops, prices and food. This is where Pravin bought his phone and we got a few other items and ate at an aisian cuisine restaurant.
Dehli was the last city before us kids headed out east by train to Lucknow and mom and dad south to Goa before heading home. Those weeks together were so much fun, it was hard to believe it was time to say goodbye already!
Lotus Temple, New Dehli
We had originally planned on traveling to Himachal Pradesh, the most northern state of India, to stay at an ashram. But we had to cancel due to the unusually heavy snowfall in the area. We called our travel agent with the news and he organized a great week to replace the snowy north. We departed Agra and headed back west into Ragastan to Alwar and the Siriska tiger reserve. Since we did not know exactly where we were staying we were surprised when we arrived at Neemrana Hill Fort Keseroli. Built in the 13th century this old-fort-turned-hotel originally housed the Raja of the area. Over looking an entire plateau, we were welcomed with amazing views and sunsets and sunrises (some of the best I’ve see in India so far!) With a set list of activities planned by the hotel we relaxed and enjoyed the great buffet, evening tea and some traditional Rajastani fold music. The second day we drove 1.5 hours to Siriska tiger reserve to do a four hour evening safari. We didn’t manage to see any tigers but we did however see lots of deer and monkeys, of course. After two nights at the Hill Fort we departed for the Neemrana’s group flagship property, Neemrana Fort-Palace. Built a century after the Hill Fort, this slightly younger property was built on the side of a small mountain. With two swimming pools, a zipline course and countless stairways leading in every-which-way the palace was an impressive sight. We spent two nights relaxing and exploring the palace before we departed for Delhi.
Check out Neemrana’s website to see there other amazing places. http://neemranahotels.com/
Written on the back of a local’s t-shirt.
GOAN IN STYLE: The 300 Rs Challenge
Today we took a bus into the city Mapusa and visited the city market. Our challenge was to buy something ridiculous for a max price of 300 Rs for someone else and they had to wear it for the day. After randomly choosing who to buy for we dispersed for a half hour.
Dan dale bought for Pravin. As you can see he is wearing the finest of the Goan hippy wear with the matching, practical and orange hat. Trendy.
Pravin bought for me a lovely bejeweled dragonfly top. To add to the jewels and accessorize he carefully chose a plastic crystal necklace and non-matching pink bow head band.
Amesh carefully selected the finest material in tourist beach shirts for Dan Dale, with quality and style comparable to Wayne Cox’s sunny forecast wardrobe.
I had the pleasure of picking for Amesh a priceless souvenier with deep meaning and indian sentimentality. His Ghandi shirt is especially fitting since he just finished reading his autobiography. The only accessories fitting for such a profound shirt were rastafarian leather wristbands and a practical spiderman watch.
Our unique and trend setting styles will be proudly worn the whole day.
Some have appreciated the governments decision to cancel the Carnival celebrations. Coutinho who is one of them, said, “It was a good decision to cancel the Carnival celebrations.
From the Times of India February 20th article regarding the Goa Carnival cancellation.
With sparce wifi hotspots here and there its been difficult to keep up to date on posting pictures to the blog. During our trip to the North East tradjedy struck and my phone, with all the pictures I have taken for the blog, would not turn on! All attempts to revive it have failed without the use of a computer and finding a computer with itunes has been a challenge here. Only the photos that are on the blog remain backed up on the web but I had many videos and other photos that I would have liked to have shared.
But not all is lost, Pravin and Sarena both have taken amazing photos and there still might be a chance to revive my phone (pictures maybe) upon returning home. Also we have a new fangled Galaxy Note to post new photos for the rest of the trip.