From time to time I like to enter a few photos in a photo contest. Today one of my photos, below, received honorable mention in the “People” category, at the annual “Elden Murray photo contest” hosted by the Hanover library. Here’s a link to the photo on their site, where you can also explore the winning photos.
I chose to enter this photo because I enjoyed the colorful action of this elderly Rajasthani vendor while he was making chai (tea).
On the road to Agra, we pass thousands of pilgrims.
We’re moving upstream against a river of humanity, as we drive eastward toward Agra. We’ve just left Rajasthan and entered Uttar Pradesh. On the other side of the road is a steady flow of Hindus, walking 200km or more on their pilgrimage into Rajasthan. On Monday there is a huge 9-day holy festival (Navratri, I believe), which we’re told will attract 100,000 pilgrims on foot and 100,000 more by train, plane, or car. Along the roadside, individuals and organizations have set up tents, chairs, water stations, and food, as a charitable service to the pilgrims. The people are cheerful, waving colorful red banners and chatting among themselves. A few children ride on bicycle carts, but most folks balance their few travel needs on their head.
Today began before dawn, so we could catch an early morning train from Ranthambore to Bharatpur; our driver picked us up there for the two-hour trip to Agra. Along the way we visited Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of the empire of India from 1571 until 1585 [location]. This impressive city, made almost entirely of red sandstone, was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar, son of Humayan (see blog entry about Delhi) and grandfather to Shah Jahan (who built the Red Fort in Delhi and the Taj Mahal, among other things). “Fatehpur Sikri is regarded as Emperor Akbar’s crowning architectural legacy” [Wikipedia]. Akbar, a Muslim like all the Mughal emperors, was remarkably cross-religious, marrying a Hindu princess from Amber (Jaipur, which we visited a few days ago) as well as Muslim queens. He is a fascinating and deep character, though; read his Wikipedia page for much more.
The patio of one courtyard embeds a huge game board, on which members of his harem were the ‘pieces’ that could be moved about the game board.
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The drive from Jaipur to Ranthambore only lasted about four hours, but was a fascinating trip through rural Rajasthan. I was able to capture many pictures of farm and village life. Although only a fleeting glimpse, it was an interesting peek into a lifestyle that, in many ways, appears to be similar to the way it has been for hundreds of years. Camels are the primary pack animal, the scythe is the tool for harvesting wheat, and pounding and shaking the way to separate wheat from chaff. The roadsides are lined with cowpatties drying in the sun, to be used as fuel for cooking fires. Many are packed into dung-and-straw boxes – some decorated quite attractively, to keep them dry even during the monsoon. We passed a camel train of gypsy nomads. Children wave from their front yards.
We returned to Delhi, where we met up with Pam’s sisters Amy and Karen, and niece Louisa. We’ve embarked on a tour of northern India, specifically Delhi, Jaipur, Rathambore, Agra, and Varanasi. Read on.