We arrived at the airport at 6am to the beautiful glowing columns of the departures terminal. It made the early flight bareable. We watched the sun rise and the lights change on the swoopy-droopy columns. Probably the prettiest airport I’ve ever visited.
We took a day trip from Mumbai up to the hill town of Lonavala. It seemed like a weekend Indian tourist destination. Lots of college kids hanging out, listening to music. O and there was the only wax museum in all of India. The area was very green, misty, and cool compared to Mumbai.
These were our first cave temples. You reach them by ferry from Mumbai, as they are on their very own island. The main cave had some really impressive stone carvings. Lots of depth and detail. I believe they are from the 4th century. Some Hindu temples and some Buddhist temples. I could write a whole post on the overlapping and western confusion regarding Hinduism and Buddhism.
Watching this daily ceremony for the closing of the Indian/Pakistan was definitely a unique experience but no, I did not enjoy it. It was over 100 degrees in direct sun. Waiting. Loud music and marching we could barely see. The Indians and Pakistanis took turns yelling at each other and doing high kicks from across the gate. And then we got back into a hot van with two tourists per seat and went back to town at sunset.
This strange Hindu temple is the mother of all eccentric, sacred places. People are directed through this multi story labarynth of hindu iconography. We climbed through mouths, walked through tunnels and bridges. Lots of mirror and gold and neon light. The whole time their is chanting rising up from the main space below. It’s not a pretty place but it’s one of the stranger, more trippy places I’ve been to.
Honestly, this temple wasn’t as big, or gold as I hoped it would be as it’s the main site in Amritsar. On the up side though, it has such a charitable feel with the free food and shelter it provides for hundreds of people. I’m glad to know more about the Sikhs.
Amritsar had a very different feel. Especially coming from the mountain town of Shimla. It is dry, dusty, and very hot. It also has almost this gangster Punjabi feel, but people seemed more respectful than those in the touristy Golden Triangle area. After saying all that thought, Alex and I accidentally snuck into the old fort that was under repair and the guard was NOT happy. There were no signs, no closed doors. But that’s India for you… You don’t know what’s allowed and not allowed until you do it and get yelled at. Happened almost every day.
Up a pretty strenuous climb through dense fog, we found this Hindu temple known more as “monkey temple”. The massive orange monkey statue is only 3 years old and the temple itself wasn’t much to see. Plus everything was surrounded by fencing and locks to keep the mischievous monkeys out. Alex couldn’t even wear his glasses because the big males kept jumping at him to steal them.
Across the river from the Taj Mahal is the garden Mehtab Bagh. The myth is that the black Taj Mahal would be built here to mirror the Taj. This site is also wher Kachhoura village is. It’s a small farmer’s village that is so quaint, we were greeted by a lone toddler pooping on the road as we entered.
Being in Shimla was like living in a cloud. Very mystical and very moist… This building from the 19th cent is used now for advanced academic study. What we could see through the fog was very beautiful.
This was right outside the Capitol complex. Initially, the artist created the space for himself in his free time. He collected building materials, pots, and rocks from old Chandigarh while it was being torn down to create the organized city that exists today.
Since most of Chandigarh was designed by Corb, it only makes sense that the universitys were as well. We drew a lot of attention walking around the campus (only white people) but it was nice to see the buildings being actively used. Just wish I could have gone to university in such amazing spaces.
On our ride up to the mountain/resort town of Shimla we took a “rail motor car”. Meaning it was a single car train, acting as its own motor. So we got the front AND the view of the UNESCO stamped railway. The tracks are spaced only 30″ apart and the stations along the way are like stepping back in time.
The tourist police offer a free tour through Le Corbusier’s amazing Capitol complex. Problem is, they practically run you through the buildings. Very frustrating. So we did the exact same tour, two days in a row…