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Overnight Train Mathura (Agra) to Mumbai

By now, my fantasy of  “Overnight Train to x x x ” has been exposed as poor romance, frustrating adventure and less than ideal transportation. Guess what? The overnight train from Mathura Junction to Mumbai reset the template. From the moment of arrival on the platform at the Mathura Station, to getting down on the platform in Mumbai Central, it was the train ride I’d been anticipating but didn’t find between Delhi and Varanasi – or between Varanasi and Agra.

 
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Painting with Light – Part 3

Shoes must be removed before going up the narrow marble stairs to the plaza and into the dome. The quiet intimacy of the past half-hour is rapidly dissipating as more and more people arrive. Now the shaded areas outside the perimeter of the plaza are attracting photographers seeking the right angle to capture the color. Examine the two last photos above. They are closeups from one of the larger pix further above. The spots of color are polished jewels set into the marble shell. In the low rays of the early morning sun, when you are in the same visual

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Painting with Light – Part 1

Understand up front that I’m not going to fudge on my resolution to avoid adjectives to describe the Taj Mahal. But the photos in the mini-album embedded in this post deserve explaining. At times I may need a “word that describes a quality of a thing” to clarify what’s in those pix. Sometimes I’ll need to modify something in the experience, other than the building itself. The genius and artistry of the Taj Mahal is not limited to placement, form and scale. The masterful exploitation of light, within and without the tomb, raises the site to a level not seen,

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Dawn at the Taj Mahal

I was the first person at the ticket window when it opened at 6am. Once inside the gate I lingered briefly along the pathway to the portal that frames the Taj Mahal itself. I wanted a little more light before I encountered the view. Birds in the trees that lined the tiled path were warbling musically to each other. The air was calm. The heat of the day had not yet intruded. A fountain splashed water on the flowers at its base. As I passed through the portal, I saw a couple who had preceded me by a few minutes.

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The Taj Mahal – Late Afternoon Album #1

After a nap, a great hot shower, fresh clothes and an excellent sandwich in the garden of the amzingly cheap and cheerfully green garden of the Guest House, I climbed into the back of a three-wheeler and roared off to see the Taj Mahal before it closed at 6pm.   The authorities have wisely banned motor vehicle traffic at a point some 200 or so yards short of the western gate to the grounds. This not only cuts down on the air pollution and motor noise, but it requires that tourists walk the narrow street lined with souvenier shops and

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A Ganges Morning Album

No text . . . just an album of what I saw this morning from 6 am until around 8:30am. Click on any photo to enlarge.

 
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Twilight Above the Ganges

Last night at twilight, as I was standing on the balcony of my hotel room, high above the broad sweep of the Ganges River, temple bells were tolling and puffs of the late freshening breeze carried small gusts of distant chanting. (Now tell me, honestly, could there ever be a more promising start to a story than that?) 

 
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Varanasi and the Ganges from a Balcony

The wide balconies of the Scindhia are the very definition of what American southerners call “a catbird seat,” the perfect spot where one sits just high enough to be un-noticed from below and just enough to the side that you can see faces, not merely the tops of heads. Life on the path and plaza and nearby temples and schools flows as steadily as the river itself.  Directly below to the left, stairs lead down from the heights and continue right on into the river. Next to them is a patch of land that is literally covered in cow dung.

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The Scindhia Balconies Above the Ganges

Over the course of my days in Varanasi I learned there are other places to stay along the river. Some of them will appear high up and in the background of photos taken during the Dawn on the Ganges below. But, as the photos here and in other posts demonstrate, none have the broad, open-air balconies that give virtually every Scindhia room these awesome vistas. Click on photos to expand them. For example, look at the range, down and across the Ganges. These are the views directly outside the door to my room. The hotel layout offers one long, common

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The Maze

The free ride in a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw from the Varanasi train station to the Scindhia Hotel was far and away the wildest I’ve ever had in my 73 years of traveling the world. It was a real live version of the roller coaster that many know as “The Mouse.” The driver was the most aggressive I’ve ever seen, passing on the outside of  curves at full speed against oncoming cars, trucks and rickshaws. At some places along the way, the opposing streams of traffic were divided by a low, narrow wall of concrete – which we ignored. At some intersections

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Lost in Delhi; Found in Manhattan

Published on October 19, 2006, by in Delhi, India.

I was fortunate in the taxi driver I’d hired for a day-long tour of New Delhi highlights chosen from my guidebooks and research.

 
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Not Good At All- Dengue Fever in India

Published on October 7, 2006, by in India.

News online says there is a dengue fever outbreak in Delhi. Here’s the report from a newspaper there.

 
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ants . . .

. . . in my pants. Sand in my shoes. Wander in my lust. It’s been an entire year (August 2005) since I lived out of my suitcase and I’m getting horny for it’s intimate embrace. Of course, thanks to the war criminals in the White House, our economy – and more specifically – the value of the US Dollar as international currency, has declined near to that of toilet paper. When you persist in an illegal war that costs billions per month – and hide its fiscal consequences by failing to either raise taxes or sell war bonds to

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Do You Sprangle?

Sprangle – (definition: “going in all directions“) That’s what I’m doing. No, this is not about my uncontrolled waistline, nor does it refer to my expansive ego. It’s about travel – travel in many directions, local and far – and in many modes, formal and informal. BTW – speaking of “all directions” that’s not a rug in this photo, just a lousy haircut. On Sep 14th, 2006 I’ll be off again on another pilgrimage from Jersey City, NJ USA to Manly Beach, NSW, Australia. In addition to the 4 weeks in Oz, I’ll finish up that trip with my usual sprangle

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