Jaipur, Rathambore, and Agra



Just north of Jaipur (in Rajasthan) is the Amber Fort. It is very touristy with people riding on elephants the short ascent to the fort.


After we were being bused back to the hotel after dinner we saw an amazing site. Many of these elephants were ďgoing home from workĒ on the roadway, some of them with their handlers asleep in the basket on their backs!










The gateway dating from 1640 leads to the private apartments and gardens.









Part of the walls around the Amber Fort.











Yvonne in one of her Indian outfits at a window of the Amber Fort. Below is a lake.









Jaigarh Fort in the background watches over Amber Fort.








Another day, another outfit. This is part of the ramparts of Jaigarh Fort.










View from Jaigarh Fort down to the Amber Fort.









The Jaigarh Fort had a lot of monkeys. This young fellow was as curious as we were. He played hide and seek with Juergen, dropping back behind the wall.








These didnít seem curious at all.







This is a water palace outside Jaipur that was used for royal duck-shooting parties in the18th century. We were told there are plans to convert it into a fancy hotel.










Juergenís vision of paradise: red hot pepper harvest.











One of those timeless rural scenes.



One of many roadside shrines. The elephant god Ganesh is visible in the background. In the foreground is a lingam and yoni with a garland. Lingam and yoni represent male and female organs and play an important role in Hindu religious worship.We watched a fascinating Hindu ceremony with water pouring and offering ceremonies at a lingam/yoni ďaltar.Ē





We went to the Rathambore National Park south of Jaipur and saw interesting wild life. We were told itís quite rare to see a golden jackal (above left). We were stopped by a watering hole.


We were looking for tigers but didnít see any. We did see, however, a much less frequently seen leopard (on the right). The picture was taken with a 420mm telephoto lens (35 mm equivalent) and digitally enlarged several times.







We spent a couple of nights at a camp from which we rode camels to nearby villages.






This shows the practicality of Yvonneís outfit. It looks ladylike, even on a camel.













In the village we visited and talked to the locals (through interpreters.








The Indian colors really cheer up the mud villages.






Of the many birds, the kingfisher is one of the most colorful. This picture is like the leopard above- it was taken with a powerful telephoto lens and digitally enlarged.





Yvonne loves to ride camels and elephants.







A beautiful sunset with birds flying at the camel camp.







On the way to Agra, we visited this so-called step well. Water is scarce and itís hot in summer. Summer palaces were built into the sides of step-wells (the staircases lead down to the water).











Another lingam/yoni altar cascading into one below.





One of the sites in Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, a Mughal walled city dating from the 16th century. This building was for private audience and debate and is a unique fusion of different architectural styles and religious motifs. Fatehpur Sikri is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites.








Weíre standing at the entrance to what is called ďBirbalísĒ house which has fine carvings.






This is part of the mosque complex Jami Masjid of Fatehpur Sikri.










The magnificent entrance gate to Jami Masjid as seen from the inside.






Another view of the entrance gate. Stylistically, Fatehpur Sikri marked the absorption of the Gujarat into the Mughal empire and reveals a successful synthesis of pre-Islamic, Hindu and Jain architectures.





The white marble building houses the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, a Sufi mystic who is as popular today as he was long ago. Itís a popular pilgrimage site, especially for childless women.



We finally made it to the Taj Mahal. Built in 1631 by the Mughal emperor Shah Janan in memory of his favorite wife Mumtaz. He spent so much money that his son took over the country from him and put him under house arrest. He spent the last 20 years of his life in the Agra Fort in beautiful rooms where he could see the Taj Mahal.


We got up early and saw the Taj Mahal at sunrise. We agree with those who consider the Taj Mahal the most beautiful building in the world.








The Taj Mahal is flanked by these complementary buildings.














This is a view of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort where the Mughal emperor Shah Janan spent his 20 years of house arrest.






The designs are not painted but consist of precious and semi-precious stones inlaid in marble. The Mughals believed that flowers were symbols of the divine realm.

Flowers such as tulip, lily, iris, poppy, and narcissus were depicted as sprays or in arabesque patterns.

In other places inlaid calligraphy was used as a form of ornamentation on undecorated surfaces.










One of the many faces of India.






The Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) is buried in this magnificent mausoleum outside of Agra.







The mausoleum is a magnificent red sandstone structure with polychrome mosaics with inlaid white marble.








Akbarís mausoleum.








Also in the Agra area, this is the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah (the Lord Treasurer of the Mughal empire) sometimes described as a jewel box in marble.











The tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah was built between 1622-1628 and marks the transition from the robust, red sandstone architecture of Akbar to the more sensuous refinement of Shah Jahanís Taj Mahal.











We returned to the Tah Mahal grounds for another view at sunset.











Sunset at the Taj Mahal.










This picture as a reflection in the water of the Taj Mahal turned upside down.