Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jaipur - Day 2

Continued from Jaipur - I ....

The City Palace is situated at the heart of the old city/pink city. On reaching the ticket counter the board read so...

Indians : Adults - Rs 40
Children - Rs 25

Foreigners : Rs 100
Camera Indians - Rs 50. No special camera charges for Foreign nationals.

Doesn't that look absurd at the first go. I love traveling, but hate those unreasonable fees (dunno what royal family of Jaipur is up to). Although we bought 3 entry tickets, but only one ticket for Camera. But actually used all 3 cameras. And i don't think it was any wrong doing.

The sovereign store at City Palace, Jaipur.

The City Palace is a blend of Rajastani and Mughlai architecture.

Mubarak Mahal or Welcome Palace, City Palace, Jaipur

This place housed the Maharaja Sawai Mansing museum dedicated to the collection of royal costumes. Wow! I just loved those designs, cuts and the exquisite embroidery on them. There was assorted textures, colors and works. Photography was however prohibited here. The royals had their clothing designed and embroidered from different part of the world. And, I did manage to sketch a few of them for reference.

The interesting costume was that of Sawai Madho Singh I, who was 2m tall and 1.2 mt wide and weighed 250kg! And also were gold encrusted lehanga-choli worn by the Jaipur queens at their wedding.

The palace encloses series of courtyard, gardens and building in the palace premise.

Diwan-i-Am is a marble paved gallery, with armoury and enormous silver vessels which Maharaja Madho Singh II used to store holy Ganges water. And when he went to England to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, he had a P&O liner S.S Olympia redesigned to include a Krishna temple, and carried holy Ganges to England. The two 309kg silver urns which he used, enough to last him his for his visit overseas are seen. These 5ft urns known as Ganga Jali are listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest single silver objects in the world.

The Maharani's Palace


Chandra Mahal

The courtyard featuring the resplendent Peacock gate and 3 other.

A post on these gateways already featured here.

And we exit City Palace think of the Maharajas, their pomp, vigor and style...

Next >> Jaipur Day 2 contd

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My phobia

My previous KRS post here.

Although delayed, KRS is now full this year. And unlike any of my other visits, there was this lone Coracle with the 2 men this year.

Do you know this photo actually induces in me a sense of phobia. Lemme confess, I suffer from Aquaphobia, but then it isn't acute. A character in a Novel which I remember reading years ago, was phobic even with the water in the Bathtub! I definitely am better. But then, I tried learning to swim too years ago, and unfortunately the pool got shutdown coz a mere mortal got drowned! scaaaary...

And I remember writing about Water Sports in Goa previously. Gosh, how scared I was.....

And please don't ask me about my Cast Away experience (or even Titanic). I definitely loved the movie. But, the rapid pulse and before the end my nails had traveled nearer to the cuticle. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah....scaaaaaary.....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Defining Love

Falling in love
to me can be only with Automobiles, gadgets or with Art and Architecture; And in some cases with a piece of accessory or outfit with the mannequin.

But, there are these other kind too. What fun would they find in displaying it on the monuments?
Why do they want to make it looking eternal? Do they visit these monuments only with intentions to create graffiti?

Bamboos at Kaveri Nisargadhama

Temple wall at Lepakshi

Bench at Taj Mahal

Cousins, Friends and Family, whoever have been with me on various occasions, while I curiously focused on these, put a strange expression on their face and at time questioned me for showing interest to photograph these.

Friday, July 10, 2009

City Palace, Jaipur

When I hear of Jaipur the first thing that gets allocated into my mind Hawa Mahal and the grandeur of these Windows and Doors.

But, I was totally unaware of which Palace or Fort this was from. After spending enough of time and energy at the City Palace, completely drained we happened to enter an enclosure which had these Doors and Windows. And you can guess how excited I would have instantaneously turned.

These Peacocks pane is something which everyone would love. But, I like the green hue in the below panels. Lovely.....

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Jaipur - Day 1

After Delhi Post and Agra Post its Jaipur.

A Volvo ticket to Jaipur was bought the previous night for INR 550. I was searching for a Rickshaw at 5 AM in the morning. After 10mins the Delhi cops asked me, if I was waiting for a Rickshaw. While I nodded affirmatively, they said - "Oh, you should have told us no, we thought you are a Call Center employee, waiting for Cab". Gosh!

Bikaner House, next to India Gate is the hub for RSRTC. The bus however was late by 30mins only to start at 6:15. It was just half full and there was nothing like ticket inspection.

It had to reach Jaipur at 11:30 but reached at 1:00 PM. Jaipur at 1 PM was unimaginably hot. The YHAI Jaipur was however a 10 mins drive from the Bus Stand. But, within that I was surrounded by trouts, Auto and Taxiwallas and other people who would just want to walk beside you staring from top to bottom. Aaaaah Grrrrrrrrrr.....

My friends had reach Jaipur YHAI from Agra earlier than me. A leisure Lunch, refresh and we decide to explore the city.

Birla House/Planetarium was a 15min walk down from YHAI, Jaipur. The sun was no better at 3:30 in the afternoon. We initially decided to attend a show, but later felt we had outgrown the fascination and were hardly interested in any. However the building looked interesting and not to mention the Goose Berry tree in the premises. A leisure visit to the old Cafe, and then we decide to explore the pink city.

Cycle Rickshaw is the most convenient mode of transport. Eco-friendly, easy to traverse through that narrow roads, its fun and they don't quote high price like those Auto fellows.

The old pink-city of Jaipur is an enclosed structure. But, Jaipur has however grown beyond limits. Inside the city limits its a norm that all buildings are to be painted pink even to this day.

Wiki says so :

Jaipur is often called the Pink City in reference to its distinctly colored buildings, which were originally painted this color to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.

Walking along the Bazaar is a treat to the eye. Shopped for every conceivable Bric-a-bracs. The pocket was however lighter by end of that day and our check-in baggages heavier.

The next day we had lots in mind......

I never thought Hawa Mahal was sandwitched between shops in a busy messy road. But, before we searched for Hawa Mahal it stood there right in front of us. We couldn’t get better clicks. The street was busy and the Sun merciless. And it was Breakfast time. While one went in search of a eatery for Breakfast, we waited there in front of Hawa Mahal.

Hawa Mahal - The Palace of Breeze

This is as old as 1799, an enclosure for royal ladies to witness everyday life in the street below, concealing themselves. It has over 950 windows!

The fella who owned this shop wanted us to get some clicks. And when advertisement turned from request to force, I decided to pull out my SLR. And that was the end. He retracted back. Seeing this photo I now feel I should have got a snap there.

Btw, that is a old box type camera (on the left) required to be covered by a Black cloth. And to the right is the Black Screen and a Iron Stool for the subject.

5mins away from the Hawa Mahal is City Palace and Jantar Manthar.

As we enter the City Palace limits ....

Continued at Jaipur - Day 2

Saturday, July 04, 2009

London walking Tours & wish list

While I went through my photo and blog archive, I remembered what I had missed. After compiling all UK posts, I still had this pending.

When its places like Winchester, Bath, Stratford-up-Avon, Portsmouth and many others, its easy to customize your walking tour on the fly or even driver around. But, a place like London would require some planning.

People largely look out for detailed walk map,s and using a paid walking tour is still a rarity. The preference is to cover the places of interest at their own pace. Having 'my' time to walk, watch, visit, hallucinate, photograph, eat, rest and people-watch is what was important to me.

After searching for weeks, I finally landed up at this. The is one such place which had walking tour maps with detailed explanation.

WALK ONE - Bridges of London walk

I did all these plus a couple of Bridges, as detailed here.

I did a combination of the below 2 walks on day 1 and day 2.

Apart from these I had the map page from the Telephone directory which the Hotel gave me. Of all the maps the one in the Telephone Directory is the best to refer.

I still have these on my wish list. Am sure will tick this away on my next visit.

London wish list :

# National gallery
# The British museum
# Greenwich
# West End - Oxford street, Regent street, Bond street and Covent Garden
# Hampstead, Marylebone(on a Sunday) and Richmond
# The main stream entertainment hub - Leicester Square and Knights bridge for Harvey Nicolas and Harrods (I didn't buy a thing for me last time).

That is all I have. :-)

Crib : Its already half year down and I haven't even traveled half of what I had the previous year by this time. With three golden opportunities flushed deep down the drain ...........

Friday, July 03, 2009

Art on the Street

I was going through my archive this week only to compile this post.

Art on the street, near St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

How beautifully he painted on the street. I am not even half good as him even on paper.

Street Music in front of Tate Modern, London.

Sand Art near Waterloo Station, London.

The cellar at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

This is my all time favorite, from V&A Museum, London - The Fashion Machine.

Poetry on the Street, Bath.

I remember seeing a few other things in Portsmouth, Oxford and Stratford, but regret now for not clicking it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


The Jupiter, Venus and the Moon which made a special appearance on 1st December 2008. The planets at their brightest.

I love this distorted one more than the previous. Found this now while cleaning the memory card. :)

Agra Fort

I am a greedy when it comes to travel. Almost at the end of every travel I console my self saying, Akhila, there is always a next time’. I’ll never improve when it comes to travel. I wanted to do Matura, Vrindava, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri all in a day!

As planned I was ready by 5:30 AM, for the 6:15AM Taj Express to Agra. Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station was a 10min ride from the company Guest house. The Delhi cops were good enough to get me a Rickshaw at that time of the day. Another story is that, I was a bit scared as I was all alone and everyone around me had warned me thousand times that Delhi was not a safe place. Precautions taken : Ensured I were in trousers and shoes always, had my cell phone and Delhi Hertz number handy for emergency, carried a dagger and never wore any precious jewelry. I’m laughing out loud as I write this ....

The Yellow and Green, typical of Delhi Rickshaw brings a smile on my face. Most of the trains too are painted with the same contrast.

Crossed River Yamuna and was at Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station at 5:45AM. People always find it easy to tag me a South Indian. When this had been the case in Winchester, Delhi was no exception. I failed to see any female soul at the station; ignoring all those Auto and Taxi wallahs, I scurried down trying to find the entrance. The entire place looked like a refugee camp to me. Adding to that was Pan stains which had created patterns on the walls. The next thought was, ‘oh god, I’ll never crib about Bangalore and Mysore stations again’. I then found a flight of stairs, which took me to the platforms. But, I was still looking out for the ticket counter. Unable to find a decent-literate-looking chap to query, I waked down only to read, ‘Welcome to Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station. No Platform ticket is required to use this Station’. I have never heard or seen of one such Station. Hope those terrorist organization in neighboring Pakistan aren’t aware of this.

I am finally at the ticket counter, still desperate to spot a female soul. Its not crowded, but its ridiculously hot at 6 in the morning. INR 86 is a decent fare. I walk down towards platform 6. Gosh, I have a shock. The platform looked like it had survived an earthquake the previous night, people in colorful clothing busy with their morning ablutions. They are bathing, washing and drying clothes! And the platform has ceiling fans running to keep away the heat.

I settled down in a window seat. Within minutes a girl in her mid teens occupied the seat beside. One interesting observation was that, no rule of reservation is followed. The seat is occupied in first-come-basis as long as the other person has bought a ticket. I was thinking of the platform 6 in Bangalore Railway station, from where I would take the 6 :15 train to Mysore. The clean platform, granite benches, dustbins at regular intervals, Coffee day shops, purified drinking water, the old red tiled roof, wrought iron railings and the 18th century floral fabrications............

And entered a Railway police to check people and their belongings. People are questioned with, 'Where are you from? Where are you going? What is there in the bag? to what nots'.. Soon it was time for selling Samosa, Jalebi, Kachori and Chaat. The girl beside me kicked of a conversation by offering Samosa. She eagerly wanted to share it with me. But, I couldn’t have imagined a oil dripping Samosa at 6:45 in the morning. And there begins our conversation.

Girl : You don’t eat Samosa in the morning?

Me : No, it’s a evening snack for us.

Girl : You from South India.

Me : Yes. (oh, I really have to change myself to look different!)

Girl : Which place?

Me : Bangalore

Girl : ooooh, Bangalore…. It is better than Delhi no.

Me : (I simply smile)

She tells that, she is from Jhansi and in standard 8th. And the guy beside is her brother and the other her Father.

I have a tendancy bump into talkative people, although I am never the first to start a conversation.

Girl : What are you in Bangalore?

Me : Engineer

Girl : Whaaaaa…. (To her it seemed like I had landed after a Mars mission)

Girl : You have seen a computer? You know computer?

Me : Yes, a little.

Girl : You have one?

Me : Yes.

Well I needn’t explain how bemused she was. She told me that she was at Delhi to meet her sister, and was heading home. And I told her that I was going to Agra to see Taj Mahal.

Girl : I have seen Taj Mahal once when I was a kid, because it is near to Jhansi. Why should you come from Bangalore to see Taj?

Well, I didn’t have an answer. To her I looked a crazy person to have traveled all the way to Delhi and now to Agra just to Taj. :-)

Around 9 AM, I was at Raja-ki-Mandi Station. I had predicted that Agra Cant to be the first and Raja-Ki-Mandi as the last station in Agra, but it was a other way round. I bid her a bye, accepting her invite to visit Jhansi sometime.

Holiday Inn was a 10min walk from the station. But, I heard Taxi, Auto and Cycle Rickshaws approaching me from Rs 150 to Rs 30. I opted for a Cycle Rickshaw, as that is a rarity in the South. And that too for Rs 10! I was joined by a friend at the Holiday Inn. A quick refresh, a leisure breakfast, and we decided to visit Agra Fort first. Both of us decided to tour Agra only by Cycle Rickshaw that day. She too seemed to have a fascination like me.

Agra Fort is Lal Quila there, and there is not such thing called Agra Fort which the Rickshaw wallahs would understand. When we told the Rickshaw guy that Lal Quila is in Delhi, he replied saying, ‘Lal Quila is in Agra, there is no such thing in Delhi. I then told him that I had visited Red Fort in Delhi the previous day, and showed him prints from Wiki, he then said, 'I’ll take you to Agra ka Lal Quila, that is where tourists go apart from Taj Mahal.'

Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The great Mughals Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangazeb lived here and the country governed from here. During Akbar’s reign, the main part of the Agra fort was built. Construction of the fort started in 1156 and was finished in 1605.

The fort is built alongside the Yamuna river and stretches almost 2.5 km. The wall has 2 gates, the Delhi Gate and the Amar Singh Gate or Lahore Gate. You can only enter the fort via the Amar Singh Gate.

Amar Singh Gate

The Fort is vast and its best seen along with a map of the Fort.


Moti Masjid

Isn't this tiled pathway more interesting than those English cobbled ways? I loved walking this only to occupy the lone bench under a shady tree at the other end, where we then chit-chatted for hours....


This instantly reminded me of Jodha Akbar aka Hrithik and Aishwarya.

This belonged to some British general, whom I have forgotten now.


Nagina Masjid - This Mosque was specially built only for the Women.

Thatz a water fall in the background and a fountain in the foreground. Carved out of Marble, it really fascinated me.

Aaaaha, the first glimpse of Taj we caught for the day, while we got out of Nagina Masjid.

The Agra Fort, River Yamuna and Taj Mahal.

The Taj and the Yamuna River from the ramparts of Agra Fort.

From the pavilions you get nice view of Yamuna river and the Taj Mahal. It was here in the Agra Fort, that Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, where he was allowed a view on the building erected for his deceased wife.

Diwan-i-Am , Diwan-i-Khas, Nagina Masjid & Mina Masjid,Macchi Bhavan, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal, Shah Jahani Mahal and Zenana Mina Bazaar, that was really tiring......

Less than 3 kilometers from Agra Fort was Taj Mahal. But, we wanted to roam around the city to get a feel of the place. This time too the Cycle Rickshaw guy was more than eager to take us around and then drop us at Taj Mahal.

Some bits of shopping at the Agra Emporium, a visit to Mall/Sadar Road - A lively road full of handicraft, leather goods and not to mention Chaat. The best Chaat I have ever tasted is at Agra.

The next Cycle Rickshaw ride was to Taj Mahal.

Post on Taj Mahal here.

Agra ka Petha and the Marble Taj Mahal are the must-buys, which I never forgot.

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