where: India


The early morning Air India flight was beautiful. You can see the effects of expansion in the form of "fog" as lift is being generated on take-off
A golf course near the airport. The inlay work is everywhere, and is beautiful Probably older than the fort...
Vendors set up on the way into the fort. (This seemed very tame compared to Mont Saint-Michel!) Children doing what children do... whilst on tour ;=) Completed in 1648 by Shah Jahan, this fort was a major display of Mughal power. The Indian flag flying over the Lahore Gate was a national desire to signify Independence from Britain.
The street/marketplace vendors always seemed to have beautiful presentations of their wares. Built (1980-1986) to resemble a lotus flower, it is set among 9 pools of water, and surrounded by gardens. The guard ensures the eternal flame for the Unknown Soldier is honored.
This 42m high "All India War Memorial" bears the names of 90,000 soldiers. A street barber ;=)
The 7m pillar predates the Qutb Minar. Mysteriously, this 98% pure iron pillar does not rust. Scientists are not sure how such an item was cast 1600 years ago. The ~73m tower consists of 5 stories, tapering to 2.5m diameter at the top. With an impressive diameter of 15m at the base, the red sandstone is adorned with carvings.
Beneath the ground are 24 rays emanating outward... both for support and for the 24 hours in a day. An ambitiuos project to create another tower -- only this time, twice the size of the Qutb Minar. You can see how far they got by the time Ala-ud-dim died...
There was a 10-minute ritual of blessing elements on this memorial to the founder of the Hare Krishna movement. The conch is understood as the source of all existence -- a cosmic womb, for when the conch is blown, it is said to emulate the primordial sound  Aum (Om) from which all else emanates. A service of song and worship was taking place.
People would tie a piece of yarn to the "jalis" (carved marble screen) and make a wish. Dung is laid out to dry... it is used as an important fuel source for cooking, etc. Akbar
This is said to mimic the mosque at Mecca. A Qoranic inscription reads: "The world is a bridge, pass over it but build no house upon it. He who hopes for an hour may hope for an eternity." The amount of carving and detail work is amazing. Even more so, this city/palace was full of symbols from all major religions. The Hall of Public Audiences
The abandoned capital city of Fatehpur Sikri, must have been quite the scene in its heyday (1570-1586) Guest rooms (?) looking out along the banks of the Yamuna River. Yes, believe it or not, we are actually driving on the main road through the village. A bit crowded, eh?
Artisans practice the age-old tradition used for doing the inlay work on the Taj itself. Agra Fort began life in 1565 as a principally military structure. It is hard to appreciate how "thick" the outer walls are without being there. I do not think I would want to be an army trying to attack the gate...
The Taj is magnificent from any angle. The great symbol of India, Shah Jahan
A close-up of the carvings reveals the craftsmanship sought during the construction (1631-1653 a.d.) Each of the minarets are tilted outward -- if they collapse, they will fall away from the Taj! The inlay work is exquisite. If you shine a flashlight on the reddish stones, they glow orange as the light is conducted.
This first view of the Taj Mahal takes your breath away, as it is perfectly framed in the entryway. The morning mist gives the Taj an ethereal glow. The scroll work and writing is all inlay -- being larger at the top to compensate for perspective.
I was told the each of the 22 small domes on the roof represent a year of construction A representation of the nine planets. Getting fresh coconut milk for breakfast.
Just a few of the many colorful incarnations of Hindu Gods A visit to a Hindu Temple The inner sanctum...
The view out my balcony (Leela Palace, Bangalore). Possibly THE best hotel I have ever stayed at.