Archive | September 2011

Final Day in Delhi

My last day in Delhi had come all too soon. In contrast to the comfortable temperatures and rainy weather when I arrived at the beginning of March, 28 days later it was uncomfortably hot.

Prem took me to the Lodi Gardens Restaurant for brunch. The outdoor tables and chairs were draped in red cloth.  It was so pretty!

The outdoor booths had filmy,  flowing cloths around them, too, which reminded me of a tent.

We took a walk in the Lodhi Gardens, which is a favorite spot for Delhi wallas (people who live in Delhi) to have picnic lunches.

In the afternoon, I wanted to go to Dilli Haat, which I had read so many glowing reviews about. Prem tried to dissuade me, but I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so we went.

It looked like it had seen better days.  Compared to the merchandise I had seen elsewhere in Rajasthan, and even at the other Dilli Haat location, there was nothing here that was even slightly tempting.

“Third quality merchandise,” Prem sneered. If anyone would know, after all his travels in Rajasthan, I would think Prem would. I agreed with him, and he teased me relentlessly for coming.

There was no doubt, there was a huge amount of cheap trinkets for sale here.

We moped around the rest of the day, thinking about how we would be parting ways very soon. The time finally came to take me to the airport.

What an incredible trip it had been! India had been every bit as magical as I had anticipated and even surpassed my expectations in many ways. I had seen some fabulous sights and met wonderful people.

I was really going to miss Prem. He had been such good company, and we had developed a friendship during our month-long journey. But I was trying not to feel sad. Prem had invited me to come visit him and stay with his family at his village home in Himachal Pradesh, and I had accepted. During this trip, he had spoken often in glowing terms of  “my North India” at the foot of the Himalayas, and I was going to see it.  I’m now planning to return to India in November 2012!


Rest Stop

After Akbar’s Tomb, it was time to leave Agra, get on the highway and head back to Delhi.

At lunch time, we stopped at a very attractive motel-restaurant whose name I didn’t see.

Just after the entrance gate was a courtyard full of potted flowers.

I had the dining room to myself for only about five minutes before a busload of tourists nearly filled it.

The ladies room attendant was a pretty young woman who was flattered at my request for her photo.

The hotel garden was impeccably groomed, but it was far too hot to enjoy the outdoors.

A Rajasthani family at  the edge of the parking lot was giving a lackluster, dispirited performance of traditional music. It was almost depressing.

After lunch, Prem and I were back on the road. We reached Delhi by midafternoon. The next day would be my final day in India before returning to the States.


Akbar’s Tomb

Akbar is one of the most interesting of the Mughal leaders in India’s history. He was the son of Emperor Humayun and was only 13 when he became India’s leader when his father died in 1556 .  His tomb  had the most beautiful interior of those I visited.

Entrance Gate to the grounds of Akbar's Tomb. It looks very similar to the tomb of Itimad ud Daulah.

I was not going to use a guide for this visit, but one of the government guides near the entrance attached himself to me even after several very firm refusals on my part. He turned out to be one of the best guides of the trip!

He was extremely helpful, funny and didn’t talk too much. He took my arm and helped me up and down stairs.

Unlike the guy at Fatehpur Sikri, this guide didn’t order me around but actually helped me by showing me places where I could get especially good angles and interesting shots.

A group of tourists asked me to pose for a photo with the family.

Akbar's Tomb.

There were huge gardens surrounding the tomb. My guide pointed out that there were deer on the grounds. I would have missed them entirely if not for him.

Lying in the grass at the far end of the grounds, these white spotted deer were barely visible.  With the help of the zoom, they’re much more noticeable.

Closer to the tomb entrance, a boy was feeding a crippled black deer, encouraging it to stay close by so I could get some photos. This is the kind of service you tip for.

Entrance to Akbar's Tomb.

As at all the other tombs, the water features had been drained. Perhaps this was the time of year when they were all being cleaned.

The interior was so beautiful, even surpassing the interior of the Taj Mahal.

Tourists at Akbar’s Tomb.

My guide had really enhanced this visit. His fee was only 500 rupees (about US$10), but I was so happy with his services that I gave him another 500 as a tip. I also talked to Namaste India Tours about him, and they now have the man’s name and phone number. I hope he gets some extra business from my recommendation.

This entry was posted on September 26, 2011, in India.

Marble Workers of Agra

Lapis lazuli, carnelian and malechite to be used in inlay work.

White marble deposits of the same kind as were used in the Taj Mahal’s construction are still abundant in this area. I stopped to buy a few souvenirs and learn how marble inlay was done.

The work is done with extreme attention to detail. Placement of the designs on the marble pieces is not done freehand. I saw the man in the white cap at one point using a protractor to place the designs on the piece he is working on.

The marble is first painted with a temporary orange stain so that the designs can be seen when they are traced onto the piece. The workers painstakingly gouge out the places where the inlay goes. Indian marble is extremely hard. The work is difficult and time consuming.

Despite the amount of time it takes to create these pieces, labor is cheap in India. The cost of these works of art are determined more by how much inlaid work is done on the piece. Only precious or semiprecious stone is used as inlay.

To commemorate my visit, I chose a few small marble pieces. In the bottle is a soil sample taken from the gardens at the Taj Mahal. The small stones are from the Bada Bagh cenotaph garden at Jaisalmer.