INDIA (A LIFE STOLEN FROM TALES)
India is a surreal country. It’s a country of tales, to be exact. Hours and days spent in the country are the time stolen from tales. Lives, one within the other and full of contrast, restless streets, chaos, crowd and a country that smells spices. A colorful country in the terms of cultural wealth. An existence within a blast of colors and harmony. An impossible country to see everything at once, too big and full of different cultures, but India is worth several visits. In the rich religion and belief mosaic of India, everyday, millions of people gather in temples to participate in a feast, a rite or a ceremony.
India is a country of dreams with its towns, temples, castles, holy animals, herbs, spices, kamasutra, Ganges and gods. The most visited country of the world, India, on top of all is the biggest country with democracy. Also it’s the most second populous country of the world after China.
Let’s try to get to know about this fairttale-like country.
DELHI-AGRA –JAIPUR (GOLDEN TRIANGLE OF THE MOSAIC COUNTRY)
Golden Triangle is an important part of Indian mosaic, that reveals country’s history, beliefs, languages and culture. Enemies and brothers, Pakistan and India, classes, Sihizm, a sentence of Hinduism and Islam, “Din-i Hak”, a sentence of Hinduism, Islam, Sihizm and Christianity. Finally, including the creator of the sentence with 300 wives and five thousand odalisques, Ekber Şah and other Indian-Turkish emperors.
Delhi is the capital and the third most populous city of India. Delhi embodies two parts called Old Delhi and New Delhi. Old Delhi was center of the state during the control of muslims, between 12th and 19th centuries. A great number of mosques, madrasahs, castles monuments represent this period. As for New Delhi, it was built by the English in the year of 1911.
The walls of 7th Delhi (named Şahcihanabad) lies across Red Fort’s west in ruins. In the northernmost point of the wall, appears the Kashmir Door. The door bears traces of hopeless struggles of the English. To the west of the door, in Sabzi Mandi, there’s a monument in memory of the English who died during wartime. The high street of Delhi is called Chandi Chowk. This place reflects a different aspect of India with its splendid crowd and chaos. It bears no resemblance to New Delhi’s decent, wide and open streets. Red Fort and Jama Masjid are located face to face on each end of Chandi Chowk. On the corner, the famous bird hospital and Jain temple with its nude priests, are located.
On the opposite corner of Red Fort, a 16th century Jainist temple appears. You must take your shoes off before entering here. Also, cameras and cellphones are forbidden. You’ll see the statues and symbols of Mahavira (founder of Jainism) and other important reverends. If you’re lucky enough you may see Jainist style of praying. Bird Hospital is founded on a remote building in the garden of the temple. Sick and wounded birds are cured and released. I highly recommend you to visit this exotic place.
As you move along Chandi Chowk, you will see a Gurudwara Sikh temple with its clean marbles including sidewalks. Visiting is allowed as long as you don’t take pictures. It’s an unmissable opportunity for those who didn’t have the chance to see Golden Temple in Amritsar. Next, you’ll see small mosque of Sunehri. Rumor has it that, during the occupation of Delhi in 1739, Persian King Nader Shah was watching the massacre made by his soldiers, on the roof of this mosque.
Red Fort is named after the stoned it was built of. In Indian language it’s named as Lal Qila (Lal meaning red and Qila meaning fort). The fort was built by Mongolian emperor Shah Jahan in 1648. Although, the fort was built by him and the city it’s located is named after him, he preferred Agra as the capital. This fort is a typical Indian-Mongolian historical artifact. Entrance of the fort is full of voluntary guides and trinket sellers. Also, many souvenir shops can be found here. Once you overcome this obstacles, the doors of an utterly different world opens to large gardens and tranquil places. Behind the fort, Yamuna River runs. Back walls lengthen about 32 meters.
Jaipus is the capital of the land of deserts, bedovins and camels, Rajasthan. For the old houses built with pink stone sands, the town is also called as “Pink Town”. The most worth-seeing places here are Jantar Mantar Observatory, Hawa Mahal Palace and Amer Fort.
Jantar Mantar Observatory
Jantar Mantar Observatory is an old astrology center. It is located right in front of observatory City Palace, which was started to be built in 1728 by Jai Singh. Maharaja’s astronomer personality came before his warrior personality. The biggest of the five observatories built by Jai Singh, also the most protected one, is the one in Jaipur. Jai Singh sent many experts to different countries to learn their practices before attempting to build an observatory. At first sight, Jantar Mantar looks like a contemporary sculpture art exhibition. But, all of the constructions here serve a special purpose. This structures, with the right methods, can help to calculate the locations, positions and elevations of the stars. Thus, they make it possible to date solar eclipses. The most noticeable instrument here is the 30 meter-high sundial. Its shadow travels 4 meters in an hour and tells the local time with half minute margin of error. But, of course, only when sun shines.
Hawa Mahal can be translated as “The Palace of Winds”. The palace is Jaipur’s most significant touristic structure. Behind this magnificent face of the building, there’s not much to be found. Built for the women of royal family to watch the high street of the town, the palace is also pink colored. The front appears to embrace five floors, although the rear part has only two floors. The fifth floor offers a panorama of Jaipur.
Amber Fort was the Maharaja’s settlement before the construction of Jaipur. The fort is located in an area 11 kilometers away from Jaipur. Amber Fort was built in 1592 by a commander in Akbar’s army. Later, Jai Singh enlarged and completed the fort. One can tell it was placed out of nowhere on high rocks. Numberless terraces in the building offers a sight a small lake and the city of Jaipur. The fort contains the most exotic examples of Rajput era art.
To reach Amber Palace, you can ride the buses depart from Hawa Mahal. In the style of shared taxis, the buses stops a lot during its travel, so that, you can reach 11 kilometers as quick as half an hour. Alternatively, you can travel with Riksha for the price of 100 Rupi. Upon reaching Amber Palace you’ll see a steep track. After this point, transportation is supplied with elephants. This way, the desire of almost all tourist coming to India, which is to ride elephants, is satisfied. You are required to buy a ticked from Booking Office and the ride costs 900 rupi. Two people can share an elephant. This cost makes you reach until the gates of Amber Fort. Extra tips are up to you.
Elephant mounts are ready to move. Those who don’t want to ride elephants have to climb steep road slowly and deal with vendors. From this point on it’s very dangerous to carry food like bananas, dried fruits and nuts or tangerine. It’s because of the wild monkeys living here, if they see any food with you, they may be walking around you and attack. On the entrance of Amber Fort, there’s a public room called “Divan-ı Aam”. This place is decorated with pillars and mosaics on the walls. Stairs on the right side takes you to a small Kali temple. Also, white marbled Sila Devi temple is also worth a look.
Another worth-seeing building of Agra (the home of India’s famous symbol Taj Mahal), is Agra Fort.
Agra Fort was started to build by Akbar in 1565 and was completed with several additions by Shah Jahan. Fort was originally built for military purposes. Later, Shah Jahan used the fort as a palace. During his last days, Shah Jahan was prisoned here by his son Alemgir. He died in a room with a view of Taj Mahal.
The fort is 2.5 kilometers long and 20 meters high. These walls functioned as guards of the fort. The fort is only accessible by Amar Singh gate, which is located to the southern part of the fort. During night-times, in the fort, there are light and music shows.
Taj Mahal and Agra Fort/Palace
Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty or Pyramids are examples of a structure being a symbol of a country. In India it’s Taj Mahal. This famous Mongolian monument is a mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal. As she was bearing her 14th child to his husband for 17 years, in 1629, she died. Shah Jahan mourned for 2 years and started a simple life. Instead of expanding his empire, he headed for building architectural pieces of art. Shah Jahan, as an evidence of his love for Mumtaz Mahal, decided to built this tomb.
Taj Mahal was started to build in 1632 and after 21 years, in 1653, it was completed. In its construction twenty thousand workers from not only India but all around of Central Asia. Weighing 2.5 tons, the marbles were taken from 300 kilometers away, with almost a thousand elephants. These blocks were carried to top of the building with a 3.2 kilometers long ramp. Chief architect was Isa Khan. Also the famous artists of the time craftsman Austin from Bordeaux and Veroneo from Venice. They asissted the architect during the construction. According to a legend, Shah Jahan cut Isa Khan’s hand to prevent him from building a similiar work.
Another story about Taj Mahal, which is hard to believe as well, that Shah Jahan wanted to build another monument for his own tomb. Contrasting to Taj Mahal, he wanted this one to be black-marbled. Before having this dream built, Shah Jahah, was unthroned by his son Alemgir. He lived rest of his life in Agra fort watching the other side of the river, Taj Mahal. When he died he was buried in Taj Mahal next to his wife.
Taj Mahal is a domed building with four minarets on each side, it’s placed on a high marble platform.
Varanasi, as known as Banares, is a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The city is right beside the river Ganges, which is sacred for hindus. For thousand years, the city has been hosting the guests worshipping here.
Varanasi, is also known as, the God Shiva Vishwanath’s city. The god is the protector of the city. Being one of the most holy places for Hinduism, the city has been hosting for 2500 years. The city also serves as a Hindu culture and science center.
Varanasi is favoured by faithful Hindus. They wish to die here and after their death to be cremated. They also want their ashes to be thrown here. Along the river, there are ghats where Hindus do their sacred bath. Ganges rises and descends through the year, in order to avoid any accidents there are steps descending in the river. These steps are called Ghat. Some of these Ghats are used for cremating the deads. The ashes are thrown in to the river. Bathing in the river signifies being purified. But in Varanasi, bathing and being cremated prevents one’s soul to come in to the world again.
With a history of two thousand years, it’s a crowded city, dedicated to the god Shiva. Varanasi, hosts the saddest tourists of the world. People from all around the India, who are sick, old or feeling near to death, comes here to die and being cremated to join with Ganges. Varanasi is the destination for pilgrimages. In a way, it’s the Mecca of Indus. They’re stepping down the stairs in all through the Ganges’ shore. They bath and become purified. These people have much more peace of mind than those elsewhere in India. It’s like the time has lost its meaning long ago. Life, like sacred Ganges, flows slowly. Everything is happening outside here. Praying, shaving, cremating, shopping and again, praying. People praying here later leaves a candle with a bowl they made. In the shores of Ganges, women wash their clothes by hitting them on rocks. Some of them bath in the sacred water, some of them brush their teeth. They believe that the water of Ganges is sterile and clean.
INDIA WITH PHOTOS