Page 8 of John from Totnes Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai February 16th 2010

Madurai is one of the oldest cities in South Asia. The Greeks traded here in the 6th century BC and the city was the literary and cultural centre of Tamil Nadu in the 4th century AD. Today it is a bustling and busy city of over 1 million people. The city's main attraction is the Sri Meenakshi Temple - yet another massive Hindu temple complex which dates back to the 1st Century AD, although most of the buildings are of 16/17th century construction. The temple is dominated by four massive entrance towers with one each side of the large granite rectangular boundary wall. This is our last Hindu temple visit on our trip and in a way its a grand finale. This temple like all the other active temples is full of life. There are prayers ... read more
Sri Meenakshi Temple
Colourful stall in the temple
Temple Priest

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Thanjavur February 14th 2010

Over the past 3 days we have travelled through towns and cities of South India and seen the most spectacular Hindu temples. Their age, character and beauty is breathtaking. Hopefully the pictures will give you some idea of their splendour.... read more
Sarangapawi Temple at Kumbakonam
Inspiring tower at Sarangapawi Temple
Brihadish Temple

Asia » India » Pondicherry February 11th 2010

Pondicherry is where we found a little bit of France in Southern India together with an international community of free spirits. Up until 1954 the town was a French colony and still maintains its French character with tree lined boulevards with French names and the policemen wearing kepis. Many of the buildings in the French quarter are maintained in their original colonial style. The promenade along the seafront could have been lifted from a French sea-side town. Other than the town itself the main attraction is the international community of about 550 free spirits living in the nearby 'village' of Auroville just outside Pondicherry. Set up in the Summer of Love in 1968 it is a community of dedicated souls, many from Europe, living their lives in peace and harmony with their surroundings and fellow beings. ... read more
Good old Austin Cambridge
Healthy pursuits at the Eco Lodge
Rice bowl of India

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Chennai February 10th 2010

Arrived in Chennai yesterday after a 2 hour flight from Kolkata. It is certainly hotter with the temperature in the upper 20s and very little cloud in the clear blue sky. Madras was the start of it all for the Brits in India with the East India Company setting up its first trading post in 1640 in the form of a fort known as Fort St. George. The fort is now used as a government complex and it is difficult to imagine its original layout which included parade grouds, barracks and a church. The church still remains but is in need of some love and care. However, the memorial stones on the walls make interesting reading as quite a few were erected in memory of officers who died in action defending the empire. Scattered around the ... read more
St. Andrew's Kirk
Kapaleshvara Temple
Colourful figures on the temple

Asia » India » West Bengal » Kolkata February 7th 2010

We have a special family interest in Kolkata as Lynne was brought up with stories of the city and of the Grand Hotel here. Her father, who was in Burma in the WW2, was in the 5th Indian Division of the army. When he was given leave he came to Kolkata and on one occasion spent a month at The Grand Hotel. It made a great impression on him and the city and its people have always had a place in his affection. Imagine his surprise when we told him that we would be staying at The Grand! No doubt it has changed somewhat from the war days but it is still the great old lady of Kolkata when it comes to hotels. Our plans were to spend the two days here sightseeing and visiting the ... read more
Colourful temple guesthouse
Morning train into Calcutta
River bank dwellings and bathers

Asia February 5th 2010

Varanasi is said to be the oldest city in the world and is situated on the banks of the Ganges. It is India's holiest Hindu city with a spiritual and religious legacy that goes back nearly 3000 years. The 90 or so ghats (stepped terraces) define the life and identity of the city. In the late afternoon our guide took us to the river where we boarded an old timber boat and were rowed along the banks to watch the evening activity. We saw the colourful evening prayer ceremonies being performed, though we felt that really we needed audio equipment to record the hypnotic mantra chanting and bell ringing to really capture the atmosphere. We passed a cremation ghat where pyres were burning brightly in the darkness of the night. This morning we returned with our ... read more
Old men bathing
All ages come to The Ganges.

Asia » India » Madhya Pradesh » Khajuraho February 3rd 2010

Yesterday we left Agra by train, a very civilised train laid on for the tourists, and after two hours we arrived at Jhansi where we were met by a driver and suffered a 200 km journey along tracks that over here in India are described as roads. We arrived at Khajuraho with our skeletons just about intact and were rewarded today with a tour of the magnificent Hindu temples which were built between the 9th and 10th centuries and which are classified as a Unesco World Heritage site. We were completely blown away by the sculptures covering the temples: gods and goddesses, beasts and warriors and, if you know anything at all about Khajuraho or the Karma Sutra, you will know that there also the most wonderfully erotic carvings, the like of which one would never ... read more
Kandriya Mahadev Temple
Detail of the main spire of the Kandariya Mahadev Temple
One or two of the thousands of figures

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra February 1st 2010

This memorable visit to one of the wonders of the world is best described from Lynne's diary: "The Taj Mahal is truly breathtaking. In the haze of the early morning when we arrived it arose from the lawns and water grdens like an ethereal palace against the pale blue sky. It is gigantic, towering over the landscape, but the pale, intricately carved marble gives it a delicate, fairytale quality. It seemed impossible to try and capture the essence of the bulding on camera but we did our best and our guide even managed to elbow the other tourists out of the way to get a shot of us on what, of course, is known as "The Diana Seat". I am looking a great deal happier than the tragic princess. "Our guide gave us plenty of time ... read more
View of Taj
The Diana Seat
Lynne at the Taj

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur January 29th 2010

Jaipur is a pink city and is known as that after the Prince of Wales decided to visit the city in the Victorian era. They painted the city pink in celebration of his visir and that is how it remains although I would descibe it as more terra cotta. The pink scene only remains in the old part of the city and this is where the magnificent old buildings are situated. We visited the City Palace, being the home to the rulers of Jaipur since the first half of the eighteenth century, and an observatory built between 1728 and 1734. The observatory in itself is a wonder and contains 16 instruments resembling a giant sculptural composition. A few miles outside Jaipur is the Amber Fort which was the home of the rulers before they decided to ... read more
Silverware at the Palace
The Observatory
Entrance to Amber Fort

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jodhpur January 27th 2010

Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajastan and is domninated by the Mehrangarh Fort which was described by Rudyard Kipling as "The creation of angels, fairies and giants." Construction started in the 15th century and was added to between the 17th and 19th centuries. Towering over the city, it has magnificent views over the city and the houses below, all higgledy piggledy and painted blue: a) to repel the terrible summer heat which goes up to 50 degrees and b) to repel the mosquitoes. Our guide took through the crazy streets of the Sardar Bazaar: women with great loads on their heads, rickshaws, cars, cows etc etc, the dentist sitting on the ground pulling teeth and the barbers sitting on the ground shaving their clients. We entered a five storey building - ... read more
Blue is the colour
Colourful saris
Close Shave in the Sardar Bazaar

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