Our trip to India was spectacular. My husband is first generation American with majority of his (now our) extended family still residing in India. Over two years ago, we made the journey across the world to visit his family’s homeland.
One of my favorite places on Earth is his Grandfather’s farm. Nestled in a small village in Northern India is this gem. I feel blessed to have had this experience because it was a once in a lifetime glimpse into the past. Much of the village is without electricity or has bare bones of an electrical set-up; maybe a few lights here and there in the house, but not much else. Comically though, looking out at the villiage from the roof-top, there are many satellite dishes. They may not have much else, but there are some homes with satellite tv. It’s not the same, seemingly unlimited, channels of satellite tv we have here in the US.
Sugar Cane is one of the major crops. While socializing in the street, we were passed by locals with their daily harvest. One of my husband’s uncles stopped a rickshaw driver and asked him if we could some. The man was happy to oblige the foreign visitors.
Children in India chew sugar cane as a treat, the way Americans chew gum. Peeling pieces of sugar cane away with their teeth actually helps to straighten them.
Inside Grandfather’s home, the details are exquisite. Built in the 1950’s, it was once a grand home. Looking at it now, it is grand and rich with history. Many homes in the village are still without roofs over the courtyards and most of the living space. The family that rents this home currently keeps a buffalo inside the courtyard. They live peacefully with their buffalo.
We visited the ruins of Qtub Minar in Delhi India. Historically, Minars are a tower or calling point from Muslim prayer. The minar measures 73 meters (240 feet) high with a diameter of 14.3 meters (46 feet) at the base. Construction began in 1199 AD. In 1369 AD the tower was struck by lightning and the top story was destroyed. Restoration after the lightning included adding the final two stories. Qtub Minar is made of red sandstone and marble.
The view above shows balconies from where people used to be able to look out. Since 1981, the tower has been closed to the public.
Lotus Temple was my favorite temple. We shared a moment of silent prayer with a temple packed with people. It was a magical moment. The lotus itself is a significant symbol in India. The lotus blossom is the beauty that grows in muddy, murky water. It symbolizes that no matter what mud surrounds you in your life, you can choose to be beautiful. I have lived that mantra since I learned it ten years ago.
Holi is the festival of color and is the celebration of good over evil. We were in India during this celebration. Extravagant displays of flower petals decorate homes and public places. We came across the one below in our hotel lobby.
People fill the streets of India and throw color on each other in celebration.
It wouldn’t be a complete trip to India without seeing the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is one of the greatest love stories of all time. Shah Jahan built it as a shrine to his beloved wife, so her eternal resting place would be as magnificent as was she.
The intricate marble work is exquisite. Each colored piece has to be specially shaped by hand and it’s corresponding marble piece has to be carved out perfectly, so the pieces will fit together. The artisans who still perform this work have been trained for generations and the trade has been preserved and kept secret.
The Taj Mahal is not lit by any artificial light. The marble is illuminated by the moonlight during a full moon. For that reason, night viewings are limited to full moons only. We visited the Taj during a full moon, however, the clouds shaded the moon and we did not get the full affect. On our tour, the guide placed a flashlight under a piece of marble similar to that above and the red marble glowed like it was on fire. We will definitely have to take another trip to see the Taj under the moonlight, especially because we got engaged at the Taj Mahal during the night viewing, but that’s a story for another time.