Saturday, June 8, 2013

Incredible India!

Rajasthan incorporating New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Pics & words by Barry Greville-Eyres

 

Men in uniform on the streets of Jaipur - music on the move! Rajasthan is culturally rich and has artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life.

Rajasthan is pre-eminent in quarrying and mining in India. The Taj Mahal was built from the white marble which was mined from a town called Makrana. Jodhpur or red sandstone is mostly used in monuments, important buildings and residential buildings. The two materials are decoratively combined, with exquisite effect, in the picture above.

 

 

 

A Palace with a view! An impressive garden and water feature seen from the Amber Fort
 
Intricate designs at the Amber Palace - Jaipur




The blogger's travel companions ... remarkable ladies capable of bringing any man, beast or behemoth to its knees!

 


Rajasthan attracted 14% of total foreign visitors during 2009–2010 which is the 4th highest among Indian states. It is 4th also in domestic tourist visitors. Endowed with natural beauty and a great history, tourism is a flourishing industry in Rajasthan. The palaces of Jaipur and Ajmer-Pushkar, the lakes of Udaipur, the desert forts of Jodhpur, Taragarh Fort (Star Fort) in Bundi, and Bikaner and Jaisalmer rank among the most preferred destinations in India for many tourists both Indian and foreign.

 

Toasting the wannabe Maharajah! A superb day out with Elefantastic Elephant Tours - Jaipur - highly recommended!

 


The Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists. UNESCO documented more than 2 million visitors in 2001, including more than 200,000 from overseas. A two tier pricing system is in place, with a significantly lower entrance fee for Indian citizens and a more expensive one for foreigners. Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus. Lists of recommended travel destinations often feature the Taj Mahal, which also appears in several listings of seven wonders of the modern world, including the recently announced New Seven Wonders of the World, a recent poll with 100 million votes.

The Taj Mahal "crown of palaces", is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It’s widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". It is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen primarily from Persia/Iran. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.

 


The calligraphy on the Great Gate reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."  It was created by calligrapher Abd ul-Haq in 1609. Shah Jahan conferred the title of "Amanat Khan" upon him as a reward for his "dazzling virtuosity."  Near the lines from the Qur'an at the base of the interior dome is the inscription, "Written by the insignificant being, Amanat Khan Shirazi." Much of the calligraphy is composed of florid thuluth script, made of jasper or black marble, inlaid in white marble panels. Higher panels are written in slightly larger script to reduce the skewing effect when viewed from below. The calligraphy found on the marble cenotaphs in the tomb is particularly detailed and delicate.

The minarets of the Taj Mahal, which are each more than 40 metres tall, display the designer's penchant for symmetry. They were designed as working minarets — a traditional element of mosques, used by the muezzin to call the Islamic faithful to prayer. Each minaret is effectively divided into three equal parts by two working balconies that ring the tower. At the top of the tower is a final balcony surmounted by a chattri that mirrors the design of those on the tomb. The chattris all share the same decorative elements of a lotus design topped by a gilded finial. The minarets were constructed slightly outside of the plinth so that, in the event of collapse, (a typical occurrence with many tall constructions of the period) the material from the towers would tend to fall away from the tomb.

 

Albert Hall - Jaipur boasts an excellent natural history museum built in 1886 by Sir Swinton Jacob and has a rare collection of artifacts and craft items such as metalwork, ivory carvings, pieces of jewellery, textile, pottery and paintings. 

 

A night out at the Rajasthan Cultural Centre - authentic vegetarian cuisine

 

Monkey Temple on the outskirts of Jaipur

 

Worshippers at the Monkey Temple

 

Behind the fa├žade of Hawa Mahal or "Palace of Winds" in Jaipur. The Gurjar Pratihar Emphire acted as a barrier for Arab invaders from the 8th to the 11th century. The chief accomplishment of the empire lies in its successful resistance to the foreign invasions from the west. The Chandra Mahal can be seen silhouetted against the skyline. 


Rajasthan, known as "the land of kings," covers 10.4% of India by land area and is located in the northwest of the country. Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the state.   

 


Rajasthan's formerly independent kingdom created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen even today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis) which are enriched by features of Islamic and Jain architecture.

Rajasthan is famous for its forts, intricately carved temples, and decorated havelis, which were built by Rajput kings in pre-Muslim era Rajasthan. Rajasthan's Jaipur Jantar Mantar,  Dliwara Temples, Chittorgarh Fort, Lake Palace, miniature paintings in Bundi, and numerous city palaces and havelis are an important part of the architectural heritage of India. Jaipur, the Pink City, is noted for the ancient houses made of a type of sand stone dominated by a pink  or red hue.

A memorable pic of the gals at the Hawa Mahal - Jaipur!

Madhavendra Palace which overlooks the city of Jaipur.

 

Perfect symmetry at the Madhavendra Palace

 
Domestic tourists appreciate local sights and delights!

Exquisite gardens at the Amber Palace

 

Home visit and authentic Rajasthan cuisine, features of the Elefantastic Elephant Tours experience.


Originating for the Marwar region of the state is the concept Marwari Bhojnalaya, or vegetarian restaurants, today found in many part of India, which offer vegetarian food of the Marwari people.


Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. famous dishes include bajre ki roti (millet bread) and lashun ki chutney (hot garlic paste).

Rajasthan's economy is primarily agricultural and pastoral. Wheat and barley are cultivated over large areas, as are pulses, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Cotton and tobacco are the state's cash crops. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. It is also the biggest wool-producing state in India and the main opium producer and consumer.
 

Welcome to my Rajasthan boudoir!  The state is known for its traditional and colourful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, and Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan.