Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Flourish of Fortifications

On leaving the countryside, Thilo’s fast dwindling time necessitated some hard-core sightseeing and this we did with avengence, seeing more magnificent forts, temples, mosques and palaces in a five day period then many see in a lifetime.

From the stunning forest surroundings of the fortified palaces and temples of Orchra, to the imposing hill-top fort at Gwaliar and the showy Maharajah’s palace - complete with absurd family memorabilia, two of the largest chandeliers in the world (3 and a half tons each – it is said a 1.5km ramp was built so that they could test the structural strength of the dining room roof with 8 elephants) and a literal drinks train that delivers your whisky et al.. to you at dinner - to the pristinely preserved grand mosque and palace at Fatehpur Sikri with its charming Hiran Minar complete with stone tusks jutting out, believed to be built to commemorate Akbar’s favourite elephant and offering wonderful views of the borderland of UP with Rajastan. More great sights then it is possible to fully take in in such a limited time.

Saying that, it was one of those great periods of travel when you bound with energy from one place to another on dirty smelly bumpy buses and end up at a final destination (unfortunately - due to the nasty tourist industry- this detination was Agra) a little bit dazed but thoroughly happy with the bucket load of memories that you have collected in such a short space of time.

This is the advantage and disadvantage of traveling with someone who has much less time then yourself. It is true that you can not take the time you would ideally like to get a real feel for your surroundings, but at the same time left to my own devices I would probably still be in Varanasi bonging drums - and that would be far less efficient as Thilo would be sure to acknowledge. A great few days of flurry!

For your info the pictures are bottom to top from Orchra, Gwaliar Fort, a rather interesting statue from the Maharaja’s Palace (a deity at play I believe), and the Jami Masjid (Friday Mosque) from Fatehpur Sikri.
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