Travel: Man Sagar Lake

This morning, we both enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in before heading for a walk around the Man Sagar Lake to observe the beauty of the Jal Mahal “Water Palace.” We even got to see an elephant just strolling down the street amidst the motorcycles and rigshaws, and a camel just resting its legs!

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Interestingly, Maharaja Madho Singh I constructed the complex in 1750 intending for it to be a lodge for himself and his entourage during duck hunting parties, it was never intended to be a palace.

imageIt is considered a classic example of Rajput and Mughal Architecture, and as we’ve seen often during our trip, composed entirely of red sandstone. There is a rectangular chhartri on the roof, and four octagonal chhattris on each of corners of the building. They are elevated dome-shaped pavilions that have become a signature of Indian Design.

Based on plain observation, one cannot derive the complexity of design and technological forethought involved in this structure. While we only see it as a one-story building, in reality, the palace has five floors in total, four of which are submerged in the lake

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As we savored the nice weather and strolled along the lake, we came across a costume peddler and decided to have fun and play “dress-up.” The most awkward part of this, was when they wanted us to pose and take a picture as a couple. [Insert Awkward Turtle].

 

 

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Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

 

India is still a conservative nation, so when they see a man and a woman travel together, assumptions are often made. Additionally, seeing an Indian and an Asian together is almost an unheard of circumstance. Fortunately, Nick and I had a good laugh about this.

 

 

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We wandered the area and found ourselves a nice open garden to take a seat in and relax, before grabbing lunch and heading to hike up to Galta Ji.

 

imageThe pilgrimage site lies in the town of Khania-Balaji, just outside of Jaipur. It is known for its natural water springs that accumulate in tanks “kunds”. Thousands come to bathe in these waters every year as it is considered auspicious. Additionally, some believe that the Saint Galav lived here. He meditated, did penance, and survived for years just drinking cow’s milk.

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Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

 

Galta Ji is also commonly called “The Monkey Temple” as a tribe of monkey lives there. Nick was being mean and joking that he had reunited me with my family. T.T.

 

 

I’ve self-perpetuated this ongoing joke when, a few years ago, I discovered that my strangely shaped thumbs coincidentally align with the thumb shape of a gorilla. It is all in good fun though, and I enjoyed getting up close and personal with my brethren.

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Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

 

Travel: New Delhi

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Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

After checking-in to our rooms, we took some time to scour off the travel grime, and prepare for our day. We arrived at the hotel around 7 AM, and had decided that taking a nap would basically just serve to encourage our jet lag.

New Delhi is the capital of India, and the seat of its executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Although the capitol was originally in Calcutta in the early 1900s, the British, formally decided to migrate the seat of their power to New Delhi in 1911.

It is not difficult to feel the british influence when one walks along the kingsway.

 

Master-planned by the architect Edwin Lutyens, New Delhi is centered around two central promenades call the Rajpath and the Janpath. The streets are wide and tree-lined, a design that was both ambitious and forward thinking in its hey-day.

imageOur first stop, was the India Gate. It sits along the eastern edge of the ‘ceremonial axis,’ and is a towering memorial that evokes an architectural style akin to the Arch of Constantine in Rome, or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

 

It calls for the remembrance of the 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who lost there lives between 1914 and 1921 during the First World War and in the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

Below this towering structure, is an understated black marble plinth that bears a reversed rifled, capped by a war helmet, bound by four urns, each with a permanent jyoti (light) from flames. Inaugurated in 1972, this is the Amar Jawan Jyoti, India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

At the opposite end of the Rajpath, lies the secretariat, home to some of the most important ministries of the Cabinet of India. Much of the buildings of the North and South block are classic in style, but it is not difficult to see the Mughal or Rajastani motifs that have been incorporated.

 

They are visible in the form of the perforated screens which shield from both the scorching sund and the monsoon rains. Another feature is the dome-like Chatri, which provided shade to travelers in ancient times.

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Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

Our last stop of the day was the Lotus Temple. This location serves as the Mother Temple of India. The Bahá’í Faith, has roots dating from 19th-century Persia, its founder, Bahá’u’lláh died a prisoner when he was exiled to the Ottoman Empire for his teachings.

 

 

Three core principles are emphasized in the Bahá’í religion: (1) The unity of god, (2)  The unity of religion, and (3) The unity of Humanity.

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Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

Inspired by the lotus flower, a symbol of purity, the Lotus Temple is composed of 27 free-standing marble clad “petals” that form nine sides of three clusters each. Each of its nine doors open into a central hall that is more than 40 meters high, and can hold a total capacity of 2,500 people.

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The engineer in me was completely awe-inspired by this building. Not only is it remniscent of the Sydney Opera House in Australia, but its a challenge to grasp the depth of shell-stresses and structural analysis involved in the fabrication of each monstrosity of a petal.

 

imageWe finished our day by savoring a snack of Pao Bhaji (Bombay street food, very similar to the American Sloppy Joe, except vegetarian) and having Tea, before retiring to our rooms to pass out.