Thompson Travelers

Travel is a way to be lost…and found…all at the same time

Category: India (Page 2 of 3)

Taj Mahal…the Crown Palace

This monument built to remember a great love story is so well known around the world. I’ve seen so many photos of it that I wasn’t expecting to be too impressed. I was wrong…it is absolutely breathtaking when you see it in person.

Beautiful Taj Mahal

The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, fell in love with his fourth wife, Mumtaz Mahal, when she was sixteen years old.  After they married, they were never separated.  She was carrying their fourteenth child when she had a bad dream of her unborn baby crying.  Believing this to be a bad omen, so she made her husband promise her that if anything happened to her, he would build something to show the world how much he loved her.

Taj Mahal details

Sadly, she died during childbirth.  It took 22,000 artisans over twenty years to complete the Taj Mahal.  This became the final resting place for both the wife, and the emperor.

Inlaid flowers made of semi precious stones

3D carved detailing

At the Taj Mahal!

Over 15,000 people come daily to visit this beautiful site, with so many people taking selfies!

Several generations later, this process of inserting semi precious stones into white marble is a skill unique in this world to this city of Agra, where the descendants of the original artisans that created the Taj Mahal still work at this craft.

All these stones make up a flower that is the size of a 50 cent piece

It takes painstaking skill to carve and polish the stones this small, which are then imbedded into white marble.

Tiny, detailed work with tweezers and grinding stones

You can only find this fine detailed work here.  It’s forbidden to photograph any of this beautiful work, but I talked the sales person into letting me take one photo.  This beautiful table…a mere $225,000, and they will ship for free.  It’s another one of those “you have to see it in person” to appreciate how absolutely beautiful this all is.

Beautiful marble table




The Great Soul…Mohatma Ghandi

From the platform of a certain mosque, in one direction you can see where all the Hindus live, a generally vegetarian eating, peaceful people guided by a spiritual way of life.  In the opposite direction, all the Muslims live, with stores selling live chickens and goats, with a people ruled by Allah and the Koran.  For centuries these two religious groups have lived in close proximity, never quite getting along.

Ghandi’s Last Residence

Mahatma Ghandi was one person who tried, for much of his life, to bring together people such as these to live in peace and harmony, protesting injustices through non-violence.

As he often did when he came to New Delhi, he stayed at the house of the Birla family, the second richest family in India at the time.  He conducted multi-faith  prayer meetings each morning and night, living in  simple room in the house.  He lived here his last 144 days.

Ghandi’s Room

Birla House Gardens…Ghandi’s last prayer meeting walk

The Muslims were tired of being ruled by Hindus.  They  wanted their own people to govern them.  Pakistan was given to the Muslims, and many moved there to be ruled by their own.   Many Muslims in India didn’t want to move to Pakistan.  Ghandi supported their right to stay in the country they knew and loved, even though they were Muslim.  This did not sit well with one right-winged Hindu nationalist named Godse, who thought Ghandi was continuing to appease the Muslims to the point where his blood was boiling and he could no longer tolerate Ghandi.  That evening, on the way to prayer, he shot Ghandi three times at point blank range.

The site where Ghandi was shot.

Because of such differing lifestyles, the battle goes on between the two, with divided territories still within this city.

Statue of Mohatma Ghandi

You probably know all of this already, but what an amazing life he led and even more amazing, to be standing in this place of history where this all happened.  Now I want to go and watch the Ben Kingsley movie Ghandi again..and Ben Kingsley’s really does look a lot like Ghandi.

New Delhi – The capital

First of all, let me just say, it is blistering hot here.  I think my iPhone says 95°. Our tour guide says it’s the cooler time of year, because it can get to 104°.  I can’t even imagine that.

Goodness, this country is crowded.  1.3 billion people live here, second to China as the most populated.  There are 23 million people living in New Delhi, the capital, the second most populated city in the world after Tokyo.

The crowded street in Chandni Chowk

What a coincidence to be in India today…it’s a national holiday – Mahatma Ghandi’s Birthday.  The good news is traffic is lighter than usual; the bad news is most museums, shops, and many businesses are closed.  Not to worry…still plenty of things to see.

India is 80% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 3% Sikhs, and 3% Christian.  Many of their buildings reflect the faiths that have dominated the region at different periods in their history.

Gurudwara Bangladesh Sahib – a Sikh house of worship

Purify yourself in the waters

A Sikh has five outwardly requirements to their dress – a turban, never cut their facial hair, always carry a special knife, wear a special underwear, and lastly, sport their bracelet.

Part of their faith is to give to others and not expect anything in return, so many volunteer in feeding those in need.  This place is in the Guinness Book of Records for feeding 30,000 – 50,000 people per day who come.  For many, it is their only meal each day.  I’m sure if you wanted to help out, they would welcome a dishwasher or two.

Cooking lentils

Making Naan

Feeding the Needy

Our next stop was to Qutb Minar Complex, a collection of buildings monuments that became the palace for the first Sultan of Delhi.  If was first a Hindu palace, but once taken over by the Muslims, any remnants of Hinduism was destroyed.  Such are the spoils of many religious wars, but amazingly, so much remains from 1100 AD.

Qutb Minar Complex

Intricate stone carvings on the cloister columns at Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque

Mineret detailing…all made of brick

Mosque column detailing

Intricate stone details



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