When my friend Emera told me that she was going to take a class on South Asia in the spring of 2003, I didn't realize that it would eventually lead her to (1) meet the boy of her dreams, (2) take up Hindi language training, (3) enroll in Syracuse's Anthropology department to get her PhD, (4) travel to India to continue Hindi training, (5) marry the boy of her dreams, and (6) move to India to lead a study-abroad program and to do her dissertation research. But by the time she reached step (3), I was getting the idea that there might be a trip to India in my future. When Emera and Ian both received funding to work on their respective research projects, Emera called in all of her friend chips and made me promise to come visit them in India. So last fall, I began searching for airline tickets, researching places to visit in India's Golden Triangle Region, and preparing for what I knew would be a trip like no other I had taken before.
The trip itself was absolutely awesome - in the true sense of inspiring awe. After seeing the forts, tombs, cities, and people of India, I am still struggling to capture and sort through all of the myriad emotions and experiences through which I and my trip passed - so I won't try to do that yet, except to encourage anyone who has ever entertained the thought of traveling to India to follow through with that idea. Emera and Ian were wonderful guides, and I cannot thank them enough for inviting me to come visit them and taking some time away from their research to travel with me.
Although I am still working out how to describe my trip in words, pictures are a little easier. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, I've got about 400,000 words contained in the photo albums below. I'm also putting together a slide show of photos, short stories, and bits of history that I will be showing at work next week, and if possible I will post that once it is complete. [3/29/08 update: the file is quite large (~74 MB), so I haven't figured out a good way to post it - if anyone has ideas, please let me know!]
For now, please enjoy the following. [5/23/08 update: the links below now direct to my Picasa page]
Delhi (February 17-19): Lodi Gardens, India Gate, Rajpath, Jami Masjid, Humayun's Tomb, and Purana Qila
Jaipur (February 20-21): a wedding party, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, City Palace, and good food
Sawai Madhopur (February 22-23): on the train, Ranthambore Fort & National Park
Bharatpur, Deeg, and Mathura (February 24-26): Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Deeg Water Palace, and Mathura
Agra, Day 1 (February 27): Fatehpur Sikri and Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb
Agra, Day 2, Part 1 (February 28): Taj Mahal
Agra, Day 2, Part 2 (February 28): Agra Fort
At the Sites (all days): Lest you think I just stole these photos from other people and didn't actually visit India - me, Emera, and Ian touring the sites
I am already starting to think about how I might get myself back to the subcontinent to do further traveling, perhaps up to the hill stations of Shimla and Musoorie in the Himalayan foothills, or to the banks of the Ganga at Varanasi, or to cities further south - Mumbai or Pondicherry. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in traveling to India and would like to talk a bit more about the planning, costs, and other elements that went into the trip (or if you are in search of a traveling partner!), please do not hesitate to drop me a note.
Finally, if you would like to read more about India, I'd suggest the following:
- Emera and Ian's blog, The Wilsons go to India - Emera has an overview of my visit, as well as other adventures she and Ian have had since arriving in August.
- Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur (Eyewitness Travel Guides) - the guidebook I used, and which I wholeheartedly recommend, even for the armchair traveler (there are color photos, illustrations, and maps galore).
- Travelers' Tales India: True Stories - I started this book on the plane and continued reading while traveling with Emera and Ian. The selections are both entertaining and informative, and we even found a few recommendations for places to eat and visit within the stories.