Well, like a character from a 1970s sitcom, I’m now going to inflict my holiday pictures on you.
However, as they’re not only my holiday, but the rather belated honeymoon of myself and Mrs S, and furthermore they include a total eclipse of the Sun in addition to lots of other sights in India, I hope you’ll indulge me… and if not, well, this shameless use of bandwidth will be over by Monday. Honest.
Okay, so we started off in Delhi, where they have a long tradition of blowing into a Butternut Squash to charm cobras:
But seriously ladies and gents, one thing which came over very strongly was just how strongly interwoven religious belief is with Indian life – as you can see from the following, which we spotted on the landing in our hotel:
No vase of flowers in the Hotel Gautam in Delhi, they instead have a statue of the deity Ganesh. Newly adorned with flowers and saffron too – Ganesh is the god to whom you traditionally make requests and/or offerings at the start of an endeavour, so I like to think that the hotel had started the day off by freshening up the accoutrements around Ganesh.
After a day or two looking at temples in Delhi, we moved on to Agra, where you can see the Taj Mahal (as evinced in this post). The thing about the Taj Mahal is, it was built by the Shah Jahan as a monument to the memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, but he was never actually able to set foot in it while he was alive; his third-eldest son, keen to become king, killed his elder siblings and imprisoned his father in a fort in Agra. No, I know, not the most persuasive approach to get Dad to let you take over the family business, and just to make it even worse, the rogue son imprisoned Shah Jahan where he could see the Taj Mahal being completed – here’s the view from Shah Jahan’s quarters in the Agra Fort:
After Agra, we travelled by overnight sleeper train (mercifully air conditioned – I haven’t mentioned it, but apart from the occasional bursts of monsoon-style rain, it was very hot) to Varanasi, the holy city on the Ganges where we planned to watch the eclipse – a full solar eclipse was predicted for 22 July, with five minutes or so of totality. One of the best for the next hundred years or so, they suggested… and on that almost cliffhangery notes of built anticipation, I’ll leave you.
Second and final part of this brief summary tomorrow.!