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08/06/2012

Spiti calling!

After six months of getting used to Delhi, the itch has started again and here I am, organizing the next trip...

This time I will go to... the Spiti Valley! Never heard about it? Normal! Not easy to organize a trip in India out of the touristic places. My father had found this lost paradise in the mountains, God knows how. A Valley apparently spared by the rain during monsoon (I insist on the “apparently” since D-5 before departure it is flooded and there are landslides (see here)) and easier to go to than Ladakh.

 

Not easy to organize a trip in Spiti valley. First it is not easy to access (you can enter it from Shimla or Manali). Only Shimla has an airport – but there is only one flight per day, and more importantly it is a Kingfisher flight and they are going bankrupt big time and there is always a good chance your flight is cancelled... And no train. So are left with a 8 hour car journey or a night bus! We will do both ;)

 

Then how to balance trek and car? How to choose between Spiti Spiti or Lahaul Spiti or Spiti Pine Valley or or... I made at least ten possible itineraries!

 

For more details come back at the end of August!

07/26/2012

Fatehpur Sikri

Last June, while monsoon was glooming, I went for my first outing since I have moved to Delhi. Fatehpur Sikri.

 

I was most interested in visiting this ghost town I had heard about!!

I have to say I was a bit disappointed as it is more of a palace, the kind you see a lot in Rajasthan, than a ghost town.

However I really liked the place, it was very big and hardly anyone was visiting it.

 

It is called a ghost city because it was inhabited for only 13 years (from 1572 to 1585) before being abandoned as water had dried out. I always thought one must be stupid to build a city on a dry place but water had actually been abundant there since pre-historic time…

 

Talking of water, I loved the master bedroom with the summer bed, on a platform 2 meters high; in summer time, they would fill the floor with water and rose water so that it would cool down and smell good!

 

Fatehpur Sikri was the “first planned city of the Mughals” and the residence of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (son of Humayun, grandson of Babur the first Mughal Emperor). He had “shifted his residence and court from Agra to Sikri to honour the Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti, who resided here (in a cavern on the ridge).”

 

So there are two parts to visit: the palace and the religious courtyard with the tomb of the saint which is super famous. It is said that if you go there, place a piece of cloth on the tomb, throw rose petals, make three wishes and tie a thread on the window, your wishes will come true. Legend has it that this is how Carla Bruni got her baby!!

 

Akbar was a great Emperor, illiterate but cultivated and ultra-tolerant. india,Fatehpur Sikri,Akbar,muslims,hindus,religion,ghost town,Saint Sufi Sheikh Salim Chishti

As his Muslim ancestors before him, he had to fight the Rajputs (Hindus), who were dangerous but not unified. “Make love not war”: Akbar married the daughter of a Rajput King (from Amber) – she was offered to him as her father was seeking protection of Akbar against his peers who wanted to take his throne. “Akbar followed the same feudal policy toward the other Rajput chiefs. They were allowed to hold their ancestral territories, provided that they acknowledged Akbar as emperor, paid tribute, supplied troops when required, and concluded a marriage alliance with him.”In total, Akbar had 36 wives of various ethnic and religious backgrounds.”

 

“Probably even more importantly to his ordinary subjects, Akbar repealed a special tax placed on Hindu pilgrims who visited sacred sites, and completely repealed the jizya, or yearly tax on non-Muslims. What he lost in revenue by these acts, he more than regained in good-will from the Hindu majority of his subjects.”

 

 

Fatehpur Sikri, UP - June 2012

 

 

Sources:

http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs_fatehpursikri.asp

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/11421/Akbar

http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/p/akbarthegreatbio.htm

02/06/2012

Sri Lanka

For Christmas, I “dragged” my parents to Sri Lanka.
It was easier for me with all the year end changes to be close to India…
I had never been, always hearing that it was just like South India.
Well…
Not really…
People don’t look at you weirdly. Waiters smile. Everyone is very relaxed. No one horns for no reason. Streets are clean.
Nature is really luxuriant, even more than in Kerala. The numbers of plants and animals you see is just amazing. Historical sites are well preserved.
Unfortunately I had no time to go to the beach but I will go back!!

Sri Lanka - Dec 2011