Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Traveling across the Indian countryside

Monday was mostly a day of travel for us with a stop or two mixed in throughtout the day.

Our day started out with a 3-hour train ride to Jhansi. This is our second train ride of the trip and it went a little smoother than the first one. Our first train ride out of Ranthambore was hectic since we didn't know what to expect and only had 2 minutes to get all 29 of us onto the train and settled. This time, the train stopped in Agra for 5 minutes which made it a much more relaxed and less stressful boarding experience. While the u train seems similar to the first one, this one offers a bottle of water that is actually safe to drink, and food we could eat. I didn't bother with the food.  Our first train ride was also stressful bc we almost didn't get everyone off the train. It started moving, but our guide managed to get them to stop the train so they could get off.

From Jhansi, we drove to Orchha for lunch to see the temples there. It is very warm in Orchha bc it is built on a granite plate.  However, before we went to the temples, there were these memorials built by the families by our lunch stop. They weren't mausoleums bc Hindus are creamated, not buried, but they were just large bldgs to remember their loved ones. I took some time taking pictures, finding a group of women gathering by the river, either getting ready to do laundry or having just completed. A number of locals were fascinated by me and wanted a picture, even though I totally looked like crap, its the whole light skin concept.

We finally went to the palaces which are some of the few that have not been destroyed.  Raja means King so this is the kings palace. The palace has painting on some of the ceilings and walls that from 500 years ago. The queen's bedroom has a 360 degree painting of the reincarnation of
vishnu on the ceiling and walls. Jahangi palace has indo-Muslim architecture. Ceramic tile bldg was women's palace.  

After leaving Orchha, we talked with Piyush a bit about Hinduism and inter-denominational marriage in India. Apparently, one can't convert to Hinduism, but can only be born into it. We then asked what happens to children of interdenominational.marriages, so a Hindu and Muslim union or even a Hindu and Jewish union. Piyush said that the children of those marriages would not be considered or accepted as Hindu bc they were not born to 2 Hindu patents. However, nowadays people are becoming little more accepting. It sounds similar to the ideas that you aren't Jewish unless your mother is Jewish.

After a long 5-hour drive, we made it to khajuraho for the evening.

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