Incredible India: A Country of Contrast

by JM on April 20, 2015 ·

in Travel

My trip to India was rather unplanned. I went there with little knowledge of the country I ttrm visiting; blame it on my busy work life. However, I feel like a little ignorance provides a huge amount of excitement as you tread on a foreign land and be amazed at your utter lack of knowledge of the area albeit common among travelers. This is not recommended on all types of travels though. I was just lucky to have a companion who takes care of those boring stuff  LOL.

India is a picture of contrast in all aspects of life including cultural, financial, and spiritual. Flora and fauna is so diverse as it spans across great longitude and latitude in the world’s map. For an ordinary tourist, this country can be super overwhelming. My 9 day trip is never sufficient for me to come up with a definitive description of what this amazing country is about but what I will share with you are some of the beautiful aspects of this country and debunk on the some of the ridiculous misconceptions most people have about this country of 1.2 billion people.

The Golden Triangle Tour

New Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra make up for the popular Golden Triangle Tour in India. India is a “perfect mix of the old and the new” and just like many other countries, it both has its strengths and flaws as no single country is perfect.

I will write three blogposts with each dedicated to New Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. For the meantime, here are some of the most amazing places you will visit when you take this tour. I’ve created several albums in my Facebook Page so you can check out my India photos with better picture resolution.

New Delhi

Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar, New Delhi

Qutb Minar, New Delhi

India Gate

India Gate, New Delhi

Jaipur

Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds

Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds)

Galtaji, the monkey temple

Galtaji the monkey temple, Jaipur

Agra

The Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Misconceptions About India

  • Is it dirty? I am surprised to see that India isn’t what is shown on the television. The media is to blame whenever something so bad is portrayed on the television and the good part is left unrevealed. I think it’s dusty but not dirty. There are areas that are littered with garbage but every country in the world suffers from that same problem, not just in India. The Philippines, France, the US, Spain, Thailand, Indonesia suffer from it, too, and not single country is spared especially in big cities.
  • Are the trains awfully crowded just like what the media usually  show on TV? There are local trains that service commuters who are visiting far villages in India and while India has a highly connected train system, it cannot accommodate all of its people with its huge population of more than 1.2 billion people…and still growing! Soon enough it will become one of those countries with a young population just like in the Philippines. Too much kama sutra readings :-D. The roads in India are well paved and their train system is highly interconnected, affordable, and very efficient, too.
  • Do they stink? This has been perhaps the most frequent question I get from people who have been following my travels. For me, it’s normal to attribute a particular smell or odor to a particular race because I believe that every race has that “unique smell” based on the food they eat and the weather but what is not right and inaccurate is to classify that a particular race stinks. Mind you, even some citizens of affluent nations in the west who have access to modern personal hygiene products smell terrible, too, so no single nation has a monopoly on stench LOL. Well, let me explain this further. Food is one factor why Indians have this strong and distinct smell. I experienced this when I was in Sri Lanka last year. My sweat have become so strong and I started having that distinctive smell after days of eating curry meals. The same is true in India where almost all kinds of food are cooked with curry and masala. My body odor normalizes again when I returned to PH and started eating the local food I normally eat. A Chinese friend of mine commented that Filipinos smell like fish. This might be legit because we are surrounded by bodies of water and one staple food in the Philippines is fish. So that makes perfect sense. We just don’t know it because we are somehow “immune” to our own smell so we don’t bother. Those who stink are probably the ones who cannot afford to buy personal hygiene products or those who refuse to use them for personal reasons which is true to all races of this planet. I went on a train ride in New Delhi and was surprised that I hardly smell anyone who stink. You may not believe it but you got to be there to find out for yourself. Some would say that I only stayed in fancy places in India that’s why I didn’t get to encounter the smelly ones. I mean, seriously? People who say these things are the ones who haven’t travelled extensively. There are many affluent families in India and that’s evident in the manner they speak and the clothes they wear.
  • Is it safe to walk around? If you follow the general rule on travels like don’t walk alone in a not-well-lighted street or seedier areas especially at night or don’t make yourself stand out “so much” from the crowd by wearing expensive jewelries or bringing gadgets or an expensive camera slung around your neck, you will be fine. I didn’t show it in my picture gallery but I also went to their local market similar to our Divisoria in the Philippines and it feels just OK. It’s part of the overall experience when traveling.

India lived up to its tourism slogan “Incredible India” as it highlights both the old and new and its potential to become one of the world’s superpower with its talented people and wonderful past. The culture is unique and diverse peppered with UNESCO heritage sites that are truly awe-inspiring. India is worth the visit!

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Sometimes when we think of urban planning, we think about the huge city complex built in modern metropolis. We thought it’s something that was recently invented or a knowledge that has recently come about.

During the reign of King Kashyapa I of Anuradhapura of Sri Lanka from 477 – 495 CE, he built a massive palace on top of the huge column of rock in Sigiriya, the Lion’s Rock. Halfway up that rock is a huge lion paws sculpture carved from the very stone of that stone-mountain. Historians claim though that it used to be an entire lion figure but now only the paws remained intact due to wear and tear and other factors.

On the way to the ancient palace, monkeys line up to greet the visitors.

Monkeys in Sigirya, Sri Lanka

The gardens

Before getting to that rock, you’ll be greeted with water gardens and huge boulder systems made in perfect symmetry. While this may not be obvious as you saunter through the gardens, you’ll see this clearly when you’re on the rock, on the metal winding staircase leading to the plateau. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful site of the water and boulder gardens once you’re there.

According to my readings, all the pools are all connected by an amazing array of underground aqueduct system that conveys water from one pool to another [and some leading to the lake] which function until today. Guides told us that the pools look amazing when they’re filled with water especially during the rainy season. Too bad the pools are dry when we were there.

It’s as if the gardens serve as a means to guide visitors and its inhabitants to the grand palace on top of the rock. It’s as if anyone on the rock gives them dominion over everything they see below. The symmetry and design of the garden reverberate a sweet poetry that only a king would understand.

Sigirya, Sri Lanka

The Rock Palace

The path towards the top is full of historical artifacts and ancient cave paintings. These ancient frescoes are lovely in person. Legends say that these apsara dancers are wives of the kings or servants and somehow depict ancient ritual or just a day-to-day activities of the king’s concubines during that time. An iron platform is provided so that visitors could check out these beautiful ancient paintings. Check out some of the pictures below.

The iron staircase leading to the apsara paintings as well as the plateau where the lion paws would immediately make you feel dizzy. I hardly even able to go up because of that because I’m afraid of heights. A little push would do the trick lol. Take a look at some of the pictures I took there.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Beautiful rock paintings depicting apsara dancers, singers.

apsara dancers sigiriya sri lanka

What perhaps left of the huge lion figure in this amazing fortress.

lions paws sigiriya sri lanka

Here’s how it looks like at the top. The ruins at the summit.

on top of sigiriya sri lanka

Sigiriya is a perfect example of a sound urban planning and reflects just how little most cities have implemented what our ancestors in the past have accomplished. This UNESCO World Heritage site is worth the visit!

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