Category Archives: animals

Enduring the heat while touring the forts and palaces

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On Easter afternoon, we headed to the Agra Fort, also known as the Red Fort. The fort is a walled city from the 1500s.

   

The above right photo is of a bath tub! I remember this bathtub clearly from my visit 22 years ago.

     

Below, the fort was buttressed by not one, but two, moats. The first moat was filled with water and contained crocodiles. The second moat was dry and filled with lions and tigers and bears (oh my!)

  

The most famous part of the fort is the fated bedroom where Shah Jehan sat in house arrest for the last eight years of his life, imprisoned by his son, the current king. From his bedroom window, Shah coudl see the Taj Mahal that he had built for his wife.

  

  

The photo below, captures well the experience of both kiddos at the fort. Carson wrestled with Ducky the entire time and play acted various Shakespearean style fights complete with fake punches. Kaden and her camera kept on snapping.

 

And again, the highlight of the visit? A small, common animal. This time–feeding little striped chipmunks.

We were to stop at yet another location–the Baby Taj–but instead we thought the kids would be happier with a pit stop at McDonalds for french fries and chicken nuggets.

Then it was time to drive an hour to Fatehpur Sikri. During the drive in the car, the kids watched “It’s Easter, Charlie Brown!”

Our trip to Fatehpur Sikri was ill fated. First, a bus accident blocked the road. In the mid day heat, we had to walk past the accident, including this damaged sign, and then take tut tuts up the hill because our van could not get past the chaos.

We managed to fit 11 of us in the tut tut. Even during the drive, local kids would jump onto the back of the tut tut to try to sell things to us. The inside of this tut tut (what they call autorickshaws elsewhere in India), was very colorful.

  

Fatehpur Sikri reminds me of the story of the Three Little Pigs.  Sikriwal Rajput Rajas Last Emperor Maharana Sangram Singh (also known as Emperor Jahangir) had three wives. The first wife was Muslim and was  an arranged marriage. She had a little tiny house, shown through the arches below.  The second wife was Catholic. She was married for love and had a medium sized house. The third wife was Hindu and she was married to end a feud. She produced the son and thus had the biggest, fanciest house of all.

  

                    

  

  

     

From the seat where we are sitting (above), the king would play a game of parcheesi in which he use life women as as the pieces.

    

  

Above, right, is the parliament building where the king held court, high above the ground.

   

Above, one of my favorite shots. Indians area always asking to get their pictures taken with us white folk. Here is one of my favorite ones of my friend’s dad. Above, right, some earring decorations on the vegetarian kitchen of the fanciest wife.

As interesting as all of this was, it was hot. Very, very hot. The little kids and the grandparents were wilting. Plus, the vendors were very, very aggressive here. To get from this palace area to the Muslim mosque we were totally surrounded by people. Sadly, this is as much of the mosque as we saw. It was too hot that day and too oppressive, in terms of vendors as much as the temperature. We needed a place to get a cold drink and recharge. But nothing nearby. So it was time to move on to Jaipur.

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Lions, Bengal Tigers, and Sloth Bears, Oh My

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Today was zoo day at Bannerghata National Park. We packed up the van and headed south, early on a Sunday morning. The park is south of town; we live north of town. Usually that is a two hour crawl through traffic, but leaving by 9 on A Sunday morning and we drove through a shuttered downtown without even slowing down. Bliss.

We stopped at the Indian Institute of Management to pick up our friends Rahul, Sharmila, and Ria.

With eight of us packed into a minivan that sits seven, we made our way to the zoo.  The Bannerghatta park is a part of the cluster of parks that includes the Kabini Lodge where we took our safari and the Dubare Elephant Camp where we bathed and fed the elephants. But this place is more of a traditional zoo.

We began our adventure with the Grand Safari tour.  The queuing was the most organized that I Have seen in India. Shaded, orderly, no pushing or shoving. It felt strange, actually. We boarded the bus and set off.

The animals are not wild in this park, but they live in vast natural habitats on the safari. The bus is covered in grating and you enter and exit different areas of the forest through big double gates that keep the animals in their respective ares00the bear area, the tiger area, and so on.

  

While they have houses and are fed regularly, I was amazed at just how close these buses got to the animals. We had remarkably up close and personal views of animals that we saw from very far away on Safari, including:

Very adorable sloth bears


Bengal tigers

White tigers. This male looked through a dividing fence….

To his love…..

And my personal favorite, the lions. This lion was lying across the road that we had to travel.  It refused to move until the bumper of the bus gently nudged it along. I did not cropping of this photo—we were truly this close.

After our adventurous safari ride we visited the butterfly building. While the room did not have as many butterflies as expected, we enjoyed the beautiful architecture.

  

The kids had even more fun climbing a mango tree and picking its sweet fruit outside of the building.

We got just as delighted by the wild monkeys as all of this big lions and tigers and bears! They are so funny.

  

  

Then we headed off to have a delicious pizza, pasta and salad lunch.

 

Penn State faculty take on Bangalore!

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Kim and Leticia, my friend/fellow professors at Penn State joined me here in Bangalore for a business/sightseeing trip. They  planned their trip in India to last only SIX days due to commitments back home. Quite a whirlwind tour.   They arrived at 2:30 in the morning.  They met the kids when they awoke for school and then bravely joined me in my yoga class by 9 a.m. Then we headed off to see some B’Lore sights. First stop: Nandi the Bull

Kim and Leti got blessings from the Hindu priest at the Nandi statue

  

We also visited the Ganesh that is supposedly made out of Ghee (butter). But I swear it looked like stone to us.

  

Then I showed them the bats in the nearby park! Flying foxes!

Kim and Leti had the misfortune of being here on the day that my driver situation self destructed. After Nandi the Bull we were to visit Tipu’s Fort and Tipu’s Palace. But  instead, the driver started heading to the other side of town. We gave up on the sightseeing and decided to head to the Taj West End for a delicious buffet lunch at Mynt. Below are two photos from the Taj Grounds.

We then set out to do a bit of shopping. But the driver got lost again heading to Commercial Street–one of the biggest landmarks of Bangalore. We just had time to stop in at our favorite bedspread store.

Back home we spent some quality time with the two new additions to our neighborhood–a one month old Golden Retriever puppy named Angel

And  a three month old Golden puppy named Flash!  We love them both. But quite the different personalities–a newborn and a mischievous toddler!

   

Kaden’s lens

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It has been fascinating to see what Kaden finds interesting in our travels in India. Here are some of my favorite shots that she has taken so far.

Swimming pool at the Lemon Tree--our home for the first 10 days

Dada waiting for Rafiq the driver at the Lemon Tree

Ice cream at Baskin and Robbins. One of her most favorite places. She especially likes Cotton Candy, Banana and Strawberry, Cupid's Delight

Playground at Cubbon Park

    

Majarajah's Palace in Mysore

   

More scenes of Mysore

Colors at the Devraj Market in Mysore

  

Goa

  

Baby Caur in Rajiv Ghandhi National Park on safari

  

Hammock outside of our villa in Goa

Favorite snacks

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I have discovered Chat. Love it. Chats and Sweets is a common sign that you see on roadside corner. Chats are more savory snacks, like samosas, fried foots, and the chaat that I like which is Bhel Puri. I hadn’t had any before because I can’t eat at those roadside stands without fear of getting sick. But I visited my friend Meena’s apartment after yoga last week and she had her cook mix up some Chai and Chaat for us. It was delicious. You throw all of the grains and sauces from the mix together with tomatoes, cilantro, and red onion. I made it last night and Todd and I had so much, we just called it dinner for the night!

   

We are also such a huge fan of the mint chutney that we are putting on everything these days. Here’s a slice of Sbarro pizza that Todd got at the Mantri Mall the other day–and he smothered it with chutney!

Kaden has not added many (any?) foods to her repertoire here. In this photo she is giving thanks to the portable packets of Heinz ketchup that we bring when we travel. Heinz ketchup is a way we can get her to eat rice. We took this photo because we are thinking of sending it to Heinz as a testimonial of her loyalty to the product!

The kids and I are also starting our list of foods we will miss when we leave. For me these will include mint chutney, murgh chicken on the tandoor, fresh naan, and the drink “fresh lime soda sweet.” And I will miss getting served Chai absolutely everywhere. In china cups at fancy restaurants, in little tin cups at schools, in paper cups by shop keepers. Always with steamed milk and sugar. Bliss. Below is chai served in a paper cup with “high tea” at the water park!

Kaden will miss the frozen hash browns and Baskin and Robbins Ice Cream. Carson will miss the fresh lime as well.

And foods we can’t wait to eat when we get back:

Kaden: frozen buttermilk pancakes

Carson: Pretzels

Me:  medium rare steak salad with feta cheese, balsalmic vinegar and spring greens

Todd:  hot beef from Maple Restaurant in Ambridge

We also have agreed that our first restaurant stop will be the Waffle Shop, unless we go to get ice cream first. We are undecided if we would go to the Creamery or Meyer Dairy first.

In other very random news, our apartment community put together a testimonial about the place and we are featured in it. (click to see link)  I was a captive audience in the swimming pool–hard to say no. I am thus sporting my oh-so-fashionable swimming outfit. My yoga friends say I should start wearing my one piece suit. People will stare anyway. Might as well be comfortable. Apparently everyone here also always wears a swim cap to swim.  I’m just not willing to go there!

And lastly, I am falling in love with some of the street dogs. Really want to take one home with me. Seriously. But apparently they are almost impossible to train. If you live on the street, you survive if you are independent and strong willed I guess!

Heading for the hills

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Todd and I headed up to  Nandi Hills to do some hiking. Or at least we thought we would be hiking. Instead it was more of a set of things to walk about and see on the top of a mountain.  Nandi Hills was a fort  developed by Chief Chickbalapur. Then Tipu Sultan and Haider add more fortification after taking the area from Madhava Rao of the Marathas in 1770.  They only had it for four years when Lord Cornwalis of the British Army seized it in 1774. The British used the area as a hill resort for British officers until independence in the 1940s.

This structure was Tipu Sultan’s hunting lodge.

     

Up on top, we saw some gardens.

   

  

And walked the perimeter of the hill where we found large and small temples.

    

This Nandi temple had little blessings tied to the tree outside including lots of candy wrappers and woman’s bangles. They reminded me of the wishes tied to trees in Japan.

    

The area is overrun with monkeys. Some are adorable, others are very pesky. Indians look at us strangely when we make such a  fuss over the monkeys. I think they view them as rats or some other sort of pest. We watched one set of monkeys try to hijack a closed refreshment stand. One makey was trying to open a refridgerated case. The other was tearing open a tarp and reaching its little arm in to get candy. And then a third was opening the faucet of a water spigot to get a drink. Crazy monkeys.

We ended our adventure with some delicious tandor lunch at the Royal Orchid, Yelahanka.