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India 2004

The Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh - 16 November 2004
It doesn't matter how many pictures of the Taj Mahal you've seen, when you're in its presence you are humbled. It's massive..., solid..., yet somehow light and airy at the same time. It doesn't matter whether you're religous or not (or what your religion is), when you're in its presence you know you walk on holy ground. You feel it. We spent most of the morning strolling around the gardens and on the enormous square terrace surrounding the main tomb enjoying its spaciousness, tranquility, and its elegant craft.
Kochi streets and markets link Markets and Streets of Kochi , Kerala - 24-25 November 2004
We arrived in Kochi and wandered around on our own the first afternoon. We also saw various markets as we had our guided tour the next morning.
Chinese Fishing Nets link Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Cochin, Kerala - 25 November 2004
The fishing nets are a working attraction on the historic peninsula of Fort Cochin, part of recently renamed Kochi. The fishermen operate the nets, and nearby tents of restauranteurs provide a place to eat fresh fish dinners. A food seller tried to persuade us to have a fish lunch at 10 in the morning, but we declined. We picked our way over the seaweed-covered shore to watch the men and their graceful cantilevered nets.
Churches and Synagogues link Churches and Synagogues, Kochi, Kerala - 25 November 2004
Kerala has more Christian demoninations in evidence than other parts of India we visited, as well as an ancient Jewish tradition. Our tour included the historic churches and synagogues. We also visited the Mattancherry Palace, but no pictures were allowed.
Kathakali link Kathakali Classical Dance of Kerala - 24&27 November 2004
Kathakali is a Keralan classical dance form that combines pantomime, codified gestures and facial expressions that convey specific meaning, and elaborate costumes to tell stories from the great Hindu epics. We attended performances in Kochi and Kumily, near Periyar.
The village of Munnar and a Hindu festival, Kerala - 26 November 2004
By chance, the day we were staying in Munnar was a festival day to celebrate Skanda Sashti. "This is the day on which the Hindu god Lord Subramanya defeated the demon Taraka. Festivals are held on this day with great pomp and grandeur. Perhaps the most potent rite that a devotee of Subramanya undertakes to perform is what is known as the Kavadi. The benefits that the devotee gains from offering a Kavadi to the Lord are a millionfold greater than the little pain that he inflicts upon himself." Much of the text describing the photos was taken from HINDU FASTS & FESTIVALS written by SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA. Some of these photos show body-piercing and are probably not for the squeamish.
Munnar Scenery link Scenery around Munnar, Kerala - 25-26 November 2004
We saw lots of great scenery as we drove from the flat lowlands of the coast to the hill station of Munnar. We visited Eravikulam National Park the next morning for some of the most beautiful green mountain landscapes in the world. There is not much that is in a truly wild state, because people have lived and farmed in these hills for millenia. Most of the foothills are covered with tea, but there are forests too and room for the endangered Nilgiri tahr in the park.
Tea, Spices & Wildlife in Periyar link Tea, Spices and Wildlife, Periyar, Kerala - 27-28 November 2004
We drove to the mid-elevation Periyar Wildlife Refuge and saw a tea factory and a spice garden near Thekkady. In Periyar, we save big game from the tour boat and trekked in the forest with an excellent birding guide.
Kerala Backwaters link Backwaters, Alleppy, Kerala - 28-30 November 2004
We drove from the rugged highlands to the very flat coastal plain of Kerala. Interlaced with natural and manmade waterways, the area is known as the Backwaters. Outside the towns, boats are the most important part of the transportation system. We spent a day on a houseboat, which is a typical tourist thing to do.


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