Rajasthani Heritage

 

Amer or Amber Fort just north of Jaipur in India, is a splendid fortress on Cheel Ka Teela, the hill of eagles.

The fort was built by ‘Raja Shri Maan Singh JI Saheb’ (Maan Singh 1), from 1550 to 1614, from red and white sandstone. The palace can be approached by taking an elephant ride up the ramparts, but this wasn’t for me, because I love elephants.

Palace entrance

Amer has a mix of Rajput and Mughal influences and there is much to see.

Sheesh Mahal

It’s best known for the Sheesh Mahal, Hall of mirrors, a sight I’ve never forgot.

One of the stunning views from the palace’

Garden on the lake

Amer is hugely popular for tourists, and a World Heritage Site, said to be the most beautiful palace in India. Don’t miss it if you go to Rajasthan!

 

 

 

 

 

What is danger?

We each have our own perception of danger don’t we? I have no fear of heights, but having been bitten by a spider I find them dangerous. I’ve been in a huge bat cave in Borneo, but because it was a climb up inside,  saw no danger.

Now, put me in a dark hole in the ground, that’s my idea of danger. Being enclosed like that is scary, really grim. But I did it anyway, some fears are meant to be conquered aren’t they?

 

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But I won’t be going down a lava tube again!

 

Wanderlust

I’ve always had a wanderlust, from my early teens when I’d hitch hike to the beach, or even walk the ten miles to Exmouth. But it was many years before I was able to really indulge myself. One of my favourite places so far is Ghana, the country of smiles, I’d love to go back.

Cape Coast, three hours west of Accra is a lovely place with miles of beautiful beach,

Cape Coast

The sea is rough and you’d have to be a far better swimmer than I to venture in.


Much better to sit and enjoy the view of Elmina across the bay. Elmina is peaceful now, but has a horrid history, it was one of the places where slaves were sent, before leaving their homeland forever.

Cape Coast fishing port

The port was very lively, I could have spent hours there. But we had to travel on,

Chocolate trees

There were cocoa pods to see, and taste the inside of!

Volta

Maybe three hundred miles north of the coast, Lake Volta stretches a vast distance. From Yeji, the crossing is quote short, but the hour or so it takes can be rough and the lake has taken many lives. When I went, the water was flat, and the air was scorching -n Volta is just a few degrees north of the equator, and very silent.

These homes are on a sandbank, and at risk of being flooded. I wonder if they’re still there, maybe Celestine will know?

Black and White Sunday

The them for Paula’s black and white Sunday this week is ‘through’. The possibilities are endless aren’t they? I love taking photos through garden gates and out of windows, but the view also has to work in monochrome. Hence, I’ve chosen a building, not any old building but Chichester cathedral.

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So there we are, a view through the cloisters, up through the vaults, through a pretty gate and through from outside to in.

As dense as granite

Dartmoor granite was used to build the old London Bridge, the one that’s now a tourist attraction somewhere in the Arizona desert. Luckily there’s still plenty left to scramble on, and take photos of!

This is Bonehill Rocks, a couple of miles from Haytor. I went at the weekend, and had a bit of  scramble myself. In fact I had to bump my way down on my derriere, holding on to absolutely nothing except my breathe.

Do you think granite is dense enough for the weekly photo challenge?

Castelling, a human tower

Castelling is an ancient Catalan tradition, first documented in the early 1800’s, it began in Tarragona, but has since spread throughout Catalonia. I first saw it courtesy of the pink trousered one, Michael Portillo, in one of his tv programmes, to which I am addicted. As I was in Barcelona for ‘The Dia’ last September, I knew there was a fair chance of seeing it.

The Centre for Cultura i Memoria in El Born was one of the places it could be seen, the one that was easy to find, and close to a favourite little café!

After a croissant filled with coffee flavoured mascarpone, it was time to go out into the Placa Comercial,

Where preparations were underway.

And then it began.

In the background, you can see the first layer climb on the shoulders of the base level, or Pinya as it’s known. The Pinya is wide and formed by the strongest of the group, to make a base that can support the weight of the rest and be a safety net should anyone fall.

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Several more layers are added, the Tronc, and finally, the littlest one scrambles atop, zoom in to see her nearly there, but I didn’t capture her with the camera, I was too entranced!

Once there, she gives a very quick wave, the crowd cheer and she’s back down the six layers beneath her, in just a few moments. Three troups performed that day, in competition, and each time I saw the wave, but my camera didn’t.

Rani Sati

October 2005, I find myself in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. It’s early evening and I’ve just had one of the most moving experiences of my life. The elderly lady in the photo below has hugged me, put a red bindi on my forehead, and entered the temple I’ve just left.

I’d seen an Aarti ceremony in the Rani Sati temple, after  the congregation offered puja. The temple is at least four hundred years old and was built in memory of Narayani Bai who self emolliated and became Sati Ji.

The ceremony was incredibly loud, with drums and bells reverberating through every cell in my body. Water was sprinkled around, some of the crowd ran heir hands through flames, before circling the central shrine. We were welcome to take part but there were no expectations. Caught up in the atmosphere and the heady incense, I followed, with thoughts of Rani Sati, who was beloved to be an incarnation of the goddess Durga, running through my mind.

I have no words to describe the feelings, my journal that day had a line, ‘if I have to go home tomorrow, then it’s okay because I’ve had the experience of a lifetime’.

This post is for Paula’s Traces of the Past.

 

In Hope, a poem for Thursday

This Thursday instead of Lazy Poet, I’m re-posting a poem I wrote a few years ago, for International Women’s Day. Yes I know that was yesterday, but you know me by now, the other week that I got the day wrong for wordless Wednesday, and the syllable count wrong for LP!

In Hope

Cast aside your veil

Turn your face to the sun

Gather round the hearth

Your work today is done

Your sisters draw near

Feet planted to earth

They no longer fear

The lone walk on the trail

Your children breathe free

The mountains clear air

Well nourished with plenty

And wind blown away care

Your abundance is here

Take love in your stride

Future perfect and clear

Go forward with pride

Cast aside your veil

And no longer hide

Black and White Sunday, Countryside

The Otter estuary in the East Devon AONB has long been a favourite place of mine. If you park at Budleigh Salterton you can walk along the river up to Otterton, grab a pub lunch, visit a gallery and mill, then walk back down again. The last time I was there, I was too ill to walk very far at all, just far enough to snap a couple of photos.

The clouds performed rather well for a monochrome image, so I hope Paula will like it.