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India

Ramthambore and Jaipur

sunny 78 °F

This morning we did our third total and second 0700 safari in search of the tiger. This is what you do bounce around on a safari vehicle and stare at the countryside, which today was wonderful. Sightings are actually pretty rare. We encountered one of the trackers the government employs and he had seem some prints, but no tigers. However we did manage to see a Sloth Bear. The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) is an insectivorous bear species native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, mainly because of habitat loss and degradation. It has also been called labiated bear because of its long lower lip and palate used for sucking insects. Compared to brown and black bears, the sloth bear is lankier, has a long, shaggy fur and a mane around the face, and long, sickle-shaped claws. It evolved from the ancestral brown bear during the Pleistocene and through convergent evolution shares features found in insect-eating mammals. All in all between the leopard and the bear, we saw two animals that are sighted far less frequently than tigers.

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After a breakfast and a shower, we left for Jaipur, about 4 hours away, and arrived at the hotel at about 1600. It is along side the lake, and Globus booked us into lake side rooms, which have a small balcony.

This evening we went inside the Pink City for dinner at a Noble family's house, who host lunches and dinners to help maintain the residence. The family has owned the house since the 1700's. We also had a quick demonstration of Turban and Sari tying. It was a wonderful evening.

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Posted by rpickett 04:06 Archived in India Tagged and jaipur ranthambore Comments (0)

India

Ranthambhore

sunny 72 °F

Today we had a wake up call for 0600 so we could get underway for our first safari in the Park starting at 0700. It was chilly. By the time we started our second safari at 1400, the temperature was in the 70's. The quest is to find the elusive Bengal tiger. There are 60 in the park, and the naturalist said that the numbers of tigers in India is growing nation wide. Though we didn't see a Bengal, we did see a leopard on the prowl. This is a very rare sighting during the day time, so we were very fortunate. Safari in Northern India is not for the faint of heart. Off roading on steroids, and tons of dust as this is the dry season. The park actually closes down during the monsoon in July. Too much water and mud. There are 10 tracks in the park and we are doing three different ones. Entry is strictly controlled by the government.

Ranthambhore is a national park in northern India, covering 392 kmĀ². Ranthambhore was established as the Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary in 1955 by the Government of India and was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973. Ranthambhore became a national park in 1980. In 1984, the adjacent forests were declared the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and Keladevi Sanctuary, and in 1991 the tiger reserve was enlarged to include the Sawai Man Singh and Keladevi sanctuaries. Ranthambhore wildlife sanctuary is known for its Bengal tigers, and is a popular place in India to see these animals in their natural jungle habitat. Tigers can be easily spotted even in the daytime. The best times for tiger sightings at Ranthambhore National Park are deemed to be in November and May. The park's deciduous forests are characteristic examples of the type of jungle found in Central India. Other fauna include the Indian leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, southern plains gray langur, rhesus macaque, mugger crocodile and chital. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles, as well as one of the largest banyan trees in India.

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Posted by rpickett 05:15 Archived in India Tagged ranthambore Comments (0)

India

Agra

sunny 70 °F

We started our day today with a horse-drawn carriage ride to a marble shop, where we saw how some exceptionally intricate marble creations were made. The craftsmen were truly remarkable.

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We then headed south to visit Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is a town in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh, India. The city itself was founded as the capital of Mughal Empire in 1571 by Emperor Akbar, serving this role from 1571 to 1585, when Akbar abandoned it due to a campaign in Punjab and was later completely abandoned in 1610. The name of the city derives from the village called Sikri which occupied the spot before. An Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavation from 1999-2000 indicated that there was a habitation, temples and commercial centres here before Akbar built his capital. It was also a much-loved place of Babur who called it Shukri for its lake of water needed for his armies. He used it for relaxation and also defeated Rana Sanga on its outskirts. The khanqah of Sheikh Salim existed earlier at this place. Akbar's son Jahangir was born at the village of Sikri in 1569 and that year Akbar began construction of a religious compound to commemorate the Sheikh who had predicted the birth. After Jahangir's second birthday, he began the construction of a walled city and imperial palace here. The city came to be known as Fatehpur Sikri, the "City of Victory", after Akbar's victorious Gujarat campaign in 1573. After occupying Agra in 1803, the English established an administrative center here and it remained so until 1850. In 1815, the Marquess of Hastings ordered repairment of monuments at Sikri.

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It was then off to the train station for our 3 hour ride to Rathembore.

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Posted by rpickett 23:22 Archived in India Tagged agra Comments (0)

India

Agra

sunny 69 °F

After the Taj Mahal, we boarded tuk tuks a and headed to the Agra Fort. After the First Battle of Panipat in 1526, Babur stayed in the fort, in the palace of Ibrahim Lodi. He later built a baoli (step well) in it. His successor, Humayun, was crowned in the fort in 1530. He was defeated at Bilgram in 1540 by Sher Shah Suri. The fort remained with the Suris till 1555, when Humayun recaptured it. Adil Shah Suri's general, Hemu, recaptured Agra in 1556 and pursued its fleeing governor to Delhi where he met the Mughals in the Battle of Tughlaqabad. Realising the importance of its central situation, Akbar made it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. His historian, Abul Fazl, recorded that this was a brick fort known as 'Badalgarh'. It was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone from Barauli area Dhaulpur district, in Rajasthan. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 4,000 builders worked on it daily for eight years, completing it in 1573. It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site took on its current state.

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Posted by rpickett 23:15 Archived in India Tagged agra Comments (0)

India

Taj Mahal

semi-overcast 70 °F

The Taj Mahal exceeded every expectation. It was wonderful. he Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (U.S. $827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history.

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Posted by rpickett 05:24 Archived in India Tagged mahal taj Comments (0)

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