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Clock Towers and the Do You Edit? Question

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This clock tower is in the center of Sardar Market in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. It is about a century old and was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in the early 1900s. Ghanta ghar, as it is called in Hindi, offers wonderful views of the market and city. It is definitely worth climbing up for photos. Jodhpur is known as the blue city and is home to Mehrangarh Fort.

This photo made me think about editing and how much one should or should not edit. With travel photos, I try to do minimal edits and keep it as close to what I saw as possible. I’ll adjust white balance to make the color more true to life (different lighting can add a color cast on a photo) and straighten or crop. My debate with this photo was whether or not to remove the wire stretching across the shot. I decided to keep it. What do you think? Is removing something from a travel photo ok or not? In what scenarios?

 

Bharatpur, India

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I’ve posted before about Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India. It’s home to the Keoladeo National Park, which many people simply call the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. It is a combination of swampy, lakey water and raised ground (islands, plus walking paths) interspersed here and there. The above shot was taken during the dry season–can you picture how wet it must be during the monsoon?

While I lived in Delhi, I kept a journal. Rather than re-writting about my experience, here is a copy of the journal entry from our trip. This was written in Jan 2014.

Over the long three-day weekend we had recently, the three of us took time out of the city to go to Bharatpur and visit the Bird Sanctuary.  This sanctuary is part of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, about 200 km, or 125 miles, outside of Delhi.  We decided to leave first thing Saturday morning and take the Yamuna Expressway towards Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) before exiting and heading south to Mathura and Bharatpur.  The Yamuna Expressway was finished in 2012 and connects Noida (just outside of Delhi) to Agra. It is just over 100 miles long, has three lanes both ways, and is a toll road.  With speeds of 100 km/hr (about 60 mph), you get where you are going quickly. It has radically changed the drive to between Noida and Agra. While I have heard it can back up near Agra, especially later in the day, we had no traffic and made great time on it. There are regular rest stops, which were pleasantly clean and had nice bathrooms and a snack stand.  The view out the window was so different from the city life we’ve been experiencing.  We saw flat fields and lots of large chimneys with excavation going on around it, which we think was brick making and drying.  But we might be wrong!

We exited just north of Mathura and entered much more rural country with small roads. Many of the villages we passed through only have the one road and everyone uses it—cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, cows, water buffalo, etc.  It makes for slow going, but allowed us to see all sorts of things.  I saw my first camel pulling a cart on the drive!  Between villages were more fields growing crops. 

At first our drive was just one straight shot, but when we entered Mathura, a larger town, we had to make a number of turns. This is where we got lost.  I had directions, but aside from screen shots of google maps on my ipad, no formal map or GPS. Unknowingly, we missed a critical left turn and ended up going through the town and popping out differently than expected.  We came out on the right road, but so far out of the way that we didn’t know which way to go. We spent a long time driving up and down the road, looking for our turn.  Eventually we stopped for lunch and asked and realized how far out of the way we really were!

Back on the right road, we drove through more tiny villages and got a peak into every day life for them.  We also started seeing fewer signs with English (in larger touristy areas, many signs are in both Hindi and English), so I tried to make use of my Hindi to read signs. This was comical, as I just barely know the alphabet and can’t read it very quickly.  So I’d be trying to find Bharatpur in Hindi on a sign as we drove past. Several times I made Hubby stop the car so I could get out and slowly sound out the signs to make sure we were going the right way.  It worked, but it was slow going! I’ll be glad when I am better at Hindi and can read the signs faster.

We made some more wrong turns getting into Bharatpur, but eventually found our hotel. The 3.5 hour drive had taken us 6 (though this included a lunch stop). Our hotel had large, clean, basic rooms.  Our original plan was to go to the sanctuary that afternoon, but we were tired from all the driving and so just hung out at the hotel. It had a restaurant that would deliver to your room, so we were able to get dinner easily. 

The next morning we went to the bird sanctuary after Lil Miss’ first nap.  The Sanctuary was just down the road. Most of it does not allow cars, but for 100 Rs you could drive your car in about 1.5 km and park there. We also rented binoculars, as we had forgotten ours at home.  Once parked, we hired a cycle rickshaw walla to bike us around the park. It is very large, so while walking is possible, it’s nicer and easier to get a ride to the key spots and then take short walks as desired. Our rickshaw walla had worked in the park for 22 years, and could easily spot birds and wildlife.  We saw sleeping owls, pelicans, tons of storks, herons, eagles, kingfishers, magpies, and more. We also saw two baby rock pythons, several monitor lizards, spotted deer, and really big antelope. It was a foggy day, and the sky and water were very bright, which made photos a bit difficult. However, I think some turned out nicely!

The storks were my favorite.  They come down to the park in the fall to nest and breed.  By now their babies are about 2 months old and stand around in their nests squawking for their parents to feed them.  Each nest had two or three (big) baby birds in it. Babies are more grey, while their parents have more colorful heads and beaks.

About halfway down was a side walking path that went out through the wetlands. Rickshaws couldn’t go on it, so we got out and walked for quite a while. It was very pleasant! Water and marsh for as far as you could se.  I loved all the water birds—ducks, geese, herons, etc. 

The park has several observation towers you could climb to get an aerial view of the water and land.  One that we went up had benches up top and we sat for a while while Lil Miss napped. 

The park also has a small temple and a concession stand where it sold tea, coffee, water, sodas and snacks. One of the local antelope was very tame and let kids pet it and it tried to eat the food. There were also a ton of chipmunks—one of whom jumped onto my leg while I was sitting on a bench and wanted my granola bar!

We spent about 5 hours at the park and it was glorious.”

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Fun Fact Friday: Why is Jodhpur the “Blue City?

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Fun Fact Friday: Why is Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India known as the “Blue City?” Aside from providing photographers with some great photographic opportunities, I was sure there was a better reason. However, finding an answer was harder than I thought. No one seems to know for sure, but there are definitely many theories.

  1. Brahmin (upper priestly caste) homeowners painted their houses blue to stand out and others ended up following suit
  2. The blue paint fights against termites and other bugs. Copper sulphate and other chemicals were added to the paint to cover up damage and prevent further damage and this made the paint blue. However, others say it is just natural indigo dye in the paint.
  3. The blue keeps away mosquitoes
  4. The blue represents water, important in a city located in the middle of a desert
  5. The blue keeps houses cool
  6. The blue has a calming affect

I personally think that #1 or 2 make the most sense. What do you think is the reason?

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Amber Fort, Jaipur, India

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The approach to the Amber Fort (also called Amer Fort) in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India is a gorgeous one. Leaving the city of Jaipur, you head towards Amer and are greeted by this stunning fort rising over the water. If you’re lucky in terms of sunshine, like I was, you can catch its reflection in the water. Amer/Amber derives its name from either the Ambikeshwar Temple (the local temple to the Hindu God Shiva) or from Amba, the Hindu Mother Goddess Durga. Originally built by Raja Man Singh in the late 900s, it was expanded on by other rulers including Jai Singh.  To enter the fort, you can ride an elephant up or can drive up most of the way and walk the remaining distance.

Baby Python

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Now, I’m not a snake expert by any means, but our nature guide told us this was a baby python, so I’m rolling with it. Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a wonderful place to visit in the cooler months. Thousands of birds spend their winters in the park boundaries after migrating south from Russia, the Himalayas, Nepal, China, etc. We got to see cranes, storks, ducks, owls, hornbills and many more I can’t identify. You also see land mammals like antelope, monkeys, and deer, plus a variety of reptiles, such as the snake above and lizards. The park has raised walking paths all over with swampy or open water throughout. We hired a cycle rickshaw to take us around and then got out to walk down smaller paths. You can also go via boat if you desire. We went on a chilly day and a number of reptiles came out to sun themselves in the afternoon sun. I sure was glad this was a baby and not full grown!

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Romeo: A Tiger of Ranthambore, India

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This is Romeo. He’s a massive male tiger who lives in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India. Ranthambore is known for its tiger population and visitors can go on jeep safaris through the wilderness looking for tigers, leopards, crocodiles, Sambar deer, Nilgai, and more. You have the choice between a large 20 person canter (big open aired jeep bus) or a 6 person jeep. We went with the jeep and, with our daughter on our lap, piled in with 4 others. Each jeep gets assigned a zone of the park to explore and off we went. We bounced along on the dirt paths, looking for animals. We saw a bunch of Sambar deer and Nilgai (a type of antelope), plus a few crocodiles and lots of birds.

Suddenly we saw excitement ahead–the other jeeps were circling and cameras were out! TIGER! We raced over and all the jeeps jockeyed for position. Finally, I saw him. Massive Romeo. He ambled along, passing between our jeep and another before moving over a ridge. Quickly the drivers and guides made decisions as to which path was best to track him. We zipped around and barreled (and I do mean barreled–we had to hold on tight!) down a path to where the guide anticipated Romeo would reappear.

We ended up seeing him again along a river bed where he drank, waded and eventually crossed over before disappearing into the woods.

This is not a zoo. It is a national park and tiger sightings are not guaranteed. We felt really lucky to have seen Romeo (and we also saw the head of another tiger taking a nap behind some rocks).

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Sunset Over Mehrangarh Fort

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Mehrangarh Fort rises over the blue city of Jodhpur. Known for its vivid blue houses, Jodhpur sits in the middle of the northwestern state of Rajasthan, India near the Pakistani border. The 15th century fort-palace is now a popular tourist destination, both for its fascinating rooms and for the wonderful views of the city. I found conflicting information on why precisely blue is the popular color. Some sources say it is because blue is associated with the Brahmin (priestly upper) class. When I visited Santorini, Greece many of the houses were blue and I was told it was to repel mosquitoes (who presumably don’t like blue?). So I wonder if that also plays a part.

Fun Fact: One of the gates of Mehrangarh Fort (there are 7 total) still has evidence of cannon balls hitting it

Tourist Tip: The gift shop at the fort is one of the best I visited. Very reasonably priced, but great items. Got some adorable t-shirts for my daughter, plus some lovely perfume for myself!

 

Ripe, Juicy Pomegranates

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Pomegranates are common and popular throughout India. These pomegranates in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India were enticing visitors at a local market. Many produce sellers cut open a piece of fruit to display its ripeness.  Pomegranate comes from a medieval Latin word meaning “apple seeded” and is considered a berry.  Pomegranates grow on shrubs or small trees that grow to be 20 to 33 feet tall. They are native to Iran through Northern India, but now are cultivated in a range of places.

Want to eat one? There are several ways to get at the innards. You can cut it in half and then submerge it in water while removing the seeds from the pulp. Seeds float and the pulp sinks, making it easier to retrieve the seeds. I’ve also read that freezing the pomegranate first makes it easier. My favorite method, however, is cutting in half, pulling the membrane a bit and then turning it upside down above a bowl and whacking it with a spoon. The seeds fall out into the bowl. This video shows what I mean .

The Marwari Horses of Rajasthan, India

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The Marwari horse is a rare breed from the Marwar (now Jodhpur) region of Rajasthan, India. Rajasthan is in north India, near the border with Pakistan. They are very hardy and are known for their turned in ears. At a museum I visited in Rajasthan, they said the Marwari horse has the turned-in ears to prevent a sword from cutting off the tips in battle. These horses are a cross between sturdy and small Indian ponies and Arabian horses.

I got to see these horses at the Pushkar Camel Fair, which happens every year sometime in October or November in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. The small village comes alive with people selling horses, camels and livestock and religious pilgrims coming for a Hindu festival. It was a sight to see!