24 October 2010

The Blue City

After a 6 hour dust choked train ride, we arrived in Jodhpur, and met up with our traveling buddy Guillaume who we had stayed a few extra days in Nepal to get some hiking in.

We found him at the hotel (a converted 16th century haveli) where he was chatting up some french girls who turns out were the ones Will and I had shared a jeep ride to the camels with just days earlier in Jaisalmer! Weird!

We said aurevoir to the girls (who thought I was Will's dad) and headed out to check out the giant fort overlooking the city. Built in the 1460's, the fort is 400 feet above the city and surrounded by a giant wall.

Its very impressive on the outside, but the inside is even more amazing. There are many palace buildings, temples and gardens all inside the fort boundaries.

The view is fantastic as well. I cant imagine anyone attacking a fort in such a great position.

There is a lot to see up there...it was a great day and well worth the walk up.

The next day we explored the old bazaars of the city and did the standard walk about...there is always something to see. In the afternoon we met up with some Brits and hung out on the rooftop of our haveli.

As sunset approached, kids started appearing on the rooftops all over the city...to fly kites! The afternoon breeze rolled in, you could hear the kids, and the changing light started to work its magic on the Blue City of Jodhpur.

The next day we were up early to get the train to Jaipur..and the adventure continued

next stop, the pink city of Jaipur...capital of Rajasthan

14 October 2010


Sorry for the long delay between blog posts. Between work and coaching, I can hardly find the time to do anything these days. To make things worse, the wife is still off in Africa with no internet access, so I'm on blog duty by myself. I'll try and get a few posts down and scheduled and stay ahead of the game.

Back to Nepal....lets see...oh yes, Swayambhunath.

Swayambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu valley west of Kathmandu city. It is also known as the Monkey Temple, as there are monkeys running and jumping all over the place.The Tibetan name translates to "Sublime Trees"...its a peaceful wooded place....with lots of monkeys.

To say this temple is on top of a hill is a bit of an understatement.

There are a series of long sets of steps that get steeper and steeper....we were drenched in sweat, but the scenery was so amazing we didn't care.

You start off at the bottom of the hill and go through a bunch of gates.

Large statues are always fun, especially when your traveling companion agrees to sit for dorky photos.

The color enhancing setting on my camera got used quite a bit. Here is yellow.

Thank Buddha! The climb is almost over!

Once up top, there are great views from all sides. There are troupes of monkeys hanging out here and there, and quite a few mangy dogs laying about, but somehow it all works.

You can look over all of Kathmandu...and on a clear day (not this day) you get a good view of the Himalayas.

According to Swayambhu Purana, the entire valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning "Self-Created."
The Bodhisatva Manjushri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley can be good settlement and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjushri cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower become the Swayambhunath stupa.

On top of the hill, besides the stupa, there a variety of temples, a small monastery and of course some small shops.

Kathmandu is a great place to visit, and Swayambhunath was well worth the climb. A great day indeed.

More to come from India & Nepal soon.