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Traversing Mystical India:
a photo essay

by Meeta Gajjar Parker

 

Photo credits: Francis X. Parker, Jr.


Welcome to India,my friend.

This was my second trip to
India with my husband, Frank.  We were assisting my elderly father on his journey back to India to attend the opening ceremony of a school he had built in my late mother’s name.  The “Rupal B. Gajjar School” is located in a remote village in Gujarat that will educate 350 children.  We took the opportunity to visit family and travel, experiencing more of the India we both have come to love.  India is a natural playground for any photographer as its diversity and colorful culture never fail to awe.

Our best wishes!


The bridal couple on their wedding day…
  This warm pair were strangers we met at the Hanuman temple in Ahmedabad.  We were fortunate enough to see them performing their matrimonial customs.  We like the way the reds pull the photo together and the expressions on their faces. 


Sacred Cows

Sacred cows of
India
My husband Frank and I were immediately struck by the sight of cows walking down the street by themselves. Cows were ubiquitous, along with other animals such as goats, dogs and the occasional camel. 

River

Intriguing architectural structures all around…
This is the picturesque Gadisar Lake.  This manmade reservoir is spectacular because the sandstone buildings are constructed right up to the edge of the lake, actually facing it.  Boats were turned upside down just waiting for people who would pay for a leisurely row.   In the past, the reservoir was the only source of water for the people of Jaisalmer.  India features Indo-Gothic architecture with elements of Mughal, Gothic revival and Victorian styles. 

Hello!

Magnificent sand dunes stand in the Thar Desert
…   We had a camel ride in the desert and came across some wandering entertainment on the sand dunes.  A father and his daughter approached us.  He played the Indian flute and she danced for us.  Her blue dress swayed in the wind and the colors in her father’s turban caught my attention as he passionately played his flute.  As she put her bangled arms up in the air, I noticed the care with which they had applied the artistic makeup on the girl’s face. 

Burial temples


An ancient burial ground…
The Chattries (burial ground) in Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer, is where one cenotaph (an elaborate gazebo like monument) was constructed for each king until 1947.  We carefully climbed up to the cenotaphs and walked through the delicate carvings of the ruins that remained.   


People

Spectacular images of India’s people…  We were caught in this Kodak moment as we witnessed the look of love in the face of a mother playing with her little boy.   We were touched by the interaction of the mother and son sitting in their simple yet colorful clothing, so as to find relief from the blistering sun in the shade of yellow walls.

Painted hand

Artistry in henna for the hands of the Indian women…  Mendi is artwork using henna that acts as a temporary tattoo.  It is applied and then allowed to dry overnight.  It is customary for special occasions, especially weddings.  This young woman was one of our tour guides and consented when we asked her if we could photograph her hand. 

veggies

Colorful produce…
  The colors of the fruits and vegetable in the outdoor vegetable market in Jodhpur were vibrant and mouth-watering.  The carrots were particularly striking…. they were almost red in color.

wild monkeys

Hand-feeding wild monkeys….
In the midst of hand-feeding wild monkeys, we came upon this family of three monkeys who were sitting on a wall in the park enjoying the midday sun.  We enjoyed seeing the expressions and emotions on their faces.

Elehant ride


             A painted elephant ride….
  We rode up the winding road to the Amber Fort on Valentine’s Day in Jaipur on the back of an elephant.  It was very romantic and absolutely the best part of the day.  To get on, we walked up a few steps and then somewhat propelled ourselves onto the elephant.   As we got on our way, we swayed back and forth with the mighty footsteps of this majestic animal.  It was a little scary, but an enchanting thrill nevertheless.

My overall impression of India is that if you feel the pull towards it, it’s a calling that must be answered.  Traveling to India can be strenuous, especially on your own.  At the same time, it’s a very exciting and fulfilling journey.  India isn’t like anywhere else on earth.  Colorful images and unforgettable experiences will stay with you and warm your soul for the rest of your life.


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