A wedding in Sri Lanka

We went to a friend’s wedding in Sri Lanka on our way home from India. The wedding was held in the capital Colombo.

Much of two days there was spent with other visiting friends (mainly eating glorious seafood), and then there was the beautiful Buddhist wedding.

Whilst brief, it was a really enjoyable side trip and end to our adventures – we’d love to go there again someday!

Sonya wearing a sari for the Sri Lanka wedding
Travis and Sonya at the Sri Lanka wedding
Traditional dancers welcoming the groom and bride
Sonya with friends at restaurant Ministry of Crab
Table setting at Ministry of Crab restaurant

Wagah border ceremony, Indian-Pakistan border

The following morning we visited the temple again, before  heading to Jallianwala Bagh, a memorial garden for the 1919 massacre. There were many families and tourists strolling through the gardens, visiting the museum explains the tragic occurrences of that day.

We had lunch and then headed back to the hotel where we had arranged a trip to the Wagah border, the road that separates India and Pakistan.  Each day, a border closing ceremony is held at sunset where the Indian and Pakistani security forces perform an aggressive but comical military ‘routine’ whilst the gates are closed.  When we arrived on our bus, there were many people there already. Street vendors were selling drinks, food, Indian flags and all sorts of souvenirs. It was far more popular an event that I recall during my last visit. The gates were closed and it was sweltering. We lined up, packed amongst what seemed like zillions of Indians and tourists. A fair bit of pushing and shoving took place as everyone was anxious to get into the stands over looking the ceremony. Eventually, they opened the gates to let everyone in. Fortunately, there is a tourist entrance – we were security checked and allowed in. The tourist section was one of the better positions giving us great views of the ceremony.

The Wagah border ceremony started with children passing flags to one another, followed by an entertaining display of military might. The crowd support (in both size and noise) from the India side far exceeded the Pakistani side, which also seemed to be gender segregated (from what we could see).

It was an enjoyable event and by the time we reached our hotel it was nightfall.

The Indian welcome gate seen after crossing the Pakistan-India border
The Pakistan welcome gate seen after crossing the India-Pakistan border
The mens section of the grandstands waiting for the show
Patriotic Indian boy waving a large Indian flag
The India-Pakistan Wagah border
Two girls running with a large Indian flag
Elderly Indian women running with an Indian flag
Indian guard at the Indian-Pakistan border
Indian guards performing a show at the Indian-Pakistan border
About to open the Indian-Pakistan border
Two Indian guards waiting for the lowering of the flags
A display of carefully choreographed contempt by Pakistan and India
Lowering of the Pakistan and Indian flags
Indian guard wearing official uniform and headwear

Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India

After a long train ride from Udaipur to Delhi, and then another long bus from Delhi to Amritsar we arrived at the spiritual centre of the Sikh faith.

We checked into a hotel near the city’s main attraction – the Golden Temple. By then, the sun was setting so we decided to take a walk to the temple.  It was a lot busier than I experienced during my last visit in 2006 – and we lined up alongside many Sikh families to put our shoes into storage, wash our feet before entering, and for Travis to collect a scarf for his head.

The grandeur and magnificence of the Golden Temple is breathtaking as one first enters the area. It is set on one side of a huge man-made lake of water. Whilst witnessing the temple’s dazzling gold exterior is amazing, seeing the many, many Sikhs make their pilgrimage to this sacred place quite a moving experience.  Many were walking around the temple, as we were, others sat quietly and respectfully on the edge of the holy lake. The place was so alight with colourful turbans, and sarees.

After circling the Golden Temple, we went into the Langar canteen. The generous Sikh community offer free food for anybody who enters the Langar – and anybody can have a meal as often as they wish. The meal is simple – everybody entering receives a traditional thali steel plate and a steel bowl for water. Upon entering the canteen, people sit in rows cross legged on the floor. The volunteers who serve the food pass through each row, placing dahl, water, bread on each person’s plate.

The Golden Temple a prominent Sikh Gurdwara
Akal Takht (The Throne of the Timeless One)
The Harmandir Sahib with clock tower in the background
The Darbar Sahib and North entrance gate
Golden Temple and clock tower
Travis and Sonya at the Golden Temple
Sikh pilgrim viewing the Golden Temple
The Golden Temple at twilight
The Golden Temple viewed through the North entrance gate
The Golden temple and Akal Takht
The Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib
Central Sikh Museum and clock tower
Sikh man in traditional dress and turban at the Golden Temple
Two Sikh men wearing royal blue turbans common among Sikh ministers and gyanis
Sikh man wearing traditional Orange and Blue colours that reflect the Khalsa
Travis taking a photo of a Sikh at the Golden Temple
Sonya at the Golden Temple

The Blue City, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Jodhpur was our next stop after Pushkar. We met a friendly rickshaw driver at the bus stop and he took us to our hostel, a really lovely quaint place which had some views of the Mehrangarh Fort. We had lunch and decided to wander around by foot to the old city and markets. It was an interesting walk, plenty of narrow streets filled with colourful houses, children giggling and shouting hellos to us, stalls selling sweets and sarees. The old city was centred around a clocktower with the Fort looming in the background. We walked around the markets which were very local, we didn’t spot too many tourists around.

The following day, we had breakfast at a stall in the old town famed for their omelettes (after spending a fair bit of time trying to figure which was, in fact the correct stall). I had a plain omelette (was still recovering from stomach issues) but have to admit, it was pretty good. We then walked up along a winding road to the Fort (located 122 metres above the city) for a visit. The weather was warm and while it was a long, sweltering walk, it was worth it.

Travis with the towering blue walls of Jodhpur alleywaysThe blue walls of JodhpurThe blue alleyways of Jodhpur
Entrance to a Hindu temple in the heart of JodhpurThe inner courtyard of a Hindu temple in the heart of JodhpurBrightly yellow painted entrance door of a Hindu temple
Sardar Market entrance gate at JodhpurJodhpur clock towerThe supposedly real Jodhpur Omelette Shop

Mehrangarh Fort

The Mehrangarh Fort was one of the most spectacular forts I’d visited, filled with brilliant palaces. The view from the top of the fort to the surrounding city is marvellous and allows you to understand why Jodhpur is known as the Blue City.

Mehrangarh Fort seen over the Gulab SagarImposing thick walls of Mehrangarh FortOne of the many paintings at the Jaipol entrance to Mehrangarh Fort
The Jaipol entrance to Mehrangarh FortShaded undercover area outside the main gateThe main exterior wall of Mehrangarh Fort
Canon ball holes visible in the Mehrangarh Fort wallsSonya walking through the main multi gates of Dodh Kangra Pol entrance to Mehrangarh FortConstruction of the fort was begun by Maharaja Rao Jodha in 1459
Hindu script with a Marigold wreath found at the Mehrangarh Fort wall16th-century Imritiapol entry gate at Mehrangarh FortLoha Pol with iron spikes to deter enemy elephants
Sati (self-immolation) marks of royal widows who threw themselves on their maharajas funeral pyresSurajpol gate providing access to a museumWhite marble stone throne
Entrance to Singhar chowk inside Mehrangarh FortSinghar chowk inside Mehrangarh FortDaulat Khana Chowk inside Mehrangarh Fort
Daulat Khana Chowk inside Mehrangarh FortDecorative metal doors of the Daulat KhanaSonya resting at the Daulat Khana Chowk
Indian man peering out a windowExterior stairs leading from one of the roomsLooking north towards Lalji Maharaj Ashram and Geeta Ashram
Pigeons roosting on the red stone carvings of the Mehrangarh FortZenana with latticed windows from which the women could watch the goings-on in the courtyardsSonya with the blue city in the background
Mehrangarh Fort with the blue city in the backgroundRooms of the Mehrangarh Fort with the blue city in the backgroundMehrangarh Fort with Jodhpur the blue city in the background
Jodhpur , the Blue CityWindows of the Salim CotIntricate stone carvings of the Salim Cot
The beautiful Salim Cot inside the Mehrangarh FortTravis with DSLS, GPS, audio guide and backpackLooking west over the blue city

Treasures of Mehrangarh Museum

Throughout the Mehrangarh Fort there are many galleries displaying priceless treasures including elephant’s howdahs, palanquins, armoury and paintings.

Elephant Howdah, wooden frame with silver sheet metalElephant Howdah and umbrellaTwo lions on the back of the Elephant Howdah with the umbrella seen in the background
A collection of Elephant Howdah, carriages for elephantsA royal palanquin, transportation by peopleAncient hookah (shisha) and other smoking paraphernalia
Decorative plateMakara cannon found in the Mehrangarh MuseumVery old woven blinds
Two ancient swords with decorative handlesHelmet with gold decorationAntique shisha found at the Mehrangarh Museum
Four identical carpet weightsGold leafed royal palaquinGarden and Cosmos, the Royal Paintings of Jodhpur
Painting of king on throne smoking a hookah pipePainting of the demon and monster hordePainting of royals receiving offerings
Phul Mahal (Flower Palace)Phul Mahal (Flower Palace), whose 19th-century wall paintings depict the 36 moods of classical ragasHorse head pommel of a sword
Dragon headed dagger handleTakhat Vilas, the bedchamber of Maharaja Takhat SinghVeer durgas das rathor, Durgadas Rathore credited for preserving the rule of the Rathore dynasty
Colourful painted corniceGold leafed throne with painting on Ganesha in the centreGold leafed throne