Travel dates 16-19 March 2008Click on any picture to see a larger version.
I’ve included pictures from several sites interleaved with the text; the names in bold font relate to the pictures.
Jaipur City Palace
Indian History has interested me since my teen years, when my High School Library sold some old unwanted books in 1961 and I became the proud purchaser of Cassell’s Illustrated History of India, Vol 1 for the princely sum of 3d.
There is no publication date noted, but there is a pencilled inscription on the inside cover page by a student "A Boyd, 1/2/1909". The introduction page mentions that India has a "population of more than 150 million souls" and there is a note in the same hand beside that sentence "1909, now 400,000,000".
That book, somewhat battered, is sitting in front of me now. I did not do well in my final year of history at school but that fascinating book had me reading into the wee small hours, when I should have been studying other things. I have been interested in history ever since. It covered the period from Ancient times to 1824 and I learned about Alexander, and Clive, and John Company, and the Black Hole of Calcutta and many other things from the incredibly biased, racist, paternalistic and totally fascinating viewpoint of the British Raj. This was the India of fabulously wealthy Maharajas and even wealthier British traders, diplomacy and deceit, bravery and battles, subadars and sepoys.
Later I discovered the books of John Masters, an officer in the Gurkha Rifles between WWI and WWII who writes about India from the unique view of a man who loves the country and understands it, while having to leave it after independance and partition.
With that background I should not have been surprised by the magnificence of the Forts and Palaces of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, but I was. I visited several. I’ve included some photos here taken in Fatehpur Sikri, Amber, and Jaipur as examples. I’ve culled them to show the quality of the architecture, the detailed workmanship, their beauty or simply their sheer size, because there is not space to include all of the photos here.
Pictures can only show what the eye can see, but I hope these convey a small part of the atmosphere and my feelings as I gazed on these ancient places and wandered through their corridors and crannies.