Boutique India Tours
Accompanied tours by Dr Chintamani Rath PhD
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We begin with a snapshot of an example of quintessential India –
the front of the great 11th century Mandira (Hindu temple) of Shri Jagannaatha in Puri,
a coastal town on the Bay of Bengal in the province of Odisha (my province).
Hover your mouse over the photo above to view the location of Puri.

Another view of Shri Jagannatha Mandira.

A street scene in Old Delhi.
The Deity towering over the streets is Shri Hanumaana.
The vendor on the left is selling roast corn, roasting fresh corn right there –
in season, you can savour this charcoal roasted delicacy, laced with lime and salt if you wish.
Hover your mouse over the photo above to view the location of Delhi.

Birla Mandira in Delhi – a modern-day Mandira.
Note the auspicious Svastikaa on the archway – this is a very ancient
Hindu symbol, erroneously thought of as Hitler's Nazi symbol by many foreigners, a completely false
notion – Hitler was a Catholic and his symbol was that of the Christian hooked cross, absolutely
nothing to do with our Svastikaa

A view of the Chhatrapur Mandira complex in Delhi – another modern-day Mandira.

Another view of the Chhatrapur Mandira complex in Delhi.

Yet another view of the Chhatrapur Mandira complex in Delhi.

A modern-day Jagannaatha Mandira in Delhi.
There are no ancient or medieval Mandira remaining today in Delhi or its surrounding areas –
they were destroyed by muslims who built their monuments, which stand today, on the ruins of Hindu temples.

In early 13th century, muslim invaders razed the existing Hindu astronomical observatory in Delhi
and built the Kutub Minar ("victory tower", above) over its ruins, using material from the
ancient Hindu structures.

Humayun's tomb in Delhi, built in 1569-70. Humayun was the 2nd king of the mogul dynasty of kings.
As in the case of other islamic monuments in India, this too was built on the ruins of a
pre-existing Hindu Mandira.

Humaynu's tomb, back view.

Street vendor in Delhi, selling fresh coconut water.
A very refreshing and nourishing drink, coconut water from coconuts not completely ripe
is cool and tasty. What's more, if there is some coconut formed inside the shell, he will
cplit the fruit and you get to eat the soft and delicious new coconut as well.

A section of a handicraft market in Delhi. You can pick up exquite items at bargain prices.

And now we go to the city of Agra, the home of the famous Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is neither the most beautiful, nor the grandest nor the most exquisite monument in India.
It is touted as a monument of love, built by the 5th mogul king in memory of his 2nd wife, whom he captured after
killing her husband and who bore him 14 children and died during childbirth. However, this king had 5 wives
(at the same time) and about 5,000 concubines in his harem. When the 2nd wife died, he began to have intimate
relations with their daughter and did not allow the daughter to marry to enable him to continue the intimacy.
Simultaneously, he also engaged in intimate relations with another of his daughters. So much for his love for his 2nd wife...
The Taj Mahal is of course very beautiful, but much of its glory derives from sustained hype.
In comparison, several other monuments and Mandira in India far surpass the Taj Mahal.
Of course, because of its hyped-up fame, you cannot visit India and not view the Taj Mahal, for after all,
many consider it a must-do thing. Once again, this monument was built by muslims over the ruins of a Hindu Mandir
complex, which they destroyed, as they did in many, many placed in India, including in Pakistan, Afganistan and Bangladesh.
Hover your mouse over the photo above to view the location of Agra.

Another view of the Taj Mahal.

Baby Taj, Agra.

The prison inside Agra Fort where the 6th mogul king kept his father, the 5th mogul king, imprisoned.
It was common for the mogul kings to kill or otherwise dispose of their fathers, brothers etc. to get to the throne.

Goodies on display inside a jewellery shop in Agra.

Statuettes on display inside the same jewellery shop in Agra.

The jewellery shop stocks, well you guessed it, jewels...

... including the jewel known as "star of India", of which this piece is a variety.

Fatepur Sikri, along the Agra Jaipur Road, has a few interesting monuments.

Jaipur, the capital of the province of Rajasthan, is a beautiful and vibrant city. Its central area has buildings
made of red sandstone, extracted from local quarries, from which it derives the name of "the pink city".
This is the famed Havaa Mahal, the facade of a complex of buildings making up the City Palace.
Hover your mouse over the photo above to view the location of Jaipur.

You take a 20 – 30 minutes' elephant ride to ascend to the Amber Fort in Jaipur.
Here are two former Boutique India Tours tour members setting out on the journey.

View from Amber Fort of the frontyard where you embark from your elephant.

Partial view of Jaipur city from Amber Fort

A courtyard inside Amber Fort

This is the Victoria Memorial, in the great metropolis of Kolkata, in the province of West Bengal.
Formerly Calcutta, this city of 20 million people was once the capital of India.
Hover your mouse over the photo above to view the location of Kolkata.

A Boutique India Tours group vising the Botanical Gardens in Kolkata.
Here, they are headed towards a 1,500 years old banyan tree – its a single tree with many, many
ariel roots (the original trunk rotted away and was removed a long time ago), making it look like a forest.

A closer view of a section of the banyan tree.

While in Kolkata, the Boutique India Tours group also went on a fantastic day-long river cruise
on the river Ganga ("Ganges") to the Sunderbans – the large delta with its numerous waterways,
where the Ganga flows into the Bay of Bengal. The largest delta in the world and
spreading over 10,000, the Sundarban delta is home to a large range of flora
(mainly mangroves and flowering plants) and fauna (crocodiles, tigers, deer, several bird species and more).
The group members considered this cruise to be a highlight of their tour.
It's also possible to make this an overnight cruise.

In the cruise boat, a diesel powered vessel. You should not expect 5-star luxury here, but what
it lacks in luxury it more than makes up by the uniqueness of the fabulous experience.
Lunch will be a hot meal freshly cooked on the boat – local cuising cooked traditionally.
The toilet is rather basic, it's the white cubicle you see at the back.
The floor has a hole in it and there are a couple of buckets of water and a mug. Simple, no-nonsense stuff.

O Ganga, mighty Ganga!

A cruise launch passing by.

The next few pictures are from the province of Tamil Nadu in the south of India, specifically from the cities of
Kanchipuram, Tiruchirapally (aka "Trichy"), Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari.
The great Hindu temples of ancient and medieval India still stand proudly in eastern and southern India, unlike in
northern India and parts of western India, where muslim marauders destroyed them and built their structures atop the ruins.
This photograph is a Mandira in Trichy. The south Indian Mandira architecture is readily recognised from its unique style.
Hover your mouse over the photo above to view the location of the 5 cities stated above.

A view of Trichy city.

The great Mandira of Meenaakshi in the city of Madurai.

Closer view of the carved figures (on stone) on the Meenaakshi Mandira.

Kanyakyumari is the southern tip of India, where the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal
and the Arabian sea meet. This photo is of a sunset in Kanyakumari.

And now I would like to present a few pictures of the India that is not part of the normal tourist circuit –
the India of the remote villages, the back roads, the occasional decrepit building that once saw better days,
the fields where diverse crops are grown, the small Mandira (Hindu temple) that dot the countryside
everywhere, uniting and beautifully synthesising all Indians (barring those who have—from fear or
from greed—chosen to embrace a foreign faith and value system) under a great spiritual, humanistic,
benevolent, environment-friendly, social, philosophic, artistic and cultural system, and more...
For this, I have chosen the area surrounding Parlakhemundi, a town in south Odisha and Maripadu,
a village which was formerly in Odisha. These are areas where my own ancestors lived.

A school in Parlakhemundi.

The national highway crossing, Parlakhemundi.

A Mandira, Parlakhemundi.

These buildings from colonial days in Parlakhemundi can tell us a story or two...

Neelakantheshvara Mandira, Maripadu, formerly in Odisha province.



I hope, gentle reader, that you have enjoyed viewing these pictures. I will continue to add more photographs of different parts of India, so please do check in here every now and again... I do not claim to be a great photographer, so if the photo quality is not very high, I apologise! Please note that these photographs do not really do justice to the beauty of India. Nor do they, by any stretch, cover all India has to offer. These photos merely open a tiny window and show, I guess, only a small fraction of the amazing sights and experiences India will have in store for you, once you hop on board a Boutique India Tours tour. Contact me NOW!

Best wishes and sincerely,
Chintamani Rath PhD.

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