Monday Oct 17, 2005 - day 18 - Gwalior - Kathy: 192 photos, Bob: 202 photos

            Today we explored the city of Gwalior.  As promised, Suresh met us in the hotel lobby at 9:30.

The first thing we did was drive to Raja Mansingh Palace, built in the late 1400s.

Walking up to the fort, I noticed a mountain goat just standing on a scooter.  I thought it was unusual, so I took a photo.

            There were also some interesting people gathered near the entrance.

            Unlike most of the other forts and palaces we’ve seen, this one had Hindu-style architecture, not the same Islamic architecture of the Moghul emperors.

For example, there was a round room in the basement where Mansignh’s wives would swing.  One flight down, there was another round room that looked much the same.  There were lots of hidden passages in the palace.  Outside the main structure were several other buildings, like a much smaller palace that Mansingh’s father used.

This was definitely not a tourist trap, this is the kind of place that Kathy and I both love to explore; there were buildings that were in shambles, dark and dirty and sometimes we had to navigate with a flashlight.  Like many of the palaces we visited, this place was built on a hill, and looking down, we could see another small palace and a mosque nearby.


            We walked around taking photos of this wonderful place, then we left.

            From there, we went to an ancient Hindu temple from the year 1093 called “Sas Bahu” or “Mother and Daughter Temple.”

It was beautiful and there were very few people there, which made it even more special.


Like many of the sites we visited today, it was dark inside and we had trouble capturing the beauty of it.

There were intricately carvings everywhere throughout the whole building.  We just stood there in awe.


Even the ceiling was incredible.  To capture the ceiling, I used two-second time-exposures with the camera sitting on the floor pointing up.

Kathy’s camera is much better at low-light conditions.

The temple was also on top a hill, and the surroundings were also beautiful.

            We walked back to the car, drove a very short distance, got out and saw another small temple in the area.  I didn’t even catch the name of this temple, but it was also intricately carved and very beautiful.


            After we left the area, we got out of the car and started walking down the big hill that leads up to the area.  There, carved into the side of the sandstone cliffs were dozens of monolithic Jain statues.  Jain statues are similar to Buddhist statues, except there is a diamond shaped bump on the chest of the Jain masters, and on Buddha statues there is not.  Some of these statues were man-sized, but many were much bigger.


The biggest was enormous.  It towered over us like something out of Ancient Egypt.

It reminded us of the beautiful Buddhist monoliths that the Taliban government of Afghanistan ruthlessly destroyed with tanks before the United States took over, only the ones in Afghanistan were definitely bigger.  If Bush did anything right in his presidency, it was bombing those morons. 

            Next, we visited the tombs of some famous Muslims, like famous Muslim saint Mohammad Ghaus and a supposedly famous singer named Tansen.  I had never heard of him.  The burial site was cool, however, because it had intricately carved windows grates.  The building was surrounded by dozens of these decorative grates, and no two were alike.


            As we drove to our next stop, Suresh told us that Gwalior has a lot of industry, so it is a growing place.  He mentioned a bunch of factories that were local, and one he mentioned was Cadbury, the famous chocolate factory.  Naturally, our ears perked up and we decided to stop and buy some.  While shopping, I noticed yet another cow eating out of the trash, and this time I decided to get it on film for proof.

            While driving around town, I asked Suresh his attitude about out-of-body experiences, which, of course, is my favorite thing to study.  Much to my surprise, he took a very skeptical stance on the subject.  Here I thought that all Indians took such things for granted, since Hinduism seems to be the one religion that takes them for granted.  He basically told me that the ancient texts, like the Mahabarata, talked about them, but it was all fairy tales and he didn’t believe a word of it.  India is full of surprises.

            We arrived at our next stop, the current palace of the current Maharaja, the king of kings.  The way I understood it, when the British were kicked out and India won its independence, there were hundreds of these Rajas.  Sounds like Indira Gandhi came in and took all of the wealth by gunpoint, in the name of the new Indian government.  These despots were downgraded from kings to big members of parliament with a lot of influence, but they lost most of their wealth.  The only way they were allowed to retain some of their kingdom was to change their palaces into museums or hotels.

            As we walked up to the main palace, a ten-year-old boy came zipping by in his go-cart, obviously having great fun.  Suresh told us that it was the son and heir of the current Maharaja.

            So this Maharaja’s palace was fantastic. 


If I’m not mistaken, they had the world’s largest chandeliers at five tons each. 

Rumor has it that after the palace was constructed, they somehow transported five elephants on top the roof to make sure it could support the weight of these huge chandeliers.  Even the “smaller” huge chandeliers were beautiful.

            There were hundreds of rooms, and each room was fantastic, filled with antiquities from all cultures and periods. 


Some of them had lots of stuffed tigers from the tiger hunting parties they used to have in his father’s day in the early 1900s.  Everywhere we looked there were priceless Ming vases, painted vases, paintings, tapestries, silk rugs, statues and wooden objects of all sorts.

There was a famous sculpture of a woman making love to a swan.  It was in a glass display case, and in low light, so photos were difficult.  Its beauty was breathtaking, and no photo could possibly capture its magic, but I tried anyway.

They even had a huge oversized shotgun they used for hunting ducks, and I asked Kathy to model it for her father, Marv, who is a hunter.

            After our tour, we went back to the hotel.  There, waiting for us, was a palm-reader that Suresh had told us about earlier.

So we paid to have Kathy’s palm read.  I’d have to say that this guy was reaching badly, and got at least fifty-percent of his reading wrong.  For example, he said I had a hot temper (wrong) and that I would be blessed with two children (impossible).

            We checked out of the hotel and went to catch the train back to Delhi.  Of course, Suresh drove us to the train station and accompanied us until we got on the train.  The train was twenty minutes late, so we sat down on a concrete bench and talked.  Suddenly, in back of us less than three feet away, I noticed rats coming out of the walls to get at some trash that had been slopped into the corner in back of where we were sitting.  At first, Kathy was concerned and she got up very quickly.  Rats are potentially dangerous for the diseases they carry.  Soon, however, she was comfortable with them coming and going and she sat down again.  Still, she was a bit disturbed.  When the rats were finished with the trash, the mice came out and ate what was left.  Looking back, I saw a huge cockroach walking on the ground; that disturbed Kathy more than the rats ever did.

            Then a strange thing happened.  Three army soldiers walked up to us, stood three-feet away from us and they just stared at us.  At first I thought we were in trouble with the Indian military, but then we realized they were just curious about us.  In fact, we now noticed that everyone was staring at us.  When I spoke, their eyes were just riveted on me.

            Gwalior doesn’t get many visitors, let alone tourists, so we were truly foreign to them.  Also, the Indian people have a much closer comfort zone than Americans, so they were comfortable standing three feet away.  Finally, our train pulled up and we got on.

            The train ride was a long, boring three-plus hours long.  When we got back to Delhi, our Journey Masters guy, Duni, was there to meet us and he took us to the hotel.  Tonight we are staying at the Taj Ambassador hotel, which seems nice enough.  It’s an expensive hotel at $220 per night, but we didn’t have a choice because all the hotels in the area were booked when Duni made the reservations.