Travelling to understand : India (part IV)

….forth post on India….  Click on photos to enlarge/reduce….

Daulatabad and Aurangabad

Daulatabad is a 14th century fort city in Maharashtra, about 16 km from Aurangabad.

Established by the Yadavas as Deogiri (Hill of Gods), it become the capital of the Tughlaq dynasty in 1327. Muhammad bin Tughluq forcibly moved the entire population of Delhi here, for two years, before it was abandoned due to lack of water.  The heavily fortified city  changed many hands until the Mughals led several campaigns during Akbar and Shah Jahan reign, until it was captured in 1633 after a long siege. From then on, the fort was captured and re-captured by the Mughals, the Marathas, the Peshwas, and finally placed under the control of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724 where it remained untill independence.

Malik Ambar, in 1610, had expanded the village of Khadki into a grand and beautiful capital but  Aurangabad (meaning “Built by the Throne”) was named, in 1653, after the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

The fort city, located inside the Ajanta/Ellora/Aurangabad triangle, offer an interesting visit, particularly if combined with trips to the interesting surrounding villages. The city is known for the charming Bibi Ka Maqbara, a small scale Taj Mahal, that was built in 1660 by Aurangzeb’s son, Azam Shah, as a loving tribute to his mother.

Today the big industrial city is a necessary stop for trips to the Ajanta and Ellora cave area. I hired a driver for all the movements between Aurangabad airport (were I arrived by air from Mumbai) and Ajanta – with stay at the local State Tourism Village – , from Ajanta to Ellora – with stay at the glorious Kailash resort – and then back to Aurangabad via Daulatabad.


On the road to Daulatabad


Activities on the town old wall


Daultabad sight from one of the gates


An old door of the Daulatabad Fort.


A country mosque


Making sugar cane juice the old way


A happy monkey

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The colorful entrance to a mosque


Red dye


A cenotaph from mediaeval times


The bottom of a dry river…..


A charming schoolhouse near Ajanta


Swiss cows were brought here to try improving milk production…


A caldron for cooking Mughal mutton stew

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The Bibi Ka Maqbara, a small scale Taj Mahal, in Aurangabad


Kochi (Kerala) was the centre of Indian spice trade for millennia, it was known to the Greeks and Romans as well as Jews, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times. Portuguese navigator, Pedro Cabral founded the first European settlement in India at Kochi in 1500 and Fort Kochi was built by Portugal until 1663. The Portuguese rule was followed by that of the Dutch until, under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, Kochi was transferred to the United Kingdom.

The old part of the city(the Fort area) is today a pleasant tourist location and the starting point for two main touristic destination:  the hill station area (Munnar in particular) in the Western Ghats of Kerala where tea plantations grace the mountains at 1400/1700 m. above sea level; and the Kerala backwaters, a very large area of channelled fresh and sea water that allows agricultural activities (rice paddies) during the monsoon season.

Both destinations are truly spectacular and have become highly desirable Indian tourist sites.


The Chinese fishing nets in Kochi


Vypin church


Canvas fans, pulled by little people on the outside of the church


Katakali actor during make-up



Grand Katakali acting.


From the theater to the market



Spectacular barding of elephant in a religious festival parade


Spectators at a religious festival


Kochi backwater, tourist boat for overnight stay


Kochi backwaters, rice paddies and shrimps farming (salt and freshwater mix by tides and monsoons)


Crossing a backwater canal


Backwater life: a tourist boat and a white-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)


From Kochi to Munnar, elephant training camp.


Prized black pepper sorting


Munnar is a hill station in the Western Ghats of Kerala. This green hill station is surrounded by the country’s highest tea gardens. Layers and layers of tea estates, mountain mist, waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries make Munnar almost surrealistically beautiful.

Stanley Wilson Tour organized for me a spectacular trip from Kochi to Munnar and a short residence there. The friendly car driver gracefully catered to all my interests and desires, a real treat.


A beautiful hill station tea plantation


Picking tea


Tea flower and fruit!!!!


Driving to Munnar, a hillside village


A tea picker house


Bees’ work


Selling honey by the roadside


Goa is India smallest state. Part of the Maurya Empire, under  Ashoka, in the 3rd century BC,  the area was later annexed by various south India rulers until, in 1312, it became part of the Delhi Sultanate. From 1370 it was part of the Vijayanagara empire for about one century and then, in 1510,  the Portuguese occupied the coastal area and established a permanent settlement in Velha Goa.

In 1843 the capital was moved to Panjim from Velha Goa and the territory became a formal Portuguese colony.  In 1947, Portugal refused to negotiate with India on the transfer of sovereignty of their Indian enclaves until, in 1961, India annexed the territory.

Today Goa is a popular European holiday resort, famous for beautiful beaches, old churches, a traditional cuisine and luxurious climate.


Old crosses on a church in Old Goa



A cathedral in Old Goa



Nostra Signora Bon Sucesso


The Saligao church, Portuguese late gothic…


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Goa is still a rather catholic state



The old Portuguese architecture is very interesting


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many old houses have been abandoned many years ago


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The most characteristic architectural feature of Goan old houses: mica or river oyster shell used as translucent element in windows


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Fishing by net throwing is still practised


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Old fishing boats are still used



And the fish goes to the market


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And later the table….



Ganesh by S. Kerkar, a Goan artist.


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Fresh bread at the local market


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A vendor at the market


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Goan prized fruit: cashew nuts (at the top of the succulent fruit!)



Anjuna beach, old hippies paradise


Formerly Bombay, Mumbai is the capital city of Maharashtra (population: 20.5 million).

Originally a group of islands, in the 3d century BCE the area was part of the Maurya Empire under Ashoka. Later on Mumbai came under the control of successive indigenous dynasties until the Delhi Sultanate annexed the islands in 1348, and controlled it till 1407 when the independent Gujarat Sultanate gained control.  The Sultanate was obliged to sign the Treaty of Bassein with the Portuguese who controlled it from 1534 to 1661. These islands were then leased to the British East India Company in 1668. In 1687, the British East India Company transferred its headquarters to Bombay, which emerged as a significant trading town during the mid-18th century. By 1845, the seven islands were coalesced into a single landmass by the Hornby Vellard project via large scale land reclamation. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 transformed Bombay into one of the largest seaports on the Arabian Sea.

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Aerial view of Mumbai, shantytown and high rise

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The Taj Hotels, at the Gate of India

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The Gate of India, a British Empire commemoration of a royal visit

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Statue and gargoyles of the old Victoria Station


Grand architecture at the end of the XIX century


On the street of Mumbai, an ambulating temple


On the sidewalk, homework!

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A flower stall….

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Fried sweets….


At the fish market


And a meat stall….


Here ends the account of my two trips to India. I am looking forward to more visits to this incredible land.






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