No matter how many times you visit the Taj, or what the weather or smog conditions, it is always awsome.
The "lesser Taj" was completed in 1707 by the son of the Mughul Emporer Aurangzeb in honor of his mother. (The Taj was completed in about 1650.) Aurangzeb was the 6th Mughul Emporer and was known among his Hindu subjects by the sobrique "Aurangzeb The Biggot". He was an agressive and expansionist emporer and was believed to rule over 25 percent of the world's population at the peak of his power.
The Gateway to India is among my first visual memories of India. I remember seeing it from the deck of our ship as we entered Bombay's harbour.
The "Beating of the Retreat" is part of India's elegant Republic Day celebrations. As the sun set the band would play Abide With Me -- Gandhi-ji's favorite hymn. This event is held at the entrance to Ratrapathi Bhawan (President's Palace) complex, the former British Viceroy's palace.
During the Republic Day celebrations on January 26 the domes of the Secretariat buildings and Ratrapathi Bhawan are nicely lit.
The Jama Masjid Mosque, across the road from the Red Fort in Delhi, is surrounded by great, crowded food stalls, jewelers, second-hand stores in which you can buy anything from small steam engines to antique sewing machines, cameras, and computers.
The American Embassy in New Delhi was designed by Edward Durrell Stone, who later designed the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. The similarities are obvious. When it was first opened in the early 1960s it was hailed as the "Taj Amrika" but, with it's very leaky roofs (also a Kennedy Center problem) and structural problems those who worked inside were not so forthcoming in its praise.
Rajpath, which leads to Ratrapathi Bhawan, was on the route of President Eisenhower's state visit to India in 1957. It is also the site of wonderful parades, particularly those organized for Republic Day celebrations.
My family and I were fortunate to be in the audience when Eisenhower arrived in New Delhi in 1957. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister is on the right and her first President Rajendra Prasad on the left. Both men, of course, were leaders of India's fight for independence from Britain and its transition to a Republic.
In true British colonial style, Presidents Prasad and Eisenhower greet huge crowds along their carriage route.
For Eisenhower's arrival, this little squatter settlement strung these American and Indian flags in honor of the visit.
My maternal grandfather, Bishop J. W. Pickett, became close friends with both Nehru and Gandhiji during the years leading up to independence, partition, and India's early years as a republic.
Raj Ghat is the site of Gandhiji's cremation along the Jumna River. Memorials for other national leaders are also in this area.
Statue of Queen Victoria, minus her nose, which was hacked off by a zealot in the euphoria if Independence.
The sun is setting in Buxar, Bihar on the Ganges River.
This is a floating (and seasonal) bridge crossing the Ganges River in Buxar.
A fishing boat sails gracefully just off the coast in near Mumbai.
The tiger population in India (and Nepal) has declined to near extinction as their natural habitat has been converted to farming. Large tiger hunts in the 1800s and early 1900s for big shots bagging hundreds also contributed, as does poaching. India and Nepal both recorded an increase in tiger populations in 2010 as a result of intense efforts to save the species.
The mighty Ganga begins here in Deoprayag, where the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers merge. Deoprayag is a much-prized bathing place along the pilgrim route to Badrinath and Kedarnath temples...and a rather dangerous place to take a dip!
This sadhu is making his way to Badrinath, a sacred town at the headwaters of the Ganga (Ganges River).
Badrinath is a very holy town for Hindu and Jains. The building in the center of the photo (with the golden spires) is one of Hinduism most highly revered temples.
This man is the Rawal, or chief priest, of one of Hinduism's most revered temples, in Badrinath.
Looking upstream along the Alaknanda River, a snow peak in the distance.
Treking up to the base of Nilkantha, this porter is barefoot and thinly clad.
The Alaknanda River below Badrinath, looking south toward the plains.
My father and maternal uncle did the trek from Badrinath to the 21,522' Nilkantha Himal twice, once in the 1940s and again in the 1950s (the latter to escort and nutty cinamatographer and his wife. Here they are crossing a snowy stream.
Nilkantha ("Blue Thorn") is 21,522' in altitude. It is not visible from the foorhills as it is hidden behind the higher, more massive Chaukamba (23,418 ft.). My father took this picture from the base of its glacier on its north side. Note the half moon just above the ridge on the right.
The Grand Trunk Road has for centuries linked Kabul on the west with Calcutta on the east. This is a typical scene along Grand Trunk Road in the 1950s. The crop behind the tonga (horse cart) and car is dal (lentil), an Indian staple.
It used to be cheaper to deliver "petrol" by ox cart than by combustion engine.
This was another very common sight all over India in the 1950s and 60s.
Women do their laundry in a muddy irrigation canal, one of many built during the British raj.
Road-side dentists were, and probably still are a common feature of India's towns and cities.
Steet kids in Mumbai dance for coins.
A cremation, perhaps in Varanasi.
Even in the 1950s and '60s most available shelter is occupied by otherwise homeless squatters. This one is seasonal as it sits under a bridge that spans water during the monsoon season.
John Kennedy and Jackie were admired throughout India and it was common to see his and her photos on even the most humble walls throughout the country.
A hill village girl visits her local temple.
A class from my aunt Ann Pickett's Chopra (Pauri) school enjoys the winter sun. Messmore Inter College Hostel buildings below. Peaks visible are Chaukamba, under low-hanging branch and, to the right of the cloud, Kamet. Kedarnath Peak is hidden by a tree in the middle distance. On the far left , barely visible, is Bandar Punch.
The Methodist Church in Chopra, Pauri Garhwal, where Doug & Ann Pickett lived for two years.
Chopra from the motor road above. Doug and Ann Pickett lived in the house with the red roof. Messmore Inter College is above. Notice the motor road in the distance, winding down to Srinagar on the Alaknanda.
During the winter, a tailor moves his spinning machine outside to catch the sun's warmth.
This farmer's shack probably doubles as a cow shed. That is probably a crude plow leaning against the right wall.
This is a hill village or town, probably in the foothills below Pauri.
Two village women decked out in their best silver, stand in the rice harvest they have just threshed.
Crossing streams without bridges was always a challenge in Indian road travel.
Clay is used throughout rural India for construction as a mortar for adobe bricks and, mixed with dung for strength, packed into straw to seal walls.
This scene is of a foothills village, probably in the Pauri area.
The murals on this Christian village wall, near Ghaziabad, celebrate Christmas and the three wise men. The writing says, "Merry Christmas".
This mural depicts the birth of Christ.
This assemby in a well-endowed school, promotes dental health.
Delhi's "juggi wallahs" are mostly laborers with no access to housing and technically squatters.
These kids are helping their fathers gather a bark used for tanning leather. Those who work with leather are formally outcastes or "dalit". Although the caste system is breaking down somewhat under government pressure and strong economic growth -- particularly in urban areas -- it is deeply rooted in Indian society.
This dead camel is a resource to local tanners if they can harvest its leather before the vultures render it useless.
Usually girls and women surround the village well, but these boys and men gather for a photo shoot.
A camel pulls a broken down, or fuelless, tractor home.
Seeing an elephant on the Grand Trunk Road was not rare but neither was it common. Elephants are expensive animals to purchase and maintain so most are owned by wealthy landowners. In addition to being used for labor they are hired out for weddings processions and other such events.
That's not a police van taking prisoners to jail, it's a school bus!
This is a commercial or collective laundramat in Mumbai.
Wealthy landowners or businessmen often endow the construction of temples for communities. This one contains some particularly "ornate" rooftop decoration.
Signage along the Grand Trunk Road.
Images of Nehru were often used for messages like this one promoting, indirectly, tourism.
I wonder how many countries made their own version of a Tarzan movie.
These stilt dancers are "adivasi" or tribal aborigines. Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi (see following photos) include large demonstrations of India's adivasi diversity.
These girls are dressed in their traditional tribal wear. They are participating in a Republic Day program featuring tribal and ethnic dancing and culture.
That's one heavy headdress!
This fellow is possibly from an Assam tribal group.
A Rajastani camel corps shows their stuff for India's leadership (seated a bit to our left) during the Republic Day parade along Rajpath (King's Way). I believe that is India's parliament building in the background.
Lal Bagh Church, Lucknow. My maternal grandfather and great grandfather (both bishops in India) were heavily involved in Lucknow Methodist activities and management of its churches, schools, and development activities.
Inside the Isabella Thoburn College Chapel, Lucknow.
A memorial in Bareilly to the Butlers who began Methodist mission work in India in 1856.
Isabella Thoburn College, or ITC, in Lucknow. My mother and her siblings grew up in this north Indian city while her father was a missionary here.
Lucknow Christian College.