04
Jan 18

Lions and Tigers, Who Rules the Jungle?

We have had the opportunity to spend time on safari in East Africa and Central India were we’ve had the rare pleasure to see and photograph African Lions and Bengal Tiger in their natural environments.

African Lions, Mating Pair. Serengeti, Tanzania. 2018

Both large cats are absolutely magnificent, they are in fact the two largest cat species alive today. An adult male African lion can weight as much as 550 pounds or 250 kg while an adult male Bengal Tiger can weigh as much as 700 pounds or 325 kg!

I asked our naturalists and guides while on safari in India who would win in a fight between an African Lion and a Bengal Tiger. Without hesitation the response was “tiger, hands down”. Why were they so sure?

Tigress Kill. Ranthambore, India. 2018

A tiger is larger and heavier than a lion and tigers have the largest teeth of any cat species. Lions hunt in packs called prides and their prey typically weighs up to 1200 pounds. Tigers are solitary hunters and their average prey weighs around 900 pounds. Both are carnivores and a tiger will eat anything, even other tigers!

Male Tiger. Kanha, India. 2018

One of our tiger guides told us a story about a young male tiger that went into the territory of an older male tiger and they had a huge fight. The younger male killed the older male and ate every last bit of him. “it happened right over there” the guide said pointing to a small hill in the distance.

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23
Dec 17

Inside Ellora Caves, Aurangabad India

The flight from Mumbai to Aurangabad was pleasant and we had a leisurely discussion about what do. There were quite a few sights to see and we were most interested in the Ellora Cave complex. The most remarkable aspect of the Ellora caves being the “great Kailasa”. This is a large Siva temple that was carved out of the solid volcanic basalt hillside. The complex was carved completely intact during the 7th-9th centuries as a single monolithic structure and took five generations of devoted builders to complete. There are no seams or individual stones.

Between. Ellora Caves, India. 2017

First the sides of the Cliffside were cut to create the rough dimensions then the entire complex was carved from the top down. The large interior spaces are exquisitely carved out caves and the high ceilings in the main temple required the artist to intricately carve a solid rick ceiling much like Michaelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I’d never seen anything like it.

Shiva Temple. Ellora Caves, India. 2017

We spent a long time there because it was so beautiful and peaceful and the light was quite remarkable. The stone buzzed with spiritual energy and throngs of people came pouring through. There were families with children, artists with sketch pads, loving couples, elderly women, all of them had come to see this remarkable place.

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21
Dec 17

Maximum City – Mumbai, India

Mumbai was a big congested city, and I mean big. The population hovers around 21 to 25 million people. The city sat on a peninsula like San Francisco and was surrounded by the Arabian Sea. I have a deep relationship with the ocean and I was excited to be in a coastal city. Traveling through the Mumbai, there was no shortage of signs of the former British colonial presence and I spied a number of gorgeous neo-Gothic buildings.

Hare Krishna. Mumbai, India. 2017

From our hotel, we had an ocean view that overlooked the Gateway of India Arch. Looking out the window at the small bay in front of the arch, I could see small tour boats moored on one side and small fishing boats on the other. The sunset was beautiful. We decided on dinner in the hotel at the modern Indian restaurant, We were seated next to the gentleman who was hand rolling, tossing and cooking roomali roti, known as handkerchief roti in english. They looked absolutely delicious.

Happiness. Mumbai, India. 2017

We walked around a few places in Mumbai, one being an outdoor hand wash laundry and another being the lunch box people. While we were driving I saw a weathered wooden fishing boat up on the sidewalk next to a group of what looked like lean-to’s and shanties. This looked interesting and we stopped. It was a small busy community of fisherman. Judging by the looks of things it was low tide as men were being attentive to their nets and children walked about looking for ways to send their homemade kites high into the air.

Lunch. Mumbai, India. 2017

I found Mumbai to be a very vibrant city and appreciated having a chance to see and visit the smaller communities and businesses that contributed their energy to the life of the city. No trip to Mumbai would be complete without discussing “Slum Dog Millionaire”, and our chat about the slums was pretty interesting. I can tell you that all the shanties have power and satellite dishes. Also due to their hard work and population density, the people that live in the slums make up an important part of the cities economy.

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20
Dec 17

Reflections of Udaipur, India

Lakeside. Udaipur, India. 2017

Udaipur lies in the southern region of Rajasthan, or as our friend Rohit says, it is Heaven. Having spend a few days there I can’t disagree. In addition to being Rohit’s hometown, Udaipur is a resort destination for both domestic and international travelers. It’s appeal was immediately clear.

Carpet. Udaipur, India. 2017

When we arrived, we could see just how lovely the city was with it’s many lakes, rolling green hills and beautiful architecture. Also the air was fresh and the sky was blue. Across the lake from our hotel we could see the City Palace spilling down the side of a hill like a giant layer cake until it stopped at the waterline.

Mirror. Udaipur, India. 2017

Visiting the City Palace was fun and it similar to many other Indian palaces we had visited except for the view which was really spectacular. I also really loved the shadows and light playing off all the lovely marble used in it’s construction. Windows of colored glass and mirrors showed off the shapes of the rooms and the columns.

Cool. Udaipur, India. 2017

Jumping on a boat it was really a pleasure to be out on the lake, tour around and watch the sunset. A few films had been shot at locations around the lake here and I remembered seeing the scenes. Rohit had us over for dinner at his house and we enjoyed an amazing home cooked meal as well as meeting and spending time with his family. I especially had fun sharing calligraphy with his niece. She showed me her notebook and pen and I showed her mine, inky fingers unite!

Spirit. Udaipur, India. 2017

Our most profound experience In Udaipur however was spiritual. For me it was somewhat unexpected since I consider myself very grounded spiritually. This was something new and I think it something to do with the cumulative effect of spending so much time in India and being in so many powerful spiritual places. I’ll be telling that story soon.

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18
Dec 17

Step Wells and Star Wars In Delhi, India

After a week in the jungles of Central India we returned to Delhi to catch a plane to Dharamshala. Unforunately the weather in Dharashala was bad and our flight was delayed several hours. We decided to stay in Delhi, see a few sights and catch the new Star Wars movie.

Step Well. Delhi, India. 2017

One of the sights was the second oldest step well in Delhi called Agrasen Kibaoli dating from approximately the 10the Century. It was massive and deep with several levels build into the walls and a long descending staircase. When we arrived voices and shouts were echoing off the walls. A group of students were there, perhaps on a field trip and from the looks of it, they were having a great time. It was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen.

Up. Delhi, India. 2017

After the step well we continued on to the movie theater which was in a suburb of Delhi. Pulling into the parking lot I looked up and there were blue skies! Blue skies near Delhi! It was a very new theater with IMAX 3D and we had reclining chairs in the back, very nice indeed.

A peculiarity of watching movies in India is that you have to stand for the Indian National Anthem at the start of the film. The sound system loudly declared “Please stand for the Indian National Anthem” and respectfully we did. Another thing is that there is an intermission in the middle of the film that lasts about 15 minutes. The first time this happened I thought there was something wrong with the projector but now I know and kind of appreciate it as a good time to get up and take care of personal business.

Christy and I have enjoyed seeing films in other countries because it’s fun to see how other cultures go about the same familiar rituals as we do. It was a great time.

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15
Dec 17

Tiger Safari Kanha India Part 3

Tiger Khan. Kanha, India. 2017

We had been having good luck. With the exception of our first day at Bandhavgarh, we had great tiger sightings every day. Curiously, all the tigers we had seen were female. A male tiger sighting was conspicuously missing. Thankfully that was remedied in the fading light of the last hour of our last day.

Tiger Tongue. Kanha, India. 2017

He was a large 8 year old male and he was quite the character. We noticed he had an injury on the front of his left shoulder.

Tiger Fun. Kanha, India. 2017

We followed him for for an entire hour and he was so much fun to watch.

More Tiger Fun. Kahna, India. 2017

He had a long name and number so we started calling him Sher Khan after the tiger character in “The Jungle Book.” Truly he was the king of the Jungle.

Sher Khan. Kanha, India. 2017

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