Daulatabad Fort

Here we are at the Daulatabad Fort which is a historical fortified citadel located in Aurangabad India. Interestingly Lord Shiva is believed to have stayed on the hills surrounding this region and the fort was called Devagiri, meaning Hills of Gods. 

The surrounding moat used to be filled with crocodiles to deter enemies.

The Chand Minar can be seen through the archway. This means tower of the moon and was erected in 1445 to commemorate the capture of the fort. One of the finest examples of  Indo-Islamic architecture in southern India.


Taj Mahal Palace Hotel


We arrived in Mumbai to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is a heritage, five-star, luxury hotel built in the Saracenic Revival style in the Colaba region. The Gateway to India is in front of it.

The hotel has 560 rooms and 44 suites with 1600 staff.

This became one of the main sites during the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Ten men associated with the terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba stormed the building. After three days, nine of the gunmen were killed during the Indian commando raid. One attacker survived. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman, was executed in November 2012.

The group apparently wanted to strike a blow against Indian wealth and progress. Security was much tighter when we stayed there.

Security was especially tight in the airports where security have heavily armored placements throughout. I didn’t have enough nerve to take a picture of such a placement since photos were quite forbidden.



Leopold Cafe


We were doing a simple walk about during our first days in Mumbai. This is when we came across this cafe. I was not aware of its notoriety at the time.

We generally knew that the cafe was mentioned extensively in the novel Shantaram and its sequel The Mountain Shadow, which is why we stopped. It was particularly known as a popular hangout for foreign tourists.

The cafe became an early site of gunfire and grenade explosions during the 2008 Mumbai attacks by terrorists on Nov 26, at about 9:30 PM. The terrorists sprayed the restaurant with bullets from inside the restaurant from outside. They killed 10 persons and injured many others. The restaurant was extensively damaged during the attacks.

Afterward, the cafe became popular with many Indians to commemorate the spirit of defiance. The Leopold Cafe has preserved some of the signs of the attack as a memorial.


#india #mumbai #leopold

Jantar Mantar


We toured a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments built by the Kachwaha Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh in 1734. A Unesco World Heritage site,  Jantar Mantar features the world’s largest stone sundial. This photo shows the observation deck of the vrihat samrat yantra (the world’s largest sundial)

With the instruments you can observe astronomical positions with the naked eye. The observatory demonstrates Ptolemaic positional astronomy which was shared by many civilizations.





Bahai Temple


One of our tours in New Dehli was the Bahai House of Worship, also known as the Lotus Temple. This was completed in 1986 and serves as the Mother Temple. CNN reported it as the most visited building in the world in 2015 with perhaps 4 million visits per year.

There appears to be over 2 million Bahai worshipers in India at this time. We managed to get in just as they were finishing a service. The singing was quite sublime.

I am not sure most would agree with the following statement, but some of the research shows that the growth of the Bahai Faith in India has been greatly assisted by the recognition of Krishna as a Messenger or Manifestation of God, alongside Jesus, Muhammad, Zarathustra and Baha u llah himself.



#india #bahai

The Lake Palace


One of the highlights of our India trip was several nights at the Lake Palace. Built in 1743, the Lake Palace was home to the rulers of Udaipur, is now a heritage hotel run by the Taj group of hotels. It stands in the midst of the 696 hectare man-made Lake Pichola. The magic starts with a short boat ride from the mainland to the hotel. The hotel is one of the few buildings in the world completely surrounded by water.

Just as we entered, we were showered with rose petals from someone on the upper level. The staff are exceptional of course. There are 83 spacious rooms and suites. The center courtyard has an enchanting Lily Pond. A sole musician is often playing softly in the courtyard. In the evening, local artists provided the entertainment.

There are a few places to dine in the evening. All of it was tremendous.







New Delhi


In Langar Hall, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib at Connaught Place in New Delhi, we were able to witness the charitable work that is carried on.
Huge cauldrons are used to provide food for the thousands of people that come through the hall.
No tables or chairs. People sit on the floor. Hundreds more sit outside waiting their turn.

Shiva as Lord of the Dance

img_0266During our time in India, we learned about a number of entities. Shiva constitutes part of a powerful triad of divine engery within the Hindu Religion.

Brahma, the creator

Vishnu, the presever

Shiva, the destroyer.

All things must come to a natural end so that they can begin anew. Shiva is the agent of that change.

Things never end. Just begin anew!


#motivation #tuesdaymotivation

Gandhi’s Mumbai

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Lawyers helped shape the face and fate of India. I refer to Mahatma Gandhi, India’s spiritual leader, and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. We could see the impact of these two leaders as we completed a month-long tour of various cities in India in November and part of December.

As you might suppose, the experience overwhelmed us. We landed first in Mumbai, India’s largest city with a population of more than 21 million, including the various regions. Mumbai lies on the Konkan coast adjacent to the Arabian Sea. With a deep natural harbour, people have inhabited this region for thousands of years.

Mumbai claims three UNESCO World heritage sites including the Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and a vast number of Victorian and Art Deco Buildings. Boasting the most millionaires of any city in India, the name of the game almost always includes commerce.

Our tour organizer collected 15 brave souls to travel India for the next month. We arrive at the luxurious Taj Palace Hotel. This heritage five-star saracenic hotel opened in 1903 and could then claim India’s first elevator, bar and jazz scene. A few of our company took advantage of the spa and various treatments available. The wide range of restaurants and bars cater to a wide range of tastes. The hotel includes some notorious history when it became the scene of the 2008 terrorist attack. The hotel reopened after several years with extensive renovations and security precautions.

img_0253The Taj can be found near the sea and the Gateway of India. The Gateway intended to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary on their visit to India in 1911. They did manage to see the mock-up model as the actual Gateway was not completed until 1924. Constructed from basalt, the 26-metre-tall Gateway became the ceremonial entrance to India for the viceroys and governors of what was then Bombay. Interestingly, the last British troops left in February 1948 following India’s independence. The Gateway serves as a memento of British Rule. On Sunday, my wife and I toured the grounds in front of the Gateway. Amid the thousands of other locals, five families separately asked if they could take pictures of us with their families. A number of others simply took surreptitious selfie shots with us in the background.

Our first full day takes us on a 7 a.m. walkabout. By rush hour, some of these areas become impassable. We first pass by the India Stock Exchange. Once again, the threat of terrorism reduces vehicle traffic.

img_0259-1On the second day, we come to the Mani Bhavan where Gandhi lived for a number of years. Gandhi attended law school in London and practised in India for only a short period. He found a position essentially in-house in South Africa. Here he championed Indian rights and fought against excessive land tax and discrimination. When he returned to India, Gandhi occupied one room in this house from 1917 until 1934. From here, he launched the Satyagraha in 1919.

Satyagraha essentially means holding on to truth. This formed the essence of Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance. This did not mean inaction, but rather it encapsulated civil resistance. Gandhi developed this approach prior to reading Henry David Thoreau’s book Civil Disobedience. Gandhi contrasted his approach as defining it as a weapon of the strong, as non-violent and as an insistence upon the truth.  The British brutally put down any potential insurrections, and at the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy park on April 13, 1919, when the British fired upon unarmed protestors, the Indian National Congress determined that more than 1,000 people were killed. Gandhi took other opportunities to recommence his Satyagraha.

The Indian government converted the Mani Bhavan into a museum. Several of Gandhi’s letters are shown, along with numerous dioramas showing Gandhi’s efforts toward gaining Indian Independence. His room shows little furniture and a simple mat on the floor along with his accompanying spinning wheel. In 1921, at Gandhi’s suggestion, the spinning wheel found a place on the Swaraj flag.

We stopped and read a number of Gandhi’s sayings framed on several walls. A letter from Albert Einstein stated: “Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

We leave the museum with a greater understanding as to how the history of the country could be impacted by one individual. This drive for independence can be reflected in the rest of our tour and how the country slowly adapted.

img_0262We come across the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, one of the UNESCO sites, which serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways. British architect Frederick Stevens designed the building in the manner of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The structure merges the best of industrial technology at the time along with the Gothic Revival style. In Mumbai alone, 2,342 train systems carry more than 7.5 million passengers daily. We returned to the structure in the morning when it was still dark. The lighting display exaggerated the various styles and made it well worth the effort.

Early this same morning, we set out to see the paper sorters. Out on the street, dozens of vendors sort out the various newspapers to be delivered to certain businesses and individuals. Delivery takes place using a standard bike carrying stacks of papers more than a metre tall. Other vendors can be found selling chai nearby. We drink a small sample and find that the boiling hot tea, enhanced with a bit of ginger, is delicious.

The noise and the activity can be captivating. During the monsoon season, the sorting and deliveries would be far more challenging.

Later that day, we set out to see the Dabbawalas (“someone who carries a box”) food delivery. Also know as dabbas, they deliver the more than 200,000 tiffin lunch boxes daily. The dabbas traditionally wear the white kurta (smock) and a white Gandhi cap, and they ride bicycles. The typical tiffin lunchbox comes in three or four tiers. The bottom tier contains rice while the other tiers contain vegetables, dahl, flatbreads and a dessert. Families cook the majority of the meals. With 5,000 dabbas moving this many tiffin lunches, they still manage a more than 99.999% success rate. The entire system became the focus of an article in the November 2012 Harvard Business Review.

The dabbas collect the tiffins around 10 a.m. from the various cottage industries and deliver them. A system of symbols and colours ensures that the right meal gets to the right individual. After lunch, the whole system reverses itself.

img_0260Afterwards, our tour guide takes us to Dhobi Ghat. Mumbai lays claim to the world’s largest open laundry. The laundry comprises rows of open-air, concrete wash pens and a flogging stone. More than 7,000 people (dhobis) flog and scrub the clothes in the morning. One can see the amount of effort going into washing each piece. The clothes then dry in the afternoon. Tourists can observe the laundry in action from the bridge near the Mahalaxmi Railway Station.

On the bridge, my wife took the opportunity to feed one of the many charity cows. For 100 rupees, the person tending the cow provides you a handful of grass to feed the cow as part of one’s charitable work for the day.

Driving back to the hotel gives us the opportunity to watch the overwhelming amount of merchant activity that takes place on the street. You can travel to different bazaars to focus on vegetables, fish, flowers, spices and just about everything else. Walking through the spice bazaar became an aromatic experience.

Ghandi’s vision of a prosperous India included its people being as involved as possible. He objected to the craze for machinery and not to machines as such. He believed that the supreme consideration should be the individual.