Travel day…5½ hour road trip beginning at 10:00 am…Photos…Tomorrow, a huge update!!!…

No doubt, it was sad for us to see 32-year-old Lakshmi standing outside the temple, most likely day after day, waiting for treats from visitors who believe greeting her with offerings provides them with a blessing.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Arriving only minutes ago at the hotel in Tanjore with it already after 5:00 pm, I need to rush through the balance of this post I started yesterday to get ready for a relaxing evening after today’s harrowing long drive. 
Lakshmi was so sweet and welcoming. I patted her thick trunk and looked deep into her eye. More here: “This Ganesh Chaturthi, you can visit the extraordinary Manakula Vinayagar Temple situated approximately 400 metres away from the Bay of Bengal in White Town, Pondicherry. Read on to know why devotees, photo fanatics, and experience seekers flock to this amazing temple of Lord Ganesha.”

The narrow two-lane highway was congested with trucks, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, and tuk-tuks with horns honking constantly, vehicles swerving in and out of traffic, and accidents waiting to happen. Another one of those Mr. Toad’s Wild Rides!

From this site about the significance of the elephant: “Symbol of wisdom, the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha is popularly known as ‘God Of New Beginnings’ and ‘Obstacle Remover.’ Such is the joyful sight one comes across during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Markets are colorful with clay models of Lord Ganesha, artisans look delighted with their creations, people are shopping for sweets and decoration materials. Celebrations at places like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Goa are worth an experience.”

We’re glad to be settled at another Ideal Resort, but it’s not as lovely as the last Ideal Beach Resort in Mahabalipuram, which we left three days ago. We only stay here two nights, and then we’ll be on the move again.

Lakshmi entered the temple to participate in a ceremony.

As of yesterday afternoon, we have more photos we’ve yet to post than we possibly can add here. Finally, I figured out how to get the photos from the camera, using the new SD card reader into my Google Drive and moving them over to my Google photos. It was quite a learning curve with little supportive information online that was confusing and convoluted.

Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

More and more people are ceasing to use Windows-based computers due to the issues with Windows 10 updates, and many are moving over to Chromebooks. I suspect this will be a real turning point in the computer world.

The fact that my new HP Chromebook has a battery that lasts 12 hours, it’s a whole new world to me. Using Google Drive exclusively to save my files rather than files on my desktop has also been a significant change. I kept no less than 40 files on the desktop. 
“The church beautifully depicts the events from the life of Christ through its stunning glass panels. It also contains spectacular glass pictures of twenty-eight saints, the great devotees Jesus Christ.”

Now, I have none. With Chromebook, one cannot leave a folder on the desktop. Everything, other than apps on a taskbar called the “shelf,” along with the ability to scroll down to see and use more apps, there is nothing on the desktop. 

“The south boulevard at Subbayah Salai houses this famous church in Pondicherry, constructed by French missionaries during the 1700s. It’s a classic example of Gothic splendor, and one must visit this to experience its inner beauty and peace. 

At first, I tried to find a workaround enabling me to load icons on the desktop and finally gave up. Now, weeks later, I’m OK with this new (to me) operating system. Tom has a Samsung Chromebook, and he too has become acclimated to the new system. 

The old lighthouse is no longer in use after a new one was built.

As it turned out, I’ve had to ask him how to do a few things, and he happily complied, thrilled to be the one with tech knowledge for a change. Now I am passionate about learning every possible command that can make the system hum for me.

Giant Hindu God statue near the beach.

As a result of the abundance of good photos from yesterday’s tour in Pondicherry, it was challenging sorting through all of them to decide which of those we wanted to share in today’s post.

A beautiful dome in the church.

Yesterday, I began going through them, deleting duplicates and, and less preferable shots in an attempt to narrow it down. I could spend all day, every day, going through photos. 

The interior at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

With time at a premium based on our current schedule, I have no time to crop or edit any photos we post. They are exactly as we took them, which has generally been the case in most photos we’ve published in the past several years—no photoshopping here.

“The church is also known as Samba Kovil and is located on the mission street in Pondicherry. The church is 300 years old and one of the most senior tourist sites in Pondicherry. It was initially financed and built by Louis XIV, king of France, in 1698. Since then, the church has been rebuilt more than three times as it was demolished by the Dutch and British. “

Raj was ready for us yesterday morning, and after a short drive, we picked up the tour guide for the day and began the three-hour tour of the French, Hindu, and Muslim neighborhoods, referred to as “Quarters,” as in the case of the French Quarter in New Orleans in the US.

Classic French-designed property in the French Quarter in Pondicherry.

He spoke good English, as do most of the guides, but his accent was strong, and Tom had a little trouble understanding everything he said with his lousy hearing. But, he picked up most of the content, and we both enjoyed the history lessons about Pondicherry, aka Puducherry.

Beyond this gate is a statue of Joan of Arc.

From this site: “Puducherry formerly, Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India. It is a former French colony, consisting of four non-contiguous enclaves, or districts, and named for the largest, Pondicherry. In September 2006, the territory changed its official name from Pondicherry to Puducherry, which means “New village” in the Tamil language. The territory is called Pondichéry in French. It is also known as “The French Riviera of the East.” 

The powerful symbolism of the peacock 

Pondicherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Pondicherry, Karaikal, and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé on the Arabian Sea. Pondicherry and Karaikal are by far the larger ones and are both enclaves of Tamil Nadu. Yanam and Mahé are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, respectively. The territory has 492 km²: Pondicherry (city) 293 km², Karaikal 160 km², Mahé 9 km², and Yanam 30 km². It has approximately 1,200,000 inhabitants.”

More colorful figures atop a temple.

Of course, although sad to see, one of our favorite experiences on yesterday’s tour was seeing the elephant at the Ganesha temple up close. I even had a chance to stroke her truck. Here’s information from this site on this magnificent animal:

Another temple with beautiful colorful carvings.

“At the entrance of this temple, you will see locals as well as foreigners clicking pictures and taking videos of the elephant named Lakshmi. It is no less than a celebrity. When people offer money and food to her, she blesses them with her trunk. The sight is awe-inspiring, and crowds of people gather here to watch Lakshmi showering her blessings.”

There is a “police booth” near the Ashram, which we entered, but no photos were allowed. Locals and tourists visit from worldwide to take part in the quiet and spiritual Ashram, described as follows: “The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual community located in Pondicherry, in the Indian territory of Puducherry. The ashram grew out of a small community of disciples who had gathered around Sri Aurobindo after he retired from politics and settled in Pondicherry in 1910.”

As we were leaving the area after touring the temple, Lakshmi was directed into the temple to participate in a ceremony. Since we were only allowed to take photos in a tiny room, we didn’t follow her.

War memorial in Pondicherry.

I know, I could say all kinds of things about domesticating elephants or any wild animals for that matter. But, as a guest here in India, where culture dictates that elephants may be domesticated and often “work,” I should leave those opinions to myself.

This building was filmed in making the 2012 movie Life of Pi as described here: “Pi Patel finds a way to survive in a lifeboat that is adrift in the middle of nowhere. His fight against the odds is heightened by the company of a hyena and a male Bengal tiger.”

With little time for more details on today’s photos, please bear with us, knowing we’re doing everything we can time-wise to keep our worldwide readers updated on what we’re experiencing.

May your day be rich with experiences.

Photo from one year ago today, March 12, 2019:

It was beautiful to the male Nyala three out of four days. For more photos, please click here.

Travel day…Pondicherry here we come…Photos from Mahabalipuram tours…

“Krishna’s Butterball (also known as Vaan Irai Kal and Krishna’s Gigantic Butterball) is a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline in the historical coastal resort town Mamallapuram in the Tamil Nadu state of India. Since it is part of the Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during 7th- and 8th-century CE as Hindu religious monuments by the Pallava dynasty, it is a popular tourist attraction. It is listed as a protected national monument by the Archeological Survey of India. It is best viewed at sunrise from northwest to southeast or at sundown from northeast to southwest when the panorama is bathed in magical golden hues.” Our guide explained that at one time, centuries ago, the locals tried to move this boulder using elephants, but it wouldn’t budge.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Today, we’re moving again, leaving Mahabalipuram (finally, I can pronounce this), also known as Mamallapuram (the locals changed the name when they weren’t pleased with its meaning centered around sacrifice) driving with Raj to our following location, the French-influenced Poidicherry.

Another of many temples within the World Heritage Center, made from a single rock.

It’s only a two-hour drive, but we’ll stop along the way to see a temple on the beach that we missed a few days ago during a Hindu festival when roads were blocked off due to the crowds. 

“The Descent of the Ganges, also known as Arjuna’s Penance, at Mamallapuram, is one of the largest rock relief in Asia and features in several Hindu scriptures.”

If we’d gone to see it on Sunday, it would have required a very long walk in the sweltering heat. Raj suggested we wait until today when the crowds are gone, and we can drive up to the temple and take some photos of the exterior.

Al “Varaha, (Sanskrit: “Boar”) third of the ten incarnations (avatars) of the Hindu god Vishnu. When a demon named Hiranyaksha dragged the earth to the bottom of the sea, Vishnu took the form of a boar to rescue it. They fought for a thousand years.” The wild boar, which we saw while on safari, is often depicted in historical sculptures.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Ideal Beach Resort, where we’ve savored great food, ice-cold beverages and had 10-days of laundry beautifully done for IDR 2395, US $32.44. We’ll be posting a positive review at TripAdvisor later today.

The aluminum pots are used all over India for cooking. In some communities, a driver with a truck visits villages selling these to locals who don’t want to use public transportation and carry the pots home. The driver provides “credit” for locals and comes around once a week to collect payments. Other vendors, including those selling plastic housewares, do the same.

After dinner and drinks for three nights, our entire bill, including the laundry, was only IDR 10991.43, US $148.99. Our tour included the cost of the hotel stay, and we’re only responsible for food, beverages, laundry, and tips.

A temple carved from a single massive stone.

This tour requires a lot of tipping, for which we use cash in most cases. Instead of the necessity of tracking every rupee we pay in tips, we’re keeping a running total of all money we acquire for ATMs, knowing it’s all going to pay for tips. We spend the remainder by credit card.

A tree with an unusual bulb-like base was growing from this rock.

I downloaded an app on my phone, Mr. Receipt, to note details on every receipt when we receive it. Then we can immediately toss it, and all the categories are neatly arranged. 

We carefully walked on the edges of this monument to avoid falling into this opening, formerly filled with water. While we were inside, an older man fell but wasn’t seriously injured.

This is working well, as opposed to the old method of accumulating a lot of receipts and then having to log them all at once before leaving a location. Anything that can reduce the time spent tracking our expenses is worth it to me.

Another view of one of the enormous reliefs in Asia. See details in the above photo.

We didn’t go on any tours; instead, we quietly spent time at the resort, walking about the hotel grounds, on the beach, and enjoying the lovely scenery. We had sundowners on the beach in the evening, watching the moon rising while chatting with tourists as they walked by.

Inside one of the temples/rock formations.

Now, we’re off again to Pondicherry for two nights for some new activities and tours, which we’ll post over a few days. We’re are getting good at packing quickly. 

See the sweat on Tom’s tee shirt. It was very hot when we were there, but no shorts were allowed in the temples.

Yesterday, I took everything out of my one suitcase, refolding and reorganizing everything. After dinner, our laundry arrived, and I added my clean clothes. Now my bag is tidy, and it’s easier to find items. Tom’s bag is always neat. Go figure.

The Brahma Bull…”Nandi is the gate-guardian deity of Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. He is usually depicted as a bull, which also serves as the mount to Shiva. … The Sanskrit word Nandi (Sanskrit: नन्दि) has the means of happiness, joy, and satisfaction, … His mount, in the oldest Saivite texts in Sanskrit, Tamil, and other Indian languages.”

We just arrived at yet another corporate-type hotel in downtown Pondicherry. We prefer more tourist-type hotels, but here we are again in a corporate environment. But, it’s clean, has some interesting French architecture and the dinner menu looks promising.

This was the second area we visited in Mahabalipuram, where more revered stone carvings remain excellent.

We unpacked what we needed; toiletries, digital equipment, and plugins and left our bags opened but not unpacked. We’re officially in the mode of living-out-of-a-suitcase these days, and we’re getting used to it. We can be ready to leave in minutes. This unforgettable tour of India has taught us more than one thing!

Generally, clothing in shops such as these is inexpensive.

The following is information on our recent tours in Mahabalipuram, along with the many photos we’ve included.

The area is known for stone and granite statutes that are shipped worldwide, often at a shipping cost four or five times the item’s price.

From this site: “The town has a collection of the 7th and 8th-century Hindu religious monuments that have been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, about 60 kilometers (37 mi) south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

There’s plenty of restrooms available for tourists and local for a small fee.

The site has 40 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s Penance – one of the world’s most significant open-air rock reliefs. 

Shops in the center of the town of Mahabalipuram.

The site includes several categories of monuments: Ratha temples with an architecture of monolith processional chariots built between 630 and 668 CE; the mandapa viharas with halls and stone roofs with narratives from the Mahabharata, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism; rock reliefs, particularly bas-reliefs of Shaivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism; stone cut temples, particularly those dedicated to Shiva that also reverentially display Vishnu and others, built between 695 and 722 CE; and, archaeological excavations with inscriptions some dated to 6th century and earlier. 

The cave temples and monolithic temples were built during the Pallava Period. The site is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India.”

The exterior of a civic building in Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram

Thanks for stopping by. May your day be colorful and bright!

Photo from one year ago today, March 10, 2019:

Another photo of the male Nyala who visited us for the first time on Friday along with Kudus and Ms. Bushbuck, three types of antelope in the garden simultaneously. For more photos, please click here.

Colorful temples in Chennai…

The skill and years of artful work to carve these colorful figures are mind-boggling.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you

Regarding today’s photos, taken two days ago in Chennai:

From this site

There are numerous temples in this one location. Many come to pray here every day. We weren’t allowed inside the temples since we weren’t Hindu.

“Kapaleeshwarar Temple: Dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati that is Arulmigu Kapleeswar and Karpagambal respectively, the temple should be on the top position of your list of temples to visit.

A god with a bull.

The unique facts about this temple are that it was built in the 7th century. The spectacular architecture of the temple featuring stone carving, woodwork, well-designed pillars, and various other attractive points is a treat to watch. Devotees can be a part of 6 different Pooja held daily at different timings throughout the year.”

Peacocks are the national bird of India and are often represented in many sculptures.

From this site: “Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Mylapore, Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Shiva’s consort Parvati worshiped at this temple, is called Karpagambal, is from Tamil (“Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree”). The temple is the most ancient one that was built around the 7th century CE in Dravidian architecture.

This covered outdoor area is a special place for worship and families to discuss and decide if an arranged marriage is suitable for a couple. There was one such group in this area. See the next photo.

According to the Puranas, Shakti worshipped Shiva in the form of a peacock, giving the vernacular name Mylai (Mayilāi) to the area that developed around the temple – mayil is Tamil for “peacock.”Shiva is worshiped as Kapaleeswarar and is represented by the lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Karpagambal. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the Nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.”

To the far right, this group was discussing possible plans for an arranged marriage with an arbitrator who helps determine if the union is a good fit. Horoscopes for the potential bride and groom are highly influential in the decision-making process. In the center, further back in the photo, the area was cleaned after a wedding.

Currently, we are in Mahabalipuram, staying at the lovely Ideal Beach Resort, a beautiful oceanfront property. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of this location, where we’ll wait until Tuesday to head to Pondicherry via another relatively short road trip.

It is astounding these colorful 7th-century structures have survived century after century.

Also, we took photos last night of our anniversary dinner and a lovely chocolate cake the resort provided us for our celebration, which was greatly appreciated, especially by Tom. Food photos were also coming tomorrow when we both had an excellent suitable dinner.

Today’s photos were from two days ago when we toured colorful temples in Chennai on our last day before heading this way to Mahabalipuram, a two-hour drive from Chennai. 

There were many Indian people at this site, but few international tourists from what we could ascertain. We haven’t encountered many Americans while in India party due to the distance to travel and Coronavirus fears which have seriously impacted international travel.

As much as we enjoyed the colorful temples, we weren’t fond of our stark business-type hotel, and we were pleased after two nights to be on our way. After arriving here at the Ideal Resort, we were thrilled to be on the waterfront with ocean views from our room. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this menu included some continental cuisine and a spacious and charming hotel room with a massive bathroom.

The Hindu women sat on the ground in a circle, preparing offerings for the gods in many forms.

Ah, the little things, they mean so much; a lovely room; good air-con; a comfortable bed and pillows; the food we both enjoy; and reasonably good WiFi, all are greatly appreciated by us. We seldom find a location to offer all of these amenities, but we can sit back and relax when they do, feeling grateful.

The southern part of India, where we will be going forward, is hot and humid year-round. We must remove our shoes when visiting temples, and walking on uneven ground in the heat was challenging for me at specific points. But, no whinging allowed. We continued.

We’re done touring for the next 48 hours. This two-day break is a welcome relief. We told our driver Raj we wouldn’t need him for the next few days, although he offered to stay nearby, sleeping in the luxury SUV, if we needed him to take us out anywhere to dine at other restaurants.

I tried to center this photo, but people were in the way. It was a Friday, the holy day in India.

This made no sense to us. We’re happy with the food here, and even if we weren’t, we’d hardly want him to hang around for us when he can drive two hours back to Chennai to spend these last two days with his family. Once we take off on Tuesday, he won’t see his family until March 29th, when his service to us ends. 

The only other place in the world we’d seen a temple similar to this was in Singapore in June 2016. See the link here for a similar temple.

By the way, a few days ago, I wrote that we wondered how our driver would shower, change clothes, and do his laundry. Yesterday, we asked him, and he explained that all hotels have shower and bathroom facilities for tour guides. 

Unfortunately, it was a cloudy and smoggy day impacting the quality of our photos.

It was a relief to discover, but we feel bad he has to sleep in the SUV that, with bucket-type seats, doesn’t appear to be too comfortable. Sadly, this is life in India for many workers, and we highly respect and appreciate the services we are provided with, not a complaint.

It was amazing to see these colorful temples built in the 7th century.

The tour guide we had for the temple, the first woman tour guide we had, was a little too pushy for our liking. Although very kindly and well-intentioned, she was pressing to ensure we got our money’s worth by extending the talking and the tour much longer than necessary. 

Each structure has a unique design, all of which are colorful and have survived over the centuries.

It was hot and very humid. We were both sweating profusely. I can walk long distances on flat, even surfaces, but walking up and down uneven steps and over rough surfaces is still tricky for me. I’m hoping in time this will improve. In the interim, Tom is helpful and patient with me as I soldier on as much as possible. 

A plane was flying over the temple.

It certainly hasn’t prevented us from experiencing the endless array of stunning sights in India. We’ve seen and done so much. It could take months of posts for us to become caught up.

A road on the way to the temples.

With 26 more days until the board the ship in Mumbai, we still have lots of India left to see, all of which will be in the southern part of the country where it is hot and humid this time of year, becoming more so in the days to come. We’re grateful we didn’t come to India in the heat of the summer months and highly discourage travelers from doing so. 

A sincere thanks to so many of our readers who’ve written to us wishing us a “happy anniversary!” Your kindness means the world to us!

Photo from one year ago today, March 8, 2019:

When friends Lois and Tom visited for three weeks in October, we spotted the Nyala crossing the road from a distance but never were able to get a decent photo. From there, we searched daily, hoping to spot it again, and then he magically appeared in our garden. What a treat! For more, please click here.

Travel day…Today is our 25 year wedding anniversary…Heading to the beach!…

In an old vehicle located at the Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel, Us is referred to as a Willy/Jeep. For that post, please click here.

Today, as we celebrate 25 years of marriage (together almost 29 years), we’re posting a few photos of us taken during this past 12 months, all since the dreadful surgery in February, as we continued our travels three months later in May 2019. 

Unfortunately, until we started traveling, we took very few photos of us or any of our family members for that matter. We just weren’t the photo-taking family. Not so much the case now.

On February 5th in Bikaner, India (posted February 6th), a camel pulled a cart up the steep hill to the dunes where we all gathered for sundowners. Click here for the post.

Today, with time at a premium, as we were getting ready to leave Chennai, we were struggling to find more photos of us from the past year when so much of it was spent during my recovery when I wasn’t up to it having photos taken.

We’ve made it to our following location, one we’ve been incredibly excited to visit, the village of Mahabalipuram (try to pronounce this!), where we’ll stay at the Ideal Beach Resort located directly on the ocean, the Bay of Bengal.Tonight’s dinner will be a better fit for both of us.

I checked out the hotel’s online menu, and there are several options suitable for our tastes and dietary restrictions. This will only add to the enjoyment of our anniversary dinner.

We’ve only spent two nights in the peculiar hotel, the Ibis in Chennai. Although we had incredible touring experiences yesterday, which we’ll post tomorrow, we’re content to be on our way.

Out to dinner in Minnesota in November 2019, with our dear friends Karen and Rich. Click here for that post.

This has been a tough year for us, but our love and devotion to one another have seen us through the challenges. Although I’m still not 100%, Tom provides the support and care I need when out on long, steep walks and visiting sites with lots of steps and uneven pavement. 

As we’ve often mentioned, the anniversary of our world travels has been the anniversary we celebrate the most. It was on that date, on October 31, 2012, that our dream began, and we’re so grateful we can continue every day.

On our way in December to the Vegas Golden Knights game with son Richard. Thanks, Richard, it was an enjoyable night! Here‘s the post from that night.

We take nothing for granted: not about being together; not about our lives of world travel; not about the places we’re blessed to visit; not about good health and certainly not about the people we love.

And now, at 3:30 pm Saturday, we’ve arrived in Mahabalipuram at our beautiful hotel with ocean views, excellent WiFi and air-con, and a big bathroom, not like the recent Ibis hotel in Chennai with a bathroom smaller than a cruise ship. 

We were hot and sweaty while on a Celebrity cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale after dancing at the silent disco in November 2019. Click here for that link.

For the next three days, we’ll do a little sightseeing and then spend a few days of relaxation at this beautiful beach resort. We couldn’t be more content to spend anniversary #25 this way… in India… on the ocean and in love.
Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2019:

Check out the mature horns on this Big Daddy kudu! For more photos, please click here.

Last post with Varanasi photos…Visit to a textile company…King of Brocade Weaving Centre…

                           Exquisite handmade silk brocade made on-site at Tiwari International.

We are experiencing awful Wi-Fi issues at the Ramada Hotel in Khajuraho, India. The town is considerably smaller than many we’ve visited over the past three weeks and without a doubt, this is the worse signal we’ve experienced.
The quality of the work is evident in every piece.

For the past several hours, I have been trying, off and on, to complete and upload today’s post about a fantastic silk-weaving facility we visited on our last day in Varanasi.

Neatly arranged shelves with countless fabrics in varying designs and colors.

From time to time, over the past seven-plus years we’ve been traveling, we’ve had an opportunity to describe and subsequently promote a small business we encounter along the way. 

Whether it is a barbershop, gift shop, street vendor, or luxury shop as we describe today, we’ve always enjoyed sharing details with our many worldwide readers.

Shelves are lined with stunning fabrics suitable for the wardrobe for Indian women and men, tourists, and many household goods such as draperies, furniture, bedspreads, pillows, etc.

Should any of you decide to visit Varanasi in the future, the stunning shop is worth a visit. I drooled over the gorgeous Pashmina shawls and scarves and only wished I’d had room in my luggage for one or two.

The staff was busy working with customers.

Unfortunately, after recently paying the airlines for overweight baggage, there was no way I could purchase even the lightest item and have it make sense. Plus, I cannot wear scarves often when I attempt to keep my clothing accessories to a minimum.

But, as we travel throughout India, we find most women, Indians, and tourists wearing scarves and shawls. Once women arrive in India from other countries, they immediately adopt the scarf concept to blend in with the population.

The shop also offered a wide array of ready-made clothing, including scarves and Pashmina shawls.

On the Maharajas Express, we all received no less than eight scarves as gifts at various stations as welcome gifts. I will have no choice but to give them away along the way. No doubt they contributed to my bag being overweight when some of them were pretty heavy.

But, few travelers have the same issue of “traveling light,” and many tourists come to India for shopping which is exceptionally exciting in this land of diversity and color.

The owner escorted us to the fabricating area, where a diligent weaver was hard at work.

Tiwari International appears to be a family-owned business. With the shop so busy when we arrived, we had little time to speak to the owner/manager Keshav Tiwari who was extremely kind and welcoming, even knowing we were “lookers,” not “shoppers.”

He was excited to share that actress Goldie Hawn had recently visited the shop, as he pointed to the framed photo on the wall as shown here in our photo. They were so proud to have a celebrity visit but equally enthused to welcome us.

This photo of actress Goldie Hawn hung on the wall in the shop. The staff was proud she’d come to visit and purchase several products.

We told Keshav about our visit to India and our site and promised him a story with today’s photos as a thank you for showing us around. He couldn’t have been more pleased, as were we.

The quality of their products is breathtaking, and we reveled in every category of cloth he showed us. Of course, we were in awe of the artistry he showed us by one of his workers, diligently at work on a loom. 

The finest of detail went into this lovely brocade, almost completed.

When he explained how time-consuming and deliberate the work is, we were all the more in awe of his massive inventory. Prices are reasonable, and support staff is available to assist in selections.

From their website, the following:

“Banarasi Brocades, as the world knows it, is called by the name kinkab in Varanasi. A high-quality weaving is done using gold and silver threads. Silk Threads are also used as well. The most common motifs include scroll patterns and butidars designs. The other designs are Jewelry designs, birds, animals, flowers, creepers, paisley motifs. Hindu religious and Mughal motifs also influenced brocade designs. When a Gold embellishment is done on a silver background, it is called Ganga-Jamuna in the local language.
This elderly weaver spent long days working at these looms.

The designs are first drawn on paper. The person who draws the layout is called Naqshbandi. The main weaver is assisted by a helper. This design is then woven on a small wooden frame to form a grid of warp and weft. 

The process is slow and painstaking, requiring intense concentration and expertise.

The requisite number of warp threads and the extra weft threads are woven on the loom. The famous tissue sari of Varanasi is unbelievably delicate, combining the use of gold and silver metallic threads.”

It was fascinating to observe the complicated and time-consuming process.
Finally, attention from Keshav was required, and we bid him thanks and good day with a typical Indian hands-together-bow, and we were on our way back out into the crazy traffic of Varanasi.
We had an opportunity to handle this finest of silk made by worms and of great value.

It was delightful, as always, to see how local products are made, adding even more substance and interest to sightseeing outings.

That’s it for today. Now, the challenge of uploading this post. Tomorrow, we’re embarking on an exciting road trip which begins at 8:30 am, taking us to one of our most sought-after adventures in India…eight days of safari in two distinct national parks where we’ll live in camps. Yeah!

Artistic design, coupled with great skill, produces such fine works as this.

Thanks to all of you for the many birthday wishes. Your kindness means the world to me!