|“The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu temples and Jain temples in Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh India, about 175 kilometers southeast of Jhansi. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures.”|
These five or six-hour road trips are teaching us a lot more about India than any other tourist venues we’ve been visiting day after day. Traveling through the countryside of this country with a population of over 1.3 billion is without a doubt eye-opening.
|We couldn’t have been more thrilled with our private tour guide, Dr. Anand Tiwari who had a doctor’s degree in Hindu idols. He explained he’d done a tour the prior day with guests on the Maharajas Express! What a coincidence and an honor for us! He can be reached here for tours.|
The distance between towns is often as little as two to three kilometers. Then suddenly we were caught in yet another quagmire of horn honking traffic, tuk-tuks, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles, cows, goats and dogs in the streets.
Here again, vendor lean-tos line every possible surface with often impoverished sellers soliciting passersby, particularly tourists like ourselves. The amount of poverty before our eyes is unbelievable and yet these cheerful people seem to take their circumstances in their stride.
|It’s ironic but we visited this historic site on a very special day, the wedding anniversary of the revered Lord Shiva, as part of an annual festival. This stairway to his temple was packed with visitors coming from all over India to honor him.|
Sure, there are obvious homeless beggars in the street, but overall the people seem to be preoccupied with their work and tasks at hand, often with a smile on their faces. We are the “odd-man-out” and they may look at us in a state of sheer wonder and curiosity.
|The carvings on the temple resulted in many years of work by the skilled artists.|
Our India travel agency and rep Rajiv didn’t let us down. Upon arrival at the beautiful upscale safari camp, Tiger’s Den Resort, we were escorted to our beautifully appointed “luxury accommodation” (as they described our room) to find it to be perfect.
It’s not a tent. It’s a series of rooms, each with its own small veranda connected as duplexes might be by a common wall, each with direct access to the outdoors. The furnishes remind us of India in the 1920’s such as the former retail shop in the US, Bombay Trading Company.
|The various temples are breathtaking.|
As soon as we arrived, and explained my special diet, our reception host brought my food list to the chef who met with me to discuss options. I made it easy for him. Prepare chicken or fish in butter (not bad oils) with a side of steamed vegetables without starch. Add two hard-boiled eggs at breakfast and lunch, not dinner. Easy peasy.
|Visitors climbed these steep uneven steps but we opted to observe rather than climb.|
We had a nice lunch in the nearby dining room and now we’re situated in our room or outdoors on the veranda until dinner at 7:30 pm. Perhaps we’ll order a glass of wine for me and a beer for Tom to enjoy on the veranda. Humm…sound familiar…just like South Africa.
Tomorrow morning at 6:00 am, we’ll experience our first of six safaris we’re scheduled for during our four days at this camp. Our travel agent booked us for “private” safaris each time, with a driver and a naturalist on board in the vehicle. We didn’t expect this but are delighted. It was included in our package.
|We’re posting only two Kamasutra photos etched into the temples here but they are a part of the history and needed to be represented.|
Unfortunately, there’s no WiFi in the rooms so at the moment I’m using my Google World phone as a hotspot and although the signal isn’t great in this area, it’s working. It will cost us quite a lot for the data we expect to use but sometimes, we have to bear such expenses.
Most likely, when we head to our next location on the 26th, there will be more of the same. The only expenses we’ll incur at either of these safari camps will be tips and beverages. Three meals a day are included in the package. A picnic breakfast will be provided when we go on safari in the morning. Nice.
|Another hand carved representation of Kamasutra as it was practiced centuries ago. It is no longer accepted based on the polyamory (multiple partners) premise frowned upon by the Hindu people.|
So now, I must get to the photos of the fantastic tour we had yesterday in Khajuraho to some of the most stunning temples we’ve seen to date. Again, we don’t have a lot of time until dinner so I need to wrap this up quickly.
|This is a goddess surrounded by servants and admirers.|
Gosh, I’m excited to be here. It reminds me of Africa and nothing warms my heart more than that! Will we see a tiger? Maybe, maybe not. But whatever we see, we’ll share here with all of you.