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A highway village
The small village of Dudu, located in the province of Rajasthan along the highway, is a town where you only stop if your bus has a flat tire. There are no other tourists, and people stare at you just as much as you stare at them. But if you come this way anyway, visit the local market, which is the natural meeting point of the little town. Here, people are shaved and are having a haircut in the middle of the market, different kinds of food are sold along with pretty water jars, shoes, old tools and harvesting tools. Meanwhile, the men sit in small groups on little wicker chairs and discuss everyday issues and news.
Near Jaipur, Rajasthan
13 kilometers from Jaipur in Rajasthan you find Amber Fort, built in 1592. The palace is situated on a hill with sweeping views over the area and it is a classic example of Rajput architecture. If you do not have the energy to walk up to the fort, from the foot of the hill, you can ride up there on elephant back for a fee. There are lots of tourists who do this, so you should expect to queue for a while. The palace covers a fairly large area, and there are fine columns / arches, painted ceilings, mirror mosaics, courtyards and women in bright blue saris who walk around sweeping.
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, Rajasthan
In Jaipur lies the vast astronomical observatory Jantar Mantar, which was built between 1727-1734 by Maharaja Jai Singh II. The area is one of Unesco's World Heritage Sites, and consists of 14 major geometric instrument made of marble, stone, and bronze. The instruments were used to measure time, predicting eclipses, measuring the distance to the planets and the like. Among others, it has the world's largest sundial, which is 27 meters high. It is impressive that these approx. 280 years old measuring instruments are still extremely precise - and sometimes are used to predict the weather by local astronomers.
Khajuraho erotic temples
Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
In the town of Khajuraho, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, a number of ancient Hindu temples are located. They are regarded as some of India's "Seven Wonders" and are also on the list of UNESCOâ€™s World Heritage Sites. The temples were built around 1000 years ago and from the original approx. 80 temples, 25 are left. They are located in 3 different parts of an area of 20 square kilometers, and they can easily be seen in a single day. Besides being impressively well preserved, the temples are also known for their extremely erotic carved figures. Back then, there were obviously no sexual positions, persons or animals, you could not throw yourself at... No wonder that this is the land of the "Kama Sutra"!
The small village of Orccha has not yet been discovered by mass tourism, probably because there is not that terribly much to see here. Since there are not many tourists, there are not many places to stay either. However, the town has some beautiful old temples and palaces built in the 16th and 17th centuries, towering beautifully and distinctively in the landscape. Together with the villagers and other pilgrims you can witness sacred ceremonies in the evening in the Rama temple in the city center or stroll around in the small town. And if you're lucky, you might run into a movie set with extras in colonial uniforms....
Pushkar is one of India's oldest cities. There are lots of temples in the city - but the main attraction is the large lake, that has approx. 50 "Ghats" - ie. stairs, which go down to the water's edge. It is interesting to observe both local and Hindu pilgrims, who wash their clothes and bathe in the holy water. Please note that it is not allowed to photograph people who bathe. You should also dress with respect, which means that you must not show knees or shoulders. The rest of the town consists of narrow alleys with camels and stalls from where locals sell exotic food, puppets, orange flowers and white sugar cubes, that Hindus sacrifice to the gods. Traders are fortunately not that aggressive here, so as a tourist you can walk around in peace and quiet.
Near Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Apart from touring the ancient temples of the city, there's not much else to do in Khajuraho. But around 20 km outside the town, there is a special waterfall, which water level is completely dependent on the monsoon. This means that there is only a bit of water at the bottom of the approx 30 meters deep fall, when it is outside wet season. The place is still interesting to visit without the water, though - and you can clearly see the different stone types including pink sandstone and black lava rock in the deep rock formations. The waterfall is also surrounded by a national park, where you can take a guided safari tour.
Sawai Madhopur market town
Near Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
When you are not on tiger game drives in Ranthambore National Park, visit the nearby town of Sawai Madhopur. Here, the entire city is virtually one big market, and there are stalls with citrus fruits en masse, sugarcanes are crushed into cold drinks, and colorful food markets are found, when you walk into some of the smaller lanes. People are being shaved in the streets, men sit and sew outside their fabric shops, women sit on the ground and sort groundnuts and weave baskets, while longhaired black pigs roll in mud and dirt on the roadside. There are not many tourists here - but the village is worth visiting, if you are in the area anyway.
Gurudwaras Bangla Sahib in New Delhi, India
In the heart of New Delhi, the important Sikh temple Gurudwaras Bangla Sahib is located. It is open both day and evening, and there are not that many tourists here. You cannot wear shoes, and both outside and inside the temple you have to wear a headscarf covering your hair. (This applies to both men and women). At the entrance there is a very efficient system/wardrobe, where you put your shoes and get back a wardrobe number. At the foot of the stairs to the temple, there is a low basin with holy water, where you have to wash your feet before entering. Inside the temple there is a chanting priest, who is surrounded by an audience, who sit quietly on the floor. Behind the priest people queue to offer sacrifices to the gods. Even though it is a sikh temple, it seems almost muslim in some ways.
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
When you visit the Taj Mahal, it is obvious why the monument is on the list of The Seven Wonders of the World, and you'll be amazed at how large the old mausoleum actually is. It took approx. 22 years to build it, and it was completed in the year of 1653. The Taj Mahal was built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to the couple's 14th child. Her coffin was placed in the middle of the monument, and when the Emperor died approx. 20 years later, his coffin was placed next to hers. So besides that it is a beautiful and impressive building, it also has a romantic history. There are always lots of tourists, but the area is so big that it does not spoil the experience.