Posts tagged: travel blog

India: The Most Wonderful People In Chennai

By , June 7, 2011 2:24 am
Orb Networks India Team

Boris At Orb Networks In India

The day I announced that I was leaving for a trip around the world, I promised my co-workers from Orb Networks in Chennai (aka Madras) that I would come visit them. In keeping that promise, I saved the best for last.

We are starting to be used to the pain of finding a semi-clean hotel in India, but Chennai tops it all. Chennai is the second largest technological center in India after Bangalore and because of that, visitors are usually on business trips and can afford western prices. For us, this translates to decent hotels starting at $100. We are able to find hotels in our $15-$20 budget, but they are just crumbling. We spend our first day walking, riding on rickshaws, visiting hotels, pausing for coffee and then finally at night, we give up and go back to the only nice hotel we found that was willing to negotiate a little.

Our Room At New Victoria Hotel in Egmore

Our Room At New Victoria Hotel in Egmore

The next day, my former coworker comes to pick me up to bring me to the office. I was wondering if anybody would actually remember me since I left over a year ago, but as soon as I enter the office, it is like everyone is waiting for me and gives me the warmest welcome. It is great to finally meet my colleagues I once worked so closely with: Shami, Deepa, Sanjib, JP, Ram, Pradheep, Suresh and the rest of the great QA team. I catch up with everyone and they take me to a very nice Chinese restaurant in a fancy part of the city. Food is delicious and I have a great time with everyone.

Lunch With Colleagues @ A Chinese Restaurant

Lunch With Colleagues @ A Chinese Restaurant

On Saturday, JP and Ram bring us all the way to Puducherry (aka Pondicherry). On the way, we stop at Dakshinachitra where we can observe a village that reconstitutes the traditional living of the different ethnic groups of South India. It is incredible how much of a difference there is between people living in the same country. During our time there, MuiMui gets her future read by a parrot. It looks like she will become financial independent by the end of the year. 😉 I take a shot at making pottery and fail miserably.

Traditional House @ Dakshinachitra

Traditional House @ Dakshinachitra

Weaving A Silk Sari

Weaving A Silk Sari

Boris Taking A Shot At Pottery Making

Boris Taking A Shot At Pottery Making

Parrot Brings Good Fortune

Parrot Brings Good Fortune

Next, we go to Mahabalipuram to see temples that were carved straight out of rock. The magnificent carvings are found all over the temple walls and tell a story of the river Ganges. It is definitely worth a stop if you are going there, but be careful, it can be scorching hot!

Mahabalipuram, The Temple City

Mahabalipuram, The Temple City

Arjuna's Penance

Arjuna's Penance

Krishna's Butterball

Krishna's Butterball

Finally, we make our way to Puducherry where we stop at a nice vegetarian restaurant for a well-deserved lunch. The city has a nice mix of French colonial and Indian architecture. A visit to Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a must do. This Ashram was created by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. The story is extremely interesting and I invite you to read more about it on the website of the Ashram.

Large Ghandi At The Shores Of Puducherry

Large Ghandi At The Shores Of Puducherry

In front of the Manakula Vinayagar Temple, we stumble upon a blessing elephant. I get blessed once and MuiMui can’t get enough so she gets blessed twice. It is good to have small change with you for donations when visiting temples in India.

Boris Getting Blessed By An Elephant

Boris Getting Blessed By An Elephant

On Sunday, we are invited to go with Shami to the Kapaleeshwarar Temple. The temple is gorgeous, but we are more mesmerized by the devotion of the people. Shami explains to us that there is an order in which to pray for the different gods. For some of the gods, we put coloring on our forehead, walk around the statues several times, or even lay on the ground to pray. This looks surreal as we are trying to comply with the customs and observe without disturbing too much.

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

Moment Of Prayer

Moment Of Prayer

A Woman Praying

A Woman Praying

Prayer Candles

Prayer Candles

After the temple, Shami invites us to have lunch at his place. Shami’s wife cooks us a delicious Tamil vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf. I cannot remember everything we ate, but it was all entirely new to us and very delicious. We also had the chance to meet Shami’s son, his mother, and his grandmother (who is visiting). Thank you!

A Tamil Vegetarian Lunch Served On A Banana Leaf

A Tamil Vegetarian Lunch Served On A Banana Leaf

Beautiful Faces Of Chennai

Beautiful Faces Of Chennai

On our last day, we do some last minute shopping. JP brings us to the best shops. Shopping in Chennai turns out to be a lot of fun as we visit a few jewelry shops filled with gold and sari shops with gold-threaded silk saris worth several thousands of dollars. While we do not have a use for a sari, it is still very tempting.

Beautiful Silk Sari

Beautiful Silk Sari

Window Shopping For Gold

Window Shopping For Gold

We say goodbye to the Orb India team, and from Chennai, we fly back to France.

We cannot thank each and every one of you enough for making our last stop in India an unforgettable one. We are very grateful for your kind gestures and making us feel so welcomed. In return for your hospitality, we invite you all to visit us in San Francisco or in France.

Boris With JP And Ram @ Shore Temple

Boris With JP And Ram @ Shore Temple

A Kolam And Flowers Found In Front Of A Home

A Kolam And Flowers Found In Front Of A Home

Painted Wall @ Dakshinachitra

Painted Wall @ Dakshinachitra

Puppets @ Dakshinachitra

Puppets @ Dakshinachitra

Handmade Toys

Handmade Toys

Little Devotee Inside Temple

Little Devotee Inside Temple

Chariot Memorial Dedicated To Tamil Poet-Saint Thiruvalluvar

Chariot Memorial Dedicated To Tamil Poet-Saint Thiruvalluvar

Boris On Local Train In Chennai

Boris On Local Train In Chennai

Our Takeaway Dinner

Our Takeaway Dinner

What We Paid: INR USD Euro
– Jet Airways flight from New Delhi to Chennai 5232/pp 117 80
– Train from the airport to Egmore 7/pp 0.16 0.11
– Double room @ Hotel New Victoria in Egmore [clean, nice, includes breakfast and Internet, mixed feelings with staff] 2439/double 54.50 37.30
– Lunch at Saravanaa Bhavan South India vegetarian restaurant chain 55/pp 1.23 0.84
– Take-out food at a local restaurant (chicken, fried rice, Chapathis and parottas, sauces) 30/pp 0.67 0.46
– Entrance of Dakshinachitra 200/pp 4.47 3.06
– Entrance of Mahabalipuram Temple 250/pp 5.59 3.83
– Entrance of Aurobindo Ashram 0 0 0

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

India: Hidden Gem In Fatehpur Sikri

By , May 27, 2011 9:08 am
All This And Quietness

All This And Quietness

Agra was a little too touristy for me so I request to escape to some place quieter, 26 miles away to be exact. Not knowing much besides the name of the city, we find our way on the correct local bus to Fatehpur. Even though it is towards the end of our travels, the experience of a local bus is still a surprise.

Me & Frenchie Riding The Local Bus

Me & Frenchie Riding The Local Bus

Cutest Boy On The Bus

Cutest Boy On The Bus

Street View

Street View

As the bus arrives in the city of Fatehpur, is seems busy with just locals and no tourist in sight. As we walk around in the tiny streets, it feels so real here. There is a man selling spices in his wooden pushcart, a barber grooming a young man in a shop without walls, a baker in the process of cooking a local delight, a boy ironing in the middle of the road, and everyone just stops to look at us, and then smiles.

Arrival Into Fatehpur

Arrival Into Fatehpur

Hard Working Old Woman

Hard Working Old Woman

Barbershop

Barbershop

Eyeliner On Babies For Protection

Eyeliner On Babies For Protection

Rug Maker

Rug Maker

Minutes later, we have two kids following us followed by five and then they keep coming. It is nice at first, but after following us for fifteen minutes, I start to question what is going on.  A young man tells us the children want to know if we have pencils on us. I felt so bad as we didn’t have any goodies on us.

Sophisticated Little Girl

Sophisticated Little Girl

Brothers

Brothers

On the top of the hill is the palace city. It consists of two major parts, the sacred and royal complex. The architecture and history here is very interesting and worth the read, but there is still more to be discovered about this abandoned city. We first visit the sacred complex and from the moment we step in, we need to remember to look left, right, up, and down at all times so we don’t miss out any details of the remarkable interior.  We visit the numerous tombs and mosque.

Entrance To Sacred Complex

Entrance To Sacred Complex

Inside Sacred Complex

Inside Sacred Complex

Magnificent Interior

Magnificent Interior

Blend Of Different Styles

Blend Of Different Styles

We continue to the royal complex where there is even more to see including the palace, a five-story pavilion, and various halls. There is a romantic aspect to the overall architecture and the redstone engravings and pillars are truly inspirational.

Five Story Pavilion @ Royal Complex

Five Story Pavilion @ Royal Complex

Detailed Pillar

Detailed Pillar

Wall Design

Wall Design

Engraved Columns

Engraved Columns

We thought we finished seeing everything and as we are leaving the royal complex, something catches my eye next door so we go to check it out. The guards at the royal complex are surprised I want to see this section but they give me the ok to enter. Maybe it is the feeling of discovery or abandonment, but I am in awe of this hidden gem. It is mostly ruins here but the remaining arches and roundness of the interior feels very modern. We are by ourselves until we find a local boy just hanging out. We follow him to the rooftop and the curves resulting from the round sections of the structure is a neat detail. Why do we have flat roofs again?

In Ruins But Still Beautiful

In Ruins But Still Beautiful

Infinity

Infinity

Normal Structure From The Side

Normal Structure From The Side

Pure Inspiration From On Top

Pure Inspiration From On Top

If you are coming to Agra, the Taj Mahal maybe famous and something you are going to definitely see, but if you like architecture or want to be the only tourist, Fatehpur Sikri is well worth the visit.

Homes In Fatehpur

Homes In Fatehpur

Chopping Away

Chopping Away

Spices

Spices

Man In Turban

Man In Turban

One Smile A Day

One Smile A Day

Beauty

Beauty

Happy Goat

Happy Goat

Boy Taking A Rinse

Boy Taking A Rinse

Pretty Girl

Pretty Girl

New Father And His Baby

New Father And His Baby

Exterior Of Mosque

Exterior Of Mosque

Mosque Interior

Mosque Interior

What We Paid: INR USD Euro
– Local bus from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri [1 hour one-way, bus comes every 30 minutes, no AC, can get crowded so not a good idea to catch the last return bus] 17/one-way pp 0.38 0.26
– Lunch 60/pp 1.33 0.93
– Coke 25 0.56 0.39
– Entrance of the Sacred Complex 0 0 0
– Entrance of the Royal Complex [keep your Taj Mahal ticket since it will give you a discount of 10Rs] 250/pp 5.60 3.90

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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