This driving leg of the Golden Triangle was my favorite.
The morning started with the well-documented tour of a block-printing factory early in the morning and ended with our 6:00 PM arrival at a hotel “with a view of the Taj Mahal.” Read along to hear about the amazing slices of life we saw on our journey: chapati-making, brick-making, cow dung chip-making, a photo-making tip, and more. A maker’s dream!
How to Print Fabric
Monument Stop: The Chand Bauri Stepwell in Abhaneri (Our Favorite!)
This was the coolest monument we saw in India. The 3500 narrow steps that surround this perfectly symmetrical, geometrically splendid well (or baori) were built between 800 CE and 900 CE as a way to conserve and store monsoon rains for year-round use. In India, there are four seasons: winter (December to February), summer (March to May), the rainy or monsoon season (June to September), and a post-monsoon season (October to November). The well is 13 stories and 100 feet deep.
There were green parrots to be seen all over India. I was glad they made a quick appearance in this video.
The Harshat Mata Temple is adjacent to the stepwell. It was built between the 7th and 8th centuries to honor Harshat Mata, the Goddess of Joy and Happiness.
Temple ruins surround the building.
How to Transport a Lot of Sari-Wearing Women to a Wedding in the Country
We saw women riding side-saddle on motorcycles throughout India.
The motorcycles had footrests located on the left side to accommodate women riding side-saddle. By the way, helmets are not required, nor are people in the backseat of cars required to wear seatbelts, and infants and children do not use car seats.
How to Dry and Store Cow Dung for Fuel on a Farm
Here is a field of cow chips drying in the sun. They are used by rural farmers as a source of fuel.
Ravi, who lives on a farm, told us they use dried cow dung to heat water and to cook grains to feed their buffaloes.
I said to Ravi, “You cook the buffaloes’ food?!”
Ravi, replied, “If you want buffalo to give you good milk and butter, you feed them good food.”
How to Make Chapati Outdoors in a Parking Lot
We stopped to eat a delicious lunch complete with garlic naan, our favorite bread in India. We did not get the “Dehli-Belly” that travelers to India often talk about because Ravi chose restaurants that had a good reputation for cleanliness in the kitchen. Additionally, he kept the car stocked with bottled water.
After lunch, Ravi brought us behind the restaurant to introduce us to a woman who was making chapatis. Chapati is an unleavened flatbread made of either whole wheat flour and water, or ground millet and water. Ravi told us if you were going to do hard work on a farm for the day, you would eat millet chapati because of the complex carbohydrates and nutrients it provides. Otherwise, at mealtime, most eat whole wheat chapati. The woman below is making the grayish tinted millet chapati. She mixes the millet and water just before kneading and flattens the dough into a disk using her hands instead of a rolling pin.
When making whole wheat chapati, the dough needs to be prepared thirty minutes ahead of time and allowed to rest before rolling. Notice the color of the dough is lighter. The cook is pulling a ball of dough out from a mound of resting dough under the towel. This is just like what we saw in Dehli when we watched the Sikhs make chapati.
Here is a video of this lovely woman demonstrating how to roll and cook whole wheat chapati.
How to Make Bricks in a Field
We passed brick-firing chimney stacks frequently as we traveled the farm roads. When we saw laborers in the process of mixing clay and water to make bricks, we asked Ravi to pull over.
We marveled at how this woman consistently mixed uniformly-sized clumps of mud.
The brick-maker used this mold to form each brick.
He lined them up to dry.
Once dried, a team comes along to stack them for further drying. I’m not sure how long they dry before they are fired, but Ravi, who used to make bricks, told us they start the process early in the morning to give the sun time to dry them. He said, if it starts to rain while they are making them, the bricks turn to mud.
Here is a video of the brick-making process.
While I was taking pictures, this man walked over, said nothing, and posed for me.
Monument Stop: Fatehpur Sikri and the Parchisi Court
Fatehpur Sikri is a town outside of Agra. For fourteen years Fatehpuri Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal Empire. It was founded by Emperor Akbar in 1571.
The Parchisi Court
We learned from our guide that the extravagant Mughal Emperor Akbar built this Parchisi Court in 1572 to play a game that was somewhat similar to chess only the game pieces were women slaves (concubines) dressed in colorful outfits. The players moved according to dice tossed on the table. The American board game, Parcheesi, is an adaptation of this Indian game.
Here, our guide explains:
How to Shoot a Cool Photograph under a Beautiful Dome
While at Fatehpur Sikri, our guide introduced us to a fun way to photograph the interior of domes. Simply lay your phone on the ground, screen side facing up. Flip the camera lens as you would for a selfie, position yourself looking down at the camera, and either use the timer to snap the photo or your finger. We loved this photo technique and used it throughout our trip.
We had fun showing other tourists how to do it, as well.
A Room with a View: The Jewel of the Golden Triangle
We went to bed with visions of the Taj Mahal dancing in our heads.
What a fantastic day!
Cooking 35,000 Meals a Day in a Sikh Kitchen in Delhi (India, Part 1)
Learning How to Block Print in a Factory in Jaipur (India, Part 2)
Room with a View: the Taj Mahal in Agra (India, Part 4)
A Cook’s Tour of a Farm in Southern India (India, Part 5)
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