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What to do in Orchha, India

During my time in India, I got to visit all of the main tourist places as well as some off the beaten path places, Orchha was one of those. It…

During my time in India, I got to visit all of the main tourist places as well as some off the beaten path places, Orchha was one of those. It was a beautiful rural town, 45 minutes from the closest train station that had many wonders to explore. It was one of my favorite places I visited in India and here are my recommendations if you make it there.

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Attractions

Cenotaphs

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Probably my favorite spot in the city, these old tombs are dedicated to the fallen kings of the region and are beautiful examples of the cultural and architecture of the region. I loved being able to climb to the top of them and just to lose myself in the exploration of something this old, without anyone around,

Raj Mahal

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Part of the massive palace you can see from the city itself, this is a great place to see the famous incarnations of Vishnu painting which is over 500 years old and just explore the palace.

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Jahangir Mahal

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This is the most impressive thing in the city as it is a massive palace set on the hillside that overlooks both the Raj Mahal and the city. It reminds me of Ankor Wat in Cambodia but with much fewer people. It is majestic and beautiful and cannot be missed.

The Palace of Vishnu

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This palace was created simply for the God Vishnu and is situated right in the center of the city. The inside is not as impressive but the exterior is worth the visit.

The Temple of Rama

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One of the most holy temples in India, this place is dedicated to the God Rama and prayers can be attended at either 8 in the morning or 8 at night any day of the week. People come from all over to see the Rama statue from 83 BC and it is an experience you must do in India to get a better understanding of the culture.

The Market

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Right out front of the temple is a fun market to stroll through that sells many touristy things such as the colored paints that are so popular in India. There are also lot of bracelets and metal pieces in the market as well. My favorite is the mangos though, I couldn’t get enough of them.

Real Orchha

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While there I had the opportunity to visit the rural area of the town with a small city tour lead by Master G It was one of the best things I did there are it really helped me to see the true city face, not the one put on for tourists.

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We visited children in their school, watched a clay pot maker working, visited a generation of women that make baskets and even got to see a women preparing for her arranged marriage that next day.

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It was amazing, here are some photos.

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Cooking Class

Another touristy thing that is a lot of fun in the city is visiting a local family for a cooking class.

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There are a few that do this and if you enjoy cooking this is an amazing way to bring a life long souvenir back to your home in the form of recipes. The women that taught us was a great teacher who repeated all of the items many times. She made a total of 8 items for us.

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She even did Henna afterwards for anyone who was interested, a fun way to relax in the city.

So there you have it, my recommendations for Orchha. It is a beautiful town to get lost and relax in and if you have suggestions for me, be sure to leave them in the comments.

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Canton Towers: Fifth Largest Tower in the World

During a recent trip to Asia I had the benefit of a 16 hour layover in the city of Guangzhou, China. I say benefit because it allowed me a free day,…

During a recent trip to Asia I had the benefit of a 16 hour layover in the city of Guangzhou, China. I say benefit because it allowed me a free day, in a new country to explore to my heart’s content before continuing my travels. One of the main stops on that exploration was to visit the largest building in China, and at one time the largest in the world, the Canton Towers. At 1,960 feet, this building is literally massive. Just sitting below the structure, complete in 2010, it is hard not to marvel at its size. Of course the real reason for a visit is a trip to the top though.

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Stats

  • Completed in 2010
  • Largest in the world for less than a year
  • 37 floors
  • 9 elevators
  • 1600 feet tall at the roof, 1960 feet at the tip

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Getting to the top

Traveling to the tower is easy, it is right off the metro line 2 which runs directly from the airport. When you get off you simply turn around till you see it then walk in that direction.

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There is a ticket booth that will sell you a ticket up the elevator and it is not cheap. I was actually surprised by how expensive it was. For my wife and I to get to the top and the deck it was around 50 dollars US. There are a few things you can do when you get to the top as well such as a ferris wheel type thing that goes horizontal instead of vertical and a ride that shoots you off the top. Both will cost you more money. We wanted to do the ferris wheel but it was closed when we were there.

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After buying a ticket you get in line then ride the really fast elevator to the top. I have been up many tall buildings in my life but this one really was nuts. When you get out of the elevator it is hard to fathom how high you really are. You can walk around and see the 360 degree views of the city below you and even buy a drink if you need something to calm you down.

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When you are ready you will want to take a walk out onto the craziest part, the skywalk.

The Skywalk

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The skywalk is a glass platform that you can walk out on for a picture. It is completely nuts as you can see all the way to the ground from here and my fear of heights started to flash. It is worth it for the picture alone as it will be something you will want to tell your friends about at some.

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The Roof

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If you paid for the ticket that includes the roof then you can take the next elevator up 3 more floors to the roof of the building and make you way outside.

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This is the Guinness Book of World Records tallest observation deck. This is where the ferris wheel is but is also a place you can just sit and hang out. The views are crazy, here are a few pictures.

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You can spend as little or as much time as you would like in the Canton Towers, for me I was only there for about an hour. While expensive it is a great stop just to be able to get the amazing views. Be sure to see it as night as well.

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Lotus Temple in Delhi, India

One of the newer attractions in Delhi is the Baha’i House of Worship, also known as the Lotus Temple, and it is a beautiful example of modern architecture and serenity…

One of the newer attractions in Delhi is the Baha’i House of Worship, also known as the Lotus Temple, and it is a beautiful example of modern architecture and serenity in a city where peace is at a premium. With a style that resembles the Sydney Opera House it is a very popular site for the Balhi religion and tourist as well. The building itself is in the shape of a flowering lotus.

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History

Inspired by the flower which its name is taken from, the Lotus Temple in Delhi is made up of 27 free standing marble petals. The one room that it houses is about 120 feet tall in the center and is a large circular room encased in windows. There are 9 ponds that surround the temple and the temple itself can hold about 2,500 people. It was completed in 1986 it has become one of the most visited buildings in the world.

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It is free to enter and you will walk about a quarter-mile along a path to the temple. Once you get close you will be asked to check in your shoes as they are not allowed inside. The shoe check in area is an experience in itself, you look through this small window where a man will grab your shoes and return a ticket, it takes less then 5 seconds and I was interested to see if I would get the same pair back.

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After that you will head up to the temple itself where you can get in line to enter. There is no photography allowed inside but I highly recommend you go in. It is even more beautiful inside then out. When you enter the circular building you will be able to sit down and just take it all in. The pews are arranged in a circular manner around the center point and the top of the temple is awe inspiring when you look up.

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You can stay for a while and relax in the peace it provides then you will exit the opposite side. Below the temple is a series of pools that really create a unique addition to the architecture of this place.

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I took my time and continued to explore before finally making my way back to the shoe area. To my surprise my shoes were easily found and I was on my way as fast as I dropped them off.

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There are more gardens you can explore as well before you leave and be prepared to be bombarded with offers for souvenirs and tuk tucks when you leave, which is part of the charm anyway.

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Hiking to Sarangkot in Pokhara, Nepal

If you want to experience a hike in Nepal but do not have time to trek like me, then I recommend making the trek to Sarangkot from Pokhara itself. This grueling…

If you want to experience a hike in Nepal but do not have time to trek like me, then I recommend making the trek to Sarangkot from Pokhara itself. This grueling hike will give you a taste of what trekking is like while rewarding you with an amazing vista when it is all complete.

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There are many ways to reach Sarangkot but the most popular is the South Trail, which starts at the lake and heads up 2000 feet in about 2.5 miles.

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The trail is beautiful, pretty much the entire way, but it is not easy-going up or coming down. It is also a little difficult to find, but if you try to follow the well-worn trail you should be ok.

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I mean, we got lost a few times on the way and ended up walking through a couple of corn fields before the farmer very graciously helped us back onto our path. There are many ways up the mountain, but this path is almost always stone stairs, so if you do not see those then you are probably not on the right path.

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The path starts in a dry creekbed and makes its way up the hillside through increasingly stunning forest and rice fields.

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When the trees give way to a clearing make sure to look behind you as you will see amazing vistas of the city and the Peace Pagoda below.

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Along the way we also met a dog that ran up and barked at us, but then proceeded to be our travel partner for most of the way. We affectionate called him “curry ” and he did help us find a path a few times.

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Here are few pictures from the hike and even though it is hard I cannot recommend it more as it gives you a picture of the countryside of Nepal.

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Here is a picture from the view at the top as well which lets you see where you started below.

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From the other side you can see the Annapurna Range. It is stunning, especially for sunrise or sunset and there is a little cafe there where you can get a much deserved water or tea if you feel so inclined.

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As my only trekking in Nepal I was thankful to be able to have this experience and it make me realize that I have to come back again sometime to do some actual hiking in this beautiful country.

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Palace of the Winds: Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

One of the most famous places in the city of Jaipur is the Wind Palace that is part of the old wall in what is known as the pink city. You can…

One of the most famous places in the city of Jaipur is the Wind Palace that is part of the old wall in what is known as the pink city. You can see why when you first visit this beautiful place and notice the red sandstone that was used to build this palace.

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History

It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh  in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five story exterior is also likened to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict covering of their face.

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Besides this, the lattice also provides cool air caused by the Venturi effect through the intricate pattern and thereby air conditioning the whole area during the high temperatures in summers.

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This place is usually crawling with people as it is one of the most popular in the whole city. This was one of the only places that we saw foreigners at while in Jaipur. The hustle and bustle of the road in front make its even more interesting as you have to be careful when crossing the street to take in the views.

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You can also pay to go inside the palace as well. We were in a rush for time when here though so we were not able to go in. I have been told that it is best from the outside anyway.

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This is also a great place for cheap souvenirs since it is such a tourist area as I bought an entire box of plastic elephants (12 in all) for 100 rupees, $1.75 USA. No trip to Jaipur would be complete without making a stop here, at least to see the outside. It is a well maintained and beautiful example of the history in this area, you can see it from all over the city as well, even at places like the Jantar Mantar.

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Jantar Mantar: Jaipur’s Famous Observatory

Up until last year the Observatory in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar, was the only UNESCO World Heritage site in the city (Amber Palace is now one as well). Just this…

Up until last year the Observatory in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar, was the only UNESCO World Heritage site in the city (Amber Palace is now one as well). Just this alone makes it worth a visit, even if you are not super scientific. I was amazed by how much smarter the people who built these instruments, hundreds of years ago are then I am today, in terms of understanding the world outside our own.

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The observatory is a collection of instruments, designed by the king in the 1700’s that all tell different pieces of the time and space equation. There are multiple sun dials, mapping systems for the planetary movements, and instruments designed to tell what time in the horoscope you are in. All of these pieces are very important to the Hindu religion ( people only get married on certain days that work with their signs), so it was important for them to understand it all.

History

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The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Sawai Jai Singh who was a Rajput king. It is modeled after the one that he had built at the Mughal capital of Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such facilities at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these.

Here are some of my favorite things to see here:

The Sundials

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In the Jantar Mantar, there are many different sundials to tell the time by sun position but a couple main ones stood out as my favorites.

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The first is the main dial, right when you walk into the area, which has a large half circle to note the sun’s position and a stairway (no you can’t walk up any of them). This dial is accurate to about 20 minutes.

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The other main sundial is the largest in the entire world and is an amazing thing to see. You notice how overpowering it is as you walk around the park.

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 It is around 88 feet tall and is able to tell the time within 2 seconds of error. One of the crowning achievements of the park and my personal highlight in the park to see.

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You can also see the wind palace peaking up from behind the walls from here as well in the above picture.

The Celestial Trackers

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In the center of the park is two big half circles that can track the movements of the planets with Jaipur in the center. Each piece if stacked on each other would show the enter solar system, as they saw it. We got a lengthy explanation of it but I am not sure I fully understand how it works.

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The other tracker was a large stone circle that had Jaipur and the planets on it and could be moved to where the suns current location was as it tracked the movement of the planets.

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Here are some of the other spots I saw there, all with their own purposes for understanding more about time and space.

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Be sure to visit this UNESCO site when you are in Jaipur, it is worth it.

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