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Travel Pictures - INDIA (South) - 1999

All images Ron Miller

       India certainly lives up to the stereotype of impossibly crowded cities with holy cows wandering the streets as they please. However, there is much to surprise and astonish the visitor - especially those who stray from the beaten path. In fact, the amazing array of  man-made marvels in this country may be unmatched on the planet. Perhaps even more mind-boggling is that a country with such an enormous human population can possess wildlife parks that, although small in area, contain a variety of animals that rival Africa.
       I entered the country at Mumbai and traveled down the west coast through Goa and Madurai before moving north to Bangalore, Hyderbad, and Gandhi's ashram in the very heart of the nation. The next destination was the capital city of New Delhi which was the launching point for excursions to Agra (Taj Majal), Rajasthan, and the Himalayan Mountains.

Mumbai, formerly Bombay, has a lovely "London with palm trees" appearance in the city center. This huge metropolitan area has a population of more than 14 million and its seaport handles more than half of India's maritime cargo. Mumbai is also the home of Bollywood - India's film and television industry-
Mumbai, India
The 280-foot-tall Rajabai Tower, on the grounds of the University of Mumbai, was modeled after Big Ben in London. In the foreground, several young Indians are playing cricket - a sport the Indians are simply mad about -
Mumbai, India
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station (formerly Victoria Terminus) with its Gothic architecture is an architectural masterpiece
and World Heritage Site. Although the structure gives a strong appearance of civility, it is pure chaos inside those stone walls with
people sleeping on the floors and masses of Indians standing in impossibly long queues. The locals (Indians) had to wait in lines
with waits of several hours; meanwhile, foreigners (like myself) had their own "special" lines with NO waits! -
Mumbai, India
Malabar Park's colorful vista above Chowpatty Beach -
Mumbai, India
This pedestrian causeway, jutting out into the Arabian Sea, is the only access to the Haji Ali Dargah (tomb) and mosque.
This picture was taken at low tide when pedestrians may safely stroll the rail-less causeway -
Mumbai, India
Mani Bhavan is the house were Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to the city.
In addition, it was at this location that Gandhi launched several of his political movements.
The building is now a museum that chronicles his life story -
Mumbai, India
Vendors peddling vegetables on the city's sidewalk -
Mumbai, India
This lovely monument, the Gateway of India, sits on Bombay Harbor. This photo was taken
through the windows of the top floor bar of the nearby Taj Mahal Hotel -
Mumbai, India
These magnificent cave temples were carved out of Elephanta Island's solid rock. This was the first of India's many treasures
that I would visit and, typical of the majority of India's attractions, I was amazed even though I had never even heard of the attraction -
near Mumbai, India
The tiny state of Goa lies along the Indian Ocean about 250 miles south of Mumbai. The popular beaches of this former
Portuguese enclave attract Indians, Europeans, and all types of travelers. Where else but India will you find
half-naked Europeans, Indians dressed in full-length Saris, and COWS all sharing the same beach? -
Colva Beach; Goa, India
These two trendy cows are hangin' at the Hard Rock Cafe (the second cow is lying under the umbrella behind the chairs!) -
Baga Beach; Goa, India
Fort Aguada, perched on top of the distant hill, is now "home" for many tourists previously involved in the drug trade;
notice the brown cow (center of picture) enjoying the seascape -
Goa, India
Goa's former capital, Old Goa, is an intriguing city that is today nearly abandoned despite the extravagant cathedrals built by the Portuguese during
the 1500's and 1600's. Old Gao's imposing churches are lavishly constructed with interior domes, columned balconies, and outdoor courtyards -
Old Goa, India 
One of Old Goa's many grand cathedrals, the Basilica of Bom Jesus, contains the incorruptible body of St. Francis Xavier - one of the founders
of the Jesuits. St. Francis Xavier ventured on extensive missionary voyages throughout primitive S.E. Asia. When he died in 1552, "The incorrupt
body of St. Francis Xavier" was said to have avoided decay despite not being embalmed - only placed in quicklime. The "miracle" was said to
have continued for more than a 100 years, and parts of the body were spread throughout S.E. Asia. Finally, the remains were placed in a
glass coffin and they are on display in the church. Evidence that sometimes fact is stranger than fiction!-
Old Goa, India 
Old Goa has a ghostly feeling of desertion, especially at the ruins of St. Augustine church -
Old Goa, India 
The teetering ruins of the 150-foot bell tower of St. Augustine Church -
Old Goa, India
These amazing carved stones, which express so much craftsmanship and history, sit abandoned and exposed to the elements.
India has many treasures that have been abandoned, often due to the population being decimated by disease and epidemics
or radical changes in the cultures religion from conflict -
Old Goa, India
While I waited for a bus, this man brought down an entire coconut tree,
piece by piece, using only a machete and a firm grip -
Benaulim, India 
A lovely sunset through the thick haze of the dry season -
Vagator Beach; Goa, India
The "backwaters" along India's southwest coast is a region of lakes, lagoons, rivers, canals, and rice fields that have led
to the creation of a watery lifestyle that is unique within India. This creative drawbridge is raised and lowered manually -
Allepey, India
The world often looks upon India as the poster child for overpopulation and destruction of natural habitat but, paradoxically, the country is home
to a multitude of magnificent wildlife parks. Most visitors experience the park either from the back of an elephant or from boats plying Periyar's
large, man-made lake set amid forests and savannah. In addition to these wild elephants, I observed spotted deer, sambar (a large Indian deer),
wild boar, monkeys, bison, otter, and a small group of wild dogs feasting on a freshly killed sambar -
all during a brief two hour boat ride! The park also has tigers and leopards -
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, India
The Sri Meenakhi Temple's 160-foot-tall stone towers (goporams) dominate Madurai's skyline -
Madurai, India
This 160' tall goporam is composed of intricately carved stone blocks -
Sri Meenakhi Temple; Madurai, India
A close-up of the intricately carved blocks that make up this massive goporam -
Sri Meenakhi Temple; Madurai, India
The temple elephant hands out blessings - after you pay a small fee) -
Sri Meenakhi Temple; Madurai, India
The safety standards in India "fall" short of those in the West! -
Madurai, India
This Indian family offered to share some of their food with me, which I logically
assumed was a friendly gesture ... until it set my mouth on fire!
Well, it's not the hot, but the "thought" that counts -
near Delhi, India
This legless beggar slides about the train on a wooden post to collect small change. Like most people, I am often torn between 
empathy for the less-fortunate and a strong desire to not support begging as a lifestyle. However, in this case, the choice was not so difficult -
near Delhi, India
During the British hegemony in India, several hill stations were constructed throughout the country so that the British elite could escape India's blistering summer heat. One such town, Ooty, sits in the comfortable highlands of Southern India among tea plantations that lend a manicured appearance to the surrounding hills. However, Ooty itself is far from manicured, as the town is burdened with congested streets and smelly ditches clogged with garbage and sewage (typical of India). Sadly, the botanical gardens provide the only location to avoid the filth and congestion of this resort! These flowering gardens provided an island of sanity that was almost free of litter. The Indian tourists seemed to appreciate the cleanliness and tranquility of the gardens because it was the most popular attraction in town -
Ooty, India
Mysore's main attraction is the extravagant walled palace of the Mysore maharajas. The massive palace has a wealth of opulent treasures
with huge carved doors and exquisitely painted walls showing scenes of fantastic palace celebrations -
Mysore Palace; Mysore, India
Entering the grandiose palace, I actually felt the strange paradox of this tourist experience as everyone had to remove their shoes to
tour the interior. Something seemed amiss as I viewed such opulence in my bare feet along with all of the other barefooted tourists.
The absence of shoes (and the resulting sand and grit) is said to help preserve the marble floors -
Mysore Palace; Mysore, India
The spectacular ruins of Hampi are one of the world's magical locations. Hampi was the capital of the vast Hindu empire of Vijayanagar
from the 1300's to the 1500's. At its peak, the city had a population of a half a million only to be abandoned after Muslim invasions
overtook the Hindu empire in 1565. The ruins are scattered among banana and coconut plantations, and hemmed-in by
boulder-strewn mountains decorated with balancing rocks -
Hampi, India
Vista of Hampi from the summit of Matunga Hill -
Hampi, India
Some of he ruins at Hampi bear a striking resemblance to ancient Greek and Roman ruins. However, the Vittala Temple
has its own style with musical stone columns and an imaginative layout that is adorned with profuse carvings -
Hampi, India
Someone once described Hampi as "Dreams carved from stone" -
Hampi, India
How about this fantastic stone chariot carved from stone -
Hampi, India
These enormous entryways are sized appropriately for pachyderms -
Elephant stables; Hampi, India
The Ugra Narasimha Statue was masterfully carved from a single piece of stone in 1528. The statue portrays Lord Narasimha
in the form of a half-man half-lion. The granite strap was added to stabilize the knees -
Hampi, India
A seat at the back of the bus has a different meaning in India. I was fortunate to visit Hampi during a major festival,
and a popular gathering as evidenced by these attendees -
near Hampi, India
This organized mayhem efficiently transported villagers to Hampi on the day of the festival. Those who could not find space
inside the buses or on the roof of the buses, arrived piled onto rickshaws and oxcarts -
Hampi, India
The Indian's are resourceful as they create their own double-decker buses -
Hampi, India
Virupaksha Temple includes the enormous gopuram that towers 170 feet above Hampi Bazaar -
Hampi, India
Simply spectacular. The two, brightly decorated, wooden structures to the right of the gopuram are
"rolling gopurams" that have been readied for the festival -
Hampi, India
Rolling goporams and balancing rocks -
Hampi, India
Cows of a different color -
Hampi, India
Barefoot amid the ruins. These young girls proudly posed for a group photo -
Hampi, India
Colorful young ladies -
Hampi, India
The young lady in the bright dress really stood out with a special twinkle in her eye,
and she quickly assembled her "friends" for a group photo -
Hampi, India
Festival attendees atop one of the region's granite domes adorned with fragile-looking columned structures -
Hampi, India
The full moon is rising as the festival draws to a close -
Hampi, India
Sunset over Hampi Bazaar -
Hampi, India
I do not know the significance of the rolling gopurams -
Hampi, India
The crowd became rather frantic when the mass of volunteers began pulling this rolling goporam using massive ropes.
This frenzy was the cue for the police officers to maintain some semblance of order through the judicious use
of billy clubs and switches. The rest of the world doesn't even allow dogs to be treated this way -
Hampi, India
The festival came to a climax with the arrival of the temple elephant -
Hampi, India
The temple elephant, in a blessing frenzy, tapped hundreds of heads and still managed to collect rupees -
Hampi, India
The creative Ferris wheel turned rapidly with a two-manpower engine. The two men began spinning the wheel from the ground
and then acrobatically climbed into the interior to spin the wheel even faster by running in place like a caged hamster -
Hampi, India
A close-up of the inner workings of the Ferris wheel's engine -
Hampi, India
Okay, I couldn't stand by on the sidelines any longer. The blessing ritual commences the moment the recipient extends his or her open palm
with an offering of small change. The elephant quickly snatches the coins with its trunk and gives them to the mahout. Then the recipient
bows toward the elephant, which gives the blessing by lightly tapping the receiver's head with the underside of its trunk! -
Hampi, India
Baptism by pachyderm? I think the Elephant enjoys giving the blessing as much as I enjoy participating in this strange ritual. The blessing
really does have a spiritual aspect - even to the westerner. After all, it requires a certain amount of faith to bow before such a large beast - you have seen the tragic footage of "elephants gone wild" at the circus! -
Hampi, India
Hyderbad is city that has a large Muslim population (40%) and has much to offer the visitor. The four minarets
of the Charminar, built in 1591, rise more than 180 feet. Visitors can climb the spiral staircase within the minarets
for a panoramic view of the city. The beautiful structure was built as a memorial to plague victims -
Hyderabad, India
The Golkonda Fort was built in the 12th century and is the former capital city of the ancient Kingdom of Golkonda (1364-1512).
This huge fort contains a 10 kilometer outer wall built to resist Mughal invasions from the north -
Hyderabad, India
Only Gandhi's oversized effigy could exude such gentleness -
Hyderabad, India
Rush-hour traffic -
Hyderabad, India
This Buddha statue, at 72 feet in height, is said to be the tallest monolithic (carved from a single stone) statue in the world.
Roughly 200 sculptors worked on the white granite for two years -
Hyderabad, India
This Buddha statue, weighing 350 tons, sat at the bottom of Hussain Sagar Lake
from 1985 to 1992 due to an unfortunate shipping accident! -
Hyderabad, India
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All images Ron Miller
For authorized use of these photos, please contact Ron Miller at TheHappyCannibal@gmail.com