The Pink City Of Jaipur & Holi Festival

The Pink City Of Jaipur & Holi Festival

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Jaipur

I stepped out of the train station in Jaipur and was immediately hit by a wall of tuk tuk drivers wanting to take me here, there and everywhere. I took a breath and went to the side to figure out what I wanted to do, I had made no plans from here on so I was completely making it up as I went – which was overwhelming at first but within seconds I just went with it. I was approached by a young guy who spoke pretty good english so I opted to go with him and just said to him take me to the nearest hostel.

I knew he’d probably take me to one of the most expensive places as they usually get a cut of the price for taking business to them but I went with it and he actually ended up taking me to a really nice place which wasn’t too bad. I stayed at the Vashnavi Hotel which cost me 1000 rupees (£10/$15) per night for a double, air conditioned, ensuite and breakfast room – I needed this after my experience in Delhi haha

I booked to go with the driver, Mosim for the rest of my stay. He took me to lots of the tourist hotspots and we became good friends over the days I was in Jaipur. He invited me to his village over 3 hours away from the city where I got to attend a family wedding. It was insane! There were hundreds of people dancing in the street with the groom following behind on horseback; fireworks were being let off, there was a giant speaker system on the back of a cart and everyone was throwing money in the air.

As well as meeting his distant relatives I was also invited for dinner, cooked by his mother and grandmother; a delicious authentic Indian meal of chicken masala, daal, rice, chapatis and curd.

I got to see a lot of sights in Jaipur which included: Amber Fort, Pink City, City Palace, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Royal Albert Museum, Monkey Temple, Shopping bazaars, elephant village & more. I’ll go into more detail about some of these in later posts for anyone who’s curious about my experiences.

Holi Festival

I had also timed my trip to India with the celebration of Holi! A festival that I had always wanted to experience in India and I was so happy I got to get the real feel of the celebrations. The night before Holi there were bonfires being lit all over Jaipur and all you could see was columns of black smoke shooting up all over above the city. Hundreds of people lined the streets walking between each fire to make offerings. Once the bonfires had reduced to simmering ash piles everyone went in to take some back to their homes. The bonfire is symbolic of the victory of good over evil and of the fire that burned Holika.
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The next day the famous coloured powders washed the streets of Jaipur symbolising the new beginnings, banishing of evil and the start of Spring & the New Year.

 

I’m currently posting more images from my trip before I head to Ghana at the end of the month, follow the adventure on my social links!

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Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

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Swayumbhunath – ‘The Monkey Temple’

It’s clear if you follow me or have read previous blog posts that I LOVE Nepal. I also love visiting the various temples you’ll find at every corner or hilltop if you venture around the country. My favourite though, is Swayumbhunath, a Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site nicknamed ‘The Monkey Temple’ sits atop a hill in the Kathmandu valley. From the first time I visited this spectacular structure I loved it and would strongly recommend giving it a visit if you ever plan on visiting Nepal and Kathmandu. Adorned with hundreds of coloured prayer flags and mischievous little monkeys the temple offers some awesome views of the surrounding city and mountains. The temples jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography make Swayumbhunath one of the most fascinating religious temples to see.

The mix of local souvenir sellers, religious devotees and spiritual offerings happening all around make visiting Swayumbhunath a great place to experience. People spin the prayer wheels around at the base; within each one the equivalent of chanting the ‘om’ prayer sits inside – to create a flow of good energy as they walk clockwise around the gleaming white stupa. All the while the sound of calm, ominous chanting is played which gives being there a kind of magical feeling; if you manage to go there on a sunny day then the whole place feels like walking in a dream with the light reflecting off the whitewashed stones.

I visited the stupa in March 2016 a year after the April 2015 Earthquakes and the stupa is still standing proud with some maintenance work going on but the structure still intact; many of the smaller temples surrounding it have been reduced to rubble.

Please enjoy some photographs I shot at the temple from my last visit!

 

Prayer Flags

Turning the Wheels

EYES

Om Prayer Wheels

Wheels

Pigeons on Stupa

Renovation Work 3

Renovation Work 2

Monkey at Sway 2

Flags With A View 2

Candle Prayers

Monkey Temple

Praying Statue

Renovation Work 1

Monk Meets Monkey

1000+ Hundred Flags

Buddha in Stupa

Monkey See

Prayer Wheels

Gliding

Staue at the Stupa

Sway

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Festivals Around the World

Festivals Around the World

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With Christmas 11 days away! I thought I’d talk about some of the different festivals around the world. Celebrating events is something that every culture anywhere can relate to wether its religious beliefs, a landmark in time or spiritual. There are so many I want to experience on my travels that I wanted to write a ‘festival bucket list’. Here are 10 of the Festivals I definitely want to experience in my lifetime!

 

  1. Holi Festival in India/Nepal

Holi is a spring festival, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.”

http://s1.dmcdn.net/BRwTo/1280x720-5IP.jpg - Festivals Around the World

2. Chinese New Year in China

“Chinese New Year is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Celebrations traditionally run from the eve to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month, making it one of the longest celebrated festivals. The first day of the New Year falls on some day between 21 January and 20 February.”

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/2414662/images/o-CHINESE-NEW-YEAR-LANTERNS-facebook.jpg - Festivals Around the World

3. Up Helly Aa Fire Festival in Scotland

“Up Helly Aa refers to any of a variety of fire festivals held in Shetland, in Scotland, annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season. The festival involves a procession of up to a thousand guizers in Lerwick and considerably lower numbers in the more rural festivals, formed into squads who march through the town or village in a variety of themed costumes.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02466/viking-boat-1_2466272k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

4. The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

“The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02841/rio-carnival--danc_2841261k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

5. Mardi Gras, New Orleans in USA

Mardi Gras is an annual Carnival celebration in the Southeast United States in New Orleans, LA.

The Carnival season, a variation of the traditional manner of preparing for the start of the Christian liturgical season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany (January 6). It is a season of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls), and king cake parties. It has traditionally been part of the winter social season; which at one time was when parties for Southern Society women, débutante balls, were arranged.”

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Components/Slideshows/_production/ss-130212-mardi-gras/ss-130213-mardi-gras-01.jpg - Festivals Around the World

6. Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan

“The Taiwan Lantern Festival is an annual event hosted by the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taiwan to celebrate the Lantern Festival.”

http://www.emlii.com/images/article/2014/02/52f056650e542.jpeg - Festivals Around the World

7. Songkran Water Festival in Thailand

“The Songkran festival meaning transformation or change. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart, the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01871/Ayutthaya-elephant_1871481i.jpg - Festivals Around the World

8. Festival of the Sun in Peru

“The Inti Raymi (“Festival of the Sun”) is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti, one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset and the Inca New Year. In territories south of the equator the gregorian months of June and July are winter months.”

http://www.machupicchutravel.com/images/masts/inca-festival_masthead.jpg - Festivals Around the World

9. Diwali Festival of Lights in Nepal

“‘Deepavali (or Diwali, the “festival of lights”) is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) every year. Diwali is one of the largest and brightest festivals in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02397/girl-light_2397286k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

10. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.”

http://i4.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article6734220.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/Estrella-Stephanie-Sigman-and-Bond-Daniel-Craig-in-the-crowds-of-El-Dia-de-los-Muertos-procession.jpg - Festivals Around the World

Looking at all those festivals around the world just makes me want to book tickets now and go experience those places!