India #15 (Reflections)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) The first question from most folks: “Did you get sick?” (By which they mean, of course and politely, “Did you suffer gastro-intestinal disturbance?”) The answer: “No.” “How did you manage that?” “Easy. We did what the locals do. We drank only bottled, boiled (coffee & tea) or filtered water.” “How about shots?” “No shots. Just pills against typhoid fever and malaria.” “Did you avoid raw fruits and vegetables?” “No. We stayed in good hotels that had lavish buffets with plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. We ate locally grown – and raw – melons (all kinds), Continue reading

India #14 (Taj Mahal)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) The Mughal Empire ruled northern India in the 1500s and 1600s. Shah Jalan was one of its great emperors. His wife, Mumtaz Mahal – the Shah’s “chosen one of the palace” – died in 1631. The grief-stricken Shah set about building her tomb. In 1643 the Taj Mahal was complete. The Taj Mahal is so famous, few need a reminder of its appearance. We enclose our photos nonetheless. From there we headed to Delhi and our flight home. (Many thanks to our daughter Mera – see photos – for her assistance with the text.) Questions or Continue reading

India #13 (Bhimbetka)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) While on a rail journey near Bhopal in 1957, V. S. Wankankar, an Indian archeologist, recognized terrain reminiscent of that surrounding the European cave art. He returned to find the Bhimbetka cave paintings. They have been investigated continuously ever since, and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Some of the Bhimbetka cave paintings are reported to be 30,000 years old, the equivalent of the famous prehistoric European venues. But Bhimbetka is accessible, unlike the European locales which are closed to sightseers. Bhimbetka is only a couple of hundred yards from the road, and Continue reading

India #12 (Sarnath & Sanchi)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) The Hindu religion is thousands of years old. The Buddha, who turned away from Hinduism, gave his first sermon at Sarnath (near the holy Hindu site of Varanasi) in 528BC. At the time Sarnath was a great center of learning. The first photo gives you an idea of the site’s extensiveness. The Emperor Ashoka built a stupa (shrine) there in the third century BC. Our guide told us that Ashoka’s grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya, had established the Mauryan Empire a century earlier and stopped Alexander the Great at the Battle of the Indus River. Ashoka conquered almost Continue reading

India #11 (Varanasi)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) Varanasi is audacious and utterly unapologetic. There are a number of scenes you can witness in there that you probably won’t observe in your home town: families bearing corpses aloft on bamboo platforms bringing their departed to the cremation ghats on the banks of the Ganges, the ashes to be deposited in the river; dawn bathers en route to the river for a purifying dip, accompanied by laundrymen with baskets of clothing to be washed there too; a variety of livestock in the street, including cattle, water buffalo, goats, dogs and the occasional hog; madcap traffic Continue reading