Posts Tagged ‘Backpakers’

  • The Holy Cow

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    The holy cow, known as Gau Mata or Mother Cow, has a special place on the Indian psyche. But why are the cows holy in India? For sure this is a question that most of us have thought at least once. During our visit to Jaisalmer we were staying at a very nice a cozy hotel inside the Fort. We noticed that a cow came everyday to the same house and waited in the entrance until an old men gave her sweets or food. We asked him why and he told us that cows are holy and everyone respect them and also explained to us the reasons why. Many centuries ago, when the Indian civilization was still nomadic and based on the agriculture, money wasnt established yet on the rural areas and the cow was the way to measure someones wealth. Therefore it became the legal currency, exchanged for food and services, given for the marriage dowry or to pay the taxes. Besides, the cows milk was the main nutritious source for the majority of the countrys population. The cows dung was also used as a combustible in the house stove and as construction material when mixed with clay.

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    Aside the economical reasons, the cow is also considered holy due to the belief that Hindus can reach heaven just after crossing a mythological river grabbing a cows tail. Besides, the ceremony for the soul pass of a dead person includes the donation of a cow to the Brahman priest. This kind of tradition assures that the cows are treated with respect in the Hindu society. From our point of view, cows are also very useful because they eat literally everything they find: organic waste, plastics, cardboard… The garbage collection system in India is really bad or non-existent sometimes, luckily they have the cows to take care of it!

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  • Red Fort (Lal Qila)

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    The Red Fort is a fortress built in red sandstone between 1638 and 1648 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan  (the same Mughal emperor that built the famous Taj Mahal) and was after used as the head quarters by the British army. The walls extend for 2 km and vary in height depending on its orientation: towards the holy Yamuna river or towards the city. The main gate (Lahore Gate) is now the Indian police check point. Women on one side, men on the other. You go through a metal detector, they check your bag… Et voila!!! Our Swiss knife passed the control unnoticed. High security!!! You enter the fort through here and immediately access to a courtyard (Chatta Chowk) full of souvenir shops which used to sell fancy goods to the palace inhabitants such as gold, silk or jewellery. Few steps further there is a huge area consisting in well maintained gardens and monumental buildings, including the royal baths (hammam), the emperors private palace, a private little mosque made of white marble and the halls of private and public audiences.

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    It has an amazing architecture with very fine details, the restaurant’s food is tasty and cheap and the palace gardens are a good place to relax and play with the squirrels. Notice that while Indian citizens pay 10 rupees, foreigners pay 10 times more for the entrance ticket, which may be not much for our pocket but sounds funny.