Here Polly helps Captain Danesh to steer the houseboat through the backwaters of Kerala.

One of the chief exports of Kerala, in the south of India, is rice and these houseboats were formerly used to carry rice from the rice fields. Other exports from Kerala are coconuts and spices. Kerala is warm all the year through with an average day time temperature of 35 degrees centigrade. It has many lakes and backwaters, ideal for transporting cargo but also, now, a thriving tourist industry.

Polly can't resist a go at steering the houseboat although she needed a little help from the captain.

Polly admiring the sunset over the backwaters

Polly stayed at one of the resorts on a lake in Kerala. This one also had a yoga centre so Polly felt she should practice her yoga positions before joining the professionals. Polly practiced her Downward Facing Frog position. Yoga is a form of exercise which is very popular in India as being good for both the body and the mind.

Polly visited the town of Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas. In 1960, after China had invaded Tibet, a group of Indian army officers rescued the Dalai Lama and took him to Dharamsala. Ever since then, the Tibetan Government in Exile is based at Dharamsala, as is the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is a holy man, head of the Buddhist religion. Polly met some of the Buddhist monks who live there.

Polly was at Dharamsala when the Dalai Lama announced his retirement. He is retiring because he feels that he is getting old now and there should be someone younger leading his people. Unfortunately, Polly was not allowed to attend the ceremony to celebrate the founding of the Free Tibet Movement where the Dalai Lama gave his speech. This is because the Dalai Lama is protected so they wouldn't let Polly in because they thought she was just a soft toy and bombs and guns can be smuggled in soft toys. They didn't realize Polly was a proper visitor like the rest of us. However, Polly was allowed to go to the temple when the ceremony was over. Here she is in front of the Dalai Lama's temple, just beside his residence. The Dalai Lama lives in very simple surroundings. He does not have lots of money and jewels because he believes you do not need such things to be happy.

Another temple Polly visited was the Golden Temple of Amritsar which is a holy place for people of the Sikh religion. Sikhism is the 5th largest religion in the world with approximately 23 million Sikh followers, 19 million of those living in India. The Golden Temple is their holiest of places. It was founded in the 15th century as a way to unite the religions at a time when Hindus and Muslims were fighting each other in India, much as they do in some parts today.

Sikh men wear turbans which Polly thought she might like to try too. The trouble was she couldn't see, so she had to resort to wearing a shawl like the other women visiting the Golden Temple.

This is in the communal kitchens in the Golden Temple where people come to eat free of charge and others come to make the food for them. Here they are making bread.

Golden Temple kitchens- Here they are making the bread dough into chapatis, a kind of bread they eat in India, and putting them into the oven.

And here are the cooked chapatis coming off the line. Polly thinks they smell really nice and is getting a little hungry.

The next place on Polly's trip was to a place called Shimla in the Himalayas. The Himalayas, in the background of this picture, are the highest range of mountains in the world, the highest of which is Mount Everest.

Shimla is the town in the foothills of the Himalayas where the British used to go when it got too hot for them in Delhi. This was during the 1800s and early 1900s when the British ruled India. This is Polly at the Viceregal Lodge, where the British government in India used to rule during the summer time. India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947 and the arrangements for that were discussed and agreed in this building.

Polly was feeling a bit green so she was very pleased to see there was a doctor's clinic in Shimla, especially for her although she hoped the doctor would be better at mending bodies than spelling names.

India is very famous for its railways. This is Shimla station which was built by the British so they could move up to Shimla in the summer time. Polly was going to go on the famous Toy Train which runs from Shimla back to Kalka and then on to Delhi. It is not really a train for toys but it was built small so it could travel on the narrow mountain passes.

This is Mary and Polly waiting for the Toy Train.

This is Maqsood, a porter at Shimla station. He has worked for the Indian Railways for many years and although that means he has to live away from his family, whom he misses, he is proud to work for the railways. Last year he was in a television programme about the Indian Hill Railways made by the BBC. So Maqsood is now famous and Polly was very honoured to meet him.

At last Polly was on the train and enjoying the view as it traveled down the mountains.

Polly had a friend called Tony who was really enjoying the ride. To be honest, Polly felt the people she was traveling with were all rather over-excited at being on the train. Polly was the quietest of them all.

Taj Mahal from the river side

Taj from distance

This was the nearest Polly was allowed to get to the famous Taj Mahal because again, she was thought to be a soft toy and was not allowed into the grounds. The Taj Mahal was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal after she died in childbirth in 1631. He loved her so much that he wanted to build another Taj but in black stone on the other side of the river, about where Polly is sitting. Unfortunately he was deposed by his son who imprisoned him in Agra Fort from where Shah Jahan spent his final years looking at the Taj Mahal, the tomb of his beloved wife, from afar.

Fortunately Polly was allowed into Baby Taj, another palace just down the river from the Taj Mahal. This was built about ten years before the Taj Mahal as the tomb for Itmad-ud-Daula, another Mughal prince.

This is Polly on her visit to Fatehpur Sikri, not far from Agra where the Taj Mahal is. Fatehpur Sikri was built as the first Mughal town in 1570 but it was abandoned only 14 years later because the water supply was not enough to support the number of people who needed to live there. So it stands empty to this day, very well preserved, like a ghost town.

Ranthambhore National Park is a huge area of wild land where tigers and other protected wildlife can live. Polly is hoping to see a tiger but she is a bit nervous.

And sure enough, Polly saw a tiger. Can you see it in the trees at the right of the picture? Polly was wisely staying a long way away from the tiger because tigers eat frogs, even travel frogs.

Here is Polly, her friend Tony and the young lad who looked after them so well on their coach. In the background is the Amber Fort, near Jaipur, which was Polly's next destination.

The Amber Fort as we see it today was built in 1592 by a General called Raja Man Singh. Polly is sitting in one of the windows in the fort, overlooking the lake and town of Amer.

This is the window from which the women of the Royal Family used to watch events in the courtyard below. the women were not supposed to be seen so they had to hide behind this lattice work.

Inside the Amber Fort there is a beautiful hall of mirrors. Polly is sitting in one of the alcoves.

In Jaipur, not far from the Amber Fort, there is the biggest sundial in the world. It is part of a large observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1734.

This is the City Palace in Jaipur where the Maharajah still lives to this day although he is no longer a king as India is now ruled by a democratically elected government.

The City Palace at Jaipur has some beautiful doorways inside it. This is the Pritam Chowk doorway.

7 people like this post.


12 Responses to “Polly #21 Travels to India”

  1. What a wonderful post! I learned so many interesting things, and the pictures are fabulous! You did a beautiful job, and I hope you have more adventures planned with Polly. Do you have any more amazing trips scheduled?

  2. This is a GREAT post — I really loved the “Downward Facing Frog.”

  3. Wow! This is humorous, colorful, informative… I’m running out of adjectives! Thanks for a wonderful post! It’s a Polly masterpiece!

  4. Your post is absolutely amazing! It’s clear from the pictures that Tony is a fun traveling companion. I love the picture where he is waving from the train! The Hall of Mirrors and Lattice pictures are two of my favorite pictures in this post. I only wish your image in the lattice pic wasn’t chopped off…It’s looks like a fantastic picture of you! Don’t worry, I wasn’t thinking, “I bet it shows your better half! 🙂

    How long were you in India? It looks like you were able to see many interesting things while you were there. I bet it was especially exciting to see a tiger roaming around!

    Thanks again for a great post!
    Candee & Polly #3

  5. I love all of the pictures, but I agree with Deb H. about the yoga picture being my favorite. We Pollies are a very flexible species of frog. Thanks for a great writeup! I learned a lot.

  6. India looks very interesting. Was there anything about it that you didn’t like? When I see programs on t.v. about India, everything looks very crowded. Is it only like that in the big cities?

  7. An absolutely wonderful read of my favourite travel destination in the world! Cannot believe that they would not let Polly into the Taj, I managed to get a small toy kangaroo into there in 2004 and met someone who had a teddy bear and we photographed them together. Polly practicing yoga is an superb photo, and Polly wearing a turban is very good as well. An excellent post!

  8. Mary and Polly 21
    June 12th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for your kind words about Polly’s India trip photos. As for things we didn’t like about India, the weird thing is there were many things that normally we don’t care for … litter… poverty… crowds… traffic chaos…yet somehow the atmosphere of India captivated us and it was all part of it. Certainly in the countryside it is less frantic but still full of traffic and people.

    We were there for 20 days and did pack a lot into those days. And the tiger was really a highlight as we saw him much more clearly than in the Polly photo. The other amazing highlight was being at the ceremony led by the Dalai Lama where he announced his intended retirement – Polly wasn’t allowed in there either unfortunately.

  9. Dear Polly #21, Did you have fun in India? What foods did you eat?
    Love, Arianna

  10. I had to have another look at this post. It’s THAT good!

  11. Destiny & Jennifer
    November 4th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Dear Polly 21,

    I like the pictures of the tiger and the down ward facing frog.I learned that men wear turbans and women wear head scarves.I also leaned that tigers live in India, I did not know that tigers lived there. I liked the Taj Mahal because the man built it for his wife.

    Destiny & Jennifer

  12. I love the pictures that you took!