Today is the day in which I get on my plane to India; I already have all my bags packed which include plenty of cool clothing and two pairs of hiking boots. For the trip I am packing light as I want only what I need to make a safe journey through my travels in India. For my travel I plan on going to as many of the huge landmarks as possible within my two week stay. The flight from home to India will take about a day total as I will be leaving in only about two hours but I won't arrive in India until the next morning. Right now I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight number to be called for boarding in which I will have to record everything by hand until the land from the flight. Now having arrived in India and settled in a small hotel room with a small A/C unit I have already looked around and found that for my two week stay I will have little room in what looks to be run down from the outside but inside is a nice quaint hotel room that consists of a bed, window with a A/C unit, bathroom with a shower which are about half the size as what is usually put in hotels back in the US and a small closest only big enough to put my bags in for storage. I was told that they are more luxurious places available within India but I don't expect to be here much see as of tomorrow morning I will be starting my travels across India to all the great land marks and may not be here every night. As far as the plane right went it was long and boring the movies got old quickly as there were only two good ones that I ended up having to watch on loop. The meals were basically uneatable but most air plane food isn't which is why I am sure that they offer chips and other great American snacks at a much higher price but let's be real when its either a four dollar bag of chips or starving on the plane there does get to a point where a four dollar bag of chips starts looking really good. Beyond that the plane ride was spent with a small child pushing his feet into the back of my chair. Though his parents did get on to him for it quite a bit it didn't really matter as that caused even more damage with the loud crying it gave me and I'm sure a few other people a much unwanted headache. But back to India tonight's dinner was curry from a little local shop and the first real meal in about thirty hours. The locals called the curry simple and it may be for them but it was anything but for me. The curry was amazing though it will burn your mouth but at the same time it is so good that you just want to keep eating until you just can't taste anything anymore. I think that the hotel manager took some pity on me when I came down to get some ice for my water as he gave me some yogurt to cool the curry letting me know that dairy was the only thing likely to help the burning in my mouth. The yogurt helped but there is still some burning it's just not too bad anymore and is now dying down. But for tonight that is all as tomorrow is a big day as I head to the Varanasi Ghats. Monday Today was eventful and full of life, even though this was my first real day in India it was more than I could've ever expected. I only had drivers today to take me place to place but while in my travels did find plenty of people that knew English well enough to answer some questions that I had. Today I visited the Varanasi Ghats which is considered one of the holiest places in India and is a small city that lies on the Ganges river. In the city are many temples as well as eight five Ghat within the city the Ghat's are used for cremation, bathing, and meditation. According to locals the ones that attract the most tourists are the burning Ghats but I can see why as they are absolutely breath taking and completely different than anything you see at home. Varanasi is told to be more than just a tradition but something that came before tradition and is something that is both physical and metaphysical which takes something from both the physical and the supernatural world as the Varanasi is supposed to take the human soul from the flesh made body and deliver it to the afterlife. Besides that the location of the city is enough to make it famous with the legend of the Ganges River that was told to me today. I was told that its believed that for those that dip their feet in the river all of their sins are washed away with the river and the river thus wipes them clean so they can emerge a new person free of all sin they have done in their lives. This on its own right brings in thousands of pilgrims from all over the world to the Varanasi Ghats a beautiful small but very historic city as it is one of the oldest living cities in the world and the oldest living city in India. All I can hope is that tomorrow is just as today as tomorrow I begin my journey to the Taj Mahal. Tuesday Today was the Taj Mahal and boy was it a long trip in fact I am still not back at the hotel I'm at a little twenty four hour café where we stopped to allow me to get something to drink. I wanted to see what was so special about this place. I wanted to know why people from all over the world come to see this place and all of its glory. Everyone knows how huge the Taj Mahal is in size and how beautiful it is in itself. But what most don't know about is the various fountains that are in the pool of crystal clear water that are crafted with marble and other precious stones that are breath taking. The Taj was said to be beauty personified with all of its different colors and shades in the beautiful place of worship. The place of worship is a perfect example of multiple ancient cultural mixes from all different empires, as well as being one of the eight wonders of the world. The monument lies on the holy river of Yammuna making it one of the largest places for worship and a huge gem in the eyes of muslim culture. This causes many pilgrims to travel to the Taj just to see it for the first time. Many people save all of their lives in order to just make the pilgrimage once in their life. Today is exhausting as I don't expect to get back to the hotel until morning but there is a hotel right above me that I believe I will be staying at instead so here is to my first night away from my original spot but it is worth it as I am so excited to see more of this beautiful and rich land. Wednesday Today was an early start as I had my trip to the Harmandir Shahib I have yet to go back to the hotel but will be going back tomorrow in order to at least gather my things as it has become obvious I will not be able to stay there or in one set place for remainder of the trip. This trip is going by so fast and it is just so amazing everywhere I go is beautiful and amazing and the people are very friendly. When it comes to the food on this travel it has been up and down. I love the curry but I don't really like the whole friend bug thing that is going on in some parts of the country. As I go further into my journey I am beginning to wonder if I am even going to be able to see all the places that I have originally wanted to or if I am going to have to extend my stay. When I went to the Harmandir Shahib I found myself at literally what it means a golden temple. The place itself is breath taking even from afar when you are looking at it when you get closer and closer it just is so beautiful that I don't even know words for it. The Harmandir Shahib is said to be the temple of god where Sikhs from all over the world pay a visit to the temple on a daily basis. The temple was created after a Guru by the name of Arjan Sahib had an idea to create a temple for not only himself but all the Sikhs in or for them to have a place of worship that was more centralized where theoretically they may all meet up for worship. A Guru before that thought of a tank but that idea never really came to much of anything as it was never completed or done. The special thing about the temple that was completely new at the time is that the Guru did not judge based on skin color, race, ethnicity or anything else for that matter allowing the temple to be open to anyone that wishes to respect the temple and come to worship. The temple was completed in 1601 A.D. The main reason that this temple is so special is that before this the Sikhs had no centralized place in order to make a pilgrimage to and this gave the Sikhs this place to come to in order to make a pilgrimage and meet up with other Sikhs alike. With my travels I am finding that this great land and more and more diverse everywhere that you turn and maybe that is what I love about this place is that there is always something new always something going on and there is always something different no matter where you go in the country. But for now it is a goodnight as tomorrow is a new day and a new adventure in this ever changing land. Thursday The Mahabodhi Temple took a plane to get to but was truly amazing. It was a long day as it was a short plane ride to the temple and a short plane right back and a huge amount of hiking in between. I am pretty sure that my first set of boots that I brought with me is just shot and isn't coming back anytime soon but I guess that is ok in a way as I still have a new pair of boots I just hope that they last for the rest of my trip and I have a lot of walking and a huge journey left ahead of me. Honestly right now I do miss my family and all of my loved ones as I haven't gotten to see or talk to them in almost a week where my family and I are very close and are used to seeing each other on a near daily basis. Dinner was small tonight but it was simple rice with vegetables that are grown locally which was divine. But back to the temple while I was there I was simple amazed with every step that I took and for this adventure I did have a tour guide that spoke English quite well allowing me to learn a lot about the temple while making the trip. From what I learned while on the journey through the temple is that the history behind the temple the history of the Bodhgaya is about 2500 years old and it was this place and this temple that Prince Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment and became what we all know now today as Buddha. In commemoration of this even that emperor Asoka set up a diamond throne where the place that Buddha was supposed to have sat when he was meditating in order to achieve enlightenment and where he was supposed to have sat when he did in fact actually reach enlightenment. The original structure of the temple was fact finished in the seventh century but since then the structure has had to undergo many restorations to keep it alive and running. Many of the renovations were completed in the 1800's through scientists that wished to come to the site for study about the temple. In the 1950's there were some repairs done by government in India during the 2500 celebration of the Buddha Jayanti. The reason that up keep on this place is so important is because it is the most important place in the religion of Buddhism and is the place that all Buddhist try to travel to in order to complete their own pilgrimage to try to complete their lives as they wish to one day achieve enlightenment. When you do visit the shrine as soon as you step inside your eyes automatically go to the gold painted Buddha that is made out of black stone. The statue was built and created by the Pala kings of Bengal in which they created the Buddha in the Bhumisparsa Mudra or earth touching posture. In 2002 the temple was declared a world heritage site due to the meaning of the place. Still within the temple there is more to see as within the temple you can see all of the seven places where Buddha spent his time in meditation in order to attain enlightenment. As this was a huge night and tomorrow is going to be even busier I think it is time for me to sleep and try to be rested for my next travels. Friday Today was the deciding day as I did not get on my plane and have in fact extended my stay. Because of wish I did call my family to let them know while I was at the airport I don't think they were exactly happy I know that they miss me as much as I miss them but I am not ready to leave this great land I don't know if ever will be but I know for a fact that I have to be here longer and I must see more of this country as it is great in size it is also great in landmarks and structures. India is a true a wonder of the world. As for today it was a day of rest in which I did not go to any landmarks I just got a new plane ticket and a new date in which I will be returning home. Beyond that I walked around in the town today through the huge open market and got another curry before returning to a hotel for the night. So for now it is goodnight as I will be making my travel to the Brihadishwara Temple tomorrow. Saturday and Sunday The temple of Brihadishwara is a temple built by the Hindu's in order to dedicate to Shiva located within the city of Thanjavur. The city lies within the state of Tamil Nadu and is a great example of the Tamil architecture which was mainly used during the chola dynasty. Besides that the temple is also one of the largests temples in Tamil making it a huge landmark for all of the city and the state. The temple is spread out wide and goes very tall in one section which is the actual temple but appears to have a walled court yard type thing to the side of the temple. As I had no tour guide for this trip I can only wonder what some parts of the temple were used for when it was originally built or if it was even used as some temples that are in dedication to gods are never used by humans except to give a sacrifice to the god or to pray to them. Other than that the day was pretty quiet in which I rode in a three wheel taxi for much of the day in order to get to the temple. The three wheel taxis are quite interesting especially on the small ever winding roads. Unlike back home there isn't much of a speed difference during those turns and during a straight road the Taxi just seems to lean and sway with both winds and the roads. There were quite a few moments during my trip so far I was sure that the car would flip over but the people here defiantly know what they are doing and keep up with the fast paced life of India very well. Surprisingly there have been a lot of people that know English very well or at least well enough that I can ask all the questions about the temples and about India in general. It isn't just the temples that are amazing it is the people and the culture that is so vast and complex here. Monday Today is Monday and right now its morning today I am supposed to be going to see the shore temple however it is already eleven and my ride has yet to show up and I was told that it would be a half day trip to even make it to the temple let alone get to explore it. I have all my things for camping as it looks as if there might be a place to camp only a few miles away from the temple at least that is what I have heard and I do hope that its true. So when I finally got to the temple it was already dark so I have only seen the outside of it there was no place to camp but there are little huts that some of the locals rent out. This hut is very much in the previous centuries compared to what I am used to right now I am running off of battery power because of the fact that there is no lights, electric, running water or proper bathrooms within these huts. Around the huts on the out skirts are some out houses in which to use the bathroom. Honestly those aren't too bad I have heard that down the road there are some places that are much worse and you usually share the hut without about seven people for the same price as what I paid tonight. Right now I am inside a tent that I have created under the hut as the roof is made of straw and the ran seems to just drip right through to the dirt floor that I've put another tarp material down to create a floor in which for me to sit at and put my bag on it and my laptop on the bag in order for me to make a sort of desk. For dinner I ate with the locals in whic they were nice enough to give me a meat that I cannot pronounce and I cannot repeat although it was very good and there was nan bread that went with it. But it's about time for me to get some sleep as I have a very early morning and a very long walk back up to the temple in the morning. Tuesday Today was the big day in which I finally got to visit the shore temple. The reason for the name is quite obvious as it overlooks the Bay of Bengal in the state of Tamil Nadu. Tonight I am back in the hut that I slept in last night though I getting quite comfortable here. The temple truly is amazing as it not only is a temple but a great piece of art. The temple is one of the largest pieces of anything carved out of rock and is one of the largest temples that was once just a huge rock. The rock that makes the temple is granite as the whole thing is solid granite. The temple is one made by Hindu's as a dedication to the Gods both Shiva and Vishnu. The shore temple in the end is just another great tribute of world heritage sites located in Tamil. The temple was amazing and being back at the hut I almost feel right at home as there are local kids running around outside right now playing and family's right close to me who are cooking and will gladly come over and talk. Some of the families know English here but many don't as I am staying in an area that is primarily used by natives and those that are here specifically to see the temple and leave right after that. But hanging around in the area has been much worth it as unlike the other places i was at here I can see how much the temple really means to the guests and how much the people love in the area appreciate the temple and cherish it. seeing how much the people in the area respect where they live and respect the shrine in which they live by is amazing as that is defiantly not something you really see back home in the states where most people don't care unless they get paid to take care of the shrine but here it doesn't matter the temple is taken care of because people care about it and even though it was built centuries ago it still has meaning to the people that live around it and the legends that surround the temple are still alive. Wednesday Today's trip was to the Bahai temple which was amazing not only in looks but in meaning because it is one place that was built for everyone from the very start. Most shrines and most temples that hold meaning still today are for certain religions in which people make a pilgrimage to the temple every year or throughout the year depending on when they can go. The Bahai faith is about everyone it's about human kind and acceptance of one another and thus in the Bahai temple everyone and anyone is accepted and is welcomed to come worship in the temple whenever they please. The temple isn't one belonging to one religion it is a temple that belongs to every religion. The Bahai temple is meant to be a meeting place for every regilion across the world and instead of having temples that separate people from different religions the temple is meant to bring people from all different religions together in one temple of total acceptance where no one is un welcome for any reason and is a place that is holy and safe for literally everyone.Well until tomorrow I will only be able to dream about my next adventure for to the Hawa Mahal. Thursday Today's travel has taken me into a dream like Indian city of Mumbai and to the great Hawa Mahal. This monument is of the royal Rajputs of Rajasthan well at least that's who built it and who it was built for. The second name of the monument is the palace of the winds and is considered to be in the heart of the pink city. The palace is pyramid shaped and if five stories high. The palace is a beauty and is constructed entirely of red and pink sandstone. Because of the great size and beauty of the palace only with the fact that it is made completely of sandstone the palace has become a huge sight for tourists and brings in a lot of tourists to the royal state of Rajasthan. The experience for me being there was amazing as the palace is downright amazing there is the beauty of the palace and then the history behind it is so extraordinary as it was actually a palace built for the women in the royal families living in this area. Today has made me even more excited for next day to come I am very excited to see what else India has in store for me. Friday Today is Friday night and I have spent my day at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. The place is a railway station located in Mumbai. This railway station is one of the busiest in India and you can tell when you get there because it is either keep up with the crowd, stand back, or get stepped on in this rush around station. But this station isn't special because it's big and busy its special because it's the headquarters of all the central railways in India. But not just that near the railway is a huge working hotel that is also a huge monument for the city and where I'm staying tonight. As far as the hotel it's huge and luxurious just as luxurious as any five star hotel in the US. Though the hotel it busy you to take a step back and look at the utter beauty of the Indian art all throughout the inside of the hotel. From the designs in the floor to the art on the walls and the walls themselves, it is unlike anything that you see at home as each title on the floor looks as if it was hand painted but its not just that all the colors and intricate designs are transferred onto the walls and I can't tell if the walls are a wall paper or if they were actually hand painted. Within the room there is bottled water a huge bed with a very colorful yellow bed spread that is all silk. I was told by someone from the hotel that the silk in the sheets on the bed are all hand made and hand woven and that in order for the hotel to have enough they have to have a company at their disposale that is usually a family making them that works year round with the making of the silk and the new designs of the bed spreads as every year the hotel replaces their spreads or if they get damaged the old one gets donated for a new one to take its place. The hotel has running water and copper plumbing in a Victorian style setting which is suiting for the town as even the railway looked huge in a very Victorian style building. Both the hotel and the station are kept up very well and in a completely different style than anything else I have seen in India thus far. Saturday Today I make no travels but instead will spend some time with the locals and in the markets with in Mumbai. So far I have went out to have breakfast and gotten curry seeing as that has been what I have been craving since the time of my arrival at this country. This country is amazing I am just sad that my trip is almost over. Today I have talked to my family shortly from the computer I miss them and I know that they miss me. My two kids both have made me post cards that my husband said he sent but we both know that I have to wait to get home to see them as there is no place that he can actually send them too. Beyond that I plan to spend my day on the train as I wish to see the most of India today before my final journey on Monday. Sunday Today is a day of rest for everyone but for me it is a day of preparation for the next day as my last trip will be to the Victoria memorial which is exactly what it is called a memorial to queen Victoria. As that is in Bengal tonight I will be riding the train there which is a great way for me to get to travel around India both cheaply and without having to have a guide with me the entire time as I get more information from the locals without having to have a guide with me and I find it more enjoyable because then it is more of an adventure instead of only seeing what one person wants me to and know what one person wants me to know. My boots are now on their last leg and I have had to buy insoles to place in the boots to make them last and that is the second pair in which I brought with me to India. As far as my bag it feels much lighter than when I originally came as most of my hiking gear has been used to the point that it can't be used anymore. But it has all been worth it and I want nothing more than to make the most of my trip tomorrow before I must go home. Monday Today is Monday right now it's night time and I am back at the airport after spending literally all day at the Victoria memorial as I wanted to miss nothing about it. I have been up about thirty hours by now and I could not sleep at all while on the train I wanted to miss nothing and yes I had a curry before going to the airport I will miss the burn in both my mouth and my stomach. The Victoria memorial was huge and it took hours to even walk through everything. It is located west of the Benegal, and Kolkata. The palace looking place was dedicated to Queen Victoria from her time of reign when the British had a lot of control over India especially through the trade and the huge army that they once had. Inside the palace is full of paintings, sculptures, and manuscripts that were collected from all over India that were about the British and from the British from the era the queen Victoria was an almost ruler of country. Over my two weeks in India my journey has been amazing I have seen a lot but I know I have to come back and see more and hopefully next time I can spend even more time with the locals. India is a country of great diversity in all regions and even where you don't have the luxuries of home someone that is where you feel that most at home in India it just has this welcoming feeling to it. Everyone in India is so friendly and nice and very willing to inform you about the monuments. The reason that the Indians that live close to these great structures are so willing to talk to you is because they want you to know how much they are appreciated and how much each person cares for these places. Many of the places in India that I visited had a lot to do with pilgrimage and that's when you start to realize how important religion is to these people which is such an eye opener. In the US people are scared to talk about it half the time but here it is welcomed and it's not just one main religion there are so many regions and states and in each there is a different dominate religion but in each for the most people are accepted for whatever they worship and that is why I fell so in love with the Bahai temple is because it's not about one pilgrimage for one type of religion it's a meeting place for everyone and anything it is the ultimate place of acceptance. This is one of the only great monuments built ages ago that is literally a sign of all acceptance. We all know about the wars that were worldwide centuries ago about religion and that some still go on today but what people don't know about is this temple and that there is a temple for everyone that literally says we accept you for whoever you worship that everyone that comes there is safe and is welcomed. But that is the feeling I got during my entire trip in India I was amazed yes by the entire trip every monument was breath taking and just unreal almost many of them made from precious metals and stones. The fact that in every place you visit in India you not only see the beauty but you see how much work goes into each place you see how much each person cares not just when it was built but how much they still do. Every year there is so much work that goes into not changing these great places but persevering them and they were built to last from the start but everyone in India is around these places would do just about anything to promote them and to take care of them in the end the country is amazing and I wish to go back as soon as possible.