INDIA 2011

I've been to India on business trips, but this time a fellow Iyengar Yoga teacher and I planned a 5 week trip in India with 4.5 weeks of that time at the Iyengar Institute in Pune.  A must see for me was the Ajanta Caves.  the were amazing!  We spent a few days at the tip of India in Trivandum, at an Ayurveda retreat a few days prior to arriving in Pune.  We stayed in a flat that was just a couple blocks from the institute.  It was an amazing trip, but I'd have to say the temples and streets of India were my favorite.

Trivandum, Kerala, India

The first thing you realize when arriving into India, whether it is for business or personal, is the number of people, which can be overwhelming.  It wasn't as populated in Trivandum, but maneuvering a vehicle through the streets with all the people walking, bicycles and Tuk-tuks can be very entertaining.  The colorful mandalas made of flower petals are so beautiful and you may find them anywhere on the streets and places with accommodations.  The Ayurveda retreat was perched high on cliffs above a beach with a fishing village below and their boats all along the shore.  You could watch them come back in the late afternoon, and usually they departed in the morning at day break.  Each morning we awoke to the chimes and singing from the villages' church.  The voices were so beautiful!

Pune, India: Our flat and it's surroundings

Our modest flat was located on the 3rd floor of a family home that was walled in with a concrete wall topped with glass shards, which were hidden by a beautiful garden.  The owners were a beautiful family, and so helpful.  Across the street was a Hari Krishna temple which we discovered is nothing like Hari Krishna practiced in the U.S.  In India, it is the local group of elderly residents who not only have their spiritual belief, but they get together for pot lucks, sing beautiful music, and ... they wear regular everyday attire.  This particular Hari Krishna temple was started by a woman who returned to Pune after being out of the country for some time.  Here story was  really cool, but I can't remember it right now. : -)  The poem near her mausoleum was written by Indra Devi, a well known yogi and student of Krishnamacharya. 

There was a large creek behind our flat that we needed to cross each day we walked to the Iyengar Institute.  The first week there was a decent bridge to use, a substitute for the new one that was being built since the original had been washed out from rains.  However, in the last couple weeks we were there, our substitute bridge was washed out and replaced with a makeshift sheet of plywood with some extra 2X4 supports.  Only one person at a time could cross.  We were always waiting for the day it would give out and some poor soul would end up in the polluted creek and catch dysentery, but fortunately that never happened ... at least when we were there (The bridge is in the last two pics).  The picture of the elderly lady was the mother of the husband of the house.  For ~$2 she would cook lunch for us on Wednesdays.  Very sweet and the food was delicious!

Ramamani Institute in Pune, India

Streets of Pune

The streets of Pune were lively and congested with every type of vehicle, bicycles, Tuk-tuks, and pedestrians.  One time the driver of our Tuk-tuk turned head-on into 5 lanes of on coming traffic, meandered his way between the oncoming cars, then when the coast was clear, we flipped a U-Turn and made the next right.  At this point we had been in enough traffic to not be alarmed, plus we had just finished two hours of yoga.  We just looked at each other, one of us quipped, "This is about when that lady needed the CALM!" and we laughed.  ... inside joke: when the nutritionist found out my friend was going to India she nearly ran to the shelf and grabbed a container of CALM, and told her you NEED to take this! ... okay, you had to be there.

Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are located about in the center of India.  It was about an 8 hour drive through busy cities, tiny villages and lots of country roads.  Ajanta Caves are a series of 26 temples carved into the cliff above a river.  It was re-discovered by a British Officer who was hunting and came upon a lookout which directly faced the caves across the river.  The temples and columns are carved inside the caves as well.  Very impressive to see and worth the trip.

Our driver gave us some good laughs and sometimes good scares with his driving.  In India, you spend more time on the wrong side of the road with cars coming at you, on an 8 hour drive in-one-direction you eventually get used to it.

Temple on our return trip to Pune from Ajanta Caves

At some point while visiting the temple, I was taking a picture of a carving and kept trying to get the shot without people. Suddenly I realized, the people were taking a picture of me.  Apparently, there were not many foreigners visiting this region at the time so we stood out among the crowd.  You'll notice pic 10 has a shot of an elephant statue with a bunch of people smiling at the camera. LOL!  Also, on the way back to Pune, we stopped at a miniature Taj Mahal.  A bit cheesey, but it was surprising to see all the local tourists.