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Charmed by elephants and snakes

I think elephant might be my new favorite mode of travel. You get to enjoy the scenic view while being gently rocked as if in a boat on calm waters. Plus, elephants are extremely cute, which beats out many other modes of transportation.

On my last full day of touring India, I rode one particularly cute elephant up to the Amber Fort, just outside Jaipur. The red sandstone fort protected the Rajput Maharajas, who choose the area because of the surrounding steep hills. Cobblestone paths, tall ramparts and a series of gates protected them from invaders from 1592 to 1727.

The ancient citadel blends both Hindu and Mughal elements, since the Hindu Rajputs managed to stay in power with the help of many Mughal treaties. Although several centuries old, the fort retains many of its luxurious stone and glass details.

On my way out of the fort, I passed a snake charmer who encouraged me to have no fear while petting a cobra and allowing a python to curl around my shoulders. Trusting the power of the snake charmer’s music, I enjoyed getting close to creatures I would have run from in the wild.

That evening I thought all my adventures on Globus’ India trip were over until I heard the joyful music of a wedding procession going past my hotel window. I hurried outside to see a band, dancing wedding guests, bright decorative lights and a soon-to-be groom on a white horse. The groom and his family typically walk/dance in parade-like fashion to the wedding reception where the bride and her family are waiting.

As I was snapping some pictures, one of the girls ran over to me to ask if I would like to dance. I said yes and was ushered into a sea of ornately dressed ladies jubilantly dancing to the music. Everyone welcomed me with a gleeful hello as we danced about. Sometimes it is the unplanned moments that can say so much about a culture.

The gorgeous Amber palace

The sweepers at Amber Fort take a break

Happily petting the cobra

A groom on the way to his wedding