February 2015 We have been told of the dolphins of the Ganges, and in fact two days ago we sailed through the Vikramshila Ganetic Dolphin Sanctuary, but until today, I have only seen the backs of what I assumed were dolphins.
Today we finally saw them jumping out of the water and I got a full sighting of the animal. They are really small, and I did not even attempt to get a photograph.
Our only stop today was the Raj Mahal along the Ganges, not to be confused with the Raj Mahal in Jaipur.
Raj Man Singh renamed the city of Agmahal to Rajmahal. He then went about building a palace, a fort and the Jama-i-masjid (mosque). The city lost its strategic value when the Ganges receded two miles, leaving the city dry-docked, and then in the 1500s an unknown epidemic wiped out a good portion of the population. Eventually the capital was moved to Dahka and Raj Mahal fell into ruin.
After visiting the mosque and the Baradari (living quarters) we strolled into town. Here we were able to actually interact with the people that have been waving at us from the banks. I could truly never decide who was on display, they were as curious about us as we about them, they pulled out their cell phones and took pictures as we snapped back. While we did not share a common language there was still an attempt to interact with waving, hellos and goodbyes, even throwing kisses by the children.
We are in the state of Jharkand, a realtively new state and a rather wealthy one due to its large deposits of coal. Here we see the women move the Sari to their left shoulder, and if they are married they wear a red and white bangle. The married women also put the same red coloring of their bindi into the part of their hair.
The women are also tattooed before marriage to prove they have the right to enter the kitchen. It was hard to interperet between the guide and the villagers, he wasn’t exactly sure what the story was, but essentially these are a sign that the Mother-in-law approves of the daughter-in-law entering the clan. I asked if they had to take a cooking test first, and the guide said “most likely”.
The children are given black bindis and black under their eyes to help keep away the evil spirits.
The discussion of tourism and its effects on this area came up, and we were assured that we are very unique and that tourists to this area are extremely rare. India does not make it easy to do what the RV Bengal does. The boat has 4 different liquor licenses for the four Indian states that we pass through. They pay a VAT at BOTH ends of the journey, and the jeeps we needed to get to one site after docking had to come from fifty miles away, through Indian traffic.
Svarga-sopana-sarai “Flowing staircase to Heaven” – The Ganges