Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Elephant Steps!

Among the cool things I saw in Pakistan was the Lahore fort, which I mentioned in my previous post. The fort was built by Mughal emperors and is a huge complex of buildings and gardens, which you can now walk around. Unfortunately, the complex is so big that it is difficult to get a good grasp of all of its parts without some sort of a map, but I had two personal guides (friends of my dad's) who showed me some of the highlights, the most important being the elephant stairs! These giant, extra-wide stairs were apparently used specifically for the elephants who were part of the court. There are no elephants there now, but apparently on special occasions they have dancing camels! ( i did not see any of these)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Journey to the Land of Buses, Stupas and Friendly People

I've just returned from my semester break, which was a three week, multi-continent extravaganza. Usually, I go to my mother's house in Omaha for a week or two, but this year I began the trip with a journey to Pakistan to visit my dad. To put it lightly, this was a trip I have been waiting take for most of my life. After days of making "to-do" lists, packing and re-packing I sat through a lovely sixteen hour non-stop flight from JFK to Lahore (if you ever have a chance to do this, don't, opt instead for a stop somewhere) and before I knew it was immersed in a totally different culture--in a good way.

My visit to Pakistan was a lot of fun and to describe it all here would be impossible, but I will share some of the highlights. I was able to meet many of my dad's friends and co-workers, who were all incredibly friendly, warm and welcoming people. I ate countless meals of delicious (and very spicy) food along with cup after cup of wonderful tea. I visited the ancient archaeological sites of Taxilla, several ancient cities along the Indus dating as early as the sixth century BCE, which contain ruins of many Buddhist stupas. I had a tour of the Lahore fort, built during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605) as well as the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, also commissioned by the Mughal emperors and one of the largest in the world (fifth largest in the world, second largest in Pakistan). I also visited a Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of the Guru Nanak Dev, the central figure in Sikhism.

The best part of the trip was seeing my dad, meeting new people and learning about a new place. Here are a few photo highlights:

Stupa at Taxilla
Lahore Fort

Badshahi Mosque, Lahore

Nankana Sahib