This was my second time to India but my first time to come with my family. We chose Bangalore as our home-base for a few reasons. First, there was yet another amazing Ritz-Carlton there which was great and relaxing for the whole family. This is where my son learned to fall in love with Indian food! This is saying a lot because hitherto we had only seen him eat hamburgers and pizza! We even got an extended cooking class at Riwaz that the kids loved. And to my surprise, after the cooking class, we got to eat everything and more. I ate SO MUCH FOOD in India it was absolutely ridiculous. And they kept bringing more and more. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to eat to make yourself happy, but I don’t believe that at all!
The second reason was this is where our train trip on the Southern Splendor started and ended! It was my first long train ride like this where you live on a train for a whole week. It was an incredible way to see the country and the whole family had fun. So Much Indian Food and I think we all learned to love it even more as the week went on! You can see a lot more in the videos below 🙂
India Videos Recap
And here’s all the videos from India!
India Photos Recap
Here is a view of Bangalore at sunset. I took this from the rooftop bar on top of the Ritz-Carlton. I have another photo of this funky bar down below!
Here are my two beautiful daughters. We went out almost immediately in Bangalore to get them a few traditional Indian dresses.
Not far from the hotel was this amazing old fortress-palace that we spent a bit of time inside.
Well this is obviously not Bangalore, but I wanted to throw it in as one of my favorite photos I took while in India. This is on the very southern tip, where three seas smash together in a Game-of-Thrones scene!
And here is the amazing rooftop bar I mentioned earlier. I had a major geek-out moment here when I was all alone editing photos and there was a huge bridal party blowing up all around me.
Here’s the entrance to the Ritz-Carlton… we had so many long and adventurous days, and this was always a welcome site to see at the end of the day!
Daily Photo – The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore, India
Here is the entrance to one of my favorite restaurants in Bangalore. This is Lantern, and it's one of the many great places to eat inside the Ritz-Carlton. Look, it's lined with wine on the way in! So much wine, so little time! 🙂
Day 16 – Quadcopter Crashing in Kerala and Farewell India
A lot of Quadcopter drama as we leave India! But I’ll get to that. BTW, check out my DJI Phantom 3 Review here on the site to see more about what I fly.
We started out in Kerala, a beautiful area of India that has thousands of little canals. We stayed on a houseboat for a while, drifting around like houseboat people. This is where Quada, which Scarlet calls the Quadacopter, had its last journey. We had countless successful flights with it… and you can see how Ethan launches it from the front of the boat… no problems there. But one time, a rotor would not turn. We got a “Rotor Obstructed” error message. Strange, because I couldn’t see anything. I did notice one rotor would make strange noises at startup, but when it started spinning, it was fine. Then it asked me to do the old 10-minute IMU calibration, which I did and was successful. We had 2 great flights, launching from the front of the boat and Ethan catching it on landing… no problems and we were smooth as silk. Then, on the next flight, It got up to about 40 meters and was only 20 meters from us and I saw the rotor lock up in the air! It tumbled down into the water for a major splashdown right by the boat. Everyone screamed and it was very dramatic! There was no recovery… it sank to the bitter depths… and all that awesome footage is lost foreva! It’s okay… the universe decided it was time for Quada to move on… So that meant I had to go to the camera store to buy another one… I just hope they let me take it to Oman next!
Okay, well, what else happened towards the end of our India trip. You can see more in the video here of course, but here’s a few things. We ended our train trip and went into the India Asha Niketan foundation, a special place here built for people with intellectual disabilities. The whole family spent some time here with the team helping out. It was especially great for the kids! Ethan played the guitar and we spent some time there together.
After that, we went back to Rivas at The Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore for an Indian cooking class from a Michelin star chef. Amazing! And not only that, but then we ate everything that we cooked… we are eating so much it is crazy… but Ethan and Isabella have really gotten into Indian food, which is great. Scarlett, not so much.
And then it was time to cap off our India experience by going full Bollywood! I actually love Bollywood movies from the first one I saw in Mumbai about 8 years ago when I saw Om Shanti Om! I had a small crush on the gal that was in that movie, and it turns out she’s in the hot new movie everyone demanded that we go see, Bajiao Mastani — so we headed off to the shopping mall in Bangalore to see if we could find it… we did and it was great, even though the whole thing was in Hindi. Scarlett and Isabella loved it. Ethan, not so much.
Anyway, a fantastic trip to India… the whole family is now boarding the plane to spend time in Oman and Qatar!
A strange sight to see these two symbols side by side.
A Final dinner on the coast of India.
Beautiful colors in Cochin.
A woman washes herself in a canal in Karela.
Five Indian Dudes that may have been a boy band.
Communist Propoganda can still be seen all over Kerala India.
Indian Beach from Above.
Houseboats in Kerala.
Last day to be on the Golden Chariot.
The awesome bar on top of the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore called Bang.
Pulling into the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore.
Visiting the West End ho
Daily Photo – One of the last nights on our moving hotel
Day 14 – Sunrise at the Southern Tip of India where three seas meet and Madurai with the Meenakshi Amman Temple
It started with a 4 AM Wake-up in our train car, now parked in Kerala, then loading up for a trip down to the beach. But this wasn’t just any beach, this was at the Kanyakumari, the meeting place of three seas: The Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea. I thought I might be the only one there at 5 AM, but boy, was I wrong! See more on the video! 🙂
And another amazing set of temples at Madurai, one of the oldest cities in the world. These temples at Meenakshi Amman are INSANE. I was not allowed to bring my regular cameras or Osmo (see Osmo Review), so I only had my Android Nexus 6P for photos and videos, which is mega-fine. I loved these temples so much… I’ve never seen anything quite like them. There are 14 colorful goporums (gateway towers), all brightly colored with Dravidian-style Hindu gods.
Then you can join me on a little train tour before ending up at a confusing night-show at Tamil Nadu. I was sitting by a woman who is an oral surgeon in Detroit. Halfway through the show, I asked her if she had any nitrous oxide.
The Sea Smashing Before the Game of Thornes scene.
A Pilgramage of Red.
An Eerie Light Show that still confuses me.
Our Train Pulls into the Station.
Assembling at the Temple.
Painted Ladies Walking.
This train had all kinds of people on it from all walks of life. Here’s me with the Greek Ambassador Tassos Kriekoukis exploring a Hundu temple..
Daily Photo – Sunrise on the southern tip of India where the three seas meet
The day started at Auroville, the experimental City of Dawn, deep off-track in South India. This place reminds me of a sci-fi combo of Burning Man and a cult! Well cult is probably the wrong word… but I’m really into meditation and stuff, so a lot of it appeals to me. This city was started in 1968 by “The Mother” (cult-signals ringing in head) and it’s open to the whole world, but only by appointment and if you give up all other religions. There are actually people from over 50 countries living here… they plan to grow it to 50,000 people. There’s a huge golden sphere inside of which you can “concentrate” in front of a crystal ball which has golden sunlight mechanically reflected into it, unless it is cloudy or there is unconcetrated rain. I’m joking, but I actually would like to go inside of there and meditate. Anyway, I found the whole place fascinating… it’s kind of when you are sitting around with your friends saying, “You know what, if I built my own city, it would look like THIS.”
We spent some time in Puducherry as well, shopping, eating and exploring. There’s a huge beach there that fronts on the Bay of Bengal and the kids had fun running around there.
We also went to visit Brihadeshwarea Temple in Thanjavur, another UNESCO World Heritage site. What an amazing temple! I took a ton of photos but have not had time to process any of them yet. Stay tuned on the site for some of those!
Then in Trichy, we visited Sri Rangam Temple, which is India’s largest temple complex dedicated to Lord Vishnu. I got in a sweet quad flight there and took a ton more photos. Once again, the girls were mobbed by Indians who had never seen white people before… this place was so remote, we didn’t even see any white people except for ourselves. Many people that come here travel from remote villages in India for a pilgrimage to this incredible temple, so they’ve only seen white people in movies and such. The girls had about 1,000 photos taken of them!
The Center of Consciousness.
Isabella has been in about 1000 photos now — many of these people have never seen white people before in person.
Scarlett gets the third eye blessing from Shiva and says shell never rub it off.
The day started with us getting off the train at 10 AM to begin our adventure in Channai, which used to be called Madras. I know Madras well from all my days playing Civilization! Anyway, we began at the Cathedral of St. Thomas were we saw his remains then drove on to a place called Mahabalipuram. Who has ever heard of Mahabalipuram? Who can even say it? Well apparently everyone here can and they had great trouble whenever I tried to say this out loud. I’d just get a lot of confused looks.
Tomorrow, we head on to Puducherry to visit more sights…
Making a pilgrimage to Shore Shiva Temple in Mahabalipuram.
Indian ladies love taking photos with Isabella and Scarlett because they look so different.
We started out our “Train Boarding Day” with an insane breakfast where we all made some “bad” food decisions and ate too much! Then we were off to the local markets to get our girls some traditional Indian dresses which they absolutely loved. They were quite inexpensive too, under $15! Then we saw a rather unusual set of cultural dances that freaked out Ethan and me. Finally, we made it to the train station in Bangalore for a rather dramatic train boarding! Now we’re off for 8 days across the southern part of India… we’re all really excited and having a great time. Hope you enjoy the video! 🙂
Isabella and Scarlett bought some new Indian dresses and love them!
Bangalore has been a real treat! We’re only here for one day before getting on the train, and we’re mostly resting and recharging. We did get a chance to go visit the palace and then Ethan got into a piano duel with a guy from Congo! I did a little bit of rooftop photography as well… The people here in Bangalore have been very warm and inviting. And the weather has been perfect! It’s been about 72 degrees all day long!
A Family in the park.
Heading to dinner at Lantern in the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore — an amazing 3-story restaurant!
I know… you don’t come here for movie recommendations, but I’ll make one anyway. If you’ve never heard of it, then you’ll be in my boat earlier in the year. I don’t even know how it missed my radar… but it did!
If you love beautiful imagery and unique epic movies, give this one a run. I’m interested to see what you think! Today’s photo reminds me a bit of it, because a lot of the cinematics in the movie are from beautiful and bizarre places around India that have been featured here on the blog!
Daily Photo – Halls of India
I understand that many of these royal halls used to be inlaid with rare stones. I can’t even imagine what it was like… since they are already beautiful and detailed with all the stones missing! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a re-creation of one of these, even where the stones are fake. One place that comes to mind is the Amber Room in St. Petersburg, but I haven’t been there yet… although it’s on the list.
Having a driver is so nice! Really… it sounds so elitist and decadent to say, I am sure… but it really is wonderful.
Now, here’s the deal… I think it sounds extraordinarily extravagant, but in places like India, China, SE Asia, and hundreds of other places, it really is not. It might only cost $10-$30 a day, and these guys will follow you around all day long. It’s like a mobile base that holds all your extra camera stuff, snacks, drinks, and lots of sweet sweet air-conditioning. So, when traveling to exotic places, even though it can be expensive to get there, you can actually move around within these countries with relative ease and style.
Another $10+ per day will even get you an “umbrella assistant” that will follow you around and hold an umbrella over your head. Again, it sounds so over-the-top, but why the heck not? If I were feeling generous, I might even pay another $10 to get an umbrella assistant for my umbrella assistant, but that would just be redonkulous.
Daily Photo – Boat in Mumbai
Mumbai and Bombay are the same place. If you say “Mumbai” quickly with a thick Indian accent, you will see what I mean, and understand it why the stiff-upper lipped British just went with “Bombay”.
One of the more interesting bits of the city lies along the waterfront. The quay is filled with hundreds of boats going each and every direction. I popped on my 70-200 after a quick visit to the car so I could find some interesting things out in the water.
I know many of you have already seen the photo below of the Taj Mahal. It’s one the most famous photos I’ve taken of India. It is related to the daily photo…
Daily Photo – The Rest of the India Story
So, I took the photo above from across a slow-moving river. After shooting, I explored a bit more as the sun was setting, then returned to the same spot, rotating the camera about 45 degrees to the right. This is what I saw.
In the distance, you can see how it is a layer of smoke in the air. This is where families come from all over the Agra area to burn the bodies of recently deceased loved ones. They then throw some ashes in the river to begin the cycle again. Indians come from all over the area to visit this river, see the Taj Mahal, and visit other local temples. It’s a very peaceful place… I hope this photo helps to describe the general feeling of the place.