The legendary forts of Rajasthan, India

The following day, seated on the back of an elephant, Marsha and I made our way slowly up an elliptical path that would take us to the Amber Fort.  Our driver, a skeletal, old, Indian man, was sitting on the animal’s neck and, from our seat on the back, it felt like we had a panoramic view of the entire area. 

Elephants are such huge beasts when you get up-close to them.  Paolo was sitting comfortably on the back of another elephant, gazing at the view with his usual nonchalance.  It was still quite early in the morning and the heat wasn’ t torturous yet, but the place had a gravity about it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.  With so little vegetation and with the grey-brown hue of the mountains surrounding us, with their own walled forts on their rocky slopes, or in the hanging gardens in the middle of a lake that we left behind us, and which for all the world appeared to be crying from grief and sorrow, this is how it looked from our position higher up.

That is when the word maharajah leaped into my mind, as if India had sent it to me to understand in my own way.  Fat mountains; fat elephant; fat maharajah with a kind look, velvety-sad, and on top of his sherwani and turban, gems of priceless worth sparkled and shone, just like the gardens beneath us: iridescent in their exquisite beauty…

 An excerpt from the book: INDIA and my Persian garden

Amber Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Amber Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Barbara Athanassiadis