Santa Fe is one the oldest city in the USA, it has a strong indian and hispanic heritage and has a thriving art community. Santa Fe is said to be the second largest art market in the US after New York City. Whether you are a foodie, a hipster, art junkie or a natural wonders aficionado there is something for you in or around Santa Fe. On one of our day trip, about 1 and 1/2 hours North of Santa Fe, we spent the day at the Taos Pueblo, a village belonging to the Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of the Pueblo people. It was fascinating to discover the Native American way of life, the architecture, the landscapes and the friendliness of the people was very inspiring. Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On another day trip, we went for a ride on the Santa Fe Southern Railways (SFSR), it was a fun traveling through beautiful untouched scenery of the high desert, a perfect half day trip for kids.
On a road trip from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, we stopped by the Grand Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is the largest canyon in the world and it is humongous!
The Grand Canyon is 446 river km (277 miles) long, up to 29 km (18 miles) wide and over 1,800 metres (6,000 deep). It took millions of year for the the Colorado river to carve the Grand Canyon the way it looks today and become a natural wonder.
The Grand Canyon has been inhabited by Native Americans, the Pueblo people for thousands of years. The Grand Canyon offers many hiking, walking and camping opportunities.
The Amer Fort (also known as The Amber Fort) is located in Amer, 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Jaipur, in Rajasthan India and is one of the most famous forts of Rajasthan and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Amer Fort was built by Raja Man Singh I in the 16th century and is known for its artistic style of Hindu elements combined with Muslim architecture. With its large ramparts, series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks the Maota Lake, at its forefront.
The opulent palace complex built with red sandstone and marble, consists of the Diwan-e-Aam or the “Hall of Public Audience”, the Diwan-e-Khas or the “Hall of Private Audience”, the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) and the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over the water cascade within the palace.
We took a private car from Jaipur to the Amer Fort for flexibility. Opened daily from 9:30AM to 4:30AM (except on Holi), the entry fee is Rs 50 for foreigners and Rs 10 for children and Indian citizens. There is an additional fee of Rs 70 for a still camera or Rs 150 for a video camera for foreigners.
The Amer Fort elephant ride is quite a sight to see, especially with the Amer Fort in the background. Visitors should try to arrive early (before 9AM) if they are interested in a ride as most of the 80 elephants will have finished their quote of rides by 11AM. The Jaipur government routinely perform health checks and each elephant is limited to carrying two passengers plus the driver, only making 5 trips each day. The Amer Fort elephant ride costs Rs 1,000 for two people and it takes approximately 20-30 minutes (depending on elephant traffic!) for the elephant to slowly trudge up the hillside to the main courtyard.
The Maota Lake and garden, which sits in front of The Amer Fort.
Inside the Amer Fort there are beautifully manicured gardens.
Getting dropped off in the courtyard before entering The Amer Fort on foot.
The beautiful mirrored walls and ceilings of the Sheesh Mahal ‘Mirrored Palace’ inside The Amer Fort.
Humayun’s tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi, India. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife Bega Begum was so grieved over her husband’s death that she dedicated her life thenceforth to a sole purpose: the construction of the most magnificent mausoleum in the Empire, at a site near the Yamuna River in Delhi for the memorial of the late Emperor. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and since then has undergone extensive restoration work.
Humayun’s tomb was placed in the centre of a 30-acre (120,000 m2) Char Bagh Garden (Four Gardens), a Persian-style garden with a quadrilateral layout. The highly geometrical and enclosed Paradise garden is divided into four squares by paved walkways and two bisecting central water channels, reflecting the four rivers that flow in jannat, the Islamic concept of paradise. Each of the four square is further divided into smaller squares with pathways, creating into 36 squares in all, a design typical of later Mughal gardens.
Huayun’s tomb is open daily from sunrise to sunset and the entry fee is Rs 250 for foreigners ad Rs 10 for Indian citizens.
The exterior arch of Humayun’s Tomb…
The symbolically cut out mihrab facing west or Mecca, over the marble lattice screen.
The Taj Mahal is located in Agra in India. Much has been written about this white marble mausoleum that was erected by a Mughal emperor in memory to his wife, a Persian princess. It took over 20 years to build this stunning piece of architecture that is a Unesco World Heritage site. It is highly recommended to visit early in the early morning to avoid the crowds and the heat. A walk around in the gardens provides different viewing angles. The Taj Mahal should be on your must see list if you visit India for the first time, it is only a couple of hours from New Delhi by train.
Aït Ben Haddou is a fortified city, or ksar, situated in Souss-Massa-Drâa on a hill along the Ounila River and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village on the other side of the river; however, eight families still live within the ksar which has no running water or electricity. The ksar is constructed in the adobe style using sand, clay, water and straw and repairs need to be made usually after heavy rain.
Aït Ben Haddou has been featured in a number of well known films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Living Daylights, Kundun, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Prince of Persia.
We arranged a private car from Marrakech to visit Aït Ben Haddou, as part of a day trip through the Atlas Mountains to see Ouarzazate and the Atlas Film Studios nearby. There is no entry fee, however it is customary to take a guide, who can provide you with the history and local insight into Aït Ben Haddou. Our guide’s family is one of the eight families that continue to live in the ksar.