I hope you have enjoyed some of my travels through India with my sister in law, Ms M.
I have had some private messages asking if we were worried as women travelling alone in India. I appreciate your concerns re the negative press about women in India. We researched & booked our travels through the respected tour company Audley who took meticulous care of all the arrangements, drivers, guides, hotels etc. They work closely with Distant Frontiers in India to ensure that the staff (driver, guides, hotels, home stays etc) are all as safe as they can be.
It is important for women travellers to take their safety seriously; Ms M & I did not venture out alone - always together, mostly with guides or drivers or in safe environments - as you would do in any strange place.
Audley do not encourage elephant rides which are now being debated in India & there are moves afoot to ban them within 2 years according to local guides we spoke to. The locals tell me the time frame was to make provision for these elephants to be accommodated in centres as they cannot be returned to the wild & for their handlers / owners to find other sources of revenue.
While in Jaipur, we thought we might like to visit an elephant centre - not to ride an elephant - but to see them at the centre. However, on our way from the Amber Fort to the centre, we passed some of the elephants on the road.
I have travelled extensively in Southern Africa (Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia) and have seen huge herds of elephant in the wild & love them for their majesticness in their natural habitat where you can appreciate their size & nature.
The ones that passed us en route to the centre were no such things - I asked our driver to stop along the road so I could take photos ….
Beautiful, sensitive animals should not be decorated & used as a mode of transport for tourists. It is not natural for them to amble alongside traffic or have a seat on their back. I can only imagine the training needed to bring this about & I am sure it is not something we really want to read about.
I do not even like circuses as I believe wild animals should be wild, so seeing these beautiful animals painted up made me feel really sad.
I did not want to see any more animals looking like that & realised that Audley's stance is the right one to take by discouraging elephant rides. I am glad that I saw them on the road so that I could make up my own mind but I had seen all I needed to see.
Our guide & driver were only too happy to turn around & head to the Amber Fort.
What is your feelings about such things? Do painted elephants make you question why it is needed?
I hope these images have made you think about responsible tourism & how it impacts on the host country. A friend sent me this link - remove this from your bucket list - read & make up your own mind. I made up mine by seeing the elephants, I hope it makes you think too.
Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments & your blog links so I can return the visit.