India

India

NEW DELHI, AGRA, JAIPUR

 

New Delhi

After 3-hours flight from Muscat we are landing in the capital of India – New Delhi. This huge city with more than 20 million people is in comparison with Europe much dirtier and noisier but I knew from the beginning  we won’t get bored here.

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New Delhi

The biggest adventure for me was the journey from the airport to the hotel. Luckily we had a car booked by our hotel and being jet lagged we were glad to take a little nap in the car. It didn’t last very long due to a constant honking every single driver on the road. But I kind of liked this crazy ride. It was like from the movie and there were times where on 3-lines road we ended up 4 cars next to each other. In that case it wasn’t about centimeters but millimeters.

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Traffic in New Delhi

We have experienced busy traffic in Bangkok before, Marrakesh was pretty crazy as well but it was nothing comparing to the traffic in New Delhi… Imagine all vehicles you know plus rickshaws, tuk-tuks, wagons and then also as a bonus cows, goats, pigs and dogs crossing the road whenever they want… And then you get time to time motorbike, car or a bike coming towards you in a wrong direction. It was a real experience to see this. From the airport it took us 1,5 hour to get to the hotel where we just dropped our bags and went out for a walk. Hectic traffic and honking didn’t stop until late or better to say early hours of the next day.

New Delhi

Today we started the day with free walking tour with our guide Shati, young student with decent knowledge of the history and also the presence of New Delhi. She took us to some parts of the city where we would’t go for sure. The tour started in front of Red Fort which once used to be the most important temple in India. Red it’s because it was built from the red sandstone. At the moment there is a museum inside and it’s the part of World heritage of UNESCO.

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Red Fort

We continued with the tour of the Old town and Shati took us first to typical family tea shop and we finished our tour with Indian lunch. She gave us a few good tips in where to go and what to see.
After the lunch we went right into the heart of New Delhi – Connaught Place, huge square with many shops and massive Indian flag right in the middle of the square. The quickest and also the cheapest way of transport in New Delhi is metro. They also have carriages for ladies only.
Our next stop was amazing Akshardham temple with large gardens and original fountains. The whole area was covered with beautiful statues of people and animals. It’s one of the biggest Hindu temples in the world and I can highly recommend visit of this place.

India
Akshardham temple
Our last stop for today was the Qutub Minar complex. It’s 120m tall building and belongs to tallest brick minarets in the world. After this we returned to the hotel and started to prepare for our tomorrow’s trip to Agra.

Agra

Today was the day when we were supposed to visit the highlight of our trip to India. It was the visit of one of the most beautiful building ever made – famous Taj Mahal. We had to wake up a bit earlier than usual but you’d do it if you want to make your dream come true, wouldn’t you? We took the express train from New Delhi at 6am and it took us 2 hours to get to Agra. There is a light breakfast included in the price which was quite handy. You need to start with the tour of Taj Mahal as soon as you come to Agra to avoid the influx of tourists later on. It’s better to leave the visit of Agra Fort for later and with the ticket from Taj Mahal you also get a discount.

Right after we came we booked a driver for a whole day to sort out the transport in the city. Apart from money, passport and camera you can’t take anything else inside. You need to leave everything else in the locker and after you buy the ticket don’t forget to pick up the water and shoe covers which is already included in the price. You can also get a tour guide which is offered to you when you come to the ticket counter. You should definitely go for it. This service is for free but some tips are expected at the end of the tour. So, here we go – Taj Mahal… I’ll try to describe something which is almost impossible to describe unless you see it with your own eyes. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built this temple as a sign of devotion to his third wife Mumtaz when she died by giving a birth of their 14th child. Both of them are also buried inside. The Temple of love as it is often called is a masterpiece of architectural perfection, harmony and symmetry.

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Taj Mahal

In front of the red sandstone entry gate is the line on the ground going through the middle of the gate, then through the park, fountains and Taj Mahal itself and dividing all this in 2 halves. Taj Mahal is from all 4 sides the same and there are 2 smaller red sandstone buildings standing next to it. The one of the left from the entrance is the mosque and the right one is just the copy of the mosque built to keep the beauty and the symmetry of the area. The minarets were constructed slightly outside of the plinth so that in the event of collapse the material from the towers would fall away from the tomb. At the time of our visit there was a cleaning of 1 of the minarets in place. Massive contamination of the air and river Yamuna affected the whole building. Luckily the mayor of Agra woke up at the right time and in order to save this jewel decided to stop the production in all factories in the city. This means the whole Agra depends on tourism but it was the right decision.

India
Taj Mahal from river Yamuna

We were a bit surprised when our guide told us they use a special mud for whitening of the marble, first they put the layers of mud, they leave it for 4 days to intake all dirt and afterwards they gently wash it off with the water. The best Indian marble was used to build Taj Mahal and there are many gemstones and jewels inside the marble. You can see them glittering when you come closer. After visiting of Taj Mahal we went for a lunch and then we carried on with the visit of Agra. We went to see the Agra Fort, Baby Taj Mahal and then we went behind the river where we had a fantastic view on Taj Mahal from the other side. According to a legend Shan Jahan also planned to build a black Taj Mahal – exact copy of the original for himself. This didn’t happen at the end because he was imprisoned in Agra Fort for life by his own son. After finishing the tour of Agra we went back to the station and took an overnight train to Jaipur.

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Train Agra – Jaipur

Before we came to India we expected the trains to be like the ones we all know from the movies, totally packed sometimes even with people sitting on the roof… If you expect something like this you’ll be disappointed. Morning express train from New Delhi to Agra is a normal train with A/C and breakfast, similar to those ones we have at home. Evening train from Agra to Jaipur looked a bit tired though but it’s also regular sleeper train you’ve already seen before. We had a little nap in those bunk beds and in a few hours we were getting off in Jaipur.

Jaipur

Jaipur – Pink city. We took a tuk-tuk from the hotel right into the city centre to the main attraction – Hawa Mahal – the wind palace. 5-storeys building with many floors used to be a women’s palace in the past and there is a beautiful view of the city from there.

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Hawa Mahal

From there we drove to water palace Jal Mahal which stands right in the middle of the lake. It was reconstructed at the time of our visit with planned projection of turning the palace into the swimming hotel. It was pretty hot that day and the drink from fresh coconut came very handy. We went then to the large fortress Amber Fort which lies on top of the mountain. It’s a huge complex of floors and courtyards and it’s a home of many little monkeys. It took us 2 hours to complete the tour of this interesting place.

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Amber Fort

Our next stop was the elephant farm where we found out many interesting facts about the life of elephants. At the end the girls decided to go for a ride on one of them. From there we drove fast and furious in tuk-tuk back to the hotel.

Let me get back to the traffic again. We really liked how they respect the animals on the road. You just hear the honking all the time but if there is any animal crossing the road and trust me it’s quite often everyone is silent and they just go around the animal. On other hand European tourist is for the locals walking wallet and everyone is trying to offer or sell you something and of course with at least 4 times higher price so my only advice is to bargain and bargain again…

Jaipur

Today we started with our favourite free walking tour of Jaipur with our guide Hussey from Free Day Tour. We were glad we could find out so many interesting facts about the city. We started by the wind palace and from there we went to the Old town next to the king’s palace. The flag on the roof was blowing in the wind which means that young king was at home.

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King’s palace

From here Hussey took us to the vegetable market with really good atmosphere. Typical Indian market with loud shouting and everything that goes with it. Our tour continued with the visit of the observatory Jantar Mantar. Hand-made astrolabes, clocks and various indicators hundreds years old are showing time, seasons, star signs, rainfalls and many other things with the accuracy of a few seconds and other equivalents even now. 

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Jantar Mantar

We finished our tour next to the wind palace and went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and went back to the station to board the train back to New Delhi. But we were unpleasantly surprised when we were told our train was due to a strike cancelled. We only had 2 options how to get to New Delhi. Either by bus or by taxi. While dealing with the cancellation we started to chat with 3 Chinese girls with the same problem and decided to take a big taxi and share it with them. Little bit of adventure at the end of the day but with the happy end at the end…

New Delhi

Today was our last day in New Delhi before the evening flight and we decided to visit a few more interesting places. We started with shopping at the local market and then we continued to the city center a place called General Secretariat. It’s a large area with many government buildings, beautiful gardens and fountains on one side and famous India Gate on the other side.

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India gate

India Gate looks like a copy of Arc de Triomphe in Paris and is a favorite spot not just for tourists but also for locals. It’s actually a monument of all fallen soldiers during the WWI.

From there we went to visit another famous landmark  – Humayun’s tomb. It’s a tomb of Indian mogul Humayun with beautifully designed gardens and even better decorated palaces.

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Humayun’s tomb

Our last stop was Connaught Place again and that was our farewell to New Delhi and India for now.

Our next destination – Sri Lanka.
What to say about India at the end? If you forget about the dirt, noise and the touts we have to say India is very interesting country with many beautiful temples dominated by majestic Taj Mahal and it was definitely worth to go there. On the other side for travelers like us India is a real paradise. I don’t think you’ll find any another country in the world where transport, food and accommodation is cheaper than here.

Tip 1: Book a free walking tour in advance (Dilli and Jaipur) and you’ll find out many interesting facts about the city. It’s for free but it’s expected to leave some tips at the end of the tour.

Tip 2: Start the tour of Taj Mahal early in the morning to avoid the flow of tourists later on. Keep the ticket from Taj Mahal and show it once you come to Agra Fort, you’ll get a discount.

Tip 3: In Jaipur don’t forget to visit wind temple Hawa Mahal and Amber Fort. If you have enough time it’s worth to buy a multi ticket with 10 entries into the most famous landmarks in the city.

Tip 4: In New Delhi don’t forget to visit Akshardham temple and Humayun’s tomb.


Total costs: 20 days (India + Sri Lanka + Maldives): £1320.00 

(prices as of February 2016)

 

Thank you very much for reading this article. If you have any questions, suggestions or ideas please write them in the comment box below.

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