Kelly's Indian Adventure
In April this year I visited India for the first time. I travelled with China Airlines through Taipei. A long flight but very impressed with the airline, good seating and seat back TV with a range of movies. Transited in Taiwan then 7 more hours till I reached Delhi.
My first taste of India was the drive from Delhi’s airport to our hotel in New Delhi, The Royal Plaza. All vying for a spot on the road were camels, cows, rickshaws, tuktuks, and bicycles... it was chaos! Once we freshened up (well in 35 degrees heat wasn’t very fresh for long), we were whisked off for a City tour of Old Delhi.
We took the metro to Chandi Chowk to find the Red Fort followed by Jama Masjid India´s largest mosque. The Delhi metro is a great cheap way to get around Delhi, though you have to push and fight your way on and off the train. They surprisingly have air conditioned coaches ......better than the London underground tube......!!!!!
Once in the old city, we rode a rickshaw through the winding streets with cows (holy animals in India) whihc are happy to use the overcrowded city as their territory. Add to this speeding and honking cars and buses, polluted trucks, fragile rickshaws, weaving mopeds and people with way too heavy loads on their backs, gives you a crazy impression of Indian street life.
Next New Delhi and the India Gate, a majestic arch that stands 42 meters high. It was built as a memorial to the Indian soldiers who were killed during World War I. After visiting India Gate, we went to Humayun's Tomb which was built in the 16th century by Humayun's widowed Queen, Haji Begum.
The next day we did the long drive to Agra. This drive was an eye opener! Sometimes there was only one lane and if there is oncoming traffic, one of the two will have to yield. But neither party wants to give in too quickly, so three or four times our bus driver had to swerve at the very last moment to prevent a frontal collision.
An early start the next morning to be first in to the Taj Mahal - one of the seven wonders of the world, and it was so worth the early wake up. We were first in and managed to get photos with no one else in your picture. The completely symmetrical building is made of white marble and richly decorated with inlaid stones. Even though I've seen pictures of it, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this breathtaking structure. Next the Agra Fort - an elegant palace in triangular shape situated on the bank of Yamuna River.
We then headed east to the rural deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri founded in 1569, a few hours from Agra. This was our first night in the real rural India. Another early start at the National Park in Bharatpur, Keoladeo Ghana to see the birds and wildlife. This was formerly a duck shooting reserve but now an ornithologists paradise covering 12sq miles. Still very hot, though a different heat to NZ. Forecast was 45 degrees that day !!!!
As we left Bharatpur we took another 5 hour drive to Karauli. This is a holy town famous for the pale red sandstone wall which surrounds it. We took camel rides to the 600 year old fort, which is home to many monkeys and geese. We stayed that night at the Bhanwar Vilas Palace which was built as a royal residence in 1938 by Maharaja Ganesh Pal Deo Bhadur, when he was the ruler of Karauli. The palace is designed in a colonial style, and the interiors are furnished in art-de-decor period furniture.
Next stop the Tigers........Ranthambore was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957 and it became part of 'Project Tiger' scheme in 1974 and today is home to some 40 tigers. The park is also home to sloth bear, langur, striped hyenas, mash crocodiles and pythons. After a few hours driving we finally got to see a Tiger, he was just perfect! we were so lucky, thanks to a great tour leader !
My favourite city Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and also known as the Pink City. Women wore colourful silk and cotton saris, gold beads and earrings and lots of bangles. They all looked so beautifully dressed. We visited the Palace and Observatory. The City Palace had been restored and well maintained and it was more like a museum. We walked through several rooms filled with old paintings, furniture, sculptures of old times. Then we crossed the street to the observatory, an open building with lots of astronomy apparatus.
Amber Fort the next morning just on the outskirts of Jaipur. The main fort is called Amber or Amber (Hindi) fort and is one of the principal tourist attractions in the Jaipur area, located high on a hill. Amber Fort was built by Raja Man Singh, with its large ramparts, series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks the Maota Lake.
There’s never a dull moment in India. Wherever you look, at all times of day or night, you will see something that surprises you, confuses you, or amuses you. There is amazing history in India and the variety and deliciousness of India’s food is wonderful, and a definite highlight of travelling in the country.
I did an 8 day Northern India Explore Tour, which I highly recommend. The knowledge and expertise of our tour guide made my trip. Thank you Explore and Ranjeet our tour guide! What an amazing country!
My tips –
Temple Etiquette - Always take your shoes off before you enter a place of worship in India, and do not wear revealing clothes.
Keep Delhi belly at bay – It is advisable to drink only bottled water (check the seal). Avoid street food that may have been out too long. Be aware salads may have been washed in dirty water.
Bring a good mosquito repellent, carry around hand sanitizer and use it often.
It’s recommended to always ask permission when taking photos of anyone, especially women.
Do not give anything to the beggars
And most of all have patience!
There is no way to prepare for what India may do to you! It can be magic! You just have to be open to whatever may happen and go with the flow. This will be one of the most memorable and possibly most profound experiences in your life! Go for it!!!