Day 1 –  Friday August 19  –  ABU DHABI TO NEW DELHI/OLD DEHLI
img_2432Two things I can tell you that will FOR SURE happen at the Abu Dhabi airport before any trip: 1. Eating at McDonalds and 2. The flight departing late.  The flight was long and strange (we were the only two females on the plane) but fortunately  we managed to sleep most of it – but wow that plane was old.  Arrived into New Delhi early, around 5:30AM, through visa, baggage, a quick freshen up in the washroom, got coffee (priorities) and met our driver outside, after only a few minutes of panic that he wasn’t around heh.
In the car we started driving, picked up our guide along the way who was so … “LOL”, he had shaved lines into his hair and Louis Vuitton sunglasses to describe.  Our morning flew by seeing several sites in only a few hours:
(… I linked some of the websites if you wanted to read more on them but didn’t want to bore you with the history details in case you don’t enjoy those things quite as much as I do.  But everyone enjoys pictures!)
1.Qutub Minar.   Sadly the 379 indoor steps up the 240ft tower are closed from an accident that occurred nearly 40 years ago.
There is a large iron pillar in the centre of the courtyard, which is now fenced in, and it was said that if you could wrap your arms around the pillar and have them touch your wish would be granted.  No wishing for us thanks to all the pick pockets around spoiling the fun 🙁
What I thought I would never find interesting was the history of the architecture, surprise! It was fascinating.  The photo of the arch here shows a goddess that has been defaced.  The entire complex was originally a site with 27 Hindu temples which was later destroyed by Islamic invaders (to create their mosques).  In the process of obtaining their materials for creating the mosques, they defaced the Hindu Gods and Goddess that were carved into the sandstone as in Islam is it “discouraged” to depict living things.
img_23392. Lotus temple.  We were only able to see this from the outside as it was before 9AM and was not yet open.  The 27 petal of the temple are made from marble, creating 9 sides, and are surrounded by 9 pools. Inside there are 9 doors leading to the centre hall – notice the number trend?

3. Humayun’s Tomb.  Called the “Red Taj Mahal” and looking more like a palace than a tomb, this mausoleum was built for one of the Mughal emperors and later inspired the design of the great Taj Mahal.  Built in 1565, the deceased emperors wife created this building for her husband.  Several other tombs are located within as well.
img_23994. India gate. If you go to India you have to get your photo of of the India Gate.  Standing at over 40m high and engraved with the thousands of names of Indian soldiers (and some from UK) who gave their lives fighting  in WWI.  

5. Presidential Palace (Rashtrapati Bhavan).  Home of the president of India.  Obviously we couldn’t just go past the gates and start walking around the place, so we enjoyed from the distance – very specifically, from the painted yellow line meters from the large gate.  What was cool, though, is that if you turn your back to the palace and look down the long road (Rajpath Boulevard) it lines up perfectly with the India Gate. 

img_24396. Laxminarayan Hindu Temple.  Not part of our original itinerary (like the rest of our afternoon) but a great experience.  Our tour guide took us to the Hindu Temple, explained some parts of the Hindu religion, the Gods and their beliefs.  The mix of the music playing, the incense burning and the people around was incredibly spiritual.
img_2407From there we went to the bazaar shops.  We drank loads of free tea and watched the men flip carpets around for a good hour.  It was a great experience, and after some thinking between us, Laura and I each bought rugs.  Unfortunately, mine still remains bundled up waiting to be taken back to Canada where I can enjoy there.
{Little bump in the trip – it was at this point, going to pay for the rug, that I realized I never received my USD cash from the exchange store in Abu Dhabi.  Spoiler: it was all eventually sorted (nearly a month after) and I got my money back, but lesson learned: be careful when doing more than one money exchange}.
img_2409img_2421Drove to Old Delhi.  Took a rickshaw through the town to the street markets there and bought pashminas. Then to a jeweller, Laura got a ring. On our way back to the car we lost our guide behind us momentarily, that was about the only slight bit of panic we had navigating through the narrow streets.
 Went for lunch & had the BEST img_2447BUTTER CHICKEN OF MY LIFE.
Then to our hotel, relaxed and napped and went for dinner in the hotel and fell asleep to the never ending sounds of horns outside.

Day 2 – Saturday August 20 – NEW DELHI TO AGRA
Woke to the sounds of our alarms and the car horns outside early. Packed and got ready. Went for breakfast in the hotel. Checked out for 8:00 and in the car to start our 3 hour drive to Agra.   At first the sight of all the animals (pigs, cows, donkeys, dogs, cats – you name it) on the sides of the roads was a bit of a shock, but then we saw a body and you forget how wild the animals are 🙁
We finally arrived to Agra before noon and got into our hotel to check in and meet the man who would be our guide for the next two days.  We had a minute or two to relax in our hotel room before heading out for another DELICIOUS BUTTER CHICKEN.
img_2458img_2474We went to Agra Fort and spent nearly 3 hours there.   It was originally built as a military fort and then created into a palace.  We were only able to tour around approximately 1/3 of the area but that took us long enough!!
Then to the Moonlight Gardens (Mehtab Bagh) that host the back-view of the Taj Mahal.  It was beautiful.  But, in hindsight – I think that experience took away from the big “awe” of seeing the Taj the next morning.  Still beautiful views of the Taj from across the river and able to see the possible site of the future Black Taj Mahal.
We stopped and had AUTHENTIC CHAI TEA OMG at the side of the road.  It was served in these cute mud/clay cups that you just toss wherever you want when finished as they’re bio-gradable.
What else would we do with some spare time except shop of course!  We went to a jeweller and I bought myself a star sapphire ring because I can’t enter a gem shop without buying something hehe.
Then we went to a little shop that had pashminas, saris, your typical tourist magnets and keychains and all other trinkets.  Our driver brought us two beers and a bag of chips so we could eat, drink and shop – so nice!!

Day 3 – Sunday August 21  – AGRA TO JAIPUR
img_2563img_2578The wake up call that was 110% worth it at 5:00AM to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise.  By the time we made it down the long path towards the Taj, paid our admission, waited in line and passed through security it was normal daylight.  For the first time in years, the Taj Mahal is being cleaned, from normal aging and heavy India air pollution the Taj is turning a yellow/brown colour.  Cleaning it means huge scaffoldings with giant green tarps covering layers of mud they use to lift the stains.  Ah well, now I can say I was there when they cleaned the Taj (half glass full I suppose).
img_2630The Taj was built by a Mughal emperor as a tomb for his wife (romantic) who died in childbirth.  She lays there, we were able to tour a mock tomb (the real one is not accessible for public).  It is a beautiful building and it’s incredible up close, the fine details and architecture.  The photos will never do the Taj Mahal justice, the entire experience was amazing and once in a lifetime.
 We made it back to our hotel for breakfast and quick nap before heading off to a marble shop and then hit the road towards Jaipur.  What should have been a quick-ish drive (45 minutes) turned into a lot longer because there was a political rally.
img_2651We finally made it to Fatehpur Sikri – a ghost town.  The ancient city was the capital for the Mughal empire many years ago.  The emperor at the time built his new capital here as a celebration of the birth of his son.  The site was interesting as the emperor had built a palace each for his three favourite wives – he had many wives – (one Hindu, one Muslim and one Christian) and you could seeimg_2659 the difference in how each one was built and designed accordingly.  His Hindu wife was the one that gave him a son and her palace was HUGE.  The city was eventually abandoned as there was little to no water supply to the site.
img_2649(notice no faces again?)
 We made our way to Jaipur, by this time it was dark outside (it’s about a 4 hour drive from Agra to Jaipur)  so I couldn’t tell you much about what the city looked like.  We got to our hotel  around 7PM and ordered room service, I bet you could guess what we had 😛

Day 4  – Monday August 22 – JAIPUR TO NEW DELHI
Our whirlwind last day started early and finished too quickly.  If I could go back I would have spent more time in Jaipur – The Pink City.  We met our tour guide outside the first stop – the Palace of Winds.  He was so easy going and fun to talk to, he was a great end to our trip.  The weather was incredible!! Cool and a little rainy, so nice!
img_2688The Palace of Winds or Hawa Mahal from the outside appears as a wall of windows and balconies and it’s where the royal women could observe the street below without themselves being seen.   Made of shades of pink sandstone, like most other parts of the city (hence the name the Pink City), it looks like a beehive with plenty of windows that would allow the wind to pass through.  It was actually designed based on the Hindu God Krishna’s crown.
img_2697We then went to Amber Fort, which was my favourite place of the entire trip.  Besides the absolutely huge and loud monkeys it was essentially deserted because we arrived so early.  (We decided against taking the elephant ride up to the fort). img_2800img_2721
The buildings and architecture in this fort were incredible.  My favourite photo from the entire trip is the entrance to the main palace – Ganesh Gate (notice Ganesh above our heads in the jumping photo?).  Over 500 years later and the bright coloured paint remains intact, the details nearly as perfect as they were originally.
The other cool palace was the mirrored palace, the walls and roof made of tiny little mirrors.
The Lake Palace or Jal Mahal, appears as a floating Palace set out in the water.  It was cool, but I mean you can’t do much except look at it from a distance.
We then went to the City Palace and our guide made the history lesson about all of the previous rulers quite interesting with his strange humour.  The Palace was cool, my favourite part was in the courtyard, a different entrance door for each season had completely different design from the next (one of them peacock themed below).
We went to the astronomical observatory, Jantar Mantar, which has the world’s largest sundial.  Because of the overcast and rainy weather we were unable to play around and actually see how the gadgets worked, but it was cool still, and then our guide read our palms for fun LOL.
We stopped at a carpet making shop, but by this point we were kinda tired of sitting and partially pretending to be interested in how things were made with absolutely no plan of buying anything.
We hit the road back to Delhi to get to the airport for our 8pm departure.  The drive from Jaipur to Delhi was LONG, but obviously we had a pit stop for our last Indian meal.
Four days in India was without a doubt not enough time.  Reflecting on the full days we had and looking back on the photos of the chaotic streets and busy places, remembering the weird looks you get from the men and how friendly the women and children are is enough to make me want to go back again.  There is something spiritual about India that you can’t help but to feel yourself.  I will definitely be back there to see more, but in the mean time I’m going to go and order some take-out butter chicken!img_2614

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *