Saturday 7 October 2017

Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi in Three Days

I always love playing photographer for these two. Last month, we traveled to India to visit Jaipur, Agra, and New Delhi. I was never, and never will be, a fan of group tours. I like my independence and love being able to do things on my own pace. But since we have limited time, I opted to book the Golden Triangle 3 Days Package online

We were picked up at our hotel in Jaipur in the morning and proceeded for the city tour. The first stop was Amber Fort, which is one of the most well-known and most visited forts in India. It was once a capital of Jaipur State, and the residence of its rulers too. It was constructed in 1592 and was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2013. After spending an hour or so wandering inside the fort, we headed to Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory used to measure the distances and positions of celestial objects. India has a total of five such observatories, the largest of which is in Jaipur. We continued the city tour and made a stop at Hawa Mahal, Jaipur's most distinctive landmark which is painted in pink. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the life and processions of the city. The last stop for that day before driving up to Agra was Jal Mahal, or the Water Palace, which is Jaipur's most photographed (and photograph friendly) monument. 

It was an early wake up call the following day. I was excited. Elated that I'm finally ticking another item on my bucket list! The guide picked us up in our hotel before dawn and then our journey started to see the Taj Mahal - India’s most recognized monument and is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It dates back 1630 where the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal - the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, lies. He built Taj Mahal, made out of marble which took 22 years and 22,000 workers to finish, as an ode to his love for her. After being astonished by the grandiose Taj Mahal, we visited Agra Fort - one of India's most significant Mughal forts. It was among the first monuments in India to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. From Agra Fort, we drove to see Itmad-ud-Daulah, or the baby Taj Mahal - one of the most impressive architectural wonders of the city of Agra and is considered to be the inspiration behind the Taj Mahal. Before heading to Delhi, we explored local arts and crafts from Mughal era. 

It was a long drive going to Delhi. We had dinner and quickly went to bed to get ready for the adventure the following day. After having breakfast in our hotel, we started the city tour of Old and New Delhi. The guide took us to Jama Masjid, a mosque in Old India constructed in 1650–56 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahān. Jama Masjid is the second largest mosque on the Indian subcontinent and is also an impressive example of Mughal architecture. The guide also let us experience a rickshaw ride through the Old Delhi Market - a bit walk through Asia's biggest market was indeed memorable. Raj Ghat is located close to Jama Masjid, which is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Few kilometres south of Delhi, we also visited Qutb Minar and its Monuments. It was built in the 13th century to celebrate Muslim dominance in Delhi after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu ruler. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib was our next destination. It's a magnificent white-marble gurdwara which was constructed at the site where the eighth Sikh guru, Harkrishan Dev, stayed before his 1664 death. The last stop of the Golden Triangle trip was Red Fort - a Mughal fort in Old Delhi, India. The fort has massive red sandstone walls, and is one of the most famous buildings both politically and historically within India and was constructed way back in the 17th century by the emperor Shah Jahān. It was a short 3-day trip but a very memorable one! My brother proposed to his girlfriend Ayen in front of Taj Mahal, which made it even more unforgettable. The tour covered most of the places we really wanted to visit, and the tour guides were amazing! 

I wonder why many people equate money and happiness. I've traveled to a lot of places and in my experience, some of the happiest people I have met are actually the less privileged ones. We live in a money obsessed society. Money plays a critical role in every aspect of someone's success. However, I was blown away by India. Despite traveling around with a tour guide, we still had to deal with crowds, chaos, and unwanted attentions. And it opened my mind wide open, showed me that there is another way to live, and that there's endless possibilities out there. Embrace the chaos. On our way to the airport, I opened my kindle and read my book : How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living. 

ciao for now xxx

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