[January 2016] I am taking an organized tour in India. It’s a tour of the golden triangle (Delhi, Agra & Jaipur) with a detour to a place called Ranthambhore for a Tiger Safari. Today is day one and I’m super excited. This is the first time I’m taking a tour like this. I think I’m going to enjoy being chauffeured around for once 🙂
Day One: Pune to New Delhi
I arrived New Delhi by 5am on a flight from Pune and was met by my tour coordinator outside the arrival gate. He took my bags and introduced me to the man who would be my driver for the next seven days and the ran through my itinerary as we made our way to the first of five hotels I’ll be staying in.
For day one, I visited Akshardham and Lotus temple . I couldn’t get into the Lotus temple cos the line outside was too long but I was really impressed with the Akshardham temple. The walls were covered with hundreds of sculptures, which I found to be simply amazing. The garden was also pretty impressive. Photography isn’t allowed within the temple area, so I was unable to take any pictures.
Day Two: New Delhi
Day two of my my tour began in the old city of Delhi. First, we visited Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. Then we took a rickshaw ride into Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest market in old Delhi. Most of the shops were closed (I visited on a Sunday) so I didn’t experience the market as it usually is but I am not complaining, it was busy enough for me.
Next, we headed towards Raj Ghat, a memorial where Mahatma Gandhi and thereafter Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were cremated. We passed by The India gate, which was closed to the public because of the upcoming Memorial day. I managed to get a shot of it though but would have been nice to go closer.
Our next stops were the Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutab Minar, two UNESCO world Heritage sites. I’ll blog in details about these two later. Until then, see you tomorrow (as long as I can find a good (free) internet connection and until then, shubh raatri…
Day Three: New Delhi to Agra
It’s day three and I’m closer to the ‘Taj’ part of the ‘Taj and Tigers Tour’. My tour today began with a four hour drive from Delhi into Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal. The drive along one of India’s finest freeways hardly felt as long but then again, I slept for a good part of the journey.
After checking into my hotel, I headed out to see the massive Agra Fort (Admission into the fort requires a fee of 250 rupees for foreigners and 20 rupees for locals). The Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site located about 2.5 km northwest of the Taj Mahal. The drive to the fort was in itself pretty interesting. Animals ranging from buffaloes, cows and camels to monkeys and donkeys were easily seen on the streets.
Later on, I visited Mehtab Bagh – The Moonlight Garden, where we ended day three.
Day Four: Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri & Ranthambore
I started the day off with an early morning visit to one of the new seven wonders of the world. (Entry for foreigners is 750 rupees)
I have to admit, seeing the Taj Mahal did not leave me in awe or cause me to shed a tear as a fellow traveler narrated. I was impressed, no doubt but I was not mesmerized by it. Don’t get me wrong though, the Taj Mahal is beautiful and the love story behind the monument, even more so. It is well worth a visit.
The next five hours of the day was spent on the road to Ranthambhore. Will be keeping my fingers crossed to spot a tiger or two!
Day Five: Ranthambore
This day began on a rather hilarious note but ended glad it ended well. I was booked for three safari outings and I wondered why. Turns out tiger sightings are a matter of luck and many expeditions end in a cold trail. Our first one did but the second was successful.
I have another trip planned out for tomorrow morning but I think I’ll skip it, only because I’m not very comfortable with the ride. My tour coordinator tells me that they are indeed safe but I’ll be willing to trade the safari for a late start to the morning.
Day Six & Seven: Jaipur
It’s day six and I find myself in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. I skipped out on my morning safari and started my journey from Ranthambore earlier than planned. I arrived Jaipur after four hours and checked into a very unique hotel.
For the next two days, I’ll be staying in Shahpura House, Jaipur. Of all the hotels I’ve stayed in, this is by far the most traditional. The architecture and decor of this place is just amazing. (It used to be a palace)
I spent day 6 and 7 visiting places in Jaipur like the old city, Palace of Winds (Hawa Mahal) , Jantar Mantar (a UNESCO world heritage site) and the Amber Fort. I had been booked for a ride on an elephant within the fort, but this wasn’t of any interest to me, so I skipped this.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the local markets and shops. I got lessons on how carpets, fabrics, paintings and jewelry are made and I tried a few more local cuisines. And with that, my tour of the Golden triangle and Ranthambore came to an end.
PS: My tour was organised by a company called Trinetra Tours.