Incredible India – Part One: Delhi & Agra

27th April, 2018

I think Karl Pilkington summed it up best. India is continual “layers of madness….”

There is immense beauty in the chaos, and I don’t think we were quite prepared for the experience. It was tough. An emotional rollercoaster – and sheesh – what a ride!!

Where do I start?
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this India post – I firstly want (need!!) to give a huge shout out to my kids. 10 and 11 years old. They trekked around India with us for 3 weeks. Visiting multiple monuments, mausoleum, palaces, and temples in the steamy Indian heat with not one complaint. Not one. Nada. Zilch. Miracle!
We walked so many steps. We saw so much sadness and poverty, yet so much happiness and joy all at the same time, and they were absolute super stars!

We spent our time in Northern India exploring Agra and the Rajasthan region.
Seeking the expertise from a local tour company (thanks to a wonderful Scottish couple we met in Sri Lanka who gave us the details…), we had a private tour specifically designed to work with our timeframe and budget. It was so nice to take some time out from booking and planning and let someone else take care of it for a while.

We began with 3 nights in Delhi, followed by 2 nights in Agra before starting the official Rajasthan Tour.
This blog is a hefty one, so I have split it into two parts.
The first part covers our time in Delhi as well as Agra. Part two will be all about the Rajasthan tour, including all accommodation information and India travel advice and tips.

DELHI
Delhi is an acquired taste. So many will tell you to get out as soon as you can, that there’s nothing to see or do, but we really liked it.
It was helped by the fact that we had a wonderful driver named Kuldeep, (pronounced Cool-deep) who was in fact, very cool and also spoke beautiful English.
He showed us all that Delhi (both New and Old) had to offer in the space of 36 hours.

The traffic in Delhi is NEXT LEVEL!! Kuldeep joked with us that in order to be a driver in India, one needs 3 things: a good horn, good brakes and good luck. He wasn’t wrong!

Lotus Temple:
The Lotus Temple is a house of worship, built in 1986 and from certain angles, has a striking resemblance to the Sydney Opera House. The grounds here are stunning.
Entry Fee: Free of charge

Lodhi Gardens:
A beautiful park in the city of New Delhi. A great spot for a picnic, or to just enjoy a wander around and escape the heat under a shady tree.
Entry Fee:
Free of charge

Presidents House (Rashtrapati Bhavan):
Incredible architecture and gardens. You are able to visit the house by booking online, but it is only open a few days a week.
Entry Fee:
Free of charge

Humayun’s Tomb:
This UNESCO World Heritage site is so incredibly beautiful. If you only have time to visit one place in Delhi – this is my recommendation. 
Entry Fee:
Adults 500RS ($10AUD) Children under 15 free of charge

Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum:
This memorial museum was so in-depth, no detail spared. It was an honour to walk through Indira’s former residence and learn all about her life and her courage. 
Entry Fee:
Free of charge

IMG_1483
Beautiful ladies more than happy to pose for a photo.

AGRA
Taj Mahal:
I was like a kid at Christmas when we were on our way to visit the one and only Taj Mahal. I was full of excited nerves and could not wait to get in there and see her!!!
As I’d imagined – the arrival and entry process was HECTIC! People everywhere.
I highly recommend getting a guide. It will save you any stress with queues and you’ll learn so much too. Our guide was included with our tour and he was incredible. He taught us so much about the rich history of the Taj. Showed us all the best spots for picture taking including a few cheesy posed shots which we all had some fun with.
We arrived at 4pm – and left just after 6:30pm when the sun had set. It was such a stunning time of day to visit.
Yes, there were huge crowds, but the grounds are enormous – so we didn’t really notice it apart from in the actual mausoleum itself. It is very manic in there. I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who is claustrophobic… Thankfully you’re ushered around quickly and in and out in a matter of minutes.

One of my favourite things was watching the sunset change the colours of the Taj and the beautiful coloured outfits of all the local men, women and children against the white marble.
It truly is remarkable and a moment that will stay with me for all of my days.

Entry Fee: 1000RS for adults ($20AUD) Children under 15 are free
Handy Tips:

– Take the time to get the photos you want, and don’t be rushed. Sunset and Sunrise will be the best times to capture Taj at its prettiest. The colours are just incredible!
– Carry bottled water with you – it is HOT!
– Enjoy some time on the benches around the grassed areas and take it all in. It is breathtaking.
– You can buy covers for your shoes at the entry point, or remove your shoes before entering the mausoleum.

Agra Fort:
The next day we headed to Agra Fort. A very beautiful Fort, and another UNESCO World Heritage site.
We wandered the grounds here for hours. The kids LOVED the little chipmunks everywhere.
Entry Fee: 500RS ($10AUD) Children under 15 are free
Guide: We didn’t get a guide, and wished we did. We ended up doing some research back in the hotel that evening.

Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah (The Baby Taj):
Built 20 years before the Taj Mahal – the beautiful mausoleum in the city of Agra is often referred to as the “Baby Taj”, and is often regarded as the draft to the Taj.
We enjoyed our visit here, although I will admit, after seeing the real deal the day before – it didn’t really compare.
Entry fee: 200RPS ($4AUD)
Note: You will need to remove your shoes before entering the mausoleum. If you do not remove your shoes, you will be denied entry.

It was day 6 in India. Our time in Agra had come to an end, and our official Rajasthan tour had began.

Part Two of Incredible India coming as soon as possible! Stay tuned.

Big love,
Cxx

 

 

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