Our final journey together as a group today was the 7 hour bus ride back to Delhi. We left Jaipur Inn at 10am and arrived at the hotel in Delhi at around 4.45pm. We had a stop for lunch where I had possibly my last vegetable thali *cries*.
After arriving back at the hotel we took the Delhi metro (for the first time) as a group to Connaught Place which is where the British had their office when they occupied India. The buildings looked very British. Whilst we were here we saw Indian H&M and various other brands we recognised.
The shops for rent in connaught place are very expensive and so most of the smaller Indian shops were in the Palika Bazaar. Palika is completely underground and is like a shopping centre but the very opposite to a British shopping centre. We didn’t get to browse freely and the shop workers tried very hard to get you into shops.
Tonight’s dinner was at Nizams and Mandy recommended the rolls, i had a chicken and egg roll (the roll part was a roti which is similar to a naan) and it was amazing. We came back to the hotel after this and said our goodbyes which was really sad. Truly don’t think we could have got a better group to start our adventure with!
After leaving Agra we took the bus to a small village called Dhula Bagh. On the way we stopped at Fatephur Sikri and the Abhaneri Stepwell. Whilst visiting the stepwell we walked to the temple for the goddess of joy and happiness and here I was blessed by a priest where he said a prayer for me and gave me an orange bindi (which is a sign I have been blessed).
Arriving at Dhula was a mad experience, once we turned off the main road we started passing little country houses with whole families sitting outside waving to us. Being white seems to be a novelty for a lot of Indians and we’ve been asked for pictures quite a lot. Dhula Bagh campsite is the most beautiful picturesque place I have ever stayed. The villagers provided us with vegetables they had grown for dinner and afterwards we sat round the campfire drinking and playing games.
The next morning we walked into the village and when we were there a lot of the children would follow us and smile and wave and all the villagers were genuinely lovely. We then left Dhula for Jaipur, at this point we are in Rajasthan where it is very arid so the temperature is increasing now (I can actually take my hoody off!).
We visited city palace in Jaipur and then went to see our first Hindi Bollywood movie – Tiger is alive. There was less singing and dancing than I imagined and more blowing up.
Today is the kite festival in Jaipur which celebrates the sun moving into Capricorn and the start of the harvest season. All the locals fly kites and so the sky is filled with them. Our hotel owner is holding a rooftop party which we will be joining shortly! This morning we visited palace of the winds and the Amber fort, where elephants ride people up the hill (we walked as the elephants aren’t treated well). The fort was beautiful and the views were stunning.
Tomorrow, we head back to Delhi where the tour will end. *sob sob*
Today was the day I have been eagerly waiting for – the Taj Mahal!!! We set off at 8am this morning with our guide Shaf. Once we arrived we had to line up in males, females and Indians.
When we walked through the gate and the Taj first came into sight, I honestly thought I was going to cry because it was so breathtaking. The history behind the building of it is amazing – it cost the emperor 41 million rupees to build over 22 years and is a mausoleum for his dead wife to prove to the world his love for her. (a love like that please!!)
After the Taj we visited Agra fort which took 8 years to build and would have been crazy luxurious in its time. The fort has 2 moats the first was filled with crocodiles and the second was a dry moat filled with tigers. when you entered through the royal gate women would drop rose petals down on you and play music as you entered. The fort itself was beautiful. We were told not to be scared of the “squirrels” (chipmunks) but not to feed them as they bit and they have rabies. So, totally not scary…
For lunch, we got shown how hand made carpets are made, this included a free samosa and turned into a sales pitch!
When we got back to the hotel we all sat by the pool and had indian pizza hut and beer together. We watched sunset at baby Taj and then went for some curry for dinner!
Tomorrow we are moving on to a small village called Dhula Bagh, I’m a little nervous about the toilet and shower situation as Mandy the tour leader has joked that they have running hot water for showers which consist of a man running with hot water…