In Delhi we did visit the Red Fort, Tomb of Humayon, Gandhi's Memorial site, Parliament, India Gate. Delhi is made up of Old Delhi, which is crowded, chaotic, and interesting; New Delhi was designed by the British and it has elegant wide tree lined avenues, and imposing government buildings - lots of space and greenery, quite nice.
We took the Golden Triangle tour from Delhi to Jaipur and Agra, back to Delhi. In Jaipur, we saw the Amber Fort, Water Palace, Pink City, Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), Jantar Mantar (observatory), and the City Palace. And BTW, Jaipur is a great place to shop for jewelry. But here's the thing - you have to haggle like crazy. It's imperative that you start by halfing the price they quote. Further, you must act disinterested. Any sign of weakness, and the prices go up. (Here I should mention that the exchange rate was 43 rupees to a dollar when we were there, and there really was no need to agonize over 50 or 100 rupees.)
In Agra we saw the Taj Mahal at sunset when the bright white marble glowed a heart-stopping golden. We also visited the Red Fort and the Tomb of Akbar. Unfortunately we only saw Fatehpur Sikri from the distance.
We returned to Delhi for a quick respite, then took off for Rishikesh. Along the way, we stopped by Haridwar where we saw the temples along the Ganges and numerous people bathing in the sacred Ganges. The place was very crowded so it a relief to hurry on to Rishikesh which was more tranquil. Rishikesh is at the foothills of the Himalayas, and there are also temples along the Ganges. We attended an Aarti (religious ritual) in one of the temples and were enchanted by the floating lights on the Ganges.
Next stop was Amritsar where we had a memorable stay in a heritage hotel, the Ranjit Svaasa (www.svaasa.com), a 250-year old maharaja's mansion. Most of the rooms have terraces and the gardens are beautiful. In Amritsar we visited the Golden Sikh Temple (Sikh Gurudwara); entering the Temple was like walking through the looking glass - enchanting and out of this world!
On to Chandigarh and I'm not sure I have much good to say about the place, except perhaps for the Gaudi-like Rock Garden which is quite charming and magical.
From there we visited Shimla (Simla) which is a hill station, and a much cooler place than the low lands. We saw the remnants of British Raj days - the churches, the English buildings, the Woodville Palace now a Heritage hotel.
It was a lovely visit and I'd visit India again, perhaps the southern part next time. It has a lot of history and culture, and hotel rooms, meals, everything were great bargains. There's poverty, yes, and people invade your space, but the positives outweigh the negatives.
Turkey 1 (and visit Turkey 2, 3, 4)
The Fascination Called China
My Love Affair with France
All for now,
tags: travel, tourism, holiday, India, Golden Triangle, New Delhi, Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Cecilia Brainard