So our next destination, which we were enourmously excited about, was to Agra. We were finally off to see the Taj Mahal. Eeeeekkkkk!!!!
Unfortunately, our trip didn’t get off to a good start when we were told there was news of protests throughout Rajasthan resulting in all the trains being cancelled. After much waiting around and debate the easier option was to take a taxi there. This actually ended being quite fun, well despite the moody driver who hated us.The drive though allowed us to see monkeys which climbed all over the car, and beautiful painted elephants just casually being rode down the street. It was spectatular. As we had decided that the next day would be dedicated to visiting the Taj Mahal, we would spend the afternoon visiting a few other tourist spots. These included the Agra Fort, a historical fort built in the 16th Century, also known as The Red Fort due to the red sandstone with which it is built. Here we were able to glimpse our first sighting of the Taj Mahal in the distance. We also visited Tomb of i’timād-ud-daulah which is a mughal mausoleum often described as ‘jewel-box’, it reminded me of a mini Taj, but I later read it is often regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal. Then to finish the day just as the sun was setting and you get that nice warm glow on everything, we went to Mehtab Bagh, which were the gardens overlooking the Taj Mahal and where we got to see the back view of it.It was such a breathtaking moment. It was peaceful there and as there were hardly any tourists around at that time of day it really was a special moment for the four of us to enjoy. We had finally reached our destination.
The next day we decided to go to the Sikh Temple, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. This is the biggest Sikh place of worship in New Delhi.
Here, again, we were asked to remove our shoes and were given bright yellow headscarfs to wear. We found it very funny that the first person we had an encounter with was our tour guide from yesterday. We couldn’t stop laughing as he had asked us if he could take us there himself but we had politely refused as we wanted to do the rest of a tour by ourselves. How bizarre that of all the people living in this over crowded city we would bump into him again.
Sikh temples are called Gurdwara’s, meaning “Doorway to God” Unfortunately inside the temple photographs are forbidden but we took some outside and met some wonderful people who wanted to have their photo taken with us, which was very sweet and made us feel like movie stars.
Everyday in Sikh temples, volunteers and workers cook free vegetarian meals for anyone who wants a meal, regardless of class, religion or background. It was such a beautiful place, welcoming, friendly and extremely calming. We left feeling refreshed and ready to face the noise and bustle from the streets once more.
The rest of my photos are just a random selection of our final day in Delhi.
We arrived in Delhi with so much excitement and were welcomed almost immediately from stepping off the plane. Even the toilet attendents were friendly. Haha. Andrew had bought all these silly marigold garlands from amazon which he made us wear but they made many people smile and want to help and talk to us.
Once we were through passport control and baggage reclaim we were then hit with the reality of the real India. Our taxi ducked and dived through the craziest traffic I think I have ever witnessed, it was fast and furious, noisy and chaotic. 3 lanes of traffic became 6 lanes and the sound of a thousand car horns rang through our ears definitely waking us up from any jet lag we might still have. It was absolutely brilliant though. God I felt alive and ready to conquer this insane travel experience I had awaiting for me over the next two weeks. We arrived at our little hotel quite late so we ordered room service, I am sorry to say I am part of the small percentage of brits that dislikes Indian food and therefore ordered chinese, which was extremely tasty, and also eventually turned out to work in my favour as I was the only one who didn’t get the dreaded delhi belly.
The following morning we were up nice and early as we were to meet our tour guide for the first part of the day. Our first stop of the day was the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, built in 1644-1656 costing 1 million rupees. With a mixture of Islamic arcitecture and serene surroundings it was some what calming and peaceful, even though we were in the heart of such a hectic city.
Here we were made to take off our shoes and us ladies given a floor length robe to wear, even though I thought we were modestly dressed, it seemed it was required of us.
Our next three stops on our tour included Humayun’s Tomb, the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, built in 1570 by a persian architect. Which actually looked like a very luxurious palace. Qutb Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, standing at 73 metres high and built in the 13th century, and India Gate, a 42m high war memorial which almost looked like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Back in february this year I was extremely lucky to have been given the chance to go to India. Well basically it was another one of those, you’re coming it’s booked moments. Which I suppose I should be grateful I have friends who do this, but I swear they will end up bankrupting me one day.
It was fantastic to be able to escape part of the UK winter and explore some beautiful winter sun. On route we had a 24 hour stopover in Muscat, Oman. First impressions were how surprised I was how busy the roads were. We were stuck in thick heavy traffic for most of our journey to our hotel and the jerky movements from our taxi driver meant I arrived with extreme car sickness. This was a shame as I missed out on the luxury buffet breakfast. Despite my nausea I did have time to notice how clean and pretty the city was and how most of the buildings were white and low rise, not a skyscraper in sight. The streets were also lined with gorgeous colourful flowers, which after a long winter back home was refreshing and lovely to see. To be honest we didn’t really have much time to explore as we also wanted a quick 2 hours by the pool just to feel some sun on our bones and defrost from the cold back home. After our quick sunbathing session we headed into town where our taxi driver gave us a quick tour of the city. It was actually too quick to take anything in but nevertheless gave us a little taster.
Last year was a pretty bad year for me when firstly I had found out my mum had cancer to only 5 short months later when we sadly lost her. As you can imagine it was the most devastating thing to happen, and to anyone who has lost a parent, family member or a friend to this horrific disease you know it shatters your world and leaves you questioning your own life. This was then followed a month later by my dad becoming ill and being in and out of hospital literally right up until christmas eve.
Obviously it was hard for me to focus on doing any writing or work on the blog, but there were snippets of life that I still somehow managed to enjoy with the help of friends who took me out for the day or booked me on trips just to ease me back into everyday life. For those people I am extremely grateful.
I am not usually one for New Years resolutions but in 2016 I really do want a new start and am very excited to get back into blogging and am feeling positive with what this year has to offer.
The following posts will be a collection of some of my favourite memories of 2015. Starting with….
Drinks at Cahoots
A 1940s inspired London Underground cocktail bar. http://cahoots-london.com/