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Published: June 20th 2017
Namaste from India! Home to 1.2 billion people and currently experiencing temperatures of 40+ degrees! We had read before arriving that you don't come to India for a holiday; you come to experience it. And one week in to our two week adventure here, we would have to agree although we are hoping to avoid experiencing the infamous Delhi Belly!
Driving here is insane and anyone taking to the streets are known as the Triple D's - Delhi Dare Devils! Drivers have one hand on the horn at all times. The rules of the road appear optional. Indicators - what are they for? Roundabouts - if we're taking the last exit, why go the whole way around when you can just turn right? Dual carriageways - one way traffic? Think again. Cows. Dogs. Goats. Bikes. Rickshaws. Tuc tucs. Motorbikes with 4/5 people aboard. Hand / cattle / horse / camel drawn carts.
Our Indian adventure started in Delhi where we visited the India gate, parliament buildings and some local temples/memorials.Venturing into Old Delhi on a rickshaw, we had an amazing experience navigating Chandni Chowk Marketplace. It boasts thousands of little stalls and shops, organised and located according to what
they sell e.g. an entire street dedicated to the spice market, another to shoes, etc.
Whilst it came as a shock initially, we have grown accustomed to our celebrity status in India. We are often asked to pose for photos and selfies with the locals. Donal now fancies himself as a young Brad Pitt! We haven't been asked for autographs yet but we're practicing up our signatures just in case!
Our next stop was the city of Agra, home to the iconic white marble Taj Mahal. It was commissioned in 1632 by the emperor, Shan Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife. She was his third wife (which wasn't many by all accords) who died giving birth to his 14th child. On her death bed, she asked that he wouldn't marry again and that he prove his love for her to the public.
We visited the Taj Mahal at sunrise however we enjoyed our best views away from the crowds, at a less visited viewing point across the river. This viewing point was the King's intended location for a black marble Taj Mahal, to be his own tomb. However it never materialised as his son
stopped him from building it due to the enormous cost to the public (sometimes the auld lads get it wrong!). And so the King is also buried beside his wife in the Taj Mahal.
Our third stop took us to the Pink City and the final stage of India's popular Golden Triangle - Jaipur. It has been given the nickname the Pink City as all the buildings have a pink colour since the British era. Visiting Amber Fort and Palaces was a major highlight. We were carried up like royalty by elephant to the fort, which we now feel we are due to the amount of people asking for photos!! The fort and palaces are built into the mountains which makes for a beautiful setting. The fort boasts a seperate military base higher up the mountain. Jaipur is also renowned for its pearls and diamonds but when Donal didn't know the diference between white gold and silver we were wasting our time!
Onto Bikaner we went. As is commonplace, the city has developed around a fort that could no longer house the growing population - Junagarh Fort. We enjoyed a tuc tuc tour of the of city in
Delhi temples and monuments
Clockwise from top left:
Mau outside the Jama Mosque (Donal out of shot wearing a skirt); Lakshmi Narayen Mandir Hindu Temple; Donal at India Gate; Sikh Temple; Ghandi Memorial.
Bikaner which included the market place. The market places are a constant hive of chaos and life - how fights don't break out is hard to understand, especially in this heat! Bikaner is also famous for its Rat Temple......yes Rat! With approx 20,000 rats we politely declined the offer to visit!
One week in, we are really enjoying our Indian adventure. It has been hot, humid and hairy on the roads at times. The food has been really good and now we have left Delhi we cannot get Delhi Belly...right?
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