Page 2 of Simunique Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra January 1st 2020

The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in honour of the Persian princess Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved third wife, who died in 1632 while bearing their 14th child. He poured his energy into creating for her the most beautiful tomb ever built. The complex also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself, and the Taj’s stunning architecture has made it one of the most iconic monuments in the world. It took around 20,000 artisans and 1000 elephants twenty years to build. The white marble stone is inlaid with floral details carved from precious gems. In places, the stone is carved into delicate screens called pierce work so that visitors can see into the next chamber. All of the floors are inlaid with patterned stone, and incised painting in abstract designs adorns the ... read more
The Taj Mahal Tower
The Taj Mahal corner detail
The Taj Mahal

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra January 1st 2020

Home to the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, Agra is situated on the banks of the River Yamuna in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 200klm SE of Delhi. This beautiful city, where the Mughals have left a permanent impression, is rich with India’s heritage and culture. The magical allure of the Taj Mahal draws tourists to Agra like moths to a flame, and it never fails to mesmerise. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with magnificent Agra Fort and the deserted imperial city of Fatehpur Sikri. There are also many other buildings and tombs from Agra's days of glory as the capital of the Mughal empire, which we hope to visit. I had bought e-tickets to the Taj Mahal before I left home, timed between 6-9.00am, but after the fog ... read more
The Taj Mahal on a foggy day
Akbar’s Tomb
Akbar’s Tomb

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra December 31st 2019

We got an early start today, probably too early, as it was still dark and foggy when we arrived at Monkey Temple. We decided to have a look anyway, as we were here, though we couldn’t see much. The place was filthy, the ground covered in monkey poop and littered with banana skins, and a lone cow wandered around. The monkey residents were just waking up, fighting savagely amongst themselves and screaming into the early morning air. We had to use a phone torch to light our way up the steps and didn’t stay long. Just as we were leaving, the call to prayers started over the loud speakers. Yep, definately time to go.... Located 10klm east of Jaipur in a town called Khania Baslaji, but only a 15 minute drive from downtown Jaipur, this series ... read more
Monkey Temple
Lone cow at Monkey Temple
Castle Kanota outdoor area

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra December 30th 2019

Some of the most stunning architectural structures in India are to be found below ground, these are the stepwells, or ancient water stores. Stepwells are unique to India and from around the 3rd century CE were built throughout the country, particularly in the arid western regions. Over the past couple of weeks we have had the privilege of visiting several of these fascinating structures and today we visited the largest in Rajasthan, Aberhani Stepwells. It will feature in my next blog, but I though I’d give a little more information on just what a stepwell is..... Excavated in order to reach the water table, the purpose of a step well was simple - to provide water all year round. But they also fulfilled other functions. They offered pilgrims and other travellers a respite from the heat, ... read more
Krishna Market Stepwell, Hampi
Temple stepwell, Hampi

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur December 30th 2019

Hariom was waiting outside for us at 8.30am this morning for another big day of sightseeing, our last in Jaipur. First stop was the City Palace. Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, which we saw the first afternoon we were here, is a wing of this palace. Still the residence of the Jaipur royal family, some wings, courtyards and gardens are open to the public. We purchased the Royal Grandeur tickets which entitled us to enter some of the reception and sitting rooms still used by the royal family. A guide is mandatory with this ticket, and security guards were everywhere, even taking the lifts with us. City Palace is a palace complex, which used to be the seat of the Maharajah of Jaipur and is made up of an impressive array of courtyards, gardens ... read more
Diwan I Aam, the Hall of Audience at The City Palace
The largest silver vessel in the world, One of a pair
Gateway to The City Palace

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur December 29th 2019

For the next twelve days, we have the luxury of our own private driver and car, something we’ve been looking forward too. No more haggling with taxi and rickshaw drivers or airport runs for nearly two weeks...... Bliss! Hariom was waiting outside the hotel at 8.30am as arranged. His car, an SUV as I requested, was immaculate, with white covers on our two buckets seats, free water/wipes and onboard wifi. After introductions, we planned the days activities with him and headed away. Our first stop was in the town of Amer, 11klm from Jaipur, to see Panna Meena ka Kund, one of the stepwells responsible for sparking my interest in these structures. The water at the bottom of the stepwell was bright green, obviously full of algae. All it took was a Pinterest photo and I ... read more
Panna Meena Ka Kund Stepwells
Amber Fort
Tourist Elephant at Amber Fort

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur December 28th 2019

Our flight to Jaipur waited 40 minutes on the tarmac before being given clearance to take off, though most of this time was made up during the flight, so we arrived in Jaipur almost on time. We had an airport transfer arranged with our hotel, but he wasn’t there so we found the pre paid taxi booth and organised our own. We are staying at Umaid Mahal, a heritage hotel outside the old city. It was a good choice, large rooms with marble floors, hand painted ceilings and lovely decorative touches (and a sitting room with a well stocked bar), so we’ll be very much at home here. Fascinating Jaipur, dubbed ‘The Pink City’, and Rajasthan’s capital, is the gateway to India’s most flamboyant state. In July 2019, the entire city was declared a UNESCO World ... read more
Hawa Mahal - Palace of the Winds
Tripoli Bazaar
Tripoli Bazaar

Asia » India » Maharashtra » Mumbai December 28th 2019

Today is our last in Mumbai and we have decided to visit Elephanta Island. The rock-cut temples on Gharapuri, better known as Elephanta Island, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Created between AD 450 and 750, the labyrinth of cave temples represent some of India’s most impressive temple carving. It was the Portuguese who dubbed the island Elephanta because of a large stone elephant near the shore (this collapsed in 1814 and was moved by the British to Mumbai’s Jijamata Udyan). There’s a small museum on-site, with informative pictorial panels on the origin of the caves. Boats head to Gharapuri from a set of stone steps behind the Gateway of India every half hour. We had no trouble purchasing tickets, several touts approached us waving ticket books in our faces. One tried to tell us the ... read more
Elephanta Island caves
Elephanta Island caves
Elephanta Island caves

Asia » India » Maharashtra » Mumbai December 26th 2019

According to Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards, one of the largest slums in Asia has became the favourite tourist ‘experience’ for travellers to India in 2019, beating classic draws like the legendary Taj Mahal. The slum in question is Dharavi, which is located between two main suburban railway lines in the centre of Mumbai. Originally the area was a mangrove swamp inhabited by Koli fishermen. The slum was established in 1882 during the British colonial era, due to the expulsion by the colonial government of factories and residents in downtown Mumbai. Interested as I was to visit, the thought of participating in ‘slum-tourism’ didn’t sit well with me. Peering into the lives of those living in such crippling conditions made me feel uncomfortable. But, when I discovered Reality Tours and Travel, who guarantee all tour profits ... read more

Asia » India » Maharashtra » Mumbai December 25th 2019

This morning we have a Local Transport Tour with Reality Tours and Travel, meeting point was outside Regal Cinema at 8.30am. I knew the cinema was within walking distance from our hotel and I made a point of looking for it yesterday afternoon on our way to the Gateway of India. So we walked there this morning without any problems, arriving with ten minutes to spare. Another couple were coming on this tour with us, a lovely Malay couple who lived in Berlin. We enjoyed their company for a few hours and the company of our 18 year old guide. He was very knowledgeable about his city and was able to answer any questions we asked. First stop was reached via public bus. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, also known by its former name Victoria Terminus, after the ... read more
CST Station
The ceiling inside CST station
CST Station - the lovely stained glass windows above the ticket counter

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