Wow India!

I’ve always dreamed of going to India and seeing The Taj Mahal.  Well on January 21, 2014 my dream came true when I landed in Delhi for a 15 day tour of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Khajuraho and finally Varanasi!   On this trip, I also visited Katmandu, Nepal butI’llshare that in a separately titled article, Kathmandu-A Dream Come True to give it its very own rave review.

And so let’s begin our Indian odyssey with our first stop which was in Delhi.

So  our first morning in Delhi, we toured Old Delhi, drove past the very magnificent Red Fort, built in 1648 as a symbol of Mughal’s Emperor Shah Jehan, and also visited Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque.  As shown in the photo below for me the highlight of this morning’s tour was visiting the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi.

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Then, in the afternoon we visited The Qutub Minar, The India Gate, The Birla Temple (where I witnessed a wonderful Hindu ceremony) and we additionally drove past some very interesting government buildings as well!

Now at this point, I just have to share (in the photo below) traffic in Delhi, which is reflective of traffic in all of India and let me tell you that it is very, very scary!

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Well, the next day was a five hour drive to Jaipur (ouch!).

Once there we settled in for the evening but the next day did not disappoint.

Off we went for a half day excursion to Amber Fort which was the ancient capital of the state until 1728.  There we saw The Temple of Kali with its glittering hall of mirrors. It was there that I had to put fear aside as we ascended up to the FortLOL on the backs of these beautiful elephants and let me tell you it was very, very high up!

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So the next day we left for Agra and on the way I was able to view rural life in The Indian Countryside.   Life there is so very difficult for the Indian farmer but they do their very best with so very little!

Now continuing on to Agra we also visited Fatehpur Sikri, a once glittering capital, which was later abandoned due to lack of water.

I have to admit that Indian forts and old cities basically constructed out of red sandstone palaces have well stood the ravages of time.

They’re very impressive, very impressive indeed!

Well, yeah, so today we went to see The Taj Majal.  Well, what a site and there are no words.  This 17th century, white mausoleum was built by Emperor Shah Jehan to enshrine the mortal remains of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal. And it truly will take your breath away!!!  It did not disappoint!!!

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Then the next day we boarded the famous Shatabdi Express Train to Jhansi and continued by coach to Orchha, a medieval city on the River Betwa.  From there we proceeded to the town of Khajuraho, known for its splendid temples built by the Chandela kings between 950 AD and 1050 AD.  These splendid temples (only 25 of the 85 left) showed Kama Sutra figures and Kama Sutra bar reliefs and the figures looked as real and full of expression and emotion today as on the day when they were crafted. It was really an amazing site. Totally impressive!

Now, ok, true confessions, today is the day that I was really waiting for. It’s our last stop in India and we’re flying to Varanasi to visit the Ganges River.  Yes, I wanted to visit The Taj but even more than that I’ve always wanted to experience Varanasi and see life on The Ganges River as it really is.

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So to do that our group took an evening boat ride on the Ganges and we were able to watch a sacred Hindu ceremony and to observe the holy cremation sites as well.

I will admit that this experience gave me a lot to think about.  I mean I really enjoyed the openness that the Indian (mostly Hindi people) have about death.  It’s discussed, it’s open and anyone can attend one’s cremation.  I just felt that this part of The Indian culture really got it right and I feel blessed to have shared with this part of their culture first hand.

And so if you want to experience a culture that is nothing like you’ve experienced before then try India and open yourself up to the possibilities of transcendence and Om.

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Recommended Hotels:

Delhi- Picadily Jankpuri Hotel

http://www.travelocity.com/hotels/piccadily-new-delhi-new-delhi–in.56511

Jaipur-Sheraton Four Points City Square Hotel

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/fourpoints/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3499

Agra-Jaypee Palace Hotel

http://www.jaypeehotels.com/jaypee_palace/index.aspx

Khajuraho-Radisson Hotel

http://www.agoda.com/jass-radisson-hotel/hotel/khajuraho-in.html

Varanasi-Radison Hotel

http://www.radisson.com/varanasi-hotel-up-221002/indvaran/rooms

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