INDIA, I LOVE YOU.
This is a special post, because this is a special destination for me. This post will feature my first ever collab, with all photos by travel photographer Alex Visbal, You might want to check him out.
New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Rathambore are all less than 5 hours away from each other, so if you want to avoid the airport hassle, you can manage a roadtrip. But before you even think of it, do not drive unless you are from India. Driving there is really different than in most of the world; there are certain rules you might not know, or even understand (i.e.: the honking). So just avoid yourself a hard time and outsource this service, and make sure you tell the driver to take the “no-honking” road, so you can get some sleep on the way. Mumbai is a bif farther, so you should definitely catch a flight from or to any of these cities.In big cities like New Delhi & Mumbai, I suggest you hire a car or a taxi to drive you around for the day. Let the driver know the spots you want to visit, and tell him/her to take you to some local spice and crafts shops, instead of the main touristy ones that charge 5 times for the same product.
Taj Mahal. Say no more.Actually, do say more. Agra Fort.The Agra Fort is almost as astonishing as the Taj Mahal, so you must do both. I’m not a guided tour person, but I strongly suggest getting one in the Taj Mahal. There is a lot of history behind this funerary monument that many people don’t know. I could tell you all about it, but I actually found it quite interesting to hear the story “in-situ”. (If you want to know more don’t hesitate on contacting me). Also, there’s more than just the mausoleum (The White Dome), the whole Taj Mahal actually comprehends 17 hectares, and includes beautiful gardens and a mosque, among other buildings. Try to catch the Taj Mahal at sunrise, when there’s divine lighting, cool temperature, and it’s less crowded. Sunset is also nice, but it might still be crowded.Btw, Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.Back to the Fort, this red-walled palace is India’s most important fort since this is where the greatest emperors lived and governed. It is considered a World Heritage site, and it is for good reason. You can find amazing architecture and a lot detail in between these red walls.
The pink city. How I loved this city. Tour around the old town in a tuk-tuk. It might be a little hectic, but it’s a unique way to know the town.
- Jah Mahal (Water Palace): Just go. And go at sunset.
- Amer Fort: You can tour this Fort by foot or by elephant. There’s a beautiful light show every evening at 7:30PM, but it’s definitely a must to catch the fort at daytime as well.
- Chokhi Dhani: This is basically a park that includes many typical attractions and shows. You can grab a very typical Rajasthani dinner at the restaurants inside the resort.
- Baazars: Johari Bazaar, Tripolia Bazaar, Chandpol Bazaar, Nehru Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar, Kishanpol Bazaar. Jaipur is filled with bazaars all full of local & unique crafts, clothes, jewletty, etc.
- Birla Mandi Temple: This beautiful white marble temple is a fantastic sight at daytime, and as night time as well, when it’s lit up.
- City Palace: This palace complex includes two different palaces & other beautiful buildings. Both palaces are now enabled as museums, displaying carpets, manuscripts, royal costumes, and embroidered shawls, among others.
- Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace): This palace’s design was intended specifically to let the women inside take a peek at the streets, without being seen. The palace is a beautiful sight at sunrise. Btw, what you see from the street is not the front of the palace, it’s actually the back, so if you want to enter the palace you must go to the side road.
- Adventure on to a Hot Air Balloon ride: I mean, ¿Why not?
Ranthambore National Park is known for its Bengal Tigers and is one of the Project Tiger reserves in India. Nonetheless, you can catch many wild animals in their natural habitat during the safari, like wild boars, deers, monkeys, and peacocks.The Wildlife Conservation Trust @wctindia is one of the conservation organizations that support the preservation of the reserve and the protection of the animals.The best time for visiting Ranthambore would be between November and April, avoiding the Monsoon (rainy season) which goes from late May through beginning of October.My Hotel Pick: Oberoi Vanyavilas – it’s magestic, it’s literally in the middle of the jungle, and they have an elephant. Seriously, what else?
So last but not least at all, Varanasi. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to visit Varanasi, but my coolest (and only) brother did, and he spilled me all the deets. (BTW: He’s a great travel photographer, you might want to check him out www.alexvisbal.com)So. The Ganges River is sacred in itself, and Varanasi is the most sacred place around the Ganges, so it’s some serious sacredness. The most emblematic thing to do in Varanasi is to take a stroll down the river and enjoy the view of all the Ghats, which are wide, colourful stairs surrounding the river. There are different kinds of Ghats: some are for praying, some are for getting bathed, and the most sacred ones are funeral pyres for incinerating the dead (Varanasi is the most sacred place in India for these rituals). You can presence these ceremonies from the river, or you can go directly to the funeral pyres.
Delhi is the perfect blend of modernity & history. Take note and make sure you don’t miss these sights:
- Humayun’s Tomb: This is where the emperor Humayun is buried, along with some other Indian important figures, like Isa Khan. This tomb is surrounded by beautiful and well maintained gardens.
- Spice Market at Khari Baoli Road: Olf Delhi holds the largest spice market in Asia, and it is seriously SPICE HEAVEN. If you like cooking like me, you’ll for sure go crazy in here, but even if you don’t enjoy cooking, this is a colorful & tradicional scenery to enjoy, so you should still go.
- Red Fort: It’s not the Agra Fort. But it’s still a beautiful, and red fort, and it’s also considered a World Heritage Site.
- Khan Market: In this market you’ll find a bit more high-end local shops, as well as international brands.
- Lotus Temple: This worship temple is a work of art. The white marble structure imitates the Lotus Flower, with 27 free standing marble petals.
- Dandi March Statue
- Jantar Mantar
- Shanti Stupa
♥Hidden Spot: Champa Gali: bohemian street, with nice cafés and boutiques♥My Hotel Pick: The Leela Palace New Delhi