Well, it’s been a while. Thanks to traveling around and having bad WiFi, I haven’t been able to upload pictures to WordPress or post efficiently. So, here I am, a week and a half later, feeling guilty for my lack of writing and unsure of where to start. This post is going to be a bit casual–and a kind of short. I just wanted to share some of my photos and experiences from traveling to Jaipur, Agra, and New Delhi. Enjoy!
If I had to compare Jaipur to Bangalore, I’d say they’re similar, but entirely different and unique in their own ways. Jaipur definitely thrives off of tourism. It’s cleaner, more organized, and you feel like less of an alien walking on an unfamiliar planet. There are still slums mixed with sky scrapers, nice apartment complexes, and fancy hotels, and beggars who walk around, tapping on car windows, but everything felt more controlled, the roads less hectic, and the streets less dirty. It’s a city I would recommend to those who want to visit India for vacation, even luxury, while also experiencing the authenticity of the South Asian country without being overwhelmed by the reality of its poverty. (But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit places like Bangalore. You 100% should!)
Driving down the streets of what is known as the ancient “Pink City” and trekking through the Amer and Jaigarh forts, I felt like I was being transported to the 16th century. Sweat trickled down my forehead, and chest, and back, and legs (I’m not kidding, it was hot), as the old–and mainly original–fort walls towered over us while we took a guided tour. Standing at the edge of Jaigarh, I began to feel small. I stared out to the tree covered hills that stretched for miles, thankful for moments like this that emphasize the smallness of myself and the vastness of the world.
Afterwards, to give our bodies some time to cool down, we headed to a textile shop and ended up spending too much money on souvenirs and handmade silk dresses (Jaipur is known for its silk, so we had to, okay?). When we came back to our hotel (which used to be a palace in the 1700-1800s!) we were more tired than ever, but I guess that’s what you get when you try to tackle Jaipur in one day. Next time I think I’ll stay there a bit longer so I can see more of what this city steeped in history has to ofter, while also giving my legs a chance to rest
New Delhi & Agra
The next morning we left for New Delhi, which reminded me of Bangalore with its traffic congestion and littered streets, but it was more busy and felt more touristy. We visited Qutub Minar, the India Gate, the president’s home, and some of the markets. My favorite part was our day trip to Agra where we saw the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal.
Ah, the Taj Mahal, a monument of loss and love. Our tour guide told us that Shah Jahan wanted to build the Taj Mahal to house his deceased wife’s tomb, to give her her own personal heaven–and what a heaven it is! Having only seen it in photos, I was surprised by its immensity, great detail, and, most importantly, it’s beauty. Each hand-cut piece of marble and stone were placed with precision and care, forming swirls of flowers and vines in and around the building. The tombs (Shah’s and his wife’s) lied directly in the center, protected by the marble walls embedded with gemstones and a garden that fills the outskirts. I now understand why it’s considered one of the wonders of the world. Even though my clothes were soaked from sweat and I was breathing heavily, trying not to get a heatstroke, the awe I felt as the Taj Mahal stood tall beside me made it all worth it. It’s something I’ll never forget.
From the Taj Mahal, we went straight to the Agra Fort, which is the sister monument to the Taj and where Shah had lived for many years of his life (he even built some of the marble palaces within). We walked between the red sandstone walls to the fort’s edge where you could see the Taj Mahal peaking behind the trees in the distance–a pretty spectacular view to say the least. Afterwards, we packed our tired and overheating bodies into the taxi and prepared for our drive back to New Delhi. Just like Jaipur, Agra is a place I would have liked to experience in more than just a day, especially considering that the trip there and back took a total of seven hours. But it was a wonderful adventure, nonetheless, and I’m sure I’ll be back soon.