Where to start with my travels in India, it’s such a beautiful country and so much rich culture. In this first part I’ll talk about my adventures in Delhi and Agra. I went to India with a group of Guide Leader friends I have known for many years and it’s certainly not a trip I’ll forget in a hurry. We went in June 2018 on a tour called Taj & Tiger and it lasted 7 Days and then we were on our own travelling to Pune to take part in an event at Sangam, One of the world Girl Guiding Centres.
We flew from Aberdeen to London Heathrow with an 8 hour stopover then on to Delhi. It was a long day of travelling but when we arrived the heat just hits you when you step of the plane and the temperature only increased when we got outside. Before we could go outside we had to get some spending money since India is a closed currency and they certainly make the most of it as there was only a few different options all competing for your money. There was one just as you came out of baggage reclaim which had been recommended to us to use, so we were fine.
Once we were all sorted we got met by our driver who was going to take us to our hotel in Delhi along with the Delhi rep as our tour guide would be meeting us tomorrow. We got told to follow them to the bus area and oh the heat just got more intense when we walked outside the airport and while we waited. It must have only been a couple of minutes but it was too hot!
We got on the Air Con bus to be welcomed to Delhi where they gave us each a welcome gift which consisted of a silk scarf, hand decorated journal and pen. They gave us a few tips on how best to cope in Delhi before dropping us at the “The Leela” for our first night in India. We had the rest of the day to ourselves to adjust and get use to the climate but it was too hot to do much more than going to the pool. It was on the roof terrace and gave you an interesting view of the street below.
The hotel must have been aimed at business people as it was dead during the day but busy at meal times. The staff were welcoming and they couldn’t do enough for you. One example was that I had asked for a Peppermint Tea when we were having Tea’s after our evening meal and after various attempts to try and explain what I was asking for, we thought we had cracked it. So the waiter came over with tea for me but unfortunately he’d taken it very literal and had literally just put black pepper in with some hot water. It tasted awful but I didn’t have the heart to tell him and just smiled and nodded.
We were heading for Agra next and we got introduced to our Tour Guide Shiraz and he would be the one taking us round all the sites and looking after us for the next week. It was a 4 hour drive to Agra by bus but when we arrived it was beautiful and got checked in this time staying at the Radison Blu, Agra. We were welcomed again with silk scarfs before getting shown to our rooms.
Once we got changed and ready we headed to the Imperial Residence of the Mughal Dynasty Agra’s Red Fort, which was built in 16th Century and is a UNSECO World Heritage Site. It was beautiful to see and all the history that surrounds the city. We also got our first look of the marble which Agra is famous for. Tomorrow we were going to be going to see the Taj Mahal but we got a sneak peek at it in the gardens that lay behind the world famous site. It looked absolutely breath taken and got us all excited for the following day.
The following morning arrived at 4:30am we were off to the Taj Mahal, the reason for being so early it allows you the chance to beat the crowds and also the chance to see the sunrise. We got dropped off at coach park area, from there we were taken in electric golf buggy type vehicles to the entrance gate as no motor vehicles are allowed in order to keep everything gleaming. At the gate you can see how busy it can be as they have about a mile of metal barriers to queue in which we were able to pass by as were with our tour guide. Once in there is swarms of photographers that are jumping to take professional photographs of you in front of the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is a fantastic love story about a man love for his wife, something which can be seen as soon as you get there. The gardens are in the grounds/gardens are lovely and it just strikes you as soon as your eyes hit. We got photos taken at the arch into the grounds along with one at the Princess Diana’s bench. Once we were inside it was so beautiful, all the marble and artwork from precious gems inside looks amazing. Fact: the only part not symmetrical are the tombs due the fact Shah Jahan’s casket is buried with his wife’s who he built the Taj Mahal for.
It’s definitely something I will remember and hope to go back and visit someday. When you come out of the Taj Mahal there is SO many gift shops all selling tourist gifts and they all come up to you when in the golf buggy trying to flog there goods but if you’ve got a good tour guide they will try and keep them at bay.
Once back at the hotel we had our breakfast and were getting set to head off on our next adventure to see the Tigers at Ranthambore.