These blogs from my India and Singapore trip at the start of 2017 are so far behind. As I’m now on my way back to South Asia, I thought it might be time to get them up! They’re written and ready to go – so here you are! I’ll also be posting everyday from Nepal – so it’s going to be a whole lot of South Asia on the blog right now.
After spending a lush night in the Holiday Inn, Delhi Aerospace, we had a half day of hectic Delhi sightseeing planned. We were meant to head straight off from Agra in the morning but the drive is just 3-4 hours. As Matt would only have this one night in Delhi, I thought it was important to see the capital of India. So, our half day tour began.
Oh, a note. Holiday Inn knows how to do breakfast! This is just the pastry bar. Wonderful service and amazing chefs ready to make you eggs any style or your favourite Indian breakfast dish. They also had cold coffee on tap – heaven!
Our first stop with our helpful guide, Sanjeev, was one of the oldest and best kept monuments in all of Delhi, possibly India, Qutb Minar. I had been on my first ever trip and on another of my stays in Delhi. I just love the structure of this minuet and also the grounds surrounding it. It’s a magnificent sight to see and once you hear the history of the area, it’s even more impressive.
This monument signifies the triumph of the Mughal empire over the Rajputs, the hindu kings of India. It was a new era and the Mughal kings wanted to make sure this was forever remembered. Construction started in 1192 and didn’t end until (date), three different dynasts added on the different parts. My partner Matt was blown away by the shape and the history of this area. I knew this was important for him to see.
We strolled around asking questions for some time and really enjoyed our time. We got there before the real crowds came. All students of Delhi at age 15 come to these important monuments as part of their schooling and history classes. All paid for by the government. I will write a blog on this area- it’s too fascinating not to. We were also quite fixated here on the wildlife. Fern squirrels (so cute!) green parrots, eagles and black kites all roaming the grounds
Next stop was Jama Masjid, the largest Mosque in India. I don’t think I’ve actually been to this site before. It was very interesting and beautiful inside the main archways. Our guide didn’t come in with us so we just roamed around looking at the architecture and enjoying walking on the stones and marble with no shoes on. We got quite a few interested looks here. The mother of this little girl asked me for a photo and I was happy to oblige. So lovely!
The mosque is situated next to Old Delhi. This is one of the largest markets in Asia for electronics. Largest Spice Market in Asia. It’s got some modern parts, but a lot of it has the older buildings and markets are still structured in old alleyways as they would have 100’s of years ago. You can buy pretty much anything here, though there are sections for particular goods. We caught a battery powered rickshaw (trying to reduce the impact on the environment) and got a quick taste of the area.
We hopped down at the Spice Market. You instantly can spell the wide array of spices on offer. Weaving through passageways past so many shops offering all the spices, nuts and sweets you could imagine. Whole stores dedicated to chilli. Another dedicated to turmeric. It overpowers the senses and definitely was an experience I hadn’t had.
We went to one store where they could explain to us the different spices and they actually had pre-packaged spice mixes. They are made by the Master Blender A. Kumar who has been visited by World famous chefs including George Kalamatis from Australia. We couldn’t resist and decided our Indian cooking adventures start now! Aloo Gobi, Butter Chicken Masala, Dal Makhani and some Mango Tea.
Our hectic tour ended at the Red Fort. We weren’t going to go in as it’s reasonably similar to the Agra Fort which we would see tomorrow. It was also difficult to access due to Indian Republic Day the following day, January 26th. We got o see some concerts going on at the fort and some of the setup for the parades near the India Gate earlier too. Here we parted with our guide and started our journey to Agra.
The road has been rebuilt since I last travelled to Agra and what was a seven hour journey can now take just 3-4 hours from Delhi. We caught the train the first time as it as much faster than car at the time and very possible to do a day trip. WE did unfortunately pass an accident on the way which certainly had killed people. Many people stopped their cars and ran over to see – I couldn’t look even in the direction. The unfortunate result of a fast and straight road.
We arrived to Agra by early evening, still in the daylight which was good. Our hotel, only built in the past two years, was the Four Points Sheraton. It was lovely and we were welcomed by our local tour operator and the manager of the hotel. Take Me To India really know how to care for their guests. Again a lovely room and a sweet welcome.
For dinner we went to Pinch of Salt, as recommended by our driver. It was certainly catering to the tourists as it was packed at 7.30pm (Westerners eat early, locals eat late.) The service was a bit odd, they seemed either distant and disengaged or there was the manager who kept creepily peering over customers shoulders to see if they were enjoying. The food was delicious, though there was A LOT of it. We enjoyed some meat which we had been abstaining from in rural parts. Very good.
Shattered again by night, we enjoyed the luxury of watching TV in the hotel room bed. I never do this at home, I’ll never allow a TV in my bedroom. Keep it as a treat when away.
Tomorrow…. TAJ MAHAL!!!!!!
If you would like to check out our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.
Written on Day 10 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.