Northern India part I: from dazzling Delhi to the famous Taj Mahal

A while back – in 2012 – I went on a group trip to Northern India. In around 3 weeks I experienced lots of different places: from chaotic Delhi to the peaceful town of Pushkar in Rajasthan.

In this blog post, I will give you an impression of Northern India by showing you some of my favorite photographs – and telling you a little bit about each place. The places and photographs are in chronological order, so you can deduce our travel schedule if you’d like.

One piece of advice though, if you are planning a trip to India: make sure your schedule is not too busy. We rarely spent more than a night in one place, and sometimes I had trouble remembering what place we visited the day before. Especially if it’s your first visit to India, you can get quite fatigued from everything you see, hear and do.

Delhi
We arrived in Delhi at nighttime, and my first impression wasn’t good. People were sleeping on the sidewalks everywhere, the car horns, the smell… The next day we had a full programme. We started off visiting the Jama Masjid, then did a riksja tour through the old parts of Delhi. After a quick lunch, we visited the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, the Qtub Minar and a Sikh temple. All these sights were interesting and worth a visit. Nevertheless, Delhi didn’t win me over…

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Jama Masjid
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Qtub Minar

Agra
On our second day we drove to Agra. On our way we stopped at the Tomb of Akbar the Great, an impressive mausoleum with lots of intricate details. I had not heard of this place before but it was great, and I would recommend to visit it if you are in the area. It took us some time to reach our hotel, since it had started to rain and the streets were flooded.
The next day we visited the most famous monument in India: the Taj Mahal. Since it was a rainy day, the Taj seemed more grey-ish than white. But still, it’s clear why this building is so famous. I was impressed with all the details, the small stone inlays, the gardens. We visited Agra Fort in the afternoon and had dinner at a restaurant offering views of the Taj Mahal. By then, the sun had decided to come out. I have to say: the Taj Mahal is beautiful in any weather, but the sun shining on the white facade does make it just that bit more magical.

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Jaipur
We left Agra early in the morning to drive to Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned imperial city. Since this used to be a city, it’s a huge place and you can easily spend a full morning or afternoon here. You can really get a sense of what life was like in an imperial enclosure. It is smart to visit this place with a guide.

Then we had another stop at Monkey Temple (“Galtaji”). An old, run-down temple, taken over by monkeys. It was a nice stop-over, but I wouldn’t make an effort to see this place.

In the evening we arrived in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. The next day we visited Amber Fort, an enormous palace on a hill. We were offered the opportunity to get to the entrance (on the top of the hill) on an elephant, and decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, the “mahout” (the driver of the elephant) was a very unpleasant man, who didn’t treat the elephant well. On top of that, he suddenly charged us double after reaching our destination and became very rude when we refused to pay that amount. I would thus advise you to walk to the entrance.

Amber Fort itself was amazing, one of the highlights of our trip. The palace features beautiful gates, motives on the walls, and even a building that is embellished with Belgian mirrors from floor to ceiling.

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Jaipur was just the beginning of my exploration of Rajasthan. To read about the rest of my trip, please visit this blogpost. Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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