First of all we want to clarify that this is not a paid post. This is our experience and the way we felt it.
Before decided to go to India, we already knew a lot of things about it since Costin has spent a few month there about 10 years ago. We knew that logistics in India are somehow difficult to handle by your own, especially since we were only two people going and we did not have that much time to lose.
That’s why we choose to go to India by a travel agency.
We spoke with our friend Iuliana from Nefertiti Travel and she arranged this amazing trip to Northern India – The mysteries of Rajasthan from her partners Karpaten and Sita India.
Although, generally we organize these kind of trips by yourself we are very happy with our choice. It helped us a lot to have everything scheduled and ran perfectly. Not to mention the fact that we had two amazing guides, Adrian Piticas and Barun Mishra, who were close to us all the time.
The trip to Northern India blends both the Golden Triangle cities and other cities in Rajasthan state.
Rajasthan is the largest state in northwest India and is equivalent to a journey into the past in the sumptuous world of the Maharajah.
It is an impressive region, full of palaces and ancient monuments.Rajasthan has always been one of India’s richest parts because it was fortunate to be on the old spices and treasures trade route to Europe.
The Maharajahs, as the local princes were called, were seen as gods because they were so rich. They constructed sumptuous palaces and monuments all around Rajashtan.
Today, royal families have transformed their palaces into luxury hotels that offer Indian romances to tourists from all over the world. The inherited royal family still lives in the City Palaces, and the lower class has the toughness in an indescribable chaos on the overcrowded streets.
Our itinerary looks like this:
Delhi – Agra – Karauli – Jaipur – Puskhar – Bikaner – Mandawa – back to Delhi
The city of Delhi is the perfect point to step foot into the magical world of Rajasthan.
Delhi, the capital of India, is a city we really enjoyed.
Actually there are three parts of Delhi.
- Old Delhi is the historic city, the city that has grown organically around the great palaces and mosques of mogul, the emperors of Central Asian origin, who have ruled India for centuries, is that mad, chaotic but authentic and memorable India.
- There is New Delhi, the colonial city, built by the English, desperate for the chaos of the Old city, the planned city, the tall and shady trees, a solemn and precious atmosphere determined by the fact that the state authorities are situated here.
- And finally, the youngest Delhi is not called Super-New Delhi, but Gurgaon, the modern and funky city where skyscrapers have been built, where the malls have surpassed the bazaars and where the world of business, fashion, that of the twentieth-century India.
Here we had the chance to see the old part with chaotic bazaar, the largest Islamic mosque in India, Jama Masjid, Red Fort – a UNESCO heritage monument and the new part of the city with its Parliament Palace, India Gate and Presidential Residence.
After an early breakfast we started our trip to Agra with a stop to see the amazing Akshardham Temple, the largest Hindu temple in the world. At the sight of the complex, we were breathless. It was such an impressive piece of architecture.
It is quite a new temple, because it was constructed in 2005 by thousands of artisans who carved breathtaking pieces of art using traditional methods.
Then we continued our tour to Agra, which was once the capital of Mughal Empire, about 200 km away from the capital of the country, Delhi.
Agra is known for its famous Taj Mahal. But, there are also a lot of architectural marvels to enjoy. Let’s not forget that it was the capital of a great empire.
Our first visit was to Agra Fort. Here we had an amazing evening walk around the fort.Then in the evening we went to a Bollywood style show that we enjoyed a lot. Bollywood is like a religion in India. It is not to be missed.
The next day, early in the morning we visited the Great Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, it was such a foggy morning.
The monument is a temple of love constructed by Shah Jahan in honor of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, as you all know.
The structure is striking from the minute you set eyes on it.
Visiting Taj Mahal at any time of the day is exciting.
After the visit of Taj Mahal we had a stop at a Marble Handicrafts shop where we were shown the old style of marble carving. Similar with the ones in Taj Mahal.
Then continued with a visit to the famous Fatehpur Sikhri, or the City of Victory, that one was the proud of the Mughal Empire.
The Great Emperor Akbar constructed this city with huge expectation, but not long after the city was complete, it had to be abandoned by its own people because the water supply was insufficient.
Today the red sandstone city is a ghost place but it is a very good place to see well preserved Mughal architecture and imposing monuments.
In the evening we reached an authentic Indian village- Suroth Village.
Here we spent the night in a 700 years old fortress and had to see the real life of the village people.It was a very interesting way of seeing things, way different from our western understanding of a good life.
This particularly moment, makes you understand that life is not about material stuff, is not only about yourself or about riches. Our place for the night – The Suroth Mahal may not have been the most modern hotel on our India tour and it may not have had the greatest facilities, but what it offered by far was the most amazing things!
After a camel cart tour around the village we hopped on the bus and continued our tour to Jaipur – The pink City.
But first we stopped for some fun time at the Monkey Temple. Here we got to feed and play with the monkeys.
Jaipur is the gateway to Rajasthan, in the fabulous land of the Maharajahs. Fortunately, the rivalry between Muslim moguls and Hindu maharajahs has not only developed on bloody battlefields, but also in architectural competition to build palaces, forts, and more prestigious temples. So the Maharajah of Jaipur, long-time the most powerful Hindu Rajah has built some phenomenal buildings, the most impressive of which is Amber Fort. An impenetrable fortress that, at first glance, looks like an impressive military utilitarian fort. It is perhaps one of India’s most artistic historical palaces.
In Jaipur we really liked the Palace of Winds, one of the most beautiful Palace in Jaipur.
It has 953 windows covering the facade of the Palace, especially design to allow the ladies of the royal court to watch the drama of the streets unobserved.
We enjoyed the scenic sights at Jal Mahal – Water Palace in Jaipur. It was built as a summer resort for the royal family.
Later that day we had the chance to see Jantar Montar which is an observatory that consists of ‘surya yantras’ or instruments that work on the principle of the sun and shadow to tell the precise time at every moment of the day.
The monument features the world’s largest sundial and is a part of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and so very interesting place to be.
Then we had and an interesting visit to the City Palace. Still Inhabited by the royal family of Jaipur. The City Palace is much more refined, the real pure art.
In the evening we had a “masala chai” on a terrace having the amazing view of the Palace of Winds. The perfect place to end the night.
A new day brought us more closer to the Thar Desert, to the city of Pushkar known as a town on the edge of the desert, famous for its holy lake and temples that attract pilgrims annually.
We reached our hotel – Pushkar Fort, at lunch time and it gave us a little time to enjoy the amazing complex before our Pushkar city walking tour.
Once in the city, first we visited the Brahma Temple, which is a rare religious site that is dedicated to the lord of creation. And then have a walk around Pushkar Lake. Pushkar’s life revolves around its holy lake. It was a very interesting sight.
In the morning we left Pushkar and went to Bikaner – known as the Country of Camels.
Bikaner is a vibrant deserts city with fabulous forts and palaces that tell the world about the opulence of its rulers.
Once we entered the city, we stopped to visit Junagarh Fort which is an impregnable bastion that holds the distinction of having never been captured.
The fort complex houses some magnificent palaces constructed in red sandstone and marble and we feast our eyes on amazing courtyards, balconies and windows.
In Bikaner we spent the night in a palace, real palace, along with the Royal Family of Bikaner.
The royal family divided the palace in three parts. They kept one wing as the private royal residence. Is where the family still lives.
The Lallgarh Palace Hotel wing, which is still run by the current members of the royal family.
The Laxmi Niwas Palace Hotel wing, which is put under a trust and run by a private entity.
Here we had the experience of staying in a palace and have a glimpse of the royal life.
In the morning we got on tuk-tuks that took us around the city.
Bikaner is one of the most popular city in Rajasthan, known for its beautiful palaces and havelis, with excellent architectural design of the glory era. The city was established along the flourishing trade and of course with a wealthy merchant class that profited from the trade route. They were responsible for the opulently decorated houses in the city center.
It is a pleasure to walk around these havelis.
Mandawa is a one of the smallest towns of northern Rajasthan.
Mandawa was a remote feudal principality and an outpost for the trading route starting from China and Middle East. In order to protect this outpost, they constructed a fort and the town started to grew around it, attracting a large community of traders to settled here. These merchants, who became quite wealthy as a result of healthy trade in the region, built many havelis. This was a symbol of their wealth.
Once we reached the city we had a tour to discover the famous frescoes with religious motifs
As I said, it is not easy to travel to India. You need to overcome many barriers. Not to care about chaos, the dirty streets, the spicy food, the terrible logistic and so on, but at the end India is an absolute experience that deserves to be lived.
Our Northern Indian was possible with the help of Nefertiti Travel (Romania), partner of Karpaten Travel (Romania), partner of Sita Travels (India).