Whistle Stop Tour of DehliNovember 24, 2018 in India ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C
The plan for today... No plan!
Vindu recommended that we get up at 8:30am for breakfast and then he would take us to the real tourist information centre and there we can discuss what we want to do and how. So we just rolled with it. For breakfast we have paratha (seriously I'm going to get fat...) and then we jumped into the car to to the tourist information. Our very vague plan was to go to Rishikesh and then begin our tour of the Royal state of Rajasthan. Our only aim and need at the Tourist Information was to book our train to Rishikesh as it seems impossible to do online without an Indian Credit Card.
When we arrived at the centre we were greeted with a warm and grinning Latif. I must admit my scam alert guard was still on. I trusted Vindu but didn't trust anyone else including the driver that took us here. One of the most common scams in Dehli is taking tourists to a fake tourist information and then making them pay for ridiculous things. I checked our location on the map and it seemed legit although very close to our location on maps.me were various warning annotations of "fake tourist information", so all I could hope for was that my GPS was right!
I must admit we soon warmed to Latif and let our guard down completely. He knew his stuff, he knew our requirements, budget, he was happy to help and I must admit we fell for everything! He gave us an incredible deal that I'm praying works out. We have a personal driver for 2 weeks to take us round all the sights of Dehli, Agra and Rajasthan including one night safari in the desert. He convinced us that going to Rishikesh this early is not a good idea as it we go to Rajasthan after it gets very busy and expensive whereas Rishikesh will be a bit easier to book trains etc in 2 weeks time. So we signed our name on the dotted line and we've taken a huge risk. We've paid the full amount, again something I thought I would never do, so I'm really praying it all works out. Sometimes I hate myself for thinking the worst in people, it's something I actively try and disengage from as honestly I truly believe I should always trust in humankind first. This is the biggest risk we have taken, in terms of handing over a wod of money, but only time will tell!
So I've been in a car a couple of times now and I don't think I've really talked about the traffic and mental driving. Is it as bad as people say and what we see in documentaries? Yes. Do I feel safe? Yes. Are there moments when I hold tight and press my imaginary break? Yes. But honestly, maybe it's because we have been travelling for a while, the traffic and crazy driving doesn't feel or seem as bad as expected. Maybe my expectations are ridiculously low... I don't know. Of course there were points that we were in total grid lock and I genuinely felt like I was in the problem solving game Rush Hour with cars facing and moving in all directions albeit with the addition of a couple of bulls pulling carts, but I have 95% confidence in our driver and am just glad it's him and not me!
Our first stop was to pick up our bags, we also discussed what we booked with Vindu and seemed happy with it. We then went to the cash machine and after a bit of a debacle with Halifax we were finally able to get out the required amount and paid the centre for our 2 week trip. We had a poori for lunch and then head out with our driver Ajay on our journey.
First stop was the presidential area. The presidential Palace wasn't open unfortunately but from the outside it looked enormous. Ajay told us that the Prime Minister has 366 personal rooms purely for himself not including governmental rooms! Just across the Palace was the famous Gate of India. The reminded us of an enormous version of The Mall in London. Although the buildings were very impressive it was actually the number of Black Kites, the birds of prey, that was much more impressive. There must have been at least 30 black kites circling the area! It a rare sight to see.
We then visited Akshardham Mandir, a temple on the outskirts. Wow, just wow. The rules of temple were quite strict and you weren't allowed to take in cameras, mobile phones etc so we left everything with Ajay and went in. What a peaceful, beautiful and mindful experience. Obviously I now don't have any pictures for my blog of the mandir but honestly I'm actually quite thankful for the experience. Sometimes you visit these incredible places and you just get wound up in taking pictures, getting annoyed at others "ruining" your shot or taking too long etc but without all this it was just fantastic. We walked around the whole mandir feeling unbelievably calm. It was such a nice feeling to not have to plan or care where our next stop was and to just enjoy being in the moment. I think this moment made me realise what truly being mindful means. In the guide book it says the Mandir represents the mind becoming still and where the soul connects with the divine and I agree. Obviously if you want to look at this incredible temple, please do on Google! The Mandir was one of the most beautiful temples I've ever seen, and we have seen a lot!
After the Mandir we began our journey to Agra! Of completely honest I was quite nervous and unexcited to see the Taj Mahal. I heard that actually the experience would be a bit of a nightmare ie getting there, getting a ticket etc but after the events of today I am feeling really excited and calm about visiting my second wonder of the world. I am the luckiest person in the world right now and I just can't believe how fortunate I am and how we really do take everything for granted. I am going to soak in every single moment!
The journey from Dehli took about 3 hours and I couldn't believe how straight the road was. It was literally one long road for 3 hours and not because of traffic but because it was just a ridiculous straight long road!!
Another subject I've not touched on is pollution. Obviously Dehli is world famous for being one of the most polluted cities in the world and I must admit you can feel it. Luckily the temperature wasn't so high today but not only can you feel the pollution but you can see it.
After dark we finally arrived in Agra at our hostel. We had a quick dinner and then went straight to bed ready for our early morning start.
I'm so excited for tomorrow's blog.Read more