India – Day 14: Homeward

After a short drive from our hotel to the airport we left Delhi and flew home with Virgin Atlantic on an A330. The flight was around 9 hours.

We said goodbye to our fellow travellers and drove home.

It was a fantastic holiday, and we feel very lucky to have had the experience, especially as travel to India and other countries has recently become so difficult.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts. If you haven’t done so already, check out the rest of the blog – there are lots of holiday pics on there.

Our next holiday is a short break on the Isle of Man in May.


India – Day 13: Delhi Again

Today we left Jaipur on the final leg of our journey, to Delhi and then home.

It was a 5 hour journey, made easier because it is Holi day and many businesses are closed and there is no public transport, so the roads were quieter. We saw several marches on the route.

Goodbye to the ITC Rajputana Hotel in Jaipur
Smiles and kisses from girls in the street
We passed through several tolls
We stopped at the Midway Restaurant for lunch in the garden
Lots of people were on the march to celebrate Holi day. We saw men covered in coloured powder.
Thanks for the photo, Karen!
No health and safety here!
Businesses were closed
Goats crossing the highway ..
….. and donkeys!
No buses today
Carrying a heavy load
Ready for our last night in India

We have had an amazing time as you can see. Now we have to prepare for our flight tomorrow.

India – Day 12: Jaipur – Holi Festival

Two posts in one day!

Had to post again after a very exciting evening! As an added extra our guide, Raj, arranged for us to visit a retired Brigadier, whose family home, Khatlu Haveli, is now a hotel. It was featured in the TV programme ‘The Real Marigold Hotel’. He showed us around and told a few stories then took us up to the roof terrace, for gin and tonics and snacks. From there we could watch the kite flying which is a nightly event.

The Brigadier in the inner courtyard
Raj enjoyed flying his kite
The sun set was beautiful

But the most exciting part of the evening was the journey there and back in tuk-tuks. It was slightly scary but exhilarating as we bombed through the city in convoy, amongst cars, motorbikes, coaches and even, at one point, elephants. All the locals were getting very excited as they were preparing for Holi, by building bonfires in the streets. The journey back was like Wacky Races, with the passengers in each tuk-tuk cheering each other on. This might have had something to do with the amount of alcohol consumed!

We had 9 tuk-tuks in convoy
Locals ready to light the bonfire
Every street had a bonfire
Tuk-tuks are auto rickshaws
The Albert Hall museum, illuminated

We would have loved to stay out until the bonfires were lit but we had to be back at our hotel for dinner.

Tomorrow we head back to Delhi.

India – Day 12: Jaipur – Amber Fort

We set off in our coach to the Amber Fort. On the way we stopped to take photos of the ‘Palace of the Winds’ and we saw some snake charmers.

Five stories high but only one room deep, it was built to allow ladies of the harem to watch the street scenes without being observed.
We passed the milk market where the quality of the milk can be felt by putting a hand in the milk!

At the Amber Fort we swapped our comfortable coach for jeeps to take us up to the fort. Many tourists make the trip by elephant.

The elephants only work for a short time, doing 3 or 4 trips only.
We were welcomed with colourful powder (gulal) as it is Holi (one of the most important Hindu festivals) today and tomorrow.
View from the fort
Back to the coach in our jeeps, we drove to a jewellery shop where stones are cut and polished. On the way we saw Jai Mahal, the water palace, which featured on Michael Portillo’s programme recently.
We then visited a textile factory where the cloth is hand printed. I bought a tablecloth.
We saw many stalls selling gulal ready for tonight.
We arrived back at the hotel for a well earned rest before setting off out again at 5pm. More of that later!

India – Day 11: Jaipur

We set off to Ranthambore National Park at 6.30am for our dawn safari. It was very cold to start with but soon warmed up. We saw antelope, crocodiles, lots of birds, wild boar and monkeys. The monkeys were shouting a warning and the guide thought a leopard must be near but we didn’t see one. We heard jackals.

Nilgai antelope
Rufus Treepies on our safari truck
Freshwater crocodile at the edge of the lake
White-throated kingfisher
A misty start to the day

Back at Sawai Vilas we had a late breakfast and then set off in our coach to Jaipur. We travelled for about 4 hours passing colourful towns and villages.

We arrived in Jaipur and had a look round the Pink City Palace and the Jantar Mantar Observatory.

A stone sun dial

We arrived at our hotel in time for drinks and dinner.

Tomorrow we will drive to the ancient capital of Amber to see the fabulous Amber Fort.

India – Day 10: Tigers!

We had a relaxing morning, swimming in the pool and relaxing on the terrace.

I wore my tiger t shirt ready for the safari.

After lunch we set off in 2 Canters (20 seater safari vehicles) for our safari drive through Ranthambore National Park. It was an amazing experience! The park is very close to our hotel. We had a 3 hour drive around the park.

The first gate

We saw plenty of deer, many species of birds, monkeys and crocodiles. It was nearly time to leave when suddenly jeeps and Canters began racing to a spot by the lake. We could see a tiger in the distance!

Amazingly the tiger walked right up to us!

She continued past the vehicles and joined her cub.

For a while it was very quiet except for the click of camera shutters! We came back very happy.

Tomorrow we have another chance to see the tigers on a dawn safari ride!

We have been so lucky!

India – Day 9: Ranthambore

We left Agra in our coach headed for Ranthambore National Park. It was a very long journey but we broke it up by first visiting Fatehpur Sikri, the ghost city. It was built by the third Mughal emperor, in the 16th Century, when he moved from Agra, to be near a holy man who blessed him with 3 sons. When the holy man died he returned to Agra and the walled city was abandoned.

Red sandstone city
Some of our group listening to the history of the ‘Ghost City’

We continued our journey, stopping for lunch in Bharatpur.

We had lunch in a hotel
On the last leg of our long journey Raj entertained us with jokes and information about India’s religions, caste system and arranged marriages.
We travelled through bustling towns, small villages and fields
We eventually arrived at ‘Sawai Vilas’ to a warm reception, with garlands, bindis and a drink.

The Sawai Vilas are amazing. We even have an outdoor shower!

Tomorrow we have a relaxing morning followed by a safari!

India – Day 8: Agra and the Taj Mahal

We said goodbye for now, to Delhi and travelled by coach and train to Agra. The train was the Gatimaan Express, India’s fastest train. We visited Agra Fort (The Red Fort) before checking in to our hotel.

Agra Station
Agra Fort, the seat of Mughal rule until 1638
The grave of John Russell Colvin who died of cholera while a British Soldier stationed at the fort.
The entrance to our hotel, The ITC Mughal
The Pool
The hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens

After lunch we visited the Taj Mahal, only minutes away from our hotel by coach. The Taj Mahal is a marble mausoleum built on the south bank of the Yamuna River. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahen to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. They met as teenagers at an event at Agra Fort.

Our first view of the Taj Mahal
We entered through the South Gate

Our visit over we went back to the hotel for dinner, as the sun began to set, exhausted but exhilarated.

Tomorrow – Ranthambore National Park!

India – Day 7: Delhi – Rickshaw Ride

Today we had a guided sightseeing tour of Delhi, starting in New Delhi, with its wide, tree lined avenues, beautifully kept roundabouts and the impressive architecture of the government buildings and embassies.

India Gate War Memorial

This was followed by a visit to the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. We had to leave our shoes outside.

Entrance to the Mosque
The Jama Masjid Mosque

Following this we took a rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi. It was chaotic, and slightly nerve wracking but fascinating.

Our rickshaw driver took our photo
The mosque seen from our rickshaw ride

Safely back on the coach, we drove to see Gandhi’s memorial sight where an eternal flame burns.

We then visited Humayun’s Tomb. He was the second Mughal Emperor. It was built for him, by his wife, in 1569. Set in beautiful, symmetrical gardens, it was an oasis of calm.

Tired and hungry by now, we stopped at a hand knotted carpet emporium for a demonstration of carpet making and lunch! We had the best Samosas in all of India, according to our guide, Raj.

The carpets can take two years to make

Finally, and most poignantly, we visited the site of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. We were able to visit the room in which he stayed, and follow in his final footsteps.

The shrine marks the place where Gandhi was shot
Gandhi’s room
Gandhi’s dream

It has been a packed day, full of contrasts, a truly amazing experience.

Tomorrow we leave Delhi (for now) to travel by train to Agra.

Until then