A Travellerspoint blog

Day 25 - Agra to Delhi

sunny 28 °C
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So up early this morning for breakfast and checkout at 9:00 we store our luggage at the hotel and head out for the 4km walk to the red fort.

I must give commendations to Agra for their preservation of national monuments as both these are pristinely maintained with not a price of rubbish or tree shrub overgrown. The lady's at the Agra Fort are constantly sweeping leaves and the men mowing the lawns which look like that have only been cut the day before.

The fort whilst not as impressive as the Taj Mahal is not my favourite fort but it definitely second on my list. It's red clay brick gives it an intimidating appearance and it constructive in a maze like formation that we soon are lost but are happy to wonder around for a couple of hours before we leave Agra. Now on this next point I admit I have a soft spot for the many cute little squirrels in India they are so happy running around and run past you legs at breakfast and stare at you when you walk by - but one of the staff was feeding one at the fort and then before I knew it there was food in my hand a squirrel on my wrist eating away. 1 minute of holding the cute this and then horrid thoughts of diseases - and 5 minutes of purell later and we leave the fort to grab our ride to New Delhi.

Drive to Delhi 5 hours and is along a bumpy awful highway but we arrive at our hotel the Grand Godwin. At check in we are told we need to go to the another hotel next door which is the Godwin hotel (what no Grand) we are little concerned but upon entering the room we are put to ease.

Firstly - room service! Mini bar! Snack bar! Amazing shower with he rain fall shower head and horizontal jet sprays! Huge room and electronic touch panel lights and fans. It's like heaven we spend a while in the room and head up to the roof top for dinner.

The food here is great - and order a mixed vegetable tandoor platter, mutton rogan josh and chicken Indian spiced pot noodles. The amount of food is almost Too much to eat but we just manage and roll down stairs to bed.

Posted by lee_1986 12:44 Archived in India Tagged india hotel indian taj_mahal agra agra_fort masala uttah_pradesh uttah Comments (0)

Day 24 - Jaipur to Agra

sunny 29 °C
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So we have organised a driver to take us to Agra as the train and bus leave at inconvenient times for our less than 24 hour stay in Agra.

Our driver arrives and he had the nicest car in India haha it's spacious and has nice seats - no tears or stains. Can actually almost stretch my legs out.

The 5 hour drive to Agra goes quick as I sleep through most of the trip and we arrive around 2 in the afternoon.

We check into the hotel which is cheap basic but seems comfortable enough. We think about having lunch but as we are only here until midday tomorrow we decide not to chance things and head straight out for the Taj Mahal. It has felt like this day would never arrive and we are looking to shake off a disappointing couple of days in Jaipur with our visit to one of India's most famous monuments.

Arriving at the entrance it is interesting to see that they have priority tickets (for tourists) at $15AUD and Indian/a domestic tickets which they have to queue in a huge queue for for $0.40AUD. They then have the priority queues for tourist and different entrances - it all seemed a little rude in the end as guards push locals out of the way for tourists to get through.

The grounds of the Taj Mahal are magnificent and the surrounding buildings are very impressive on the approach. Reaching the gate to take you through to the outside courtyards and garden to the main area the first view of the Taj Mahal really takes your breath away and has such an impact due to its size and grandeur. The walk to get three is around 300 metres and every step you take towards the monument reveals different intricacies such as the marble formation, carvings, and different colour spectrums and the light reflects of at different angles.

You could spend all day here walking around but after 3 hours we decide we have spent a nice afternoon here taking in the views of the Yamuna river which is an arterial of the Ganges, the 'words cannot describe' Taj Mahal and the garden surrounds.

After leaving and avoiding the Taj snow globes and replica sales people we head back to grab some much needed dinner. The hotel staff recommend some Chinese specialties. We should have known better than to order other countries food in India and it is relatively tasteless but fills me up and I'm off to bed.

Posted by lee_1986 12:41 Archived in India Tagged india views fort palace city jaipur taj_mahal agra uttah_pradesh Comments (0)

Day 23 - Jaipur

sunny 27 °C

Today we are being taken to the three forts in Jaipur, Nahargarh fort, Jaigarh Fort and Amer Fort as well as viewing the Jal Mahal or lake palace.

Not feeling so good today and thinking it might have been a lack of water - so slept most of the car ride to our first stop the Nahargarh Fort.

Arriving at the fort at 9:55 we look at the view and surrounds. We walk up to the gate a few minute later and are told we have to wait 2 mins as the fort opens at 10:00 - to the second the guy look at his watch and only let us through after 10:00. The fort is nice, a little bit in ruins but that almost adds to the appeal. Over the hour we spend there we walk around the perimeter and into the residence. The rooms are well preserved and you get a sense of what it must have been like all those years ago as each area is well configured and serves in perfect functionality.

Next is the Jaigarh Fort which hold one of the first cannons ever constructed in India. It is seeming huge and we are told the lengths it took to transport it to the peak of the fort. The view from the top is pretty spectacular desert one side and Jaipur City the other. It's much larger than Nahargarh Fort but not as detailed and seems a lot more functional the decorative.

After spending a couple of hours looking around at the views we look to head to Amer Fort which is supposed to be the best of the three but a traffic accident and jam prevent us from getting to the fort. It's a bit disappointing but since I am not feeling great am almost kind of glad to be heading back.

On the way back through we see the Jal Mahal the lake palace. You can't go in - but it's is quite ornate from the river bank.

After returning to the hotel I have a sleep and later we head out to get some snacks in lieu of dinner.

Posted by lee_1986 12:38 Archived in India Tagged india views fort palace city jaipur lake_palace pink_city mammallapuram rajistan Comments (0)

Day 22 - Jaipur

sunny 26 °C
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So this morning we are ready to get some decent food into our systems so the plan is to walk over to the Pink City and City Palace which is about a 6km walk and we are bound to run into food on the way.

After walking about half way we still have not found anywhere decent to eat. It is easier to find a doctor in Jaipur than some food. Today's walk is feeling particularly difficult having not really eaten. We finally find MI Road which is a famous road in a Jaipur as its where all the bazaars and palace are located.

Finally we find one of our favourite franchises -Cafe Coffee Day!!! It's it like heaven to have some coffee and a samosa. It's absolutely horrible the samosa but food is food and I shouldn't really complain.

After another hour we reach the gates to the Pink City. Walking in is an effort as there are so many cars and bikes turning through the narrow gate. The pink city is just full of bazaars and shops selling more items and Nik naks than you could ever imagine and I am a little disappointed after expecting - well not sure what I was expecting - but I think something better organised, nicer to walk down or through more like a vibrant street market rather than generic shops selling the same thing all the way down kilometre after kilometre.

We eventually arrive at City Palace after contending with the traffic and crowds. The Jaipur City Palace is average at best. It's definitely inferior to the palaces in Udaipur and Jodhpur. It's no in a nice area nor is it well maintained in my opinion. It's actually another huge disappointment. I guess it's is not supposed to be impressive as Jaipur has three main forts which have royal residences. But on the whole it is underwhelming.

After leaving the chaos that is the Pink City (which is do not believe is really pink but rather this dirty brown/terracotta colour) we head to the Jaipur City museum. The museum building is more impressive than the city palace and it's located in a nice park area make it more appealing.

Outside the museum a band is playing and everyone has stopped to watch. The band is very good and interesting to see and hear an assortment of traditional music.

After staying a short while we decide to head for dinner from a few restaurants that we had seen on the way. We decide on Neros which has had a few good write ups. The restaurant looks closed from the outside but once the door is open its amazing the most beautiful decor we have seen in India. We don't go in as we are inappropriately dress but the waiter ushers us in and says this is normal for tourist in the note weather.
We order mutton in spinach, chicken tikka masala, aubergine chutney and steamed rice - the food is incredible here, a little more expensive but well worth the price.

After one of the most delicious dinners we get a tuk tuk back to the hotel. The driver is really nice and notices a wedding procession and take us down the alley. The groom is perched on a amazing gowned elephant and two compels are next in the procession. The spectacle is closed with the guest in colourful saris and suits dancing down the street which people carry huge lanterns it's so beautiful, loud and well fun. After watching for a little bit we take the rest of the journey back. Tomorrow we are tackling the three forts of Jaipur.

Posted by lee_1986 12:36 Archived in India Tagged india views fort palace city jaipur udaipur jodhpur mehrangarh maharaja pink_city rajistan Comments (0)

Day 21 - Jodhpur to Jaipur

sunny 27 °C
View India - 2015 on lee_1986's travel map.

Up bright and early for the drive to Jaipur as we drive out through the market place we have walked through every day there is a beautifully decorated elephant just wandering down the street like no bodies business. It's amazing that no one bats an eyelid as it saunters down the street it's quite remarkable.

The driver taking us to Jaipur is crazy and the road is horrible. So worst driver we have had to date barely missing cars and buses on the way. The drive is long and we arrive in Jaipur tired and sore. The drive pulls up on the side of the road and we are told that we have to get in a tuk tuk as cars can't drive down and then says we have to pay. Suspect he just can't be bothered to find the hotel and this is confirmed when a car with other guest pulls up just before us at the hotel.

The hotel room we have is huge and nicely appointed. The only problem with the place is that there is no restaurant there. So we head out to find some food after walking around for a couple of hours and through numerous streets we are yet to find a restaurant which is pretty concerning. Five kilometres covered an not one restaurant.

Anyway head back to the hotel and grab some bread and nut mix from the corner stand to tie us over and head back to the hotel to sleep off the drive. Tomorrow food and either the Pink City or Amber Fort are on the agenda tomorrow.

So for the driving day thought I would add some of the best and not so great things about the places I've been.

Chennai
Liked - that we found one of the only convenience stores to buy snacks from and the day trips out of Chennai.
Disliked - the area we chose to stay in Chennai was no restaurants and was miles away from anything.

Madurai
Liked - how clean the city was and one of the most amazing temples I have ever seen.
Disliked - the family of cockroaches living in our hotel room.

Kodaikanal
Liked - fresh air and amazing viewing spots
Disliked - misty mountain lodge accommodation being not what was advertised and then not having water at our new hotel the whole time we were there.

Alleppey
Liked - the peaceful small town by the sea vibe reminded me of Perth.
Disliked - smelly hotel room - but was liveable for the small price I was paying.

Cochin
Liked - seafood, seafood and more seafood and having a go on the Chinese fishing nets.
Disliked - the what felt like a million tourist coming to shore off the QE2 made seeing the site time consuming.

Udaipur
Liked - City Palace my favourite site to see in a India and finding a gin martini.
Disliked - nothing Udaipur is amazing.

Jodhpur
Liked - the quirky streets and Mehrangarh Fort my favourite of the forts.
Disliked - the cows and cow poo in streets that are not at all wide enough to get around them and it.

Posted by lee_1986 12:31 Archived in India Tagged india views fort palace city jaipur udaipur jodhpur mehrangarh maharaja pink_city rajistan Comments (0)

Day 20 - Jodhpur

sunny 29 °C

Today after getting most of the sightseeing done on yesterday's walk around town. We are having a nice long breakfast come lunch on the rooftop looking at the Mehrangarh fort. The view gets more and more impressive each day.

After midday we are heading out on a walk back to the market place and then set a course from there. We decide to walk out into the back street and alleys and find out way out from the fort area.

After walking through a maze of cobbled streets we end up on a main road and outside a shopping mall. After going inside to realise that the building is practically vacant and we find a small coffee shop to get a nice ice coffee - craving real coffee a lot on this trio you don't know how much you miss the occasional cup when it's gone but the store Cafe Coffee Day has nice coffee.

After spending all afternoon walking around all afternoon we have made w few discoveries. We walk past our first McDonalds! The menu here only has vegetarian and chicken burgers so no Big Macs to be had in India - it's a cow thing.

You could get lost in the maze that is Jodhpur and we take some time finding out way back to the hotel but after a long afternoon walk we have some dinner at the hotel. The menu does not look fantastic here but the two dishes was order are amazing and the perfect end to a peaceful day.

Tomorrow is a long trip to Jaipur and a good sleep is needed.

Posted by lee_1986 12:28 Archived in India Tagged india views fort city udaipur jodhpur mehrangarh maharaja rajistan Comments (1)

Day 19 - Jodhpur

sunny 28 °C

Today after a relatively good rest yesterday our plan it to tackle the Mehrangarh Fort. The fort is built on and within a rock face with seamless integration and we are able to see where we are heading as our hotel has perfect views from the roof top restaurant. We are told that the walk up is only around 10 to 15 minutes from the hotel but we are dubious as it seems so much further away.

Heading off on the steep inclining and winding streets of Jodhpur the walk is kind strenuous but as promised takes only around 15 mins with some stops to see the views. The fort is even more magnificent when viewed from the base of the front gate. The red rock appearance almost intimidating - and you get a sense of what a great stronghold this place must have been.

The fort guided tour is brilliantly laid out and if you listen through the entire audio guide you could easily spend four hours up here just wandering. But after a while I opt to rad the plaques and information provided and probably spend three amazing hours here.

From here we are off on the walk to white palace which is a couple of kilometres away. We walk through what is mostly sand and gravel roads and arriving a white palace is kind of like finding a desert oasis. In the middle of dust and sand you find perfectly manicured gardens, trees and pavilions. The grand white structure is simple and elegant - and the marble interior is cool and defiantly fit for a Maharajah.

The Rao Rock Garden is the adjacent views and we decide to walk around the lake through the desert terrane. From the palace we find a convenient path down and start walking through cacti and thin rocky paths. It's actually quite nice albeit not a lot to see. Towards the end we are called out and told that apparently you are supposed to have different tickets for this area and are asked to leave. It's such a weird set up that you could see both things in the same location but have different tickets - very confusing.

Just to side track from the experience of not paying to see 'essentially what is free all around Jodhpur ... desert and rocks' - India has a weird obsession about producing your ticket all the time! For example: We paid for tickets into the Fort, $8AUD each from the entrance with is at the main fort gates and the only entrance point. After purchasing, a guy asks to see our tickets ten metres from the ticket office and punches a hole I the ticket, so I'm pretty confused at this point. Then to get into the armoury still in side the impenetrable fort - show tickets, fort museum show tickets again. It's like how did you think I got to this section of the fort without a ticket in the first place - so bizarre.

After we head to the markets which are huge and Jodhpur and are surrounding what we actually want to see today the old quake clock tower. After getting followed around in the hope of getting some free rupees out of us, the group of kid move on and we head into the clock tower. The views of the bazaar are spectacular and you can see how busy everything is here. The market is divided up into so many different segments but still most stalls seems to be selling the same thing - don't know how they survive.

After a long day we head back to the hotel to have roof top beer and dinner with the views of the fort all lit up.

Posted by lee_1986 12:25 Archived in India Tagged india views fort city udaipur jodhpur mehrangarh maharaja Comments (0)

Day 18 - Udaipur to Jodhpur

sunny 30 °C
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Oh TIRED! Up so early this morning and now have to sit on a bus for 6 hours to Jodhpur! I am sleeping as soon as I get to the hotel!

The bus trip is on what must be the worst road in India as every time I think I am falling asleep the bus hits a pot hole and my head smashes into the window and I am awake .

So I will fill you in on what's going on in my head (in between minutes of sleep)

- I would give all the money in my wallet for a hot shower! I have had no hot water since leaving Australia - including two days with no water in Kodaikanal. So I have 700 rupees which I will give up for a hot shower ($14AUD).

- I have learnt. Avoid buses and they will just run you down no questions asked. Tuk tuk and cars will wait and go around you. Aside from buses the biggest traffic hazard in India are.... Cows. No sense the just stand in the middle of the road and will walk right into you unless you move.

- No Internet. For a country that runs most of the worlds telecommunications do internet centres the Internet is not fantastic here. Which is very sad for India.

Also I am going to share my current spending so far (in Australian Dollars):-

Transport - $230.00
This includes tuk tuks, 3 taxis to and from airports, driver from Madurai -> Kodaikanal -> Alleppey, driver to Cochin and the day trip to Mammallapuram and Ponducherry. (This is my share 50% of transport)

Food - $160.00
This is including my $30 seafood extravaganza! Mostly, been having coffee for breakfast, snacks (entree) for lunch and an actual meal at dinner.

Beer - $65.00
I have kept this separate from food so as to not give a inflated price of food costs. The beer for a 650ml bottle ranges from $3AUD to 4.50AUD.

Site Entry - $30.00
Entry is so cheap to get into in India. In Kodaikanal entry to most view point was $0.05AUD. The most expensive entry was to City Palace in Udaipur at $6.00AUD.

Accommodation - $380.00
We have stayed in mostly accommodation which would be top end budget hotels and guest houses with two Home Stays.

Total Spending to Date (excluding Airfares) = $865.00AUD.

Posted by lee_1986 09:29 Archived in India Tagged india budget udaipur jodhpur money rupees spending rajistan Comments (0)

Day 17 - Udaipur

semi-overcast 30 °C
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Up so early today as Meenu's cooking class starts at 7:30 and my first thought is I want more sleep.

Drag myself out of bed and head down to Meenu's shop and her husband answers the door and let's us up to the kitchen with is small and clean. He starts to explain to us about making Chai Masala Tea and the whole time I am wondering where Meenu is! Why did she get to sleep in. While the tea is boiling Meenu comes in and goes through the essential Indian Spices and again how to make Chai. The one thing I must say about Meenu is that she has amazing english skills and is very persuasive.

We learn how to make Masala (the base to all india food) with the 5,4,3,2,1 method for adding spices, coriander dried, chilli powder, salt, turmeric, and garam masala. We also get to make chapattis, parathas and naan - which was probably the most fun and at my cooking skill level.

Meenu's kids poke their heads in before school and chat to us and you kind of get to see what morning life is like. It's a rush.

After eating everything we made - which was pretty good if I don't say so myself. The hard sell is on from Meenu. With her secret spices - which sadly do not look anything secret. But after a bit of persistence I agree to buy some tea just to leave - I am sure what she is banking on. All in all was not a bad experience and was fun to learn to make what we have been eating for the last 2-3 weeks.

Walking through town we run into a guy that has just set up a cashmere stop and explains he will be going to Sydney in a month to a course. He is really nice and before we went to the store we said we were not looking to buy. After a bit of a chat, out come the pashminas. I HATE SHOPPING on holiday s but we sit through the pitch and he make me try on a few scarves which is not ideal in 30 degree weather. The stuff in nice but I am just to disinterested. After leaving the store I am ready for dinner and beers during the early evening.

Tonight's dinner spread is a whole tandoori chicken - really just to get the awesome photo of it coming out of the tandoor and mutton masala. After a few beers and settling the tab it's an early night as we are leaving the hotel at 5:00am to get the 6:00am buss to Jodhpur.

Posted by lee_1986 09:26 Archived in India Tagged lakes view temple india palace cooking udaipur class lakeview rajistan Comments (1)

Day 16 - Udaipur

sunny 29 °C

The next morning we have had a little bit of a late start (which I will call relaxing) after another coffee breakfast - we one again head down to the lake for a mid morning walk around. From here we plan to make our way to City Palace the former residence of the Maharaja which has been turned into a museum. After getting our breaking from the lake walk we make our way to City Palace.

The City palace is bigger that it looks from the lake and its grandeur makes you stand there gawking with mouth wide open (which I am pretty sure what I looked like for 5 minutes.

Walking up the entrance to the ground is an effort with the spike wooden and brass gates protecting the only entrance. The grounds are beautifully maintained with immaculate gardens and carved statues and water fountains l
Inning the courtyard with views of the palaces entrance. We stop at the restaurant to get a drink and find they serve cocktails and spirits enough to put any bar to shame. I have two martini's whilst overlooking the ground and it is nice to sit and take in the view.

Heading into the palace the design and use of materials really make this a stand out site of Udaipur. The carving out of marble and stone are so intricate I must have taken years to build.

I must admit I feel like a giant in here as I have to duck, squeeze or walk sideways through practically ever door way, hallway or room divider. Best hope no one was over 5'5 when it was in use. What is weird though is the ceiling are so high - the doorways do not make sense to me.

We spend around 4 hours waking up and downs the stairs and through never ending hallways through the palace it keeps us busy and always captivated. After leaving the palace we head back down to walk through the town on the other side of the lake. It has less tourist accommodation and more residential and makets.

After taking the bridge and remembering pushy cooking school Meenu! We opt to take a different direction away from her shop but low and behold out of a population of 1billion we bump into Meenu in the market *sigh*.

After agreeing to do her cooking class tomorrow morning she finally lets us leave and in the end we didn't have anything planned so how bad can things get.

After walking around for another hour or so back to the hotel for dinner. Tonight we order half a tandoori chicken and a mutton biryani. The mutton is so tasty and tender it falls of the bone and the tandoori chicken is cooked to perfection and you can taste all the elements as the flavour develops over each bite.

With a full stomach we spend the evening sitting admiring the spectacular view of the lit up city and lake.

Posted by lee_1986 09:23 Archived in India Tagged temple india palace indian lake city cooking udaipur rajistan Comments (0)

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