Sitting in our fine hotel in Jaipur, capital city of Rajasthan. We have been here since yesterday and will leave for Pushkar tomorrow. Our travel route has changed a bit, so we were in Agra already yesterday and have seen the Taj Mahal. What an experience! Having heard and read so much about it and how beautiful it is, we were wondering how great it actually would be. But it was even more beautiful and special then we could imagine. Such a great peace of art and architecture! Symmetric, majestic and dreamlike. You just have to see it yourself to understand, the pictures doesn't earn up to what it really looked like. Iris immediately had to think about the fairytale or the picture of Soria Moria slott by Asbjornsen & Moe. It looked like something unreal or artificial standing in front of us. We were there a little after 6 in the morning, very early, but the Taj has its own colour at sunrise and it is not that crowded in the morning. Unfortunately its still end of rain season and cloudy, so the special effect of the sunrise we didn't see, but still it is worth going early. We had a private guide coming with us, this is very normal here in India, having a private guide. Almost every couple or family we saw had their own guide. Funny to see, this would never happen back home;-) So tip to you all, visit the Taj Mahal once in your life! ☺
We already mentioned private guide, we also have a private driver at the moment…we would also think it is crazy if we heard it before we left. But to buy train tickets here you need at least 72 hours before departure, and when we wanted to book by a tourist agent it was even 4-5 days to wait. We really wanted to leave Delhi, so we heard out other options. And that was booking a package were we had our own driver for the first 5 days, to Agra, Jaipur and Pushkar. From there we have train towards Rishikesh and we have a train back to Delhi 4 days later. The last night in a hotel in Delhi is also included in this deal. So this package includes: 6 hotel nights with breakfast, 5 days private driver, guide to the Taj Mahal and train tickets, and this all for 260 euro pp. This is a good deal, the guy from Kilroy also confirmed this. Important to know always bargain about this kind of packages or say that you think it is to expensive, they will drop the price a bit or/and give a complementary hotel night.
The driver we have is our private and drives us were we want whenever we want, this is a rather unusual luxury to have but also really nice and its very safe. He drives us to good and cheap places to eat, knows all the cities and places worth seeing, and he gives us a lot of good tips.
We are enjoying this luxury a lot and its perfect for now and the places we are seeing here. But we also look forward to go to Rishikesh on our own and have some days without planed hotel and a driver to make appointments with.
We will tell you some info also about the hotels we are staying. Can be good information for those of you who plan an India trip in the future. But that will come in a next blog report ☺
The city Jaipur is also called the pink city. The old part of the city is painted in a kind of pink and there is a nice walking tour in the Lonely Planet and that is one of the activities we did today. The tour was not only through tourist places, but also through bazaars/streets for locals. Lots of cows, shops, traffic and not so many tourists (which surprises us, we could count them on two hands). In the afternoon we went to the beautiful Amber Fort, which used to be a big army fort in the middle of the mountains. It is clear to us that the former Indian emperors had, liked to or just did spend a lot of money on remarkable buildings, monuments or palaces like a palace in the middle of the water just as a summerhouse.
We are looking forward to go to Pushkar and Rishikesh, because they are both smaller, relaxer and known for their hippie/yoga culture. This also means no meat and alcohol for the last week in India. Hopefully we will pickup a lot from this culture and come back as relax hippies ready to join the über relax culture of Bali ;-)
photo's will come later