Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A trip of a lifetime...

Now It's more than half a month since I've returned from my North Indian trip, which was more of a root-tracing yaatra than anything else. The yaatris included myself, my hubby and my mother-in-law. Two-way airtickets were booked well ahead in June but those dates were only thing we knew about the trip until mid- October.The rest of it was all God's grace.We reached Agra the same day we started and that too on a full-moon night, but we were not fortunate enough to see the moon-lit Taj. What a loss!

As for me, a typical mallu girl was suddenly transformed into a "bahu", "bhaabi" and "maami" and further I realised my husband was an Anglo-Bengali-Mallu.We ate hot jalebis and kachoris for breakfast and walked to the Halwaai for Rabdi and kullad-waala doodh in the evenings. While mummy and hubby talked fully in Hindi, I spoke Hindi to kiddos and English to elders. What if something goes wrong?!!
Since I dont want to write this as a travel blog, I'll give away useful tips for those traveling to Agra, Jaipur, Shimla and Delhi.

  • Visit Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) website and plan your Agra accordingly, if you are interested in the night-viewing of the Taj Mahal.
  • You'll find professional photographers at the Gates of the Taj. If you are interested in making albums of you at the Taj, confirm wih your photographer the number of pics to be taken and the rates as specified by the ASI (look near the South Gate of the Taj). Don't fall prey to the his marketing tactics.
  • Bargain for all items starting at half the price, actually they are worth only that.
  • Spend a whole day in Taj if you are very much interested in photography. My husband was and We went twice to the Taj. the second time he was more interested in shooting down the parrots, pigeons, storks and squirrels with his brand new Canon PowerShot SX30IS.
  • For those who intend to drive from Agra to Jaipur (like we did) - Start early in  the morning and keep enough money as change to pay the toll fees throughout. The roads are awesome though.
  • Buy audio guides only if it is being provided by ASI (e.g., in Hawa Mahal). Buy audio guides from other sources only if you are a die-hard fan of the place (e.g., in Jantar Mantar).
  • Needless to say, stock upon sunscreen lotions and drinking water. Dont forget your sunglasses too.
  • Revise on your bargaining skills again, thoroughly.
  • For those who intend to drive from Agra or Delhi to Shimla  - Start early in  the morning and never leave the National Highway even if you think there is a shortcut through some other road. You might end up driving a 100 km for 4 hours, thanks to all the potholes, sorry "pot-trenches".
  • Ideally stay close to the Mall road in Shimla and not in the Valley. Recommendation - Shiwalik Regency, Near Christ Church.
  • Visit Jakhu Temple, Kufri, Mashobra and Naldehra during the day. In the evening, visit Christ Church near the Ridge, walk the Mall road and do your shopping. Give your bargaining skills a rest, since Shimal does not favour it anyways.
  • I love the motto "I love Shimla, I walk" in Mall Road.
  • Amazing printed T-shirts are3 available at "REBORN" at the Mall Road, we bought 8 of them. Good collection, I must say.
  • Since, only 1 whole day was available in Delhi, we chose Qutub Minar, Bahai Temple and Akshardham Temple Complex. From Akshardham, we took the Metro and went to India Gate, which is beautiful at Sunset.
  • Akshardham Temple complex is an architectural wonder and leaving Delhi without visiting it is sheer foolishness.
  • It happened to be so that we finshed our yaatra with a salute at Amar Jawan Jyoti.
I'm trying to overcome my "writer's block" through this post.
Wish me luck, guys.

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