India is BIG. Really BIG. It takes a long time to travel it. While you transport it you are prone to all the hassles listed in my previous blog scream. But if you plan ahead it is okay bc with money you can buy some quiet time and space. being "with the people" when you are not "one of the people" but a walking ATM to most can become tiring. But the cities and sights are amazing, here is my quick recount....Photo - on safari searching for tigers.
Delhi - I am sure like a mother of a terrorist some people do love this city. It is so hard to get to know it as a tourist for a few days. Use it as a transport base and get out as fast as possible. Coming back for the third time outside tourist season is almost relaxed.
Jaisalmer - 1000km from Delhi in desert area near Pakistan border. Lovely soft yellow fort and palaces and maze of streets to wander. Good even after recovering from a cholera vaccination gone wrong.
Jodphur - another big fort town. Massively imposing fort like a preying mantas it towers over the city comprising a labirynth of multi-storey houses. From above the blue painted houses form a checkboard. Nice to be a prince.
Udaipur - lovely tourist city with "palace on the lake". Fortunately there was water in the lake. Streets where somewhat clean here and a very lovely inner city. (photo left)
Sawai Madphur - crappy dirty town but outside it gives access to Ranthanbore National Park where, with our fortunate luck, we got to see a TIGER. Amazing to watch it on its evening hunt. Park of the fun was tracking it down the roadway, it felt a little like safari. the tigers here are very used to people (also making them prone to poachers, including the game warders themselves at times for Chinese medicine - heard that Chinese medicine is now mixing tiger bones with viagra to make them work).
I also saw a peacock fly which is very cool with the feather trailing behind.
Agra - so much written about the hassles of Agra but we experienced no problems. We stayed there 4 nights and although were super hyped to not be taken to our hotel or get taken to countless shops, we only got scammed once when we were taken to a "travel booking shop" who was really a silver shop. They wanted us to come back the next day to pick up our ticket but bc we wanted that night they had to give it to us. All they did was print the ticket off the internet. In somewhat honest practice they gave us the change we were due (they had just estimated the total price on our arrival and told us how their "boy had to go to the station" to get us to come back).
But the Taj is amazing, beating all the superlatives written about it. In an effort I am not sure was worth it I spent 13hrs there, from sun up 6am to sun down 7pm in order to photograph the changing light. The next day I was wrecked.
In addition to the Taj there is the Red Fort, older palace Fatephur Sikri 40km away, exquist burial memorials to see.
After all the hassles, seeing the Taj Mahal in the flesh answered the question "why did we come to India?"
Khajuraho - despite getting scammed getting there by two businessmen (this why you hate india), the erotic temples are very good. It took 10hrs from Agra by train and car but being slightly out of season more relaxed. The shocking pornograph images even today are crazy (sodomy with a horse anyone?) but would have been even more striking in prudish Victorian english eyes. The carvings are exquiste and yes, I did take photos of more than the sex ones.
Orcha - energy levels and whole of India getting to us by now but Orcha a wonderful little back water. The palace (only 30R vs 6R for Indians) was the best bargin to enter. The abandoned city feel and partial restoration AND the fact the city was by a river and thus green made it so enjoyable.
Manali - A massive transport effort over 2 days, with two night trains and a 13hr bus trip to arrive in the exceptional beautiful mountains of Manali. But SO worth it. It is like we have entered another country. Mountains, pine tree green, flowing water, waterfalls, orchards, nice people who smile, do not try to sell you things every step, recognise that something is the wrong size and have fun in life.
Really are we still in India? This is holiday time at $6/night and a chance to relax before heading back to Delhi and then on to Egypt. A great way to finish off bc it makes you appreciate India so much more.
I would not revisit any of the previous cities or sites listed above but I and Christina would come back to the mountains.
(but now back in Delhi, with an idea of how to get around the country, some time off relaxing, you know, I probably could come back here some day. the second time has got to be so much easier).