The blaze of Delhi and Agra

Here comes the delayed second bit of my so-called travelogue.

Lately life has been a roller-coaster, what with a full-time job which takes full time and little bit of house hold chores, amidst taking time out to keep myself clean healthy. I end up exhausted every single night with absolutely no time to write whatsoever. Though I don’t forget to read the blogs I am regular at, so I don’t miss out on things I enjoy reading.

As usual, I digress at the very beginning. Let me cut straight to the travelogue.

Day 5, Delhi.

We reached Delhi by 7 am at ISBT Kashmere gate and waited to find a decent taxi who might con us very little. We could already feel the hot air on our faces. Hiring a taxi, we headed towards Paharganj, well-known for its cheap non-expensive hotels. We had booked hotel Kwality through their website.

We checked in only to find ourselves in a shabby little hole they called double bedroom. The other room in which we got an extra bed was pretty good in comparison. We somehow spent a night there and asked for a change of room from next day onwards. I am not someone who splurges on stays, I’d rather spend money travelling and seeing more places, but this was the limit. The room looked so shady I refused to bathe with lights on. So I had the bathroom light off when I was in there, which cracked up the husband. *eye roll* So to be changed it was.

Bath and breakfast later, we headed out to the nearest metro station. The plan was to visit Qutub Minar, Connaught Place, Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate through the network of metro rail.

Last time we were in Delhi, we went for a one day trip to all the tourist places which includes running from one place to another, our preference of the place not taken into account, since it is a bus full of tourists. So this time around, we were on our own and wanted to explore the effectiveness of Delhi metro. I should say that it was very effective and useful.

Qutub Minar is one place which I can visit many times and still marvel at its structure, not only the Minar but the surrounding ruins as well. It is an amazing place. We reached there donning our caps, just when the sun was at his peak. We took our time, went around and took a lot of pictures.

Then we came to Connaught Place and aimlessly roamed a bit. Just when I was pondering over my mindless-ness, flashed the main aim of the moment – to have lunch. Now, we had to hunt for a decent place to sit and eat lunch. We being vegetarians and hygiene freaks, not many options were open. Me and S ended up arguing about a common place to eat because in-laws don’t eat bread so burger and pizza are out of question for them, I don’t eat at shady little places, so those meals are out of question for me. So we had a little heated discussion or may be it was the Delhi heat getting to me. Later I, S, his sister and her son ended up eating at McD and his parents ate rice at a little place. I later found out from a friend that there was a Saravana Bhavan nearby. Dang! I’m not a Saravana Bhavan fan, but it would’ve helped.

After a bit of shopping at Janpath, we went to Rashtrapati Bhavan. It was a lovely spectacle of the majestic old buildings under the orange light of the setting sun. Last time, we weren’t allowed to go so close to the square in front of the complex. This time, we sat at the compound wall of Rashtrapati Bhavan and roamed around in front of the nearby buildings seeing all officials leave sharp at 5:45. I was wondering if they ever have deadlines and work overtime or slog like we do.

I, S’s sister and her son lazed on the lawn while S and his parents went around to see the Parliament house. Then we walked down to India Gate. Lights were on by the time we reached, which was as we planned. It looked different, more majestic. But the crowd and litter kind of put me off.

We took an auto rickshaw to the metro station and headed back to the hotel. Needless to say we both slept in the dingy room.

Day 6, Agra.

Woke up early in the morning as we had booked a cab to pick us up at 7am for one day trip to Agra. He was there sharp at 7 and we got going. I have to say something about the cab services that we booked. We booked the trip through ziptrips.in. You can choose the type of vehicle and number of places you want to see and the trip will be customized for you. You can also talk to their representatives online.
They sent us the details of the driver in email. They missed sending sms as mentioned in their site. But there he was bright and clean at the time mentioned by us.

Plan was to visit one among the wonders of the world The Taj Mahal (obviously) and Agra fort. We had been to Fatehpur Sikri, the last time and I found it beautiful. Due to lack of time, we had to let it go from the schedule.

We had awful parathas somewhere on the way, which made me sick by the time we reached Agra. It was quite late as we had to get a flat tire repaired on the way. I distinctly remember it was very hot and I was finding it difficult to breathe. I like how they’ve banned all vehicles from the office where you buy tickets. They have electric vehicles which charge 10 rupee per head to drive to the main entrance of Taj. I had no enthusiasm to see the Taj. I just went through to get done with it. I badly wanted to have something cool and something nutritious and juicy like watermelon. So we purchased one whole watermelon, get it cut then and there and devoured it. Though I felt ok for a while, the uneasiness kicked right back in. Agra fort is a vast and beautiful monument. I wish we had more time to check it out.

I fell completely ill while returning back and vomited twice, didn’t have dinner and longed to just get back and sleep at the hotel. Thankfully they gave us another, much better room. And I just slept like a log.

Day 7, Delhi.

Though exhausted, I did have a little bit of spirit left in me to explore some more of Delhi. This time Akshardham temple, Sarojini market and Red Fort.

We hired an auto rickshaw directly to Akshardham, instead of taking the Metro because he offered us discount to the hyped price. We are nice and lazy like that. Again, by the time we reached, sun was right above our heads making us tired, thirsty and irritated all at the same time. But it helped that the Akshardham temple is so beautiful and a treat to the eyes. It is artistic, majestic, beautiful and traditional all at the same time. They told us that all the carvings were handmade and it took nearly 11,000 men 6 yrs to finish the structure. The huge Swaminarayan statue makes you feel so small. We even watched the Swaminarayan movie and went through the whole exhibition show of the life history of Swaminarayan played out by dolls. Very neatly done. There was even a boat ride through history. Wonderful I’d say, this is how you improve tourism. Give people a chance to get to know your culture and history while making them feel good about money well spent. We’ll definitely go there once again. Also, the lunch we had there was simply awesome. After all that oily parathas it felt like amrita to my tongue.

We shopped a bit in Sarojini Nagar market. I didn’t buy much, but S’s sister splurged quite some. When she wasn’t done even by 7pm we were getting sceptical about the light and sound show we planned to watch at Red Fort. Sure that we’ll miss it and still taking a chance, we caught a metro to Chandni Chowk. As expected, the show was over, but there was one more in English at 9:30pm. We decided to wait.

We walked a bit to the place where seating arrangements were made and waited in dark for the show to start. All the while trying to shoo away the mosquitoes which bit and tore us apart. Finally when the show started, I waited for something to happen. Besides the lights on three buildings and the commentary coming from different speakers at different times, there was pretty much nothing in it. We decided to call it a day and went to find a hotel for dinner. Dinner was had at a very nice restaurant which I think charged extra for serving after 10pm; ridiculously expensive. But hey, I got to eat dosa after a week.

Day 8, Last day in Delhi, back to Bangalore.

We had booked cab from ziptrips.in for the last day too as we had airport drop in the evening. We had lined up Raj Ghat, Indira Gandhi museum, Lotus temple and Parliament house.

Lotus temple is an amazing architectural structure which makes me spellbound every time I’m inside it. It helps that you are supposed to maintain pin drop silence when inside the hall.

We spent some time checking out stuff on the way in Dilli Haat, but didn’t buy anything. The good driver dropped us to the airport at a time too early for our flight. We checked in and while away time looking at all setting sun and taking off flights.

Reached Bangalore late at night and boy did it feel good to be back home. Never thought I’d say that. Never thought food would get to me so much during travel either. But ever since I fell ill on Ladakh trip, I’m kind of a wary eater while travelling.

Lesson learnt from the trip : never visit Delhi/Agra in summer. Always research for food options near the place you stay and/or visit.

Yes, yes I know, time for pics 🙂

India Gate in the evening

Orange sun over Rashtrapati Bhavan

View of India Gate from Rashtrapati Bhavan

Qutub Minar. I know you’re thinking what I was thinking when this was taken.

Lotus temple/Bahai meditation center

View of Taj from Agra Fort

The Taj Mahal

Interior of Agra Fort

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