Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jaipur, Rajasthan

 Jaipur or also called the Pink City has more attractions to offer as compared to Delhi or Agra. The Tourist Agency recommended sites include Albert Hall Museum, The Jal Mahal (Water Palace), Amber Fort & Palace, The Palace Complex, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. Of course we didn't visit all. My most favourite is the Amber Fort and street shopping. At Amber Fort, do look out for decorated Elephants. You can either walk up or take an elephant ride up to the fort. And you can also shop along the street of  Jaipur where goods are much cheaper than Delhi especially near Hawa Mahal area. They have plenty of souvenirs such as T-shirts, blouse, traditional costumes, leather sneakers and sandals, hand made decorative items and etc, offering at reasonable prices. We stayed 3 days / 2 nights in Jaipur before leaving back to New Delhi.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Agra, India

After Delhi, we moved on to Agra, where The Taj Mahal is located. Agra is a small town. Our hotel receptionist warned us to only consume bottled water in Agra because tap water is not safe there. I found that it is quite true because the tap water taste salty and does not produce foam when mixed with ordinary soap. I presume they use hard water. There are a few places to visit in Agra which includes Agra Red Fort, Fatehpur Fikri and of course the most popular, The Taj Mahal. It took us about 4 hours to reach Agra, including a few refreshment stops along the way.  
 The entry to the Taj Mahal cost 750 rupees per foreign visitor, which is the most expensive of all. But we were fortunate as it was the World Heritage Day on that day. As such there is no entry fee for that day. However, since it is free, the place is fully packed with local tourist.

Since it was free for all on that day, we took the opportunity to visit the Agra Red Fort as well immediately after the Taj Mahal, even though it was a very hot and tiring day. We didn't actually tour the entire complex but to take a few photos from the outside as the temperature were almost 40 degree Celsius at that time.
Alternatively, if you are in the European countries,  you may consider Lanzarote which is in the eastern most of the beautiful Canary Islands, and is the fourth largest island of the cluster. It is situated off the coast of Africa and originates from a volcano, hence its dry and hot climate.  Lanzarote holidays is popular among Brits and Europeans alike.


The Humayun's Tomb
When visiting North India such as Delhi, it is also recommended to visit Agra and Rajasthan which are consider the golden triangle of India. Any tour package will suggest the same even though they are quite far apart, about 4 hours drive from each other. During our recent trip, we bought the local tour package for 15000 rupees which includes accommodation, a car, toll, petrol, parking charges and a driver for 4 days 3 nights starting from New Delhi and ends in New Delhi as well. As for our 1 day tour around Delhi, it cost us 1000 rupees which exclude entrance fees but includes of petrol and 8 hours tour around the city.
The Lotus Temple
If you are planing to tour the Golden Triangle, I suggest you to pick up only some of the interesting places as entrance fees are quite costly. Perhaps a few photo shoots from the outside is good enough since the tour package are already  included. We did the same too. Most tour will include Raj Ghat the cremation site of Mathatma Gandhi, Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Lotus Temple, Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, India Gate, Laxmi Narayan Mandir Temple, President's House, Parliament House and the Government Secretariat's Buildings.
When choosing the tour package, terms and conditions have to be stress out with the agents. Such as taxes, toll, parking charges and to include shopping or not, because normally the driver will try to gain some benefits out from the tourist. As in our case, the driver insist that he brings us to his shopping site instead of our choice of places. I dislike shopping at places which the tour claims to belong to the government as the prices are too much higher from the normal market. These are places that gives commissions to the introducers.
The India Gate
The Laxmi Narayan Mandir Temple

Flea Market at Chandni Chowk
As for shopping, there are many such as Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Meena Bazaar and etc. I prefer to shop around our hotel area in Karol Bagh.
Overall I think Delhi has nothing to offer except good curries and shopping especially cotton clothing and camel leather slippers. Where food is concern, beware of it's cleanliness.