New Delhi to Varanasi
I'd been contemplating going to India for a few years and when I stumbled on one particular group tour package I finally made the decision to give it a go. The tour I booked would start in New Delhi and stop through Jaipur, Agra, Orchha and Varanasi. Our stops would cover India's famous Golden Triangle (New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra) and we have the good fortune to see a couple of other culturally important and historical cities. After India my tour group would go on to Nepal but I'll leave that for another post.
Our first stop was in New Delhi. We only spent an afternoon there so we didn't get to see too much. Fortunately I arrived a day early so I got to see a few things on my own before the tour got started.
Our tour really only made one official stop in New Delhi. We stopped at the Rashtrapati Bhavan which serves as the official residence for the president of India. It wasn't too exciting however I always like to see the government buildings in the capital when I travel.
Street life is very active in India, it's one of its main appeals if you're a people watcher.
The next day we were on a bus headed to Jaipur. While in Jaipur we get the chance to visit the Amer Fort which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jaipur is a good sized city and we were able to enjoy experiencing the busy and chaotic lifestyle of the locals.
With a robust tourist industry, there were many locals happy to sell you all sorts of nik nacks.
Next we were on our way to Agra to see the famous Taj Mahal. But before we got to the Taj we stopped by the Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah or a.k.a. "The Baby Taj Mahal". Stopping here first was best since we wouldn't be too impressed by it if we'd already visited the Taj Mahal.
My band of happy travelers and I learning the history of the tomb.
Soon we were on our way to the Taj Mahal. While still very impressive it was a little smaller than I had imagined. The crowds weren't too bad and we could walk around freely. It's definitely a must stop if you're going through India.
Two beautiful mosques sit next to the Taj Mahal along side the Yamuna River.
After Agra we were on our way to Orchha. I highly recommend Orchha since it was under visited by tourist and features several historical temples and former palaces.
After Orchha we'd take a train to Varanasi. This was a good opportunity to experience rail travel in India. The train we were on was spartan but it was clean and comfortable enough. We weren't on the lowest class car, instead we were somewhere in the middle. If you're expecting luxury then this mode of travel isn't for you however if you're a seasoned traveler you should be quite content on the train.
Cows are quite common on the streets in India however I was a little surprised to see cows freely walking the train platforms. They were scavenging food from the trash cans like a dog which only added to the amusement.
Once we arrived in Varanasi we'd spend most of our time in a boat and on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Varanasi and the Ganges River both serve as important religious sites. The deceased are cremated on the shores of the river and their ashes are sent down stream. I won't pretend to be very knowledgeable about the religious workings here however the significance of this area is unmistakable.
Our time in India was rapidly coming to an end. As brilliant as India was, we were excited to be going on to Nepal the next day, so we weren't yet feeling too glum. While my time in India was relatively short and I can't claim to have seen it all, but visiting India has definitely been one of my favorite travel experiences. The people, the food, the architecture all made for a fantastic travel experience. Definitely go if you have the opportunity. Thanks for reading!