Friday, February 3, 2017

An Intro to...India: Part 2 - Where to Go

Note: this article is solely for the first time traveler to India from the perspective of a first-timer (me!). Also, take precautions when you are traveling to another country. Check with the state department for any travel warnings and be very much aware of international news. Use common sense and be flexible. You might actually have to change your destination.


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An Intro to...India: Part 2 - Where to Go
Our "limo" from Delhi to Agra

The purpose of our trip was to celebrate a milestone birthday of a friend. We focused on Agra, Jaipur and a little bit of Delhi. The main purpose was to see the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal, in the haze

1. If you normally wing it on your own, you may decide to go with a guide. For the first time, we traveled as complete tourists: arranged transportation throughout the trip, guided tours in all cities and luxury hotels. It was an unusual experience for me, although many people experience travel this way. Not only is there nothing wrong or or inauthentic by traveling this way, but for certain trips or portions of a trip, being chauffeured and guided can actually be a preferred way to go. Since we had children with us, it was safer. Of course, there will always be those who prefer to go at it on their own. Bravo!

The best in women's travel wardrobe

2. To get a good view of the country, fly into Delhi and travel by van or train to other cities. We landed in Delhi and were met by the van and driver arranged by the hotel in Agra, some 130 miles away. If you've flown straight from the USA, east coast, you may want to stay over in Delhi and get a fresh start the next day.
Fort Agra

3. In Agra, the top sights for us were: the Taj Mahal, of course; the Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah, also known as the Baby Taj; Fort Agra; various artisan shops and one of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. 

4. A journey by train, in the recommended first class, took us to Jaipur, almost 150 miles further east. There, our top sights were Amer (Amber) Fort; Jaigarh (Victory) Fort, home to Jaivan Cannon; Jantar Mantar, a fascinating collection of astronomical instruments completed in 1734 that is still accurate in telling time within 2 seconds; City Palace, residence of the current Maharaja of Jaipur, who recently turned 18 years old; and more local artisans.

5. We determined that a van would best transport our group of 11 from Jaipur to Delhi for our return flight, so we journeyed the 166 miles early in the morning for an afternoon flight. Other options could have been a domestic flight (inexpensive, but one must be careful about the baggage restrictions) or another train ride.
A chance to make it big in Delhi

Delhi was not the focus of this trip, but our driver graciously gave us a brief tour of the highlights and even dropped us off to walk around the city for an hour before taking us to the airport. 

Next article: detailed tours of each city and sights. Stay tuned.

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