My husband and I had a fabulous holiday in April. We were in India! Here are some of our stories and photos to be shared with you.
Please note that if you want to use any of my photos, you have to credit my website mariabristoll.com.
We use Mercury Holidays as our travel company. We choose ‘Beyond India’s Golden Triangle’ package from Mercury Holidays.
The cities we visited: Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Jodhpur – Udaipur – Mumbai
We arrived in the evening of April. The temperature was I think in the 20s. It was raining a little bit and it was quite windy.
Our hotel is Park Plaza Shahdara in New Delhi. We only stay 1 night at this hotel. And in the morning we do sightseeing in Delhi.
We visited the old Delhi the Jama Masjid mosque.
We also took a rickshaw ride towards the Chandni Chowk market.
We also visited the cremation ground of India’s founding father: Mahatma Gandhi.
We also passed the India gate, where there is a wartime monument. And the India Parliament House.
We also visited Bangla Sahib Sikh Temple and see the kitchen than runs by the Sikh Temple volunteer community.
This kitchen offers free food to all who need it. Fantastic charitable work!
And last but not least, we also see the famous Qutub Minar in the Old Delhi.
The Qutub Minar has a distinctive tower, probably the tallest and the oldest one in Delhi. The construction of the tower dates back to the 12th century.
Qutub Minar or Qtub Minar is a complex of buildings and monuments.
The construction of the Qutub Minar tower was began by Qutbud-Din Aibak circa AD 1192-1210 from the Mamluk dynasty.
There is also a mosque built at the same time of the Qutub Minar.
On the evening, we then departed from Delhi to Agra.
In Agra, we stayed at Howard Plaza The Fern hotel.
In the early morning, at around 5am, we have the sunrise visit to the famous Taj Mahal.
Words can’t describe the feeling when I see the Taj Mahal for the first time!. It is mesmerising!
The Taj Mahal, as we know, is a memorial palace built by Shah Jahan to remember his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631.
It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It is symmetrical and it is built entirely from marble.
It is incredible to see such a great loss experienced by the Mughal emperor (Shah Jahan) that he decided to built a beautiful palace to remember his wife. How romantic!
We saw some monkeys on the ticket gate!
After visiting The Taj Mahal, we went to see the Agra Fort.
The Agra Fort is the residence of the early Mughal Emperors. It was built by Akbar The Great, Shah Jahan’s father.
Jahangiri Mahal, apparently is for the wives of the emperor (Akbar’s wives)! It is a palace for women. Amazing!
The Agra Fort is built by the Father of Shah Jahan. Apparently I was told, the relationship between the Father and the son was not going very well. The Father (Akbar the Great) refused to authorise public money to build such a grand building as Taj Mahal (is this true?).
There is the incredible Hall of Private Audience (Diwan-I-Khas) which has beautiful marbled carving design.
After The Agra Fort, we were back to the Fern hotel for lunch.
At the evening, we opted to see the Moonlight garden. This is a garden built by Shah Jahan, probably, to see the mirror image of the Taj, using the shadow from the Yamuna River.
Shah Jahan vision, if I am not mistaken, is to see the mirror image of the Taj Mahal at night, via the river. That’s why it is called the Moonlight garden.
I think I can see Shah Jahan romanticism, the view of the Taj at dusk is amazing! Notwithstanding if there is a lake mirroring it! After the evening moonlight garden excursion, back to the hotel, and say goodbye to Agra in the morning as we move from Agra to Rajasthan.
In the morning, we stopped by at Abhaneri village to see the outstanding Stepwell.
The Chand Baori is an extraordinary well where the foundation of the well dates back to the 8th century. The old architecture is from the Hindu era.
There are some artefacts that come from surrounds the well that confirms the Hindu era.
There are quite many stones depicting Hindu God/Goddess or stones with Hinduism theme, being found, and kept in separate enclosure.
There are also later addition to the Stepwell, which comes from the Mughal era. I am not entirely sure which parts come from the Mughal era, probably those with red bricks? How about the steps?
Not far from the Stepwell, there is a Hindu temple called Harshshat Mata Temple.
This is also an early Hindu Temple dates back to 8th-9th century. It is built by King Chand of Nikumbha Rajputs who rules Abhaneri.
The view of Abhaneri village is quite something. The sense of tranquillity and peace, but also dry (perhaps the weather?) at the same time.
There are some interesting carved stones of the Harshshat Mata Temple.
After the village, we were then having a lovely lunch in one of the grand residence (probably still belongs to the local King – or their descendants).
We were then arriving in Jaipur in the afternoon and staying at the Park Regis Hotel in Jaipur.
In the evening, we opted to visit Shri Lakhsmi Narayan Temple to experience a Hindu prayer.
The scenery surrounding the Temple is very beautiful.
The Shri Lakhsmi Narayan Temple is unique because The Temple has some Christian figures too, depicted on the pillars:
The next morning, we visited the magnificent Amer Fort.
Amer Fort is built by the Meenas dynasty probably circa 10th century AD. It is located on top of the hill in an area called Amer in Rajasthan.
The Amer Fort is later being controlled by the Rajputs from the 11th century. And the impressive 16th century architectural design by the Rajput Maharajas are the ones that are still vividly preserved. Some influence from the Mughal architecture is also present here.
The hills are called the Hill of Eagles (Cheel ka Teela).
Amer Fort is a royal residence of Rajput Maharajas.
There are choices to go up the hills to see Amer Fort: by jeep or by elephant. We prefer by Jeep as we tend to leave the elephants alone.
Probably the most intricate room in Amer Fort is Sheesh Mahal. It is designed with glittering mirror mosaics.
Next stop after Amer Fort is the Jal Mahal (Water Palace) in Jaipur. We did not actually get in. We just stopped by taking picture of the Man Sagar lake and its Water Palace.
We then going to see The City Palace in Jaipur.
The City Palace is the administrative seat of the Jaipur Maharajas. It is built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727. At that time, he moved the capital city of Amber (capital of Rajasthan) to Jaipur.
The intense pink colour probably part of the celebration of Jaipur as Pink City.
Gangajali silver jar, probably instructed to build by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II, is the largest silver object in the world weighted 345 kg.
The City Palace courtyard has beautiful four doors representing each season. Peacock represents Autumn, Rose for winter, Lotus for summer, and Green for Spring.
In the afternoon, we are visiting Hanuman Ji Temple on the secluded hill.
This area is also a sanctuary for wild monkeys.
We then going back to our hotel in Jaipur for a second night stay.
We departed Jaipur in the morning and stopped by at the Hawa Mahal, with an impressive women’s chamber: a chamber with windows that are built so small, so women can look out without being seen.
And after that we departed from Jaipur to another city: Jodhpur. On our way to Jodphur, we stopped by to have lunch.
Arrive in Jodhpur in late afternoon, a perfect time to stroll around Jodhpur Clock Tower market.
It is a lively area surrounding the Clock Tower, with many open stalls, and of course cows!
You can buy saree (traditional Indian dress) here.
You can also find many souvenir shops or handicrafts.
We stayed there until sunset. I think it is quite an old market. And the clock tower is obviously quite a historical tower.
After visiting the Jodhpur market, we are then arriving at our hotel in Jodhpur: Park Plaza Jodhpur.
The next morning, we were visiting the Jaswant Thada. It is a cremation ground for the Marwar Jodhpur royal family.
It is located in a very beautiful setting at the hill with lake surrounds it.
The condition of this cremation ground is perfect. It is immaculately presented. I also saw a lady who cleaned the complex.
She is a kind person because I also saw her feeding the stray dogs that are there in the garden area.
After visiting Jaswant Thada, we were then going to see the fantastic Mehrangarh Fort .
Rao Jodha, from the Rathores of Marwar, built Mehrangarh Fort in 15th century. Mehrangarh Fort means Fort of the Sun. It is built as a territorial kingdom of Rathores. There are also the city walls of Jodhpur surrounding the Fort.
There are also palaces inside the Fort. I would guess that the Palaces are used as residential as well as entertaining any visitors that come to see the Royal family.
There is also an impressive museum inside the Mehrangarh Fort. The Museum has superb collection of various Indian antiques.
There are also exquisite collection of palanquins – the means of travel for the Royal family and noble persons.
Another impressive details inside one of the Palaces at Mehrangarh Fort.
After visiting the Mehrangarh Fort, we were having lunch at a modern building in a posh restaurant – forgot to take a picture of the building!
After lunch, we were visiting the famous Jain Mahavira Temple.
Jain Mahavira Temple is very ornate. Everything is hand-carved in marbles.
Jain Mahavira Temple was built in the 8th century. It is one of the important temple for Jainism – the ancient religion from India. The Temple is still visited by Jain and Hindu pilgrimage.
If I am not mistaken, the Elephant above carries the Mother of Founder of the Temple. I am not sure if what I say here is correct. According to the (probably) legend, the Mother of the Founder has a vision (when she is pregnant carrying the Founder), that she was brought on top of elephant. I also forgot the name of the Founder. The Founder is the person that build this Temple. He has a vision that one day he will build a magnificent Temple. I can’t remember the story that I heard from the audio..
There are many pillars in this Temple, none of it has the same design.
Elephants have important roles during the building of the Temple. I can imagine the marbles are probably carried by the elephants during that 8th century period.
We also stopped by at the Umaid Bhawan Palace.
We then spent another night in Jaipur and the next morning we departed Jodhpur to go to Udaipur. It is quite a long way from Jodhpur to Udaipur. I think our bus takes us for around 4.5 hours. We then arrive at our hotel in Udaipur: The Castle Mewar.
The Castle Mewar is located in a scenic village by the mountain.
The hotel has panoramic mountainous view.
Altough the view from the hotel is magnificent, I would think the hotel needs some improvement on the building. First, one of the step on stairs is uneven. My husband is almost fell because of this uneven stair. Second, on our bedroom, the floor seems unfinished, some section of the floor come without tiles. Some windows also off-painted. I think the hotel management needs to check the quality of the finishing interior of the hotel.
We only stay one night at Udaipur, due to the hiccup from JetAirways. We have to go to Mumbai to catch a flight to London. So we just have a relax evening at the Hotel and the dinner is fantastic too! Tomorrow morning we do a sightseeing in Udaipur. First stop is the City Palace.
The City Palace in Udaipur is a residential as well as the administration palace of the Mewar dynasty. It is built by the Maharana Udai Singh II at 1553 AD. Maharana Udai Singh II is the founder of Udaipur city. He is the 53rd ruler of the Mewar dynasty.
The Palace has a nice view of Lake Pichola. The current King of Mewar, I think, still resides here.
General Public can still spend a night here at the Fateh Prakash Palace. Altough I am not sure how expensive this accommodation is, since you are staying at the.. real Palace. I am not sure too if you can sit down having an afternoon tea with the Royals.
Out of my experience in India, I have learned that each district has its own local Kingdom. In Rajasthan alone, for example each Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur has its own ruler or its own dynasty. And of course another state of India has another ruler too. It is fascinating to see and experience the history of India.
We would like to give our appreciation to our tour guide Mr. Kaleem who is very patiently guide us, especially me the slow walker and the shop stopper ;-).
Inside the City Palace is also mesmerising. The details of some of the rooms are just astonishingly beautiful.
Looking at these beautiful wall and ceiling paintings, one must appreciate the Indian work of art! It must have taken hours and hours of work to create such detailed painting!
I am not sure what is this sun with face? I forgot to note the explanation. Probably the face of the King as the descendant of the Sun God?
Our tour guide told us that this is the most beautiful court in the City Palace Udaipur.
There are peacocks and mosaics on this beautiful court.
Manek Mahal has very wow glass in lay work. Manek Mahal is built in the 17th century, but the glass in lay work is added on the 19th century.
After the City Palace, we visited Sahelion Ki Bari, a garden built in the 18th century by Maharana Sangram Singh II.
The garden is made for the entertainment of the royal ladies and their maids of honour.
We also visited Jagdish Temple, a 17th century Hindu temple.
The marble carving of the temple is very intricate and beautiful. Imagine the amount of work put into carving this marbles. Look at the details of the elephants, peoples, and (probably) statue of Gods too. They are astonishingly beautiful!
We have to leave Udaipur in the afternoon to go to the Airport and fly to Mumbai. Hence we have 24 hours spent in Mumbai. Welcome to the busy Bombay city!
I have taken the pictures of Mumbai from the transfer bus that take us from the Airport to the Hotel. So these are not Mumbai City Centre, but I would say, Mumbai suburbs.
We stay one night at the Kohinoor Continental Hotel near the Airport.
I like this hotel. It is modern, clean, functional, and good quality.
The buffet dinner at Kohinoor Continental is amazing!
I would say this is the best dinner we had at the entire of our tour!
We stay for one night in Mumbai and the next day in the afternoon, we are leaving Mumbai to Bahrain. From Bahrain, we are flying back to London. Thank you India. It was an amazing experience!