Indian Stories. 03

My trip covered New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. I will briefly describe what is remarkable about these places and what is not. And how to travel around.

One quick tip: when you visit sites — as a foreigner, you will pay ten times more for the tickets. Be ready to have enough cash. Also, stay away from guides.

1. Agra.

I will start with Agra and end with Delhi. Agra is around 175 km from Delhi. I don’t remember exactly. But if you look at Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur — they form almost a perfect triangle (Jaipur is a bit father). Agra is a small city. It has been known to be the capital of the Moghul Empire for quite some time.

Main spots:

— Taj Mahal — around 1 hour to visit. It may be free if National Holiday is near. The line may be 1 km long.

— Red Fort. Around 30 min. to visit. Also, maybe be free during or before National Holidays.

Both sites are remarkable.

You may also check Imad-ud-Daula — usually called ‘small Taj-Mahal’ and the Tomb of Akbar the Great. If you travel with a driver, you may need to go there early and pay extra for the trip.

If you want to check slums — just walk near Red Fort’s wall from the entrance to the north, and to the left, you will see slums — wooden shacks, naked people, guys washing stuff in the small canal, etc. Similar to what was described in Shantaram.

2. Jaipur.

Jaipur is called the Pink City. In the center, the main buildings are painted coral. Previously, it was pink. Looks nice. The city is bigger than Agra, but still — messy. But the riverside seems better and more mountains around.

Main spots:

Amber palace with the fort above — around 1-2 hours to visit. An amazing place with a lot to check around. You can even spend a day there and check the surroundings.

Water palace. It will take 10 min. to take pictures and go. You cannot go to the palace.

City Palace. It should take 40-60 min. There is an observatory site nearby — nothing special. City Palace includes a museum. Be ready for the queue for tickets and pay 700 rupees for them. There were too many people there, and I skipped it.

Galta Ji Temple. It will take 30 min. It is near Jaipur in the mountains. There are villages nearby. The place is called ‘A Monkey Palace’ — there are way too many monkeys around. It is very messy, smelly, and dirty. But the temple and the pools where people swim are surprisingly ok. Boys swim in the pool below, girls — in the pool above.

3. Fatehpur Sikri and Abhaneri.

There are also two spots between Jaipur and Agra to check.

— Fatehpur Sikri. It will take an hour there. Royal palace to check and the mosque. Local tricksters will try to convince you to buy three knots to tie in the tomb of the local saint. So, your wishes will come true. Do not fall into this. The surroundings, though, are cool. Especially the royal palace and its history.

— Abhaneri is a small well with stone steps down. It will take around 20 minutes to check.

4. New Delhi.

Well. It’s capital. But it’s not what it seems to be. It is unlike Washington D.C., Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo, or even Tashkent. It is crowdy, messy, and chaotic. There is MTR here that saves the day. It is a little bit annoying to stand in line for the police checks to enter the subway. But recharging the card is easy. Navigation — too. They also have a women’s train cart — the same as in Japan.

MTR will help you navigate the city. On rare occasions, you may use tuk-tuks. The average price is 50 rupees per trip. Ten rupees if it’s very close. For example, if you go somewhere to the central circle from the New Delhi station, then it is 10 rupees. If you go from the Green Park to MTR — 50 rupees. Rush hours should be taken into account.

Main sites:

India gate and Presidential Palace. They are in the government district. Relatively close to check. There is the Reserve Bank of India there and the House of Parliament. So, you may check it all if it is not a National holiday. 1-2 hours to walk and check. Nothing extraordinary.

Qutab Minar and Mehrauli Archeological Cite. Around 1 hour for each. One of the signature spots. Qutab Minar is about 600 rupees per foreigner. Nice view. The Archeological Site is basically a park. It is near Qutab Minar, but you should go through the dump.

Hauz Khas Fort. It is near Green and Deer park. It will take one hour to check the fort and the park. But you should spend more time checking the alleys. Or even live there. It is separate from the park. And you need to pay of course. It is occupied by couples. And there is nothing much to see. But the park itself is very cool. The district around is also good — many lovely alleyways, hippie district as I called it.

Safdarjung Tomb and Lodhi Garden. It will take 2 hours to check. The Tomb is remarkable — I loved the fountains. The site is tiny. But worth checking. Lodhi Garden is bigger than I expected. One of the best places to spend the day chilling. Especially if the weather is cool.

Agrasen Ki Baoli. Will take 10 min. It is a well with water. Steps. Classic. It is said the well is cursed.

Jantar Mantar. 10 min. Astronomy buildings. Nothing significant.

Red Fort and Jama Masjid. Jama will take 10 min. You need to wear trousers and be barefoot. Red Fort may take more. There is a Muslim bazaar near Jama Masjid to check, especially local food. But beware of spices.

In the next post, I will explain the upsides and downsides of my trip. After that, my travel experience to HK and the quarantine measures. Stay tuned.

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