Taj Mahal… one of my dream place to visit.. The love story of Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz with its grand architectural monument makes me eager to come here. End April 2011, my dreams come true. Me and my girlfriends, Ili, Rina and Atiq had a wonderfull adventure traveling to the Golden Triangle of India, Delhi – Agra – Jaipur within 6 days. I manage to grab very cheap flight ticket to Delhi with only rm300 return during Airasia 0 fare promo. Due to the distance between each city is quite far, we decided to use travel agent services. Unfortunately, most of travel agents in KL caters for group tours, and personalized tours was very expensive, with the cheapest is rm2,500 per person. We don’t want to attached to group tours as it was not flexible and does not fit into our traveling style. So, we decided to get their local travel agent service, and it turn out very cheap. After some doing some research, we just make the arrangement throught emails with Savion Travels. And, we did make a wise decision, the trip was very exciting. The ground arrangement (hotel+breakfast+transportation+driver) only cost us rm800 per person, with 3-star hotel at each city, our own van with driver and the flexible time for us to explore the city.
However, the mistake that I’ve done for this trip is not survey the seasons before buying the flight ticket. I just concentrating on finding the nice date ( just after my birthday + public holiday of labour day) without noticing it is early summer time in India, and the weather was very hot. The temperature was over 40degrees during our journey there, and still increasing when we return home. We had to drink 1 bottle of water every hour just to survive in the heat.
Departure and Day 1
Our flight depart from LCCT at 5.40pm. We were lucky that the 6 hour flight was quite empty, so we got the whole row for ourselves. We landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi at around 9pm. The travel agent representative already waiting for us at the arrival hall and showed us to the car. I can feel the heat when we walked out of the airport building. The distance between the airport to the hotel was not far, however, it takes us almost 1 hour to reached Hotel Vikram due to traffic condition. The travel agent help us to check in and give us some brief for our programme and schedule. After settling all remaining payment and get all necesary document for our trip, its already 12 night and we went to our rooms. We are given 2 rooms which is very big and luxurious, more than what we expected. However, we noticed that the water from the tap was quite weird when we take our bath. It had weird taste and smell that different from water tap in Malaysia. After refreshing, we have some discussion for our travel tomorrow. We slept around 2am.
Sun rise was early in Delhi, around 5.30am. We woke up early and get ready to start our adventure in Delhi. The breakfast buffet provided at the hotel was nice, as they also caters for muslims and vegetarian. We stuffed ourselves and wondering around the hotel restaurant until our dedicated driver called Param pick us up for sightseeing at 8am. Param give some some general brief of India on the way to our first destination, the Masjid Jama’. We passed through a local market before reaching the mosque. Param had give us some advice and tips before we enter the mosque, and yet we still get conned on our first sightseeing here. The mosque was big and beautiful, we spend around 1 hour here before we get annoyed with the scam here. The ‘nice’ local people who showed us around the mosque ended asking for ridiculous tips which we had to pay, compulsory donation to the mosque and they only accept 100rupee and above, parking fee for our shoes even we just put it outside the mosque, and the ridiculous camera fee even if you did not use it. We left the mosque with mixed feeling as we already overspend our budget on unneccessary things. We learned our lesson and became more carefull for the rest of our days in India. For next destination, Param bring us to visit Raj Ghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. It was a large park with few sections included the burial and crematation place of Mahatma Gandhi. After an hour here, we proceed to our next destination, the India Gate and also stop few few minutes to India version of Putrajaya called Connought Place where the President’s house, Parliament House and the Goverment’s Building is located.
At 12noon, Param want to bring us for lunch, however, we are still quite full after a heavy breakfast buffet at the hotel earlier this morning. So, we proceed to our next destination, the Humayyun Tomb, the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayyun. We spent almost 2 hour admiring the beautiful Mughal Architecture, and it is also one of the best-preserved Mughal monuments in Delhi. The afternoon heat was really hot, and I had drink my second mineral bottle, something that I’ve not done before, as don’t really consume much water. After that, we went to Qutub Minar, another World Heritage Site in Delhi, and it is the world tallest brick minaret with the height of 72.5m. An hour later, we already feel exhausted due to the heat. Exiting the Qutub complex, we quickly search for water as we had finished all water that we had. Its almost 4pm when we ask Param to bring us to lunch. We are very surprised when Param mentioned that most of restaurant had certain opening hour. They open for lunch only from 12noon to 3pm, while dinner only at 7pm to 10pm. Param bring us to few restaurants, unfortunately it was closed, even the restaurant nearby mosque was also closed. We were dissappointed as Param did not tell us earlier, and now we are quite hungry. Luckily we had some biscuits and snacks to eat. We ask Param to bring us to shopping area as we want to see some saree and Ili is looking door gifts for her family wedding. Param bring us to a goverment shop at the center of Delhi. We were suprise to see the expensive price tag, fix price and the goods was just so – so. We did not buy anything there, and we went to our last sightseeing for the day, Lakshminarayan Temple, a Hindu temple built in the northern or nagara style of architecture.
It is almost 6pm when we back to the hotel. At first, we want to order food from the hotel, but unfortunately, the room service ony available after 7pm. We ask the receptionist on the nearby market as we need to buy some foods and snacks, and luckily she mentioned that a shopping area called Lajpat Nagar located just 15 minutes walk from the hotel. So, we decided to walk there by ourselves. At first, we were quite lost, however with the help of some local people, we able to find the place. Lajpat Nagar was full with shops, and the first place we go is to the grocery store to buy foods and bottles of water. After that, we went into a nice saree shop that sell nice and quite cheap saree. All of us ended buying few sarees here, and Rina even bought a wedding saree for her future sister in law. While waiting for the wedding saree been inspected and properly rectified, we went for a walk to a nearby local market. Rina’s saree was ready at 10pm, and the friendly shop owner volunteer to sent us back to our hotel. It’s already 10.30pm when we reached our hotel. Hungry and tired, we decided to order room service for dinner. After refreshing, we pack our bags as we will check -out early tomorrow morning.
After breakfast, we check-out the hotel and at 9am we proceed our journey to Jaipur. Although the distance about 270km, the journey take almost 6hours drive to Jaipur due to the traffic condition. With narrow roads, lots of trucks, slow vehicle, it is almost impossible to speed although at the highway. The scenery outside Delhi city was magnificient, with desert, mountains from far, something that I always want to see here. We stop for simple lunch at a restaurant by the roadside called Taj Moti Mahal. We still quite full with the heavy breakfast at the hotel, so we just ordered ‘naan’ bread with vegetarian dhal, but I still cannot forget the cold coffee that I ordered because it was very delicious. The taste was different from all coffee that I tried before, although I need to add lots of water due the sweetness of the coffee. We also bump into an uncle from Selangor who came here for holiday with his friends. When we reached Rajastan area, the scenery becomes more stunning with desserts landscape everywhere. We reached Jaipur city center around 3pm and proceed to check-in the hotel, Hotel Libra.
After refreshing, we went out for shopping at the Jaipur city. Our first stop is a textile shop which sell saree, and indian fabric goods. I bought few indian silk scarf and indian wall decoration textile that mama request before i come here. The wall decoration sold in Midvalley for rm500 but i manage to get it for only rm70 after hard bargain. The saree here was not as pretty as the shop in Delhi, so as the second textile shop that we been to. We also went to a painting shop and two gem store. I was surprised with the price tag at the shops which is very expensive, far from what I expected. We had to bargain hard, more than 70% for each item that we want to buy. The last shop that we go had saved our day. It is a souveniour shop that sells lots of India souveniour that we can bring back to Malaysia. The shop owner was very friendly and the prices was acceptable. Even Ili had found the door gift that she wanted here. We don’t realise that we had spend more than two hours here, and its already 9pm when we finished our shopping spree here. After that, Param bring us to a nice restaurant with live dance show. We ate our dinner while watching the Rajastan Dance here. At 10.30, we proceed back to the hotel, but unfortunately, its traffic jam heavily on our way back. We only reached the hotel at 12night with a very tired body.
After our buffet breakfast, we proceed with our sightseeing at Jaipur city. We stopped in front of Hawa Mahal, the wind palace for some pictures before proceeding to Amber Fort. Amber fort located just outskirt of Jaipur city within 30 minutes drives. When we arrived at the entrance gate, it is already full with tourist and visitors queuing to ride the elephant to the fort. The elephant ride was given free by the travel agent, so, we save rs60,000 each. We enjoyed ourselves riding the elephant to the top while admiring the surrounding views. However, I really annoyed by the elephant driver which keep asking for money although the signboard there clearly stated do not give money to the driver as its already included in the ticket. The whole Amber Fort compound is very huge, and beautiful with lots of stone carving and intricate marble to be admire. We spent more than 2 hours exploring the whole area. On the way out of the fort compound there is also some stalls selling souveniours which we found more expensive than the souveniour shop in Jaipur city. As the time going to 12 noon, the heat becoming more hot, and we decided to end the sightseeing here. On our journey back to the Jaipur city, we stop for pictures of the Water Palace which at that time closed to public due to some renovation works. The souveniour shop had called Ili and told us that the goods that she ordered had arrived, so we went to the shop to collect it. However, unfortunately, things was not as what been told, and we are very mad because after 2 hours of waiting at the shop, it still not ready. Not to waste more precious time, we decided to continue our sightseeing and return back to the shop later at night after the completed all our activity for the day.
It’s already 2.30pm when we reached the City Palace of Jaipur. As we entered the yellow wall fence of the City Palace, I was quite surprised to see that the internal building was overall in pink colour. We shop for souveniour t-shirt at the shops in the City Palace and take some pictures of thenice building. After that, we walk to Jamtar Mantar observatory which located beside the City Palace. We also went to visit Hawa Mahal Palace which located nearby. After 2 hours exploring this three heritage monument, I felt very tired and the heat was really killing us. I started to feel uncomfortable and sick, and we decided to end the sightseeing. We ask Param to bring us for shopping spree. Param brought us to a big Goverment shop which practically sell everything from saree, fabrics, artworks, to jewellery and souveniours. All goods here were fixed price. Rina and Ili did buy some saree here, however I don’t buy anything as I feel the price was quite high and the quality was just so-so. We spend almost 2 hours here before we went back to the first textile shop we been to yesterday to buy additional textile souveniour for my family. Its already 9pm went we went back to the souveniourr shop to collect Ili’s ordered item. While Ili checked all the goods condition, we just hanging around the shop and even added our souveniour stock. It’s almost 11pm when we reached back to our hotel. We were soo tired, that we decided not to have our dinner outside, and just ordered from the room service. After dinner in the room, we packed our things as we will check out the next day to continue our visit to Agra.
We woke up a bit late today as we had a very tiring day yesterday. We check out around 10am after having our breakfast. Before leaving Jaipur city, we stopped by at the street bazaar nearby Hawa Mahal for last minutes shopping. The journey from Jaipur to Agra took 5 hours drive, and most of the time, I slept as I’m not feeling well. We did stop for lunch at Motel Gangaur Restaurant. 40km before reaching Agra, we stop to visit Fatehpur Sikri, another Unesco World Heritage site. Public vehicle are not allowed to enter the heritage site, so Param left us at Fatehpur Sikri entrance gate and we ride a dedicated bus to go to the monument site. The heat increased and we need to drink a lots of water in order to survived. The whole complex was huge, even larger than the other sightseeing site that we been to for the last few days. We explore every corner of the complex and took lots of photograph. The buildings was full with carving and in red colour. We also visit the Jama Masjid of Fatehpur Sikri beside the complex. When we visited the mosque, we get annoyed with the local people the which is very rude and unreasonable. A young local man approached us when we entered the mosque and keep insisting that hiring guide is needed when entering the mosque. When we ignored him, he resisted that woman cannot go into the mosque, and make Rina very annoyed and scolded him. There is lots of woman inside the mosque and we don’t want to get cheated again as what happend during our first day in Delhi. We are soo annoyed that it happened inside a mosque and quickly went out from the mosque after take some photograph. After almost 3 hours at Fatehpur Sikri, we continue our journey to Agra City.
Its already 6pm when we reached Agra city. We decided to go for shopping first before check-in into our hotel to safe some time. We stop at a marble shop which sold lots of nice marble work. I bought some nice marble works to bring back home as souveniour. We also went to the nearby jewellery shop and the girls bought nice stone and jewellery, which is quite cheap. Its already 8.30pm when we arrived at our hotel, Howard Park Plaza. We were very surprised to see it was a very big and nice 3star hotel, with big rooms, as we pay for the travel agent for a budget package. We check-in and quickly refresh ourselves before we went out again for dinner. Param bring us to a nice Indian Restaurant called Indiana Restaurant. After dinner, we went back to the hotel for rest. We decided to have an early rest as we need to woke up early tomorrow for sun-rise visit of the Taj Mahal at 6am. Before sleep, I packed all my things as we are also going to check-out tomorrow after the visit to Taj Mahal.
Day 6 and return home..
We woke up early and ready at the hotel lobby before 6am. Param pick up us around 6am and we went straight to visit the Taj Mahal. Public vehicle is not allowed to enter the Taj Mahal area, and we need to ride the shuttle bus from the entrance gate which is 1km from the Taj Mahal area. After bought our entrance fee, they gave us a paper bag with Taj Mahal souveniour and a water bottle. The shuttle bus drop us 200m from the Taj Mahal entrance and we walked while got disturbed by the sellers at road side stalls. When we reached at the entrance gate, we need to pass through a tight security. The army officer opened all our bags and no food is allowed into the Taj Mahal area. The security officer also not allowed my mini laptop to pass through and ask me to left it at the locker at the Taj Mahal entrance. Thats mean, I need to turn back to the entrance which is 1km away. I appeal to them and told him that I don’t know laptop is not allowed to enter the compound and promised not the use the laptop. At first, they insisted me to turn back, but luckily their officer came in and let me went in. I was relieve as I don’t need to turn back and it almost spoilt my day. We quickly enter the Taj Mahal compound before the security officer changed his mind. As I enter the Taj Mahal area, I feel very excited with mixed feeling. I was very happy to see one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal. The white building really stand out from the surrounding landscape. We were very excited taking a lots of picture while exploring the whole Taj Mahal compound. We also went into the Taj Mahal building and visited the Mumtaz and Shah Jahan tomb. After 2 hours here, we went out of the Taj Mahal complex and again, got chased by the roadside seller. I bought simple souveniour t-shirt printed with Taj Mahal image 10pieces for only rs1000 or rm70. We proceed to visit Agra Fort which located not far from the Taj Mahal. The whole complex is in red brick and quite big. We can see the Taj Mahal building from the complex. Around 10.30am, we went back to the hotel for our late breakfast. After refreshing and packing our stuff, at 12noon we check out of the hotel and continue our journey to Delhi.
It took 4 hours drive to Delhi, and we also stop for light lunch in between the journey. It is still early went we reach Delhi and we decided to go for last minutes shopping as our flight will be later at 10pm, and we need to be at the airport at least by 7pm. We ask Param to bring us to Lajpat Nagar to buy saree at the same shop that we went on the first day. We are quite dissappointed with the saree available in Jaipur although Param told us earlier that Jaipur is the main fabric exporter. I manage to grab few more saree for me and Mama. After that, we ask Param to bring us to buy the local coffee as we feel addicted with the nice taste of the coffee here. Its almost 7pm and we quickly proceed to the airport. When we arrived at the airport, we say good bye to Param and give him our leftover money for his tipping for his hospitality and his patient. Actually, we do not need to give any tipping but after thinking what he had done to serve us, keep us company from early morning until late night, we decided to give him all our leftover rupee. It is still early when we went into the departure hall and we just hang around and have nap at the benches available there. From the boarding gate into the flight, we need to passby tight security and been scan at 4 separate area. At 10.30pm, we departed home.
- Airasia return flight KL to New Delhi = rm410/pax
- Ground arrangement (hotels + daily buffet breakfast + private driver) = rm800/pax