The Taj and more: 15 Sights of our journey to northern India

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We were lucky enough to experience 10 days of majestic, historical, aromatic & eye-opening sights of Northern India. Here are just a few of the places we stopped, the locals we talked to and the experiences we won’t soon forget.

  • Chandi Chowk Market: food, goods, clothing, bags of all sorts sold by people of all ages. This bustling market was crowded with hawkers, locals, and travelers all taking in the scenery around them. Spices were ground on the street, tuk-tuks whizzed past at frightening speeds and cycle rick-shaws swerved past the camels, cows and people on the outside. You could easily get lost while weaving through the narrow passageways of the market but through it all, as is with many great markets around the world, there’s an interesting world in and of itself.
Volunteering at the Sikh Temple Communal Kitchen

Volunteering at the Sikh Temple Communal Kitchen

  • Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib: (Sikh Temple & Communal Kitchen) Renown Sikh Temple where all are welcome. Wash your feet prior to entering and there’s  information available in a separate room where you can speak with leaders. There’s a huge communal kitchen where all are welcome to volunteer for a minute a day or an hour and all are always welcome to eat. There are the largest pots I’ve ever seen and all sorts of people lending a hand to feed those who are hungry.
  • Red Fort: Red sandstone color means created during the Mughal Empire which played a significant part in Indian history along with the British Empire. This was our first fort and it was here that we noticed the two different prices and the two different queues. Those who paid the ‘foreigners’ price (more expensive than locals) were pushed to the front of the gender-specific lines which after a metal detector and x-ray machine for belongings led you into a large hall of shops & trinkets prior to stepping out into one of the fort’s many magnificent courtyards.
Jama Masid - India's largest mosque

Jama Masid – India’s largest mosque

  • Jama Masid: India’s largest mosque. With no charge to enter and a beautiful site to see, travelers flock here. Immense and gorgeous surroundings – there’s much to take in. For an extra charge you can use your camera or go up the narrow staircase in the minaret for a great view of the entire city.
  • Connaught Place: Visited by many westerners; this is a circular shopping section of traditional and international stores, including the ubiquitous Starbucks. Huge central location is filled with street markets and overflows with people. Easy to get to and exploding with life, tourists flock here. We found it to be alright, but not worthy of the hype.
Taj Mahal - just as magnificent as I imagined

Taj Mahal – just as magnificent as I imagined

  • Taj Mahal:
    • Majestic, Mystical, & Magnificent
    • Taj=crown; Mahal=palace
    • 22 years to make by 20,000 skilled workers
    • Made in the shape of the Queen’s crown as it was built for her by her husband
    • Out of marble and in laid gem stones (today you are not allowed to bring anything into the Taj, including hand-sanitizers, lotions or keys as sadly people have vandalized the inside by removing & ruining some of the precious stones)
    • Felt the magnitude & mysticism of it all the moment you entered its gates. It was truly a dream to be standing there, watching the sunrise over the towering heights of the Taj.
    • It was as if we had entered Aladdin’s Agrabah and a tiger, genie and flying carpet would arrive in no time.. This gorgeous blend of Indian and Eastern African cultures combined with hours and hours of labour brought this incredible creation to life. For most of us, this was the morning that made the entire trip.
Agra Fort

Agra Fort

  • Agra Fort: built by Akbar the Great; and made of red sandstone (symbol of the Mughals) this huge fort is incredible.
  • Light and sound show at Agra Fort (would not recommend): The sound and light show was interesting. The monuments and columns lit up as a man’s voice boomed through the smoky air telling the story of the history of the Mughals and the creation of the fort. Although it does include some lights, it’s more of a museum depiction with monotonous tones. A very inexpensive evening out, but for most of us who went, we were not impressed.
The grand city of Fatephur Sikri

The grand city of Fatephur Sikri

  • Fatephur Sikri: Built by Akbar the Great, this city was the capital of the Mughal empire for ten years. It’s comprised of monuments, temples, grand courtyards, bedrooms and houses for his many wives.
India's largest step well

India’s largest step well

  • Largest Step-Well in India. In the Abahneri village outside of Jaipur, you’ll find one of the world’s largest step-wells. This monstrous feat is a sight to see featuring incredible architectural design creating beautiful lasting images. The village holds religion, tradition, artisan culture and cherishes its heritage.
Tea with a local family in Barso village

Tea with a local family in Barso village

  • Village tour: Barso in Bharatphur. We were taken on a tour by a local who lived in the village. Children flocked behind us to walk with us wanting to see photos of their own smiling faces and showing us their homes. We wandered past women working in their homes, children playing, food cooking, cows doing their own thing and life happening all around us. Our kind guide invited us into his home, offered us home-made tea and biscuits and we sat listening intently to the stories he shared of life in the village.
  • Bollywood movie in Jaipur. A showing of Himmatwala at the most grand of theaters. A raucous crowd, spice-filled snacks and a story involving a man, a lady and a tiger filled our evening.
The beauty of Amber Fort

The beauty of Amber Fort

  • Amber Fort: Beautifully designed fort that offers an exotic elephant ride to the top. Certain amount of rides per day as to keep the elephants safe and healthy, so get there early if you want the opportunity. If not interested, walk the ramps and hike the steps to the top to find a beautiful view and intriguing architecture.
  • City Palace Museum (Jaipur): Filled with room after room of Indian treasures and heaps of documents, artifacts, clothing and other historical items.
  • Cooking Class: Held at a family’s home in Jaipur. We arrived by tuk-tuk and were treated to a brilliant cooking lesson, delicious meal, fascinating conversation and tremendous hospitality. We left happy, satisfied and with recipes in hand.

Where did you go on your journey in India? What did you experience?

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5 responses »

  1. Your blog is an amazing and explain the history of different but interesting culture of India. I love to visit Chandni Chock and like to taste its traditional and delicious food. It is an amazing treasure house. The product specific lanes, with little store fronts that seem to have unending supply of wares, the shopkeepers are obliging and helpful and the colours just amazing!

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