We left Delhi and took a long bus ride through the Indian countryside to Jaipur, a city that was founded by the Mughal emperor Jai Singh in the late 1700′s. We visited several breathtaking sites including an ancient observatory that included giant sundials and the Amber fort, a Mughal palace that we rode up to on elephant back! This was a highlight of the trip, without a doubt. The fort itself overlooked the city and was filled with courtyards and halls that were filled with well preserved marble work. Our hotel had a rooftop pool that many of us frequented even if it rained or a sandstorm blew by. Next stop is Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal!
We began the tour on our first day out and about in Delhi by touring the Jama Masjid – India’s largest and most well known mosque. Before we were allowed to enter we all had to remove our shoes and the ladies were required to wear large, colorful robes that were provided by the mosque. Once properly attired, we walked through one of the three gates into a huge courtyard filled with pigeons and Indians milling about. The courtyard was surrounded by imposing, dome topped buildings.
While at the mosque the group also experienced for the first time Indian curiosity and fascination of western visitors. As we marveled at the beautiful architecture, the native Indians marveled at us. While many just stared in curiosity, some came up to us and wanted to take pictures!
We continued our tour of Delhi by visiting Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. Surprisingly it was a relatively simple design that perhaps was created to reflect Gandhi’s personal preference for simplicity in life. Twin ramps led up to a walkway over the entrance to the memorial where you could view the black marble platform that designated the spot where Gandhi was cremated.
For the last stop of the day the group braved the intense India heat to view Qutab Minar- the tallest minaret (a tall spire with a crown) in India. The spire is fluted and inscribed with Arabic inscriptions and is a well known Islamic monument.
While all of the monuments that we toured throughout the day have been a very enriching part of the trip, witnessing everyday life in India as we drive to these monuments has left an even deeper impression of what India truly is all about. India is often stifling hot, brimming with people from a myriad of backgrounds, and a land where you can witness the most tragic scene of poverty next to grandest and most richly designed structure.
After a short flight to Newark and then a long flight from Newark to Delhi, we made it to our hotel. We arrived at 7:30pm local time and were met with 94 degree heat! After a good night’s rest we will get started early and will visit some of Delhi’s famous historical sites. More details to come!
We are getting everything in order–packing, vaccines, meeting time at the Charlotte Douglas Airport–and are looking forward to a long flight to Delhi. Check-in as we post info on our trip from Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Kathmandu!
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