Planning an itinerary for the travel is a thing I equally enjoy as the travel itself. Typically it takes me 2-3 days to finalize an itinerary for a week’s trip. This time, with another such near perfect itinerary, I set out on my first experience of solo traveling.
Amritsar comes first where I got down on Day 1. The golden temple of Amritsar, holy place of worship for the Sikh community, has been a subject of many attacks dating back to the 18th century and was also damaged heavily during Operation Blue Star 1984 after which it was rebuilt by the Kar Sevaks.
I felt privileged to have visited the place. Walking along the Amrit Sarovar and admiring the beauty of this amazing temple is what I did for the next couple of hours. The place had a sense of calmness and all I could hear is the clicking of my camera’s shutter.
Then I visited Jallianwala Bagh, the witness of a brutal massacre(Link) of Indians by the British, which is just beside the golden temple. The park still has the bullet marks from the 1919 attack on the walls. This 6.5 acre park has a memorial built by the Indian govt later in 1951. Praying for peace of the brave souls, I tried to get into their minds at that fateful moment in 1919. 3 seconds, and I gave up out of fear!
Later in the afternoon I went to experience the Wagah Border ceremony, the main reason for Amritsar to be on my list. Share taxis start from Jallianwala Bagh to the Border at 3PM in the afternoon(INR 100 return fare).
This is one such event which should definitely feature in any ‘Things to do before you die’ kind of list. The environment & crowd is no less compared to an India vs Pakistan World Cup match. The proceedings happen over a period of 2hrs and are so entertaining that one would feel sad when asked to leave after the event.
Wide range of patriotic songs right from ‘Kadam kadam badhaye jaa’ to ‘Chak De India!’ are played and ladies from the audience are invited to dance. The foreign nationals too who come to witness the event join the dance.
Who can resist the urge! Its Indian music after all.
The second half of the ceremony is the march fast (parade) performed by the BSF India personnel and the Flag lowering which symbolizes the end of commute for the day through the border. The event attracts huge crowd on both sides of the border(Link).
Fully content at the way I executed my plan for Amritsar, I am now charged enough for the equally exciting Golden Triangle tour of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur.
It was my first ever visit to the capital city. I have tried not to fit in too many places into my itinerary as that would force me to hurry from one place. My idea of visiting a place has always been to spend enough time with it, giving respect and the love it deserves.
So I set out to explore this amazing place, New Delhi, Capital of India.
Things I carried: Camera, list of nearby metro stations & a hope to see Narendra Modi.
Traveling in Delhi’s metro made me realize that the Rajiv chowk trolls were true after all. I have spent my time visiting few places before ending the day with shopping and dinner at Chandni Chowk.
Next morning I got up quite early excited at the idea that I was going to see The Taj Mahal that day.Upon reaching Agra we have visited the Agra fort which has a really beautiful view of the Taj Mahal across the river, a teaser before the main view.
I started exploring Agra streets which made me realize it is not just about the Taj Mahal!Mehtab Bagh, Itmad-ud-Daula and the local market are worth a visit too, if you are planning on delaying the ‘Aah! there’s the Taj Mahal!’ moment.
Having covered few other places I now decided to finally go and live the ‘Waah Taj!’ time. One should experience this gem of a construction in person. No words, no photographs will ever compensate for watching this spectacle live. From the moment you catch a glimpse of it through the main entrance, you’ll slowly be lost in its beauty.
Being someone who has read many articles & blog posts about the Taj Mahal, it was truly a surprise for me to find out that none of those have made justice to Taj’s grandeur.
My faith in love at first sight has re-established again. The thought that I have to leave the place, even if it was after a couple of hours, was eating me and I quickly started digitizing every frame I got to see. After all, photographs are the medium of time travel into past.
For over an hour, I was just circling the Mahal on and on clicking photographs from every possible angle. Yamuna, flowing just beside the Taj seemed like it was washing away the ‘buri nazar’ the Taj might have caught.
I wish I had a pocket that could fit the Taj Mahal in!
I was still in the hangover of the Taj’s beauty when I had reached Jaipur, the Pink City. Being a holiday, the roads were mostly empty with kids here and there celebrating the festival of colors. I had to wait until afternoon for the public transportation to be available.
Amber Palace, Hawa Mahal & Jal Mahal were my priority for the day and I had managed to visit all three within the available time.
The idea of this palace is said to have been adopted from the Mughal Mahals of Agra. This is evident in the adoption of Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-Aam which, by naming too, are part of the Mughal architecture.
I visited the Jal Mahal in the evening. It was so calm and beautiful.
By then the thought that this is the last day of my vacation started worrying me. I was so tempted to stay back. Apart from offering a fantastic view, every place I visited also had something for me to learn and get inspired.
Something more than just photographs that I could take back with me.
Something which I will value till the end of time.