Vacation!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”

As a child, I traveled around India with my parents, visiting places from Kanyakumari to Jammu, Mysore, Calcutta, Darjeeling, Manali and many more. Then over the years with intrusions from life, the summer started getting shorter and so did the family vacations. We had small vacations here and there, but nothing as much fun as the summer vacations from school days. Then last year when I went to India I got a chance to go on a big vacation with my parents…and like an adult! It was fun to combine the Diwali festival, vacation and a friend’s wedding all in one trip to India.

The vacation started from Mumbai–>Jaipur–>Agra–>Delhi–>Amritsar–>Dalhousie–>Mumbai.

Jaipur: Jaipur is the capital city of the north-western state of Rajasthan. In Jaipur we first went to Amer Fort-one of the most famous forts in Rajasthan built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh. Then we saw the Jal Mahal (palace on water). Next day it was Jaipur City Palace, and Jantar Mantar (a world heritage site which has a collection of architectural astronomical instruments) and fantastic time shopping for some jewelry and rajasthani shoes in Jaipur markets.

amer fort far away view

amer fort gardens
Amer Fort Gardens

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Agra: From Jaipur we drove to Agra which is a city on the banks of the Yamuna river in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. It is famous for the monument of love-Taj Mahal and the Mughal Agra Fort. On the way to Agra from Jaipur we also visited the bird sanctuary in Bharatpur called Keoladeo National Park and the famous city of Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur was once a capital of the Mughal empire and has beautiful monuments built with a mix of Persian and Indian architectural influences. It houses important buildings like Jama Masjid, and the tomb of Salim Chisti-a Sufi saint and the palaces of Akbar’s various queens, including Jodha Bai-his Hindu queen.

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In Agra the next entire day was dedicated to the beautiful Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. I am sure Taj Mahal-one of the world’s wonder made entirely of white marble and precious stones needs no description other than it was more beautiful than I ever imagined it to be! Agra fort is actually more of a walled city and almost all Mughal kings have contributed to this series of monuments by adding and modifying some feature or another during their reign. Both these monuments were the highlight of this vacation for me, I enjoyed spending time looking around these old buildings and imagining how much history and change they have witnessed over the centuries.

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Delhi: From Agra we drove to the capital of India-Delhi. This city does not need any description, except that is also crowded and very confusing! We got lost while trying to find our hotel even though we were less than a mile from our actual destination! We did not spend much time in Delhi except at Qutub Minar monuments as it was more of a pit stop. Qutub Minar are 11th century monuments and definitely deserve much more attention than the 2 hours we spent there before our flight to Amritsar.

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Amritsar: It is a city in the state of Punjab. It is known for the Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple and the fact that it is less than 30 km away from the Indian village of Wagah near the India and Pakistan border. If anyone ever goes to visit northern part of India, golden temple in Amritsar is a must see spot. It is much more than just a shrine or a temple. It is one of the few places where I actually manage to feel spiritual-not religious, just calm and spiritual. We also visited it at night when the entire temple is bathed in golden light and with the calm chants and bhajans the feeling is almost ethereal.

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Dalhousie: This was the last destination in our journey. Dalhousie is a small town nestled in the hills in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. My main reason for going to this city was to attend a very close friends’ wedding, and since my parents had been to this place either, we decided to attend the wedding and tour around the town. We drove from Amritsar to Dalhousie through these narrow hilly roads called ‘ghats’. It is a typical hilly town, with friendly people and amazing locales. The view of the mountains from my hotel room window was beautiful. Attending a friend’s wedding was without doubt the best part about this destination, beautiful location, beautiful people, food, clothes and close friends and family…what else do you need to make a journey worthwhile?

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While this post in no way does justice to my experiences on this 15 day vacation, I have tried to convey my feelings through this post and pictures. Maybe I will write a much more detailed post soon so that I can write about how did visiting a centuries old palace and seeing your best friend walk down the aisle made me feel!

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