A Holiday in North India

For Christmas break this year, I went to India! Usually when we go, we normally stay in the south in the state of Kerala, which is where my parents are from. This year, my extended family (my mom's side) planned out an elaborate trip around North India! There were 13 of us traveling together... My grandmother, my aunts and uncles, and all my cousins. The only people missing were my parents and my youngest brother. If you're thinking, "wow that's a lot of people traveling together on one trip, that must be crazy," you are absolutely 100% correct. But I wouldn't trade a single day of the trip. It was a blast!! We visited New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Udaipur over the span of 13 days (December 21, 2018- January 2, 2019).

I'll be sharing what we did and where we visited day by day. I am bolding the actual places we visited, so if you decide you want to visit and learn more, look up those particular words.

DAY 1

We flew from Trivandrum, Kerala to New Delhi on Friday, December 21st. Once we reached our hotel, we learned that we needed our passports to stay at the hotel and we did not bring them with us to New Delhi. We all started panicking and figuring out what we could do because we clearly could not fly back to get our passports. Now before you say, "sarah, how do you forget your passport while traveling?", we were traveling domestically and you don't need them on domestic flights and we were told by the travel agent that we did not need them around the places we were visiting, just our OCIs (Oversees Citizenship of India), so we left our passports back in Trivandrum, just to prevent us from losing them because we definitely needed them on the flight back to the United States. So I ended up having to call my parents who were back in the states (and also 11 and a half hours behind) and have them find and email us photocopies of our passports. It was definitely a stressful way to begin our trip!


DAY 2

We started our tour of New Delhi. New Delhi is kind of split up into two cities: Old Delhi and New Delhi. Old Delhi has more of the historical places which go back in time when Moghuls were in power. New Delhi is more modern and westernized since it was designed mostly by the British when they had power in the 1900s.

We woke up bright and early (or tried to at least. we were an hour late for our tour) and got on a bus (bus we would be traveling on the entire trip) to visit Humayan's Tomb, the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayan. It was gorgeous.












Isa Khan's Tomb






Our next stop was India Gate, which is a war memorial for the 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died during WWI.



Then we got on these cool tricycle cart things and rode through Chandni Chowk, a busy crowded shopping area with lots of markets and things to buy. It was insane. So many people and small businesses. We didn't get a chance to stop and shop, but it was still fun to ride through the markets!






Next we then went to Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India built by Mughal Emperor Shan Jahan in the mid-1600s. It is huge. We had to pay to take photos, so I don't have any photos of this place. Tbh it wasn't my personal favorite stop, but it was still worth visiting!

Our next stop was Raj Ghat, a memorial built for Mahatma Gandhi.




Our final stop for the day was the Qutab Minar (also spelled Qutub Minar or Qutb Minar). Unfortunately it started getting dark, so our pictures aren't the best.











DAY 3

We started our day with a 4-hour road trip to Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India to see.....*drumroll* the Taj Mahal! It is one of the seven wonders of the world and was built by Mughal Shan Jahan as a tomb for his late (and favorite) wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Talk about relationship goals, right? (jk he had multiple wives) This was probably my favorite place we visited on this whole trip. The Taj Mahal is as beautiful as everyone says and definitely more beautiful in real life. The pictures don't do it justice at all.

We entered through here to see the Taj Mahal



Family photo!








View from the Taj Mahal

Mosque on the right facing the Taj

Afterwards, we went to a craftsman place where they cut glass to put in marble? I don't remember if there was an actual word for it and I don't think I'm describing it correctly at all, so please forgive me. These people smooth the edges and make the glass into intricate designs. It's amazing how much work and detail is put into it. I hope these pictures describe it better lol.



We left Agra and started a 5-hour drive to Ranthambore in the state of Rajasthan. We arrived at our hotel by evening, ate dinner, and went to sleep.


DAY 4

We woke up super early to go visit a wildlife sanctuary at 6am. We were supposed to see leopards and tigers and all sorts of interesting animals but OF COURSE, none of them came out when we were there. And we rode around there for hours just listening and waiting. Honestly, my least favorite thing to do is wake up super early in the morning for no reason, so I was extremely disappointed to not see any tigers. But it was no one's fault; you can't exactly force animals to come out and say hi to humans, lol.







We left Ranthambore and started a 4-hour drive to Jaipur. We arrived at our hotel, relaxed for a little bit, went out for dinner, and went to sleep.


DAY 5

Merry Christmas!! Of course I started feeling a little under the weather on this day, so I tried my hardest to fight through it because it was Christmas and we had so much to see! We started our day visiting the Amber Fort (or Amer Fort). The palace is laid out in four sections to create this fort.

Fort from the outside

We waited in line for what felt like an eternity. Sooo many people tried selling us purses and other touristy things and we had to resist. Actually proud of myself because I didn't give in till much later, lol. We rode elephants up to the main entrance through the Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), which lead to the Jaleb Chowk (main courtyard). Music started playing while we were riding up and it was the coolest thing ever because I felt like we were in a Bollywood movie!






I honestly can't give you the names of every single palace and entrance we went to, but this was all within the fort. It. Was. GORGEOUS. I am clearly meant for the royal life because I felt right at home.





look. at. those. details.








We stopped at a small street market and there were people who had these super colorful cultural outfits that we could try on and take pictures in. I was feeling sicker as the day went on so I didn't do it, but some of my family decided to dress up so here are a couple of pictures!



That night we went to what I would describe as an Indian carnival? There were rides, dancing, henna tattooing, and lots of food. I unfortunately don't have many interesting pictures from that night.




DAY 6

The next morning we started our day visiting the Birla Temple (Also known as the Laxmi Narayan Temple) at Tilak Nagar in Jaipur, located beneath the Moti Dungri Fort. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, hence the name.

Moti Dungri Fort









They had some carvings of Jesus, Mother Mary, and some other notable people in the Bible in the stonework which was really cool to see.




Next we visited the Hawa Mahal, aka "Palace of the Winds". This palace was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh.

view of the palace from the streets







view of the city from where we were standing



Our next stop was Jantar Mantar. This is a collection of 19 architectural astronomical instruments built by a Rajpat king, Sawai Jai Singh. It also has the world's largest stone sundial which I guess is pretty cool? I don't really pay attention to astrology, but I found my sign (I'm a virgo) and took a picture by it, lol.









Next, we went to the City Palace. Within City Palace, there are two palaces, Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal, along with other buildings.

Mubarak Mahal




Chandra Mahal










We then went to a place where actually hand stamp designs onto cloth. This was super neat to see because I have a lot of Indian clothes with similar patterns and had no idea it was done by hand! There was also a place we could shop, so I bought two saris for myself. ๐Ÿ™ˆ



DAY 7

The next morning we left Jaipur and headed on a five hour drive to Jodhpur. Fun fact: Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas got married in this city at the Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace!! So basically we're best friends with the celeb couple now, right? We unfortunately did not get to visit the palace.

We visited the Mehrangarh Fort (or Mehran Fort) which was built in 1459 by Rao Jodha.







From the top, you can see the whole city. There are mostly blue houses which are where Brahmins live. The color blue represents a higher caste.

View of the blue houses


This palace was gorgeous and super luxurious. Pictures do not do it justice whatsoever!
















We then went to our hotel and dropped our stuff off and went to dinner. My health really started going downhill this day. But this hotel had THE BEST beds ever. I probably had the best sleep that night and now I want to find out what type of mattress it was because I think I slept on a cloud.


DAY 8

We left Jodhpur and drove to Jaisalmar. On the way to Jaisalmar, we stopped at the Patwon Ki Haveli. A haveli is basically a traditional townhouse or mansion in India that usually has architectural and historical significance. This haveli has five different palaces for each of Patwa brothers.













After we left the haveli, we headed to the Sam Sand Dunes. It's basically a campsite in the middle of the desert. We rode camels! It was actually kind of terrifying. I thought I was going to fall off.

please tell me does this not look like star wars where luke skywalker grew up





That night they had music and dancing performances so we watched that and then ate dinner. We slept in tents that night. It was super cold, but the blankets kept us warm! (sort of)

outside of our tent

inside of our tent (bathroom behind that "wall")


DAY 9

Travel day. We drove 12 hours from Jaisalmar to Udaipur. We stopped once to visit Ranakpur Jain Temple. I didn't go inside, but the outside was pretty!



We reached our hotel later that night.


Day 10

Our time in Udaipur was a lot more relaxed and less hectic. We would wake up and enjoy breakfast provided by the hotel and enjoy the view. (once again did not take photos of said view because I'm dumb) A lot of us were getting sick so some people stayed in the hotel and some of us went out. We went to a market that was going on for 3 days. There was so much stuff! We were told by our guide not to purchase anything at this market because we would get ripped off but we learned later on that he wouldn't receive a a commission from us buying stuff there so we lost a huge shopping opportunity which really bummed me out because I was trying to buy gifts for my friends and I saw the best selection of gifts at this one market.



It was Sunday, so we decided to find a church to go to. Unfortunately, it was in the afternoon so there wasn't any services going on, but we stopped and visited Shepherd Memorial Church, Church of North India (CNI). It was a very small church, but very pretty and decorated for Christmas.




Then we stopped at another store and I bought some clothes for me and my mom. The rest of the day was pretty laid back. Everyone was getting sick so we just relaxed at the hotel.


DAY 11

Today we did some sightseeing in Udaipur. We went on a boat ride across Lake Pichola. It's a man-made lake that was made in the 1300s. Here are some pictures I took from the boat.








There are a couple of islands on the lake. We visited Jag Mandir (Lake Garden Palace).










Then we got back on the boat and went to the City Palace, which also overlooks the Lake Pichola. It's a huge palace and was built over the span of 400 years started by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1553. Within the complex, there are several different palaces.



 







Beyonce was at this palace so we spent majority of the time trying to find the exact location where she took a instagram photo (https://www.instagram.com/p/BrLcnu6n-6d/) but we could not find it.






The palace was beautiful and it's 100% worth visiting, but at this point we were so tired and burnt out from palaces, especially since we saw so many beautiful ones already. So after visiting the palace, we went back to our hotel. This was our last full day in Udaipur before going back to New Delhi and we still needed to buy gifts and other stuff, so we went street shopping for an hour and then came back to get ready for a New Years party hosted by the hotel we were staying at. The food really affected a lot of us, but other than that it was so much fun and a great way to end our stay!





 


DAY 12

Today after eating breakfast, we packed and left for the airport for our flight back to New Delhi. After so many days of riding in a bus, we finally got to travel by plane! Our original plan was to come back to Delhi and go shopping and exploring, but our flight got delayed by a couple of hours and we didn't reach our hotel till night. And our next flight back to Trivandrum was really early the next morning.


DAY 13

We flew back to Trivandrum. We almost missed our flight. I don't know how it happened, but we were the last ones to get on the plane and the entire crew was waiting for us. And of course, our gate was number 30-something and it was the last gate all the way at the end. Y'all, we were literally RUNNING to our gate. My cousin and I had to beg them to wait because we had such a large group flying home. Thankfully, we made our flight and we reached Trivandrum safely! It has now become a funny story to tell.

The trip overall was fun and I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to experience and learn more about my culture through this trip! And I got to spend time with family I hadn't seen in over a decade which was a HUGE blessing. If you ever have the chance, take a trip to India. It's a huge culture shock coming from the west, but it's definitely something worth experiencing at least once in your lifetime.


Check out my Tips for Traveling in India
Check out my last travel post: A Snowy Week in Savannah, Georgia
Check out my last post: Be confident in your struggles


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