After the Golden Triangle, we were fortunate enough to travel to Udaipur for an Indian wedding of a relative of ours! This experience was the icing on the cake because we were engaged in 3 days of customs, mind-blowing visuals, music, decorations, food and all of the special effects that come with an Indian wedding. The family roles, the choreographed dances, the elephant at the Baraat and the camel rides were only some of the attractions! Haldi turmeric body polishing of the bride and groom, the Mehndi henna tattoos, the performance artists, the Sangeet dances, the water splashing ritual and the unforgettable Baraat procession of dancing while the groom rode down a hill on the elephant. Not to be outdone—next came the bride’s procession to meet the groom—entering with fireworks, rose petal explosions, marigold leis, incense, and more intense music.
The trip started off with the Golden Triangle itinerary of Dehli-Agra-Jaipur. It was a fast pace of sightseeing, temples, tombs and forts. We were squeezing a lot in nine days for various reasons. I’d suggest breaking up the trip by staying overnight a day or two in Dubai and doing a dessert experience there. The latter was an option for us but we chose to keep traveling so that we wouldn’t have to unpack and get transportation back to the airport, etc. Another suggestion I’d make is to spend a bit more time in each city if possible—not so much for the sightseeing, but to enjoy the luxury hotels and to catch up on sleep due to the time difference and any jet lag from the 20 hour flight.
Dehli was the hub we flew into. Mass humanity and interesting architecture in Old Dehli. First we saw Jama Masjid; the great mosque of Old Dehli which is the largest in India and the last architectural magnificence of Shah Jahan. The minarets constructed of vertical stripes of red sandstone and white marble created the optical illusion of leaning away. We drove past the Red Fort and then saw the Qutub Minar; a high tower dating back to 13th century Islamic culture. Next was the India Gate; a 42 m high stone arch of triumph standing at the eastern end of the Rajpath. We saw the President’s House: Rashtrapati Bhawan. Completed in 1929, the palatial building is a blend of Mughal and western architecture.
Agra was the second day of our sightseeing. We woke up at 4:00 am. to catch the 5:30 am sunrise setting of the Taj Mahal. This mausoleum of Empress Mumtaz Mahal, the beloved spouse of Shah Jahan, is everything you think it will be…and more. Depending on the light of day, the white marble takes on different tones. From a distance, you see an all-white or opalescent tone but as you get up to it, you notice the jewel inlay. Our guide shined a light up to the carnelian and it glowed! The hotel welcomed us with a bindi dot of saffron and a marigold lei. You can see the Taj Mahal in the background of this picture. When we returned from the Taj Mahal, we noticed that an orange was taken from our fruit bowl and a monkey must have peeled it apart and eaten it! The monkey left the evidence on our balcony!
click on hotel link. http://www.oberoihotels.comOur hotel pool was a perfect spot for dining. We skipped dinner at the hotel restaurant and decided to dine poolside so we could enjoy the view as long as possible. The colors of India were even brighter than any Dublin building or any city in Mexico, which until then and been the most colorful places I had seen. Men working in the fields, cities or praying at the mosques were often seen taking naps in the shade when they could. Driving down the streets, we’d see cows among the cars but we also saw monkeys, boars, camel carts and more. Monkeys climbed along the roofs of buildings and forts and one even jumped on our tour van! Jaipur was our next stop on the Golden Triangle and probably my favorite! We saw the Amber Fort, City Palace and Jantar Mantar Observatory. the Amber Fort and the City Palace and the Jantar Mantar Observatory
(Those places will be covered on individual posts. )There were several beggars around which is always emotional. There are many opportunities to give them money. You just need to be prepared that this continues for a while and it can be difficult on a tour. We also tried to ask people if it was alright to take pictures of people (or with them) with at least a gesture or body language. Most people said yes. The Indian people had a joy and peace about them. The men were gentlemanly and the women were feminine, colorful and graceful.
suggested reading: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.
- Indian Children’s Favorites Stories by Somaiah
- India by Apte
- Fashions from India (coloring book) by Tierney
- The Drum: A Folktale from India by Cleveland and Wren
© Gina Michalopulos Kingsley
photos by Gina Michalopulos Kingsley