Having been in India on and off for a year, I have done my fair share of sightseeing. The thing with India is it’s chalk full of castle-like buildings and fort-like structures, which for me got boring real fast, especially after constantly having this view on any given bar night in Hauz Khas village. In Delhi, I would recommend seeing India Gate and Lotus Temple. Both are amazing feats of architecture unique to Delhi, and are free to visit. Alternatively, you can do a quick drive by of both and call it a day.
I visited Lotus Temple on a spontaneous Sunday, having gotten bored of my usual Sunday haunts. Upon my arrival by auto, I noticed a huge line up that stretched probably a kilometer or two. There was no way I was going to stand in that line up, so I looked for some sort of VIP or “foreigner” line up, but nothing like that existed. I stood staring at the entrance and exit points and noticed the complete lack of security. Without really thinking it through, I made a bee-line for the exit and slipped through. But, there was a mandatory security checkpoint that I had to go through before entering the grounds. I scanned the line and found a group of girls. Again, without thinking I asked them if I could slip in line with them as I was supposed to meet friends inside and didn’t want to wait in the line up, which they graciously agreed to, phew! After easily slipping through security, I hung back a bit to lose the girls I came in with.
Getting in was only half the battle. To enter the temple, you had to remove your shoes. In true inefficient Indian style, your shoes (and those of your group) had to be placed in a bag that needed to be kept in an underground shoe room, similar to a coat check concept. This was only accessible through standing in a gigantic line up. Thankfully I was armed with my usual large black shoulder bag and wearing bendable ballet flats. I slipped my shoes into my bag and walked past the entire line up once again.
Needless to say I spent a leisurely hour exploring the temple, shooting pictures and sitting quietly inside. I would definitely recommend visiting Lotus Temple, on a weekday though! Be sure to bring a bag to carry your shoes in and a bottle of water.
Of course, no trip to India is complete without a pilgrimage to the tomb of love: Taj Mahal. Its an easy 2.5 hour ride to Agra on a newly paved expressway. However, the city of Agra is nothing but glamorous and all thoughts of romanticism are erased as you enter the poverty stricken streets. Here are a few cliche shots of me taking in the sites.
I was fortunate enough to venture out of Delhi to visit Rajasthan, specifically Jaipur. It’s about an 8 hour bumpy car ride from Delhi. This was the epitome of “old fort like structure” overload for me. We explored every tunnel, nook and cranny of each and every place. The downside to Jaipur was the shopkeepers were way too aggressive and tripled the price on goods easily available in Delhi. I went to an off the beaten path store and got myself one kitschy umbrella as a souvenir. The inner pink walled village is claustrophobic and a hot bed for tourist scams. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Jaipur as a place to visit for more than a day. I have heard other parts of Rajasthan are a lot better like Jodhpur, plus the shopping is a lot better there.
Have you visited India? What place did you enjoy the most and recommend?