Avril’s trip to India
Avril’s trip to India
Do you have a list of dream destinations? I have, and the Taj Mahal has always been in my top ten of places to see. In February 2012, I was lucky enough to take a trip to India, and it certainly is an incredible place My tour included the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, followed by a week relaxing in Goa. There was a lot of driving involved between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, but well worth the effort.
Delhi is divided into two distinct sections – the new and the old. The acclaimed British architect Edwin Lutyens, who was responsible for many landmarks in central London, designed much of New Delhi and its parliamentary buildings. Shah Jahan inspired the old city.
There are many sights to visit including the Memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, Jama Masjid Mosque, and the massive India Gate, which is a memorial to the lives laid down by Indian soldiers. Delhi is the gateway to the sights of Agra and Rajasthan.
Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal, Agra, in 1630 as a shrine for his beloved Queen, Mumtaz Mahal. It is an architectural wonder fashioned from white marble, and it took 20,000 artisans 17 years to complete the “Love Poem in Marble”. At dawn, the colours were beautiful and changed from a pinkish glow to a brilliant white. Of course, I had to have my photo taken on the “Princess Diana” seat! It was everything I had imagined it to be and more.
After visiting the old fort in Agra, it was on to Fatehpur Sikri. The Emperor Akber built the palace in 1569, but he abandoned it after only 15 years because of water shortages. The Ghost City, perched on a hillside, has beautifully preserved buildings, with tranquil gardens looking out over the plain.
It is possible to reach the Amber Fort in Jaipur on foot, by jeep or by elephant. I took a colourfully painted elephant, and enjoyed the views as we slowly made our way to the hilltop. Inside the palace is the famed Sheesh Mahal a room with jewels and mirrors embedded in the walls. At night, the rooms used to sparkle in the candlelight to create a romantic ambiance for King Man Singh, his 12 queens and many concubines.
The Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of Winds, is another famous Jaipur landmark. Hawa Mahal’s ornate pink facade of windows and balconies were designed to allow the women of the harem to watch, unnoticed, the colourful processions and enjoy the breeze. Jaipur, painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1853, is nicknamed “The Pink City”
After all the sights of the Golden Triangle, it was time to relax for a week on the beach. I stayed at the Park Hyatt in South Goa, which is the quieter area. The Hyatt is definitely one of my favourite hotels, with friendly staff, good food, and you can always get a sunbed by one of the pools! The hotels manicured lawns lead down to a glorious wide sandy beach, which stretches 15 miles down the coast. After a busy day reading a book, next to one of the pools, it was nice to relax with a cocktail whilst watching the sunset. A perfect end to an amazing trip!