Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Golden Triangle

While enjoying the holiday break and visit with my brother and sister in-law our family of five plus two visitors took an adventure around the Golden Triangle of India, Delhi-Agra-Jaipur.  Because we live in New Delhi we started our tour on this point of the triangle and worked from there.  Many tour books are available for exploring Delhi but if you have kids, and even if you don't, there is a new book by an author friend of mine titled Delhi Bound A Book For Kids by Naomi Hattaway.  The book can be purchased at any Playclan Store (Meher Chand market or Saket mall) or through

We began our tour from the doors of home early on day one, 5am pick-up time and left for Agra by van.  We rented a TempoTravellor (seats 9) through SRM Transports India and had the delightful experience of having Raj Kapoor for our chauffeur and another gentleman (his name escapes me) to help with the needs of the seven of us traveling.  The van was spacious, clean and had seat belts for all of us traveling; driver, helper and all passengers.  All of our suitcases were safely placed in the rear luggage area and the driver, Raj, was attentive to the conditions of the road and safety of his passengers.  Winter in Delhi brings fog for morning driving and the morning we left was no different.  The fog was noticable but not so thick that we felt we could not leave.  Raj drove slowly and carefully through Delhi and we reached Agra in approximately 5 hours. 
I had made arrangements to meet with a favorite guide I had the pleasure of meeting on one other trip to Agra. His stage name is "Bobby".  Any trip to Agra is sure to be grand if you have Bobby as your guide.  He is appropriately informative and yet leaves room for you and your party to explore the sight visited as you wish.  We did not feel bound by the guide nor overwhelmed with too much information.  He allowed for our questions to draw more information about the sights visited.  We first went to the Taj Mahal where tourism and lines have changed even in the year we have lived in India.  The Taj of course is one of the man made seven wonders of the world and is not to be missed for any visit in the northern India area. It lived up to the expectations for our visitors and we have many pictures as proof of our visit.

Our second stop was at the Agra Red Fort.  The Fort was as busy as the Taj with many winter visitors.  Another fun adventure experience and the story of Red Fort lends itself well to the Taj Mahal and our last visit of our day at Fatehpur Sikri.  After seeing Agra Red Fort and before going to Fatehpur Sikri we had a quick lunch.  Bobby suggested a nice restaurant that it seemed many of the tours were going to but we were able to request and receive our orders quickly so we could continue on the road.  Fatehpur Sikri was wonderful to see without a Fatehpur Sikri guide.  Bobby was able to fight off the locals who really wanted to be in our car as we entered the Fatehpur Sikri area.  Bobby stayed in Agra after our visit to Fatehpur Sikri and we continued our adventure to Jaipur without him as our guide.
We continued on our furious first day of the tour and drove/rode all the way to Jaipur yet that same day.  The drive from Agra to Jaipur was amazingly pleasant.  The road was nice, the traffic was civil and again the driver was the best I have had for a taxi driver or hired driver for that matter. We even felt it was like a drive through the US at times with other vehicles staying in lanes and using the passing lane as it would be used.  We arrived for check-in at the hotel by 8:30pm.   
Second day of the tour we woke later and left the hotel by 10am for the Amber Fort.  Our one mistake was we did not understand the elephant rides.  Elephant rides have typically been a ride in a large circle.  At Amber Fort there is a purpose, the elephants take the riders up the hill and into the fort.  Our entire tour group was not clear on this detail and we said no to the elephant ride and instead took a jeep up to the fort.  A jeep ride down is the only possible way down the hill.  Bummer for us when we discovered we could have arrived on the back of an elephant like in the mogul era.  Let this be a lesson to you, take the elephants if you do not have any issues with elephants or rides.

This same day we also visited the City Palace

and some market places.  We saw how to block print on cloth and make carpets.  We saw a gem cutters wheel and raw stones.  Both of these factory tours were followed by the hard sell from the salesmen but the information was fun.  We finished our day at a market at night, not a night market but one that was still operating after evening hours. 

We retired to the hotel and rested for the ride home the next day.  Unfortunately our evening was not as rested as we hoped.  Kid middle got the stomach flu during the evening and was up every hour and a half with reminders that her stomach was not well.  We planned to leave for Delhi at 9am but when the van showed up at the hotel I asked Raj and his mate to visit the Big Bazaar nearest the hotel and purchase two buckets for the car ride home.  Not only is Raj a great driver he is also very kind and without anymore than my request he left for a short shopping trip and returned with buckets, loaded our bags and began our journey back to Delhi.  This was the longest journey of the triangle.  We were on the road by 9:30am but did not arrive to Delhi until 5:30pm.  The traffic from Jaipur to Delhi was stopped, not moving, people had been parked since 5am that morning.  Raj safely maneuvered what he could and negotiated some help from other large buses and kept us all moving safely toward Delhi as best he could.  Thankfully we never had to use the buckets he purchased for the purpose of which we purchased them.  The buckets are now part of the cleaning equipment for some of the cleaners in our building.  A very enjoyable journey to remember our time in India.
Contact Information for our Tour:
Driver Raj Kapoor mobile 09971312789
Agra Guide "Bobby" mobile 919897328030 or email

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas #2 in India

Christmas came and went in India.  There is a madness that happens in November and December time of year at every school and AES was no different.  I let it wear me down to the point of exhaustion, or so I thought.  It was really just that I hadn’t kept a close check on my thyroid medication and allowed it to run way too low for way too long.  Exhaustion set in and I am now starting to get a grip on staying up all day without a nap.  As I was catching up I knew I would not be sending out a Christmas card or a cute family picture.  Sadly this is the last year I have all the kids at home with us.  Kid one is rounding off her senior year in high school and we are doing some of our “lasts” for the first time.
Christmas Eve was spent with friends and upon our return home we saw Santa left evidence he had arrived at our home.  The kids were slightly disappointed because Christmas always happens on Christmas morning.  They changed their tune after opening the electronics that they could plug in overnight and wake up bright and early to play on their new “toys”.  Different CAN BE good.
After Christmas my brother and sister in-law, Uncle 6 and Aunt  were our first family to visit us in India.  We had great fun traveling the Golden Triangle, touring Delhi and shopping for gifts.  It was a Christmas blessing to have them here for this New Year and to celebrate their blessings to arrive in 2012.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all and to all a good night!