Friday

Visiting Agra and the Taj Mahal

When you think of must-see places in the world, the Taj Mahal is going to be pretty high on the list. For me, it was proper bucket list territory, so I couldn't wait to experience it on my India tour. We ended up visiting at sunset and it was just perfect!

Visiting the Taj Mahal at sunset

Monday

Exploring Delhi with On The Go Tours

Last April, I was travelling home from uni when I opened my email and found I'd only gone & won a trip to India! I'd entered one of my Austria photos (from this post) into a photography competition run by On The Go Tours and they'd picked me to experience their Taj Express tour. Having wanted to visit India for many years, I was thrilled! Our trip started in Delhi, where we had three whole days to explore the city.

A peek of a temple roof over green trees at Humayun's tomb in Delhi
Since our flight would have arrived late on day one, we opted to book an extra hotel night and arrive a day early. We stayed at the Jaypee Siddharth, and it was one of my favourite hotels of the whole trip, even if the Diet Pepsi was extortionately expensive in the hotel bar... and the fact that we had a party happening on the patio under our window every single day. This early start gave us the opportunity to get our bearings a little- let me tell you, we needed that time! We've all seen footage of New Delhi with its chaotic traffic and vibrant bustle, but nothing can prepare you for just how busy it is. It was quite overwhelming at first, and although we quickly got used to the pace of Delhi life, it was nevertheless a culture shock.

After spending the first day recovering from the flight and venturing outside the hotel for a quick McDonalds (ever the culture vulture), we met up with our group at the welcome meeting. On The Go operates group tours, so for our trip we had a local tour guide and driver accompanying us everywhere, as well as four other travellers: a South African couple and two Australian men. It was a great chance to meet new people from different walks of life and gave a sense of camaraderie to the trip- especially when things went wrong! 

plus size women's outfit for India- blue denim jacket, white blouse and terracotta maxi skirt






Denim jacket: Simply Be
Blouse: Boohoo
Skirt: Boohoo

This slow start gave an odd aspect to the trip, where we were in Delhi for three nights but only really experienced one day there. The second day was when things really got going. We met our group in the lobby and headed off to Old Delhi for a rickshaw ride around the bazaar. Unfortunately most of the shops were closed because it was a Sunday, but we still got a sense of the area. Weaving between the narrow labyrinthine streets, getting stuck in a bottleneck behind a jubilant celebration and watching monkeys scurry across the dangling wires overhead was the ideal way to experience Delhi life. 

Plus size woman at Jama Masjid wearing the gown given out for modesty
Our ride ended at Jama Masjid- India's largest mosque. Standing in the courtyard of the red sandstone building really brought home the scale of the building, elevated high above the city. We could only see a small amount of the inside as it is largely reserved for worshippers, but the intricacy of the work was breathtaking. Even though it stood right in the heart of the Old Delhi bustle, there was a sense of peace to the whole site.

Intricate sandstone interior of Jama Masjid mosque
The black marble platform of Raj Ghat- Gandhi's tomb- with bright flowers on top
This was a busy day of sightseeing, so we only had a short time to explore the mosque before heading off to our next stop: the cremation site of Gandhi. The Raj Ghat- the memorial for Ghandi- is located in a park less than 1.5 miles away from the Old Delhi bazaar, but it's like a different world. Set in a lush green park, with colourful flowers lining the pathways, you can hear the birds tweeting. Visitors move leisurely around the park, and speak quietly, respecting the significance of the site. (Well, mostly. As we took our shoes off to enter the area of the marble platform, the American woman in front of me was being reprimanded for carrying her shoes in. She insisted she didn't mind holding them, completely missing the point that she wasn't actually allowed to do so!) 

Peaceful gardens with the black marble platform of Gandhi's memorial
The sandstone tomb of Isa Khan
Our next stop was another site of death. I was surprised by how prominent death was as a theme to the tour, but of course that's my specialist subject, so I found the whole thing incredibly interesting. This time we headed to Humayun's tomb. Humayun was a Moghul emperor in the 1500s and when he died, his wife commissioned this grand memorial. The grounds now contain several other tombs, including one for an unknown person. All four sides of the grounds are identical, so you have to be careful not to lose your bearings, and adorable little Indian palm squirrels scarper about around you. They look just like chipmunks and they're so much cuter than our squirrels!

Marble interior of Humayun's tomb

Humayun's tomb in New Delhi
After a long day of exploring the city, we were driven back to our hotel, via a quick stop off outside the vast Indian Parliament building. A couple of hours rest was followed up by our welcome dinner, where we were treated to the most delicious lentil curry. It was a tiring day but certainly worth it for how much we got to see. And we still had another 7 jam-packed days to go...

Thanks to On The Go Tours for this prize. In the interests of full transparency- the competition was open to everyone and I have not received any compensation to write these posts. Affiliate links have been used in this post.

Twitter // Instagram

Blog Design by Get Polished | Copyright Becky Craggs 2017