Land of richness and contrasts, India is a strong challenge to anyone.
Millions living in the streets, millions of millionaires, history glowing and fading everywhere, cows ruling over people and other animals, dirt, noise, sympathy, breathless heat and humidity, spices, colours, religious diversity and tolerance… what an experience.
Delhi was our first and last contact with India.
It’s a big city, which we visited as soon as we arrived and without time for more when leaving.
It was a pity!
After seeing the different cities of Rajasthan, an extra day or two in Delhi would be invaluable for making comparisons and fine-tuning ideas.
It was not possible. What I gleaned from this brief visit is summarized in my Delhi’s page.
Fatehpur Sikkri was our first visit after Delhi, and I confess that, in the place, surrounded by friendly people wanting to sell me everything and anything else, I didn’t realize that it was an abandoned city.
Of course, what we visited was empty, but I thought that was normal for ancient monuments. Only at home did I deepen the question, and I discovered that perhaps I should have seen the city with different eyes.
I was not prepared to Jaipur, and that justified the great surprise – it is a very interesting city, with much more than Amber fort to see.
Nice people, short distances, even the traffic seemed a little more disciplined than anywhere else. Well… just a little bit more…
Housing one of the seven new wonders of the world, Agra is the top destination in India. It surely deserves it.
The Taj Mahal and the Red Fort are enough reasons to justify the trip.
More than the trip, it deserves a specific page for Agra
Gwalior was the land of the greatest emotions. From being attacked by a cow, to passing by a fallen man, face down in a puddle on the road, eventually dying in the face of general indifference, everything surprised me. The nauseating smell to match the garbage and the sight of overflowing sewers, with all kinds of animals in the street, from elephants to pigs, passing by the sacred cow and chickens, everything disappeared when, after climbing the hill, the story opened in front of me. Unforgettable!
Mandawa showed a different picture of India, where the contrasts were not as stark as elsewhere. Between the extreme opulence of the rich and the misery of a large part of the population elsewhere, Mandawa showed a middle-class style, with good resources and an enthusiastic passion for the arts.
For a western visitor, used to give priority to his right, with signposted exceptions, it’s hard to understand traffic in India, but things do work there, and after some days you’ll be able to understand the complex order that goes like this:
1 – The cow (absolute and divine priority)
2 – The elephant (almost like it)
3 – The camel
4 – The heaviest truck
5 – The other trucks
6 – Cars
7 – Wagons, carts, rickshaws
8 – Bikes
9 – People
10 – All other animals except pigs
11 – Pigs
Chicken don’t count, and the order from 4 to 6 may be reversed by the use of the horns, or, stronger than that, light signals.
Good luck, and enjoy, it’s really an emotion, but I must admit that, in two weeks, I only saw two accidents and two dead cows.