Farewell to India

Our eleven day adventure has come to an end. As we pack our bags for the last time in India, we marvel at the sights and sounds that we have experienced. We feel that we have seen an India that many tourists do not see. We rode in tuk tuks, buses, trains, boats and cars. We saw cows, pigs, dogs, camels and goats wandering the city streets. We saw poor people and rich people. We saw palaces, forts, markets, celebrations, and funerals. We took a boat down the holy Ganges and witnessed every day life. We took two overnight trains. We stuffed ourselves with food and drink. We made new friends. It is overwhelming to think that we crammed all of this into only eleven days. Though this country may be poor in many things, it is very rich in culture and beauty. We are not sure whether we will ever return but it has definitely been an experience that is worth having. I challenge you all to add it to your bucket list.

Gandhi & a Food Walk

We boarded the train at 5:00 AM to make the trip from Jaipur to Delhi.  This will be our last full day in India and it started off great as we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise as we sped by the Indian country side reflecting on all we have seen of this amazing country.

The train was actually ahead of schedule which is quite rare for India which placed us at our hotel around 11:30 AM.  After a short wait we checked into our rooms, freshened up and headed out to the Gandhi memorial.  Within the memorial is the house where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life and it is also the place where he was assassinated.  We took our time going through the museum which detailed the life of this great man from his birth in India, his leaving for London where he studied to become a lawyer, his years in South Africa where he fought for human rights up until his return to his home country of India in 1915.  It was well worth the visit.

From there we drove through the government quarters and by the parliament building on our way to our walking food tour.  Colleen and I were a bit apprehensive about how the food would be in India and I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised.  Instead of losing weight I think we may have put on a few more pounds.  I will talk more about the food tour later, but in the mean time these are some of the foods we have sampled.

Chicken:  Chicken Masala, Chicken Curry, Chicken Wala.  Lamb curry and lamb Masala.  They serve a lot dishes with a cottage cheese base which is called Paneer.  This can come in variety of ways which includes vegetables, chick peas, spinach blended with a creamy tomato or brown gravy and of course mixed with the finest Indian spices.  Naan, we had Naan with almost all of our meals it is a flatbread that you use to soak up the wonderful sauces.  Of course there was always lamb available which I had quite a few times.  Other than that rice was a common meal along with some of the local dishes I tried at different stops along the way.  We avoided street food and drank only bottled water as per AJ’s instructions and it worked out well.  There were other little tid bits now and then, but I am not able to recall those at the moment.

The cuisine on our walking tour is as follows.

Chicken Sharma.

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Paneer masala Monos

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Chicken Honey Monos

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Tandoori Chicken Monos

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Afghani Chicken Monos.

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Bhel Puri

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Aloo Tikki.

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Pav Bhakti.

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Dahi Golgappa

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Stick Kulfi (Kesar Pista Badam)

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Gulab Jamun

Jalebi

Lassi

Maharajah McChicken and Fillet O Fish. Well this one wasn’t actually on the tour, but it was pretty good.

You can Google these items if you so wish to find out more about them. Over all it was a very good culinary experience.

Jaipur – The Pink City

We arrived in Jaipur around noon on Tuesday, Dec 4. We stopped for lunch at the Green Pigeon in the old city. The food was very good but the reason that I am mentioning this particular restaurant is that we had entertainment while we ate. A father played an Indian string instrument called a Ravenahatha while his son danced. The boy was probably about 10 years old and he was quite the little ham. He had us all clapping in delight and then he would choose ladies from the tables to come up and dance with him. It was very entertaining and we enjoyed it immensely.

After lunch we headed to the Amber Fort and Palace. Maharaja Man Singh I, who led Mughal Emperor Akbar’s army, commenced its construction in 1592 on the remains of an 11th-century fort. Made out of sandstone and marble, Amber Fort consists of a series of four courtyards, palaces, halls, and gardens. We wandered through the palace that housed the king’s twelve wives and 200 concubines. We gaped at the mirrored hall (Sheesh Mahal) where the walls and ceiling are covered in mirror mosaic. The craftsmanship on the marble pillars was breathtaking and the gardens beautiful. All too soon it was time to leave but not before we witnessed a crew from Bollywood filming a dance number in the main courtyard. It was quite fun!

We got to our hotel  and said goodbye to our bus driver. From here on in, we’re back to tuks tuks and trains.

The next morning we went to the old city by tuk tuk. The traffic is still crazy but seems a little more organized than Delhi and Varanasi. There are even a few traffic lights!! AJay took us for a walk around the old city. It is called the Pink City because in 1875, Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales was coming for a visit to India with a stop at Jaipur which at that time was the capital city. The Maharaja (Sawai Ram Singh) decided to paint all the buildings a terracotta (pink) colour which is the welcoming colour in India. This colour is so significant to the heritage of the city that it is enforced under local law. In fact, there were many bamboo scaffoldings across the streets where people were repainting the walls to bring out the pink. We saw spice markets where mountains of red chili peppers lined the streets. There was also barrels of saffron, curry, cumin, cinnamon sticks and many others too numerous to mention. We went down a lane of tea shops and most of the group stopped to buy some Chai tea to take back home with them. We wound our way to the largest functioning Observatory in all of India. Called Jantar Mantar it is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II, and completed in 1734. It features the world’s largest stone sundial. What is amazing is how precise these large marble stone instruments are. Of course I did not really understand a lot of what our guide told us, but he could tell time to the second on the large sundial.  Now that was impressive!!

The rest of the day was our own free time so Richard and I wandered around the streets for a while, had a quick lunch and headed back to the hotel. Louis and Lisa arrived shortly after us and we spent a pleasant afternoon out on the terrace discussing politics, history and religion. It only reinforced to us again that travel is a great way to learn about the world that we live in.

We were up bright and early this morning and caught a train to Delhi which should arrive by noon. This is our last full day in India and I believe are going to the Ghandi museum followed by a food crawl. I can’t believe that 11 days has flown by so quickly!!   

The Amber Palace.

The Floating Palace

The Observatory.

The Worlds Biggest Sundial.

The Spice Market and the Pink City.

You never know what you will come across in India.