A taste of India – Jaipur to Bharatpur to Agra

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Jaipur is known as the pink city. “Pink it’s the color of passion, Cause today it just goes with the fashion.” But in India it represents hospitality and it was painted pink almost 200 years ago to welcome the Prince of Wales who visited the city. It’s a pretty place- not as busy and crowded as Delhi.

Something that India has which South Africa also has (and is quite sad and unfortunate) are a lot of beggars. What was strange to me was when Sarah, the Australian girl in our group, said it’s the first time she has ever seen real beggars! Our tour guide taught us how to say “go away” in Hindi and told us to be firm. Not just with the beggars but also with the street venders who are constantly harassing the tourists.

We visited a few interesting places like Jantar Mantar, Jaipur’s observatory and Chand Baori, a stepwell built in 800 A.D. Astrology and astronomy play a big part in Hinduism. Interactions between celestial bodies, according to beliefs, play a big role in what happens on earth. There are many colourful and bold statues of the Hindu Gods visible along the roads.

We also went to Keoladeo Ghana National Park which is one of the richest bird areas in the world. For me it was a relaxing rickshaw ride through the park while Linz did all the work. She did a pretty good job riding the rickshaw! (It’s much harder than it seems). There was another South African couple in our group who were avid bird watchers and photographers so they went crazy in the National Bird Park. On the last night of the tour they offered to show us a slide-show of our tour. We were all excited to see a quick recap of all the things we saw in India… But, to our amusement (and slight disappointment) all they showed us were pictures of birds- thousands of bird pictures. Nice pictures. Nice birds. Just not the pictures we were expecting. Just makes you realize that some people really, really like birds.

Ooh, one of the highlights of the trip was riding up to the Amber Fort on the back of an elephant. Shame, the elephants are so obedient. One mustn’t think about those elephants too much because it’s probably quite sad. The experience was amazing though!

We also saw a few snake charmers. Apparently they remove the snake’s fangs so that it can’t bite. Still quite freaky!

The hotels we stayed at were all quite decent. The coolest room was at our hotel in Bharatpur where we had a working fountain in the room!

I love Indian food! Before we went to India I loved Indian food but after India I loved it even more. South African indian food is a bit different to Indian indian food. (By the way, did you know Durban has the highest population of Indian people outside of India.?) Anyway, in India they eat mostly vegetarian. The menus at restaurants have a small selection usually at the back of the menu which has a list of “non-vegetarian” options. Even the Big Mac at McDonalds is paneer not meat!

South Africans either have strong stomachs or won’t miss out on a free meal. On our second last evening of the tour there was a buffet which was one of only 2 suppers which were included in the tour price. In our group there were 5 South Africans. That evening only 7 group members showed up for supper because all the rest were suffering from some form of gastrointestinal disorder. But all 5, 100% of the South Africans were there- healthy and hungry. Coincidence? I think not.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

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