Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seat of Power and Monument of Love

The day after we finished celebrating Diwali, we headed out to Delhi and Agra for a short vacation. It has been over 20 years since either Mona and I have visited the Taj and we have never visited this Monument of Love together. So this has been on our list of places to visit for quite a few years.

Delhi is the Seat of Power in India and you can feel it when you arrive. We were immediately impressed with Delhi - good infrastructure, clean and wide roads, well behaved traffic etc. We stayed at a B&B tucked away in the exclusive Golf Links neighborhood of Delhi - a charming place in a cozy little area of the city. Sightseeing in Delhi is an unforgettable experience. You can live the history especially if you have grown up here and studied Indian history. Humayun's tomb is a world heritage site and fully deserves the status. The Red Fort brings stories during the Mughal era to life. Jama Masjid is a grand old mosque - another example of the incredible Mughal architecture. The visit to the Bahai temple was interesting. This lotus shaped building is a must-see when you are in Delhi. Akshar Dham is a modern temple with a fantastic architecture, beautiful carvings and a musical fountain that would rival Bellagios in Las Vegas.

Food in Delhi was a major highlight. We ate a lot of street food - our best kind - the succulent kababs served by Khan Chacha in Khan market. We stopped at a Dhaba on the way back from Delhi to Agra and had the best vegetarian Dhaba food that you can imagine. Some of the best street food can be found on the streets of Chandni Chowk where we tried a range of food from hot jalebis to an assortment of parathas to dahi ballas! Absolute foodie heaven!

Our visit to the Taj Mahal was awesome. The Taj is everything that you would expect and more. It is an amazing monument and you are rendered speechless when you first lay your eyes on it (even though you might have seen it before). For a change, we had a guide accompany us and he was able to give us (especially the children) some good insights into the history of the Taj. Fatehpur Sikri in Agra is an equally impressive monument. It is the city that Akbar had built but it was inhabited for only a short amount of time due to lack of adequate water. We also visited Akbar's tomb which is a simple tomb inside a magnificent monument.

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