One of the places that was top of my travel list when I moved to Abu Dhabi was India. I told myself that if I could visit the Taj Mahal I would see my time in the Middle East as a success. But as much as I really wanted to go India kinda terrified me in so many ways. I went to India with a lot of preconceived notions in my head. I said I just wanted to go there see the Taj and leave. Basically a get in and get out mission. I thought I would hate it.
I ended up loving my time in India and I’d love to go back again. It really isn’t for everyone. It’s definitely not an ordinary type of holiday. I’m normally a total princess when it comes to traveling and I’m somewhat of a snowflake, but you need to check this with your baggage at the airport because if you go to India with any ideas of luxury you are in for a bad time. I also think the key to India is to go as part of a group. It’s such an eye-opening experience, but it can be somewhat heavy going. If I didn’t have people to bounce off of and have a laugh with I would have hated every minute of it. Things went so wrong and even though in the moment it was not good we all laugh at it now. In so many ways it was a “once in a lifetime” sort of trip.
I only went for 3 nights to New Delhi and that was just the right amount of time to see the highlights of Delhi and the Taj Mahal. I flew home to Ireland after that via Abu Dhabi. My friends stayed on though and went to Varanasi and Sri Lanka which I was sorry that I missed out on. New Delhi was only 4 hours from Abu Dhabi for me, but if you’re traveling from further afield I’d recommend only doing a few days in New Delhi as that’s enough and then move on somewhere else.
I’m used to staying in nice hotels and even though we spent ages trying to find a hotel with good reviews it ended up being pretty horrid. So, unless you are staying at the Shangri La (I actually would recommend seriously considering this!) be prepared. We stayed in The Prime Balaji Deluxe, but seriously avoid it.
New Delhi is quite simply put, extremely crazy. The things you see are just insane. We saw a family of 6 on the back of a motorcycle all without helmets, because of course! There is a lot of poverty which can be very hard to see. It’s such a hectic place that transport can be such a nightmare. I couldn’t imagine getting around without a private driver. I was awful with the exchange rate, but I don’t think it was too costly especially split between the 5 of us. We had a car for our whole 3 days in Delhi and the driver took us wherever we wanted, which was perfect when we were there for such a limited amount of time. We only took a Tuk Tuk once and it was literally just to cross the road to the Red Fort as the traffic is so insane. There is a video of it on my camera that brings back both the lolz and the terror.
There’s quite a number of beautiful temples to see in Delhi. Although it’s such a chaotic place there’s something really beautiful and majestic about it. It was so colourful and full of life. I really enjoyed our time at Human’s Tomb. The Taj Mahal was modelled on this and I think I actually enjoyed it more than the Taj. I really wanted to see Akshardham, but in the end I only glimpsed it from the car. Next time! We all agreed that the highlight was the Gandi Museum. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
The whole point of going to New Delhi was to go see the Taj Mahal and it turned into one disaster after another. We had initially planned to go on the Sunday morning to see the sunrise. Myself and Mary had flights booked for that night. As it came closer I had second thoughts about this. I was worried incase something went wrong and we couldn’t make it. So we changed to the Saturday. The plan was to leave the hotel for 2am and drive through the night to see the sun rise. We got up and were ready to go only to have the car service that had been ordered cancel on us. After failing to get another driver at that time of night we went back to bed and arranged to go on Sunday. Moral of the story, leave plenty of time in your plans to see the Taj Mahal.
I’d also recommend forgetting about traveling through the night. I regretted not traveling to Agra the day before and staying overnight not least of all because our driver fell asleep numerous times on the way to and from the Taj nearly killing us multiple times. As I said above, horribly terrifying at the time but something we have to kinda laugh about now. We missed sunrise, it was drizzling, there was thunder and lighting, we’d traveled through the night, were traumatised from the car of death and then there was scaffolding around the Taj due to construction going on-to say we were not in the best of moods would be an understatement. It was great to see the Taj, but it was’t the highlight of my life or anything. Although we missed sunrise we were still there for 6.30am and it was packed already. So go early. We stayed until a little after 9am before heading back to New Delhi, which is 3 to 4 hours each way depending on traffic. Also, the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.
In terms of vaccinations I had Hep A, Hep B, Tetanus and Typhoid a few weeks before I went. I also packed a mini pharmacy with me that included Motilium and Imodium, which I thankfully did not need as I successfully alluded Delhi Belly. Also all the hand santitizer is needed. It also goes without saying to avoid tap water at all costs and be vigilant and make sure all bottled water is sealed. We did get a lot of attention as Westerners which was very strange, but nothing that freaked us out or anything. It was more amusing than anything else. We also required a visa to enter the country which needed to be arranged before arrival.
In all I loved my time in India. I went with low expectations, but it was an amazing trip. Definitely different from any other holiday, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back again as I’d love to see more of this beautiful country.
Have you ever been to India?