We decided to do the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is a route that consists of three remarkable cities in North India. New Delhi, our starting point, Agra, famous for the Taj Mahal and Jaipur, the Pink city. We had a private driver who accompanied us all those days and drove us to all the spots. I thought it was way to decadent, but soon found out that it is just common practice here in India. Our driver was a mild man in his 50’s with the physique of a teenager. Of course contrary to what the tourist agency told us, his english was as good as my french. And believe me, my french is not good, despite what my name would suggest Hahaha And more so, we could have also learned some Hindi before getting here ;-) LOL! Our communication stretched no further than: “next location,” “pickup time tomorrow” and “how he slept yesterday”, but it was enough and you don’t only need words to communicate. However, the situation became quite strange when we arrived in Agra and he suddenly told us to put the sunscreens on the windows to make us less visible from outside and then tried to explain us that we should tell the police he is a friend, not a taxi driver, if they stopped us. It took us five minutes to understand. Normally it would raise a serious eyebrow, but we already went through so much, this didn’t seem strange anymore. Luckily however we weren’t stopped by the police.
In Agra we went to the Taj Mahal. We were accompanied by a guide, who spoke English fluently and knew a lot about the history. After this I would never visit a great work of art without a guide!! I fell in love with the Taj Mahal. I have seen it on pictures many times, but when it suddenly appears in your sight, while you are walking to it and having some small talk with the guide, the whole conversation falls still. He explained us that it was build with translucent marble giving it it’s shining glow. Especially with full moon. The flowers which seem to be painted around the entrance are actually inlay stones from Iran, Zimbabwe and other countries. This inlay craft, was only mastered by a few. Untill this day, the descendants of these craftsmen, still use the same technique. And one of the red stone types they use in this inlay, lights up when light shines on it. It was magical when the guide showed us this when we went inside. It was dark and when he moved his flashlight over the inlay stone flowers, only the red flowers lit up. Mythical!
The story of the Taj Mahal is that of love. An emperor building it out of love for his wife. Who doesn’t know it? But I didn’t know that the emperor made sure the hands of the architects and other specialists who designed the Taj Mahal where chopped of, so they could never design something as beautiful again. He later on, also wanted to build a black Taj Mahal opposite to the white one, to symbolize his pain, grieving the loss of his wife. His son, thinking his father went crazy spending too much money on his crazy plan, imprisoned him in a palace with a view on the Taj Mahal. We went to the site where the prison was. They call it “The Land of Nowhere”, because no one can escape from there. From within you could see the watch towers left and right. The fort was surrounded by a garden which used to be full of wild animals including tigers. The garden was surrounded by water which was filled with crocodiles. Nowadays the watch towers are unmanned, the garden and the pond are arid and dry, but if you try to imagine how it must have looked like, it is a crazy sight. In Agra I also developed a deep respect for carpet makers. We went to a workshop where they make handcraft carpets. The owner explained us the craft. Each point you see on the carpet is soleley notted by the carpet maker. Imagine me filling a computer image pixel by pixel. After that the carpet undergoes a whole process of brushing and finalization to make the colors come out even more. He even helt a fire to the back of the carpet to show us it doesn’t catch fire. These carpets are really indestructible and will keep their quality for decades. Impressive!!
The next day we went to Jaipur, which is called the Pink city. And when we arrived we understood why. A part of town is completely in pink. It is even been said that you have to pay taxes if you don’t paint your house pink. There is a good incentive for ya ;-) Hahaha Lol! Before we entered Jaipur we stopped at Patepur Sekdi. We were jumped by kids who tried to sell us things. During our stay in India we came across a lot of guys trying to sell us things, but these guys where nearly ten and stunningly battered “Hello sir, where you from?” “Oh, Holland? Nice country. I know Amsterdam. I got a friend in Amsterdam.” “Look in to my eyes sir… Look in to my eyes! You see these eyes? Remember these eyes. Remember this face. When you come back sir, buy something from me, promised? Promised!?” I must admit I was intimidated Hahaha. Imagine these guys at their twenties. They would sell you icecream in the winter. I didn’t make a promise however, but couldn’t resist to buy a small thing when I came back. We entered the Patepur Sekdi. I had to wear a cloth around my waste, because you are not allowed to wear short pants above knee level. And like everywhere in India you had to take off your shoes. Walking on the hot stones, barefoot we came to find out that we were walking amongst ancient grave tombes. It felt a bit macabre walking with your bare feet, between tombes with decayed mummified people. We even attended a ceremony.
After that we arrived in Jaipur, where we first went to the Amber Palace where they sacrifice a goat each day at 5 o’clock sharp. The painted flowers on the walls are more that 500 years old and still intact. It is vegetable paint, each color made of a certain plant, vegetable or fruit. Amazing! At the exit of the palace there was an Indian guy with a flute and a basket from which a hypnotized cobra emerged. How stereo type can you go Hahaha. It was a real cobra. The man invited me to touch it. I freaking did! And I’m still alive. ;-) Haha. After that we went to the City palace where the royal family resides. This palace has the greatest silver jar in the world. It is even recorded in the Guinness World Record book. Within the palace is the Jantar Mantar, an Astronomical instruments and obervatory. The instrumensts all still work. The guide explained us how we could read the time from one of the instruments. I checked it on my watch and the instrument was totally accurate. Wow!! We concluded our stay in Jaipur with the Jal Mahal, a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake.
Oh and how can I forget to tell you about the best sales man I have ever seen. We were in a shop that sold blankets and shawls. He looked like the Indian version of Ricky Gervais, with an obviously fake toupee. We were negotiating a price for the things we bought. When we told ‘m our offer he put the back of his hand to his forehead like he was playing a strucked man in a classical play of Odysseus. Then he got himself together. Looking at the floor, sighed, rubbed away a fake tear with his hand and then with a sad voice, he continued: Ok, because my heart is really with you, I will make you a special, once in a lifetime offer only. Like a magician introducing his assistent, he raised his left hand and ordered one of the boys behind the desk to bring him his instrument. His calculator. He typed the magical numbers. Sighed again and slowly turned the calculator towards us, showing us his offer like he had just signed for his own death. Of course we didn’t fell for this show, but decided to cut him some slack because of the outstanding performance. Hahaha Lol!
That night when we were in the hotel we heard loud music and fireworks. The sounds were getting louder and louder. We went outside to find out that a wedding ceremony was going on. A parade of happy, dancing people, musicians, drums, horses, fireworks, colored powder.. a complete spectacle! Nice to experience!
We decided to stay a bit longer and added another city to our trip. Sariska. Home of the infamous Tiger Reserve. We arrived at our hotel, which was situated in a really nice garden with swiming pool and green birds. An oase after all the crowdyness. We took a day off from all the activities and just layed alongside the pool, relaxing and reading a book. The internet wasn’t working and I couldn’t resist to fix it. #nerdalert ;-) Hahaha. That day it suddenly started to rain after all those days of blistering heat. We found toads beside our hotel room, which resided in a yard. The hotel had a pretty good restaurant and I was hooked to their pancakes. We ordered 5 portions at a time. The waiters looked at us like, what’s wrong with these guys!? Hahaha. The restaurant walls were filled with gecko’s… real ones! Despite that we ate there everyday. At one day however the waiters got in a little argument with each other. We didn’t know what it was about, because they screamed at each other in Hindi. Suddenly they started attacking each other, ended up in a fist fight and grasping. After a few seconds the peace returned. Our eyes were still big, like what just happened!!?, when one of them turned up at our table, still out of breath, taking our order: “Can I help you sir?” I asked him: “Are you ok!?” He replied with the typical Indian nod and took our order. Wow!
We somehow got this bad idea to leave our moustache. I don’t really have an explanation. Don’t really ask, just take notice Lol!! Hahaha
On my way from our room to the restaurant I was constantly attacked by a big, white dog who belonged to a family that was staying in a room next to the restaurant. I’m not really afraid of dogs, but when this large fellow comes running up to you from a distance barking loudley you can’t help to jump up. Hahaha. And he only did it with me. The bad thing was that the best internet reception was in the restaurant, so I had to be there often. Sometimes at night he was asleep, I could see him from a distance, and I tried to walk silently. But as soon as I almost got to the door of the restaurant he snuck up from behind with a large sprint and a loud bark and I jumped up again. And I hear his boss say the typical: “He likes you and just wants to play” Like really!!??
We went to the Tiger reserve, which claims to have 9 tigers and 15 leopards?? On our way a large group of monkeys blocked the road for a while. Like I told you before, they are everywhere. We entered the park with a jeep and already within 10 minutes we saw a tiger. The jeep had no protection, but the guide explained us that this wasn’t necessary because the tiger sees the jeep and the people in it as one large animal. Too large for it to attack. We stunningly took pictures. Strangly enough, even the guide took pictures, like he doesn’t see a tiger as often also. But what’s that there on the picture? A collar? Hmm, maybe the tiger wasn’t as wild as we thought. Hahaha
Before we left I wanted to take a picture with a monkey that was sitting on a little wall. I got close.. and closer… Sander took a picture. I moved even closer.. and closer…. suddenly the monkey tried to attack me. I jumped back and almost stumbled. These guys are not to mess with Hahaha.
The next day we would head back to New Delhi for the final part of the Triangle. Off we go!