For the second half of February, one week of February break and one week of school, we took the kids and went to India. Nithin’s parents joined us for the trip and then stayed for an additional month. This was our first trip to India and so eye opening. Munchkin is 9 and Pearl is 5 for our trip. All of our pictures taking by all members of our family are here: https://1drv.ms/f/s!Ao_EFQ4GnUQtg9pIUlQEUMM5GCozEA Here is an overview of our trip…
The day before our trip I went to the urgent care doctor because I thought I was getting the flu. It turns out I had a stomach bug before our trip.
February 16th we started off on our trip in the afternoon on a 16 hour flight to Dubai. We then had a 3 hour flight to Dehli. The entertainment system on the flight was a lifesaver. The kids loved watching movies for so many hours. Pearl required laying down horizontally on the flight, which was tough. So her sleeping was pretty sporadic, waking up every few minutes to cry. So we didn’t get much sleep. We landed in Delhi in the late evening and spent a while to get to the hotel because the streets were closed a few feet in front of us for political dignitaries to pass. We got to our hotel pretty late at night, ordered room service and went to bed.
On our Day 2, or first full day in Delhi, we met our driver Yeshpal. Yeshpal was with us for over a week of our trip. Yeshpal brought us to Old Delhi. It was pretty jarring having our first experience in India being the most congested and unorganized place. There were people everywhere. I like this picture because it was so surprising how the electricity wasn’t organized.
We parked on the side of the road with other busses and walked up this pyramid of stairs to the oldest mosque. It was pretty large and very pretty. This was our first experience with entry fees. I assumed they say X and you pay it. So I stepped up and paid the fee for everyone. At future sites my mother-in-law handled these things. There was a mistake with our guide and they didn’t show up the first day. Yeshpal was to the rescue, he was very sweet and took care of us.
We went to another part of Old Delhi and got two rickshaw’s to take us to the Red Fort.
We went our for lunch at a very American restaurant above a Lexus dealership. For the afternoon we had had enough of crowds of people so we went to the national museum. The museum had a lot of great art and artifacts. It was pretty interesting how for the national museum you could see how there were not alarms on things and the cases that housed the artifacts needed repair.
At the end of the day we were exhausted, but that didn’t stop the kids from wanting to go to the rooftop pool of the hotel.
On Day 3, we met our guide at the Gate of India and headed to a famous Hindu temple, Birla Mandir Temple. When you go there is an entrance for foreigners which has a guard to watch your shoes and lockers for your valuables. For normal people there are shelves for your shoes on the street. It was pretty interesting and I learned more about the Hindu religion. We learned about some of the rituals that happen at the temple and how the Hindu’s give respect to the other religions based off of Hinduism. We had a blessing and walked around to see much of the temple. This temple is one which Gandhi visited.
Later in the morning we went to Raj Ghat. This is a memorial park for Gandhi. They have some really nice designs in flowers with a beautiful memorial.
We went back to the hotel for lunch and went to outside of Delhi to the architectural park, Qutab Minar. This is an park that a mungal emperor built large monuments to his achievements. Many of the architecture pieces were from Hindu temples and Islamic.
On Day 4, we went to the Gandhi museum. When we got there a bunch of school kids were waiting outside. They were fascinated by us. The Gandhi museum was very moving to see where he stayed and artifacts. It was so minimal. You can see his spinning wheel. In the gift shop they sold clothe that were hand spun and woven, Nithin and his dad got a shirt. This is the place where Gandhi was shot.
After we went to the craft museum. They had a special museum with lots of fabric, buildings, and paintings. Here are some of my favorites.
On Day 5 we headed out of Delhi to Agra. It was about 5 hours for 144 miles. We only stopped quickly at one rest stop where we saw our first Starbucks. There was a lot of farming and animals along the way. We saw a ton of round patties which ended up being poo which is shaped and left to dry to be used as fuel later.
Our hotel in Agra was very nice. They had a little tower so you could see the Taj Mahal from the hotel. We went there for sunset but didn’t see much other than grey from the smog. Both Dehli and Agra had horrible smog. Agra as we were driving in looked disorganized and poor.
On Day 6 we went to the Taj Mahal first thing in the morning to miss the crowds.
In the afternoon we went to the red fort in Agra. It was huge, gorgeous and very different. There was so many different nooks and crannies there. From the fort you can see the Taj Mahal. This was Munchkin’s very favorite place the whole trip until he went to Aja’s college in Mumbai.
On Day 7 we drove from Agra to Jaipur. This was an all day drive, about 8 hours. On this drive this highway had one lane, animals and speed bumps.
We stopped once and then stopped to see this “well”. I guess every temple has a well to give water. This one is amazing. It is called Chand Baori and I guess it was in some Batman movie or something.
We got to our hotel in time to have dinner and enjoy the local show with dancers and musician. The musician let R play his instrument which was super cool. Pearl and I had some mehndi done too.
On Day 8, our first in Jaipur, we started off at the Red Fort. Nithin and Munchkin rode up to the top of the hill on an elephant. The rest of us took a jeep up to the top. Believe it or not the elephant beat us to the top by about 20 minutes. The fort and its grounds were amazing. It was a bit smaller than the fort in Agra though.
We drove back through Jaipur and stopped at the floating palace. It is supposedly abandoned. Jaipur is a beautiful city that is on the smaller side and known for their crafts.
We went out to eat for lunch and had a pretty horrible lunch. We were all tired and decided to hit a government craft shop (4 stories of different crafts) and then go back to the hotel.
On Day 9 we went to Jantar Mantar which is an astrological park with large monuments. This was a place that Nithin remembered from his childhood fondly. Hundreds of years ago this is how they told the day and time.
We then walked across the street to go to the City Palace Museum. The flag of the maharaja of Jaipur is a beautiful stripe. In addition to having the museum there the maharaja still lives there. At the museum there was a whole building of crafters who are selected to sell at the palace.
After the palace we went out to lunch and then went to a clothing store that showed the kids how they block print. Jaipur is known for their fabric and block printing. It was so cool to see the natural ink change when wet for colors. Each of us chose fabric in the store to have outfits made for us. Our measurements were taken so the outfits fit us perfectly. One of the stores workers came to our hotel that night around 8pm with our completed outfits. It was neat to design your own clothes. The kids enjoyed it.
We also went to the jewelry store. We walked up and there were men with huge raw stones polishing them. Jaipur is also known for their silver and gem stones. The kids got necklaces and so did I.
We went to the hotels performance with local dancers at night. They had very different moves and it was pretty special how they turned and didn’t spot themselves. Pearl was mesmerized by them. When they asked for dancing volunteers she got right up and joined them for this dance with sticks.
This was our last day with our driver Yespaul. He was a really awesome sweet man who made our trip. He really took care of us.
On Day 10 we went shopping in the bazars. We went pretty early so there wasn’t many crowds. Each shop had similar items. I got a bunch of block prints and some other random things. We only spent about an hour there. It was pretty overwhelming to have people coming at you and trying to get you to do things for over an hour. To get back to the van we fit 6 people in a 4 person rickshaw. Pretty crazy.
After the bazar we went to have an elephant experience for Munchkin. Pearl didn’t want to participate until it came time to paint and feed the elephant. Munchkin was totally into it. Aja was first up to want to go on the elephant ride and Bapuma just had to feed the elephants. Munchkin rode the elephant, painted it, fed it, and climbed up its trunk.
On Day 10 we flew from Jaipur to Mumbai. The airline all the flight attendants had this button.
When we got to Mumbai we went to our hotel in old Mumbai. We rested for a little bit and then met our tour guide to go to the gate of India. It was one of the more simple structures we saw since it was more based on English architecture.
After the gate of India we went the Prince of Wales Museum which was pretty large. It was actually a 90 degree day and the museum had no air conditioning. So we probably didn’t spend as long in it as we would have.
On day 11 we covered the rest of Mumbai spots. We Stopped off at the beach and went to this jetty that Aja remembered from his childhood. There was so much smog that the skyline was hazy.
Then we hit the hanging garden. It gave a nice view of Mumbai. Nithin’s family brought his sister there to see the topiaries when she was little.
We walked across the street to this park for kids. Munchkin went up the shoe.
We went to Gandhi’s house in Mumbai. This is where he spent many years, but he died in Delhi. The Delhi museum was very similar but nicer.
The public washes were pretty to see all the laundry, but kinda depressing to see this work passed down through family members.
Victoria station is an architectural beauty.
To end the morning we went to Aja’s college where he got his Phd in Physics. Munchkin loved it and was one of his favorite stops.
In the early evening we had a family gathering at the hotel. It was really lovely to meet a bunch of the family. They were all such nice people, it was just a great time. Nithin’s cousin had twin boys that were Munchkin’s age. It was cute to see the kids talk about their schools.
Our last day in India, day 13 was Holi. The night before there are bonfires all over Mumbai. The day of Holi people go and throw colors at other people. We learned that you can’t always trust what is thrown in generally which is why we were told to mostly stay in the car while we drove around. Folks who are more well to do have Holi parties where they throw colors at the party. The whole town is closed down. So we spent the morning driving around and seeing Holi in the streets and driving Mumbai with no traffic. In the afternoon we relaxed and went to the hotel pool.
Day 14 we headed home. It was an all day flight through Dubai. Of course I found a Starbucks at the airport
We got home and spent Sunday recovering. We were all back to work and school on Monday. The jet lag was really tough for the first week. A week later it was daylight savings to put the clock ahead. This was the first time I was ever happy to loose an hour. Daylight savings helped us a lot.