Amusing Landmarks of New Delhi

For two days, our tour jump off in New Delhi was always started at 9:30am and ended at 5:30pm. It was considerably the best time to escape peak hours of jammed and impenetrable streets. There were so many tourist sites in Delhi but sad to say that times didn’t permit us to visit all of them.

Location: New Delhi, India

Where I stayed: Hotel Clarks Inn

Buddies: Group (3+)

Day One – First Taste of New Delhi

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Jama Masjid. Reaching this site shows the real situation in India. The narrow street was filled with all kinds of vendors and poverty exists normally. There is no entrance fee but INR300 was collected from us for each camera and mobile which are to be used for taking photos. It’s a mosque so removal of foot wears and wearing rented long dresses for women are required.

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Red Fort Delhi. The first site in Delhi which we were almost knocking on its front door but was refrained by an Indian local whose offering to us a different tour. “They (gate guards) will ask you to pay INR500 but there is nothing inside…only a park!”. His word of discouragement opted us to choose none of the given options.

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Akshardham Temple. The entrance security was so strict as there were metal detectors and scanner at the entrance. No big bags, cameras, and mobiles are allowed. It is a Hindu temple complex consecrated in 2005 with a magnificent landscaped gardens. In the middle is the impressive temple built from marbles and decorated with gold, precious gems and stones. Entering the temples on barefoot enlightened us the cooling effect of a marble-made floor against the surging noontime temperature.

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Lotus Temple. The queue to this site was blockbuster. The crowd was unstoppable and patiently waiting for chances to enter the flower shaped temple. Like any other temples, everyone needs to remove foot wears and mobiles to switch off.  The temple is open for all religions as it looks more like an empty cathedral. Once inside, a few minutes of solemn prayer conveyed on different languages and beliefs.

DAY TWO – New Delhi’s Landmarks

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Qutub Minar. Another site which has an entrance fee but was said not worth for sightseeing. Looking at the inaccessible tower from the main gate was the only memory I captured after we decided to skip this UNESCO site.

 

Rashtrapati Bhavan. The current residence of the Indian government. Most buildings inside the complex has classical architectures. There was no parking space available for public or tourist car so our time upon dropping elapsed so quickly.

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India Gate. It is an open space landmark and supposedly free but was asked for INR100 by the old woman who pinned a tiny Indian flag on my shirt. India Gate is the monument built in memory of all Indian armies died from the previous battles since the First World War.

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Birla Mandir. A Hindu temple with splendid architectural design. Cameras and bags are strictly not allowed and must be kept in the provided locker. There was no entrance fee but a small offering was collected.

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Tourist sites hopping in New Delhi was indeed time consuming. Aside from moderate to heavy traffic, each site requires a minimum of one hour to enjoy its charming beauty and absorb its visible information. Hiring a local guide will surely guarantee an extended hours. However, it will be assured to give satisfaction and receive a bouquet of knowledge about the visited historical spot upon leaving. Taking lunch break was also another time draining as we required to stop in a restaurant to order meals and dining. Fast foods location from sites are not so convenient.

( Day 5 and 6 of my customized tour to the Golden Triangle of India last August 25 to 30, 2017. )

Steamy Moments at Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri

We woke up early at 5am to visit Taj Mahal, the India’s most famous site which is listed in the Seven Wonders of the World. Sunrise is said to be the best time to visit for less crowd and colder temperature. We left the hotel at 5:30am and arrived at the Nature Park in less than 10 minutes. We walked on the park’s walkway leading to the entrance ticket booths. An entrance fee was paid for 1,000 rupees per adult. Included in the fee was a bottle of water and a plastic foot cover which has to be used once inside the Taj Mahal.

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Snapshot of Taj Mahal from the Great Gate

TAJ MAHAL

The entrance gate was still closed. We blended ourselves in a long queue of tourists whose also availing the sunrise scene of the famous site. The gate opened at almost 6am and everyone passed through security scanners and strict individual inspection. The inspection took time especially in women’s lane because majority of them were carrying bags. Foods are totally not allowed. Even us didn’t escape because my wife brought cookies and bread for my son who we pulled out from bed few minutes before leaving. Our tour guide rescued us by giving my son chances to eat or else those hunger reliever food will destine into trash. We’re not alone on such scenario. Small children were busy chewing food beside the inspecting guards while parents took most of the portion.

The sun was already up but we’re still at the entrance gate. After we cleared from inspection, we followed the flow of the crowd up to the Great Gate. We belonged to the first wave of visitors, so the place was so crowded and humid. Sharing and having long patience must be considered by everyone to have a personal space of a dreamed backdrop of the majestic marble monument and its symmetrical garden.

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After the Entrance Gate of Taj Mahal Complex
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Tourists on Early Morning Scene
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The Majestic Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum built by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife who died on giving birth to their 14th child in the 16th century. The architectural design was the living monument of his love and grief which inspired everyone. Agra claimed as the City of Love because of it.

We wore the foot cover and stepped on the marble flooring of the mausoleum. I was amazed on the artistic carvings before my eyes. In the center of the mausoleum lies the replica of where the original tomb was situated. Photography was not allowed in that particular area. The entire marble mausoleum was uniquely carved and decorated with gems and precious stones. According to our guide, it is best to see during full moon as the gems shine on moonlight beam.

We left the site at 7:30am with a sweaty experience and took our buffet breakfast in the hotel.

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The monkey family greeted us in the park.

At 9:30am, we left the hotel going to Jaipur. We did a side trip at Fatehpur Sikri which has the biggest gate in the history. It was a former palace of Mughal Emperor Akbar before moving to Lahore and Agra Fort because of unavailability of water supply in the 15th century. The history of this landmark was important in the construction of Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. The father of Shah Jahan, named Jahangir, was predicted and born in Fatehpur Sikri. The connections of Agra’s architectural sites were rooted to the civilization which started from this great site.

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The Entrance Gate – Fatehpur Sikri

FATEHPUR SIKRI

We arrived in Fatehpur Sikri at 10:30am and met our site tour guide. The architectural form of the fort brought our curiosities. Both human and goats carefully climbed up on the inclined stairs to reach the huge gate. Yes, number of goats were present at the entrance gate.

We removed our shoes as it was required and left them at the gate for a fee. The guide explained to us the site, some part of its history, mosque, tombs, palace ruins, and the escape underground tunnel which led to fort in Agra. Aside from a mosque, the place as a whole is now a wide mausoleum.

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Watching the Modern Town Fatehpur Sikri from the Gate

DSC_0220Visiting the fort at Fatehpur Sikri has no entrance fee but it was consider unstable because of those annoying guys who sell items inside the tourist site. They were still following though I declined their offered products so many times. Every time that the site guards came, those guys pulled out and ran nowhere playing hide and seek. We didn’t know if we fell on the scam trap because the needed materials for the ritual at the Tomb of Salim Chishti was bought at the back side and hidden from authorities. The area was clear with vendor when the guards routinely rove but again they occupied it back. The ritual had done by buying first the required materials; a cloth, yarn, and red flower petals for 1,200 rupees. We went inside the white marbled mausoleum by placing the cloth on top of the tomb, scattering the petals, and tying the yarn at the wall with our individual wishes.

We left the site at 1pm for it was too hot to walk on the fort barefooted. Our guide led us to a local store where they crafted materials and exhibited their local products. The store owner convinced us to buy stuffs which we are not interested. We were irritated especially when forcing a belief and insisting that we should have it. The stuffs were overpriced! He offered an item worth 1,500 rupees and dropped to only 300 rupees when we walked away from the store. At such descended price, I will never accept it even he will give it free. A souvenir from a cheating attempt is not worth to bring. I was so upset realizing that the historical tour ended with a hot confrontation. I rather advise not to visit Fatehpur Sikri unless you’re a believer of Salim Chishti.

We left Sikri finally at 1:30pm going to Jaipur. The beautiful scenery and heavy rainfall cooled off my mind from before steamy conversation. Jaipur City is hiding from the mountain as we entered a tunnel passing through it. We arrived in the hotel, the Anuraag Villas at 4:30pm.

Meanwhile, our trip buddies in Dubai successfully complied the travel requirements and waiting for their flight to Delhi. They will directly go to Jaipur to meet and join us on the remaining tours.

( Day 2 of my customized tour to the Golden Triangle of India last August 25 to 30, 2017. )

Bahrain, the second time around

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Al Fateh Grand Mosque

After three years, we were back in Bahrain for an important document to be renewed from the embassy.  Visiting this small country required expats to applied re-entry visa. An amount was already spent so we decided to stay and enjoy more this open Arab country before coming back. Joining with us was our friend whose family is also here in Saudi Arabia.

We left Saudi Arabia at 10pm and arrived in the hotel in Bahrain at 1pm.

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Comfortable Bed of Ramee Palace Hotel

Location: Juffair, Bahrain

Where I Stayed: Ramee Palace Hotel

Buddies: Group (5+)

The Ramee Hotel and Palace is located in Juffair near the Al Fateh Grand Mosque. It is like a hotel apartment for each unit has a kitchen. We selected the unit with two rooms to share. The apartment was too spacious for a single family. This hotel has wide parking space. On the ground floor, there is a restaurant on the front and bars & disco pubs at the back. It should be a noisy atmosphere but we didn’t heard anything from our rooms.

At 6pm, we took our dinner at our favorite Japanese and Korean restaurant, the Arirang Edo Restaurant. We really missed the soup and the authentic taste of the menu. Though it was hard to park the car on that place, we managed to get a space. One of their staffs was outside barricading the front of the restaurant. Reserving the small space for their costumers.

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At 8:30pm, we headed to the Gulf Dolphin Resort to witness the sea lion and dolphin show for the second time. The entrance was still the same at BD4. The one-hour show was already started so we booked the next show which started at 10pm. We met again the same personalities as the animals trainers were the same. We enjoyed the show at this time because our kid interacted and appreciated it.

At 11pm, we visited our friend’s  cousin who work in The Domain, a classy hotel with a bar on the top floor. We were hesitated to enter because toddlers are with us. However, we managed to visit them at the restaurant and was introduced to their Bahraini manager. The manager was so accommodating and gladly given us complimentary cocktails to drink. We didn’t enter the bar because we were wearing short pants. A couple of alcoholic drinks satisfied our night. We were back in the hotel at 1pm.

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Next morning, we went to the embassy for our real purpose of coming in Bahrain. The transaction was so fast that we already at the hotel in less than an hour. In the afternoon, we met our friends and dined at Bahay Kubo, a Filipino restaurant serving “lechon belly”. Their pork barbecue and their desert “halo-halo” are also in demand.

The World of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is more than an hour travel from Dubai. As our plan, we have to wake up early to lengthen our time but it looks like we ourselves didn’t follow our own rules.

We left Dubai at 9am and we first visited the Grand Mosque. It is the world’s 3rd biggest mosque after the two Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the Grand Mosque, unlike at Holy Mosques.

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Our driver who served as our guide led us to the entrance of the mosque. We entered a security tent for scanning of our belongings. He then led us to the underground car park to borrow a long black dress called “abaya”. The women clothes should be covered by abaya and men who are wearing short pants by “thoub”, a white dress for men. The attire was borrowed for free by showing to the staffs the hotel’s key where we were staying.

As a reminder from the mosque’s authorities, wearing open clothes is not allowed especially for women. Women’s hair must be covered. The shoes must be removed when entering the prayer room. No modeling posture when taking photos. And no  public display of affection for couples. There are so many staffs inside reminding the visitors every time the do’s and don’t s of the site.

Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque was the biggest mosque I visited so far. The outer white painting reminded me of the Disney’s children television show Aladdin. The mosque’s doom was said to be furnished with real gold. The weather was hot but once inside the mosque, it was cool.

At noon, we left the mosque and headed to Ferrari World amusement park. The park for those fanatics of racing cars. It has so many rides but sad to say that we didn’t have enough time for all of them. We miscalculated our timings and schedule. We should give a one full day for Ferrari Park alone. However, we tried some of the rides and the highlight was the world fastest Roller Coaster. At the speed of 240km/hr, for less than a minute ride, our throat was out of liquid, hair stood up, and crippled our balance. It drained our energy but the experience was worth to remember.

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At 03:30pm, we left the Ferrari to travel back to Dubai. We’re back in our hotel at 5pm. We took a nap to recharge the energy lost in Ferrari Park.

At 7pm, our travel agent picked us for the two-hour Dhow Cruise which started after an hour. The foods were international cuisines but more on Indian dishes.  Majority of tourists on board were from India. We cruised the riverbank for dinner and short dancing show. A little disappointment for I expected to see more of beautiful attractions on night scene and entertainment like what I experienced before in Bangkok.

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