I got to visit India twice in the past, once after the army for a three-month trip in the north and two and a half years ago when my husband and I decided to settle in Bangalore for two months after five months of touring the east. We were both really excited about this country and waited for an opportunity to visit it again.
A custom, personalized trip
Due to other commitments, we realized that we had only two weeks to travel in India and we wondered if it would be enough time to truly enjoy it. We tried to figure out what sort of trip we should do, and in the end, we decided to contact our friend Noam, who plans private trips to India (Noam’s email [email protected]), whom we got to know thanks to the blog. We have collaborated with him to plan and arrange our trip, and together we chose the Rajasthan area (December is a great time for a trip in this area) and built a route that fits our style of travel.
The trip lasted for two weeks, of which 12 days were full days and two days with flights. We flew by a direct flight with Air India from Tel Aviv to Delhi. The trip was a combination of luxury and local experience. There was a private driver with us throughout the trip, high-quality hotels of 4-5 stars and guides at every destination, but, we also experienced the colorful India, with traffic jams, endless sirens, filth in the streets, walking in the streets with cows, monkeys, elephants and camels around us, had amazing street food whenever possible and in fact experienced a third world country for better or worse.
During the trip we kept in touch with Noam and even made changes in the route according to our experience there (for example we canceled some of the things we had planned, because we wanted more rest time) and Noam was available for every question and request. We have never experienced a trip planned by someone else and the truth is that we were really pleased. Noam planned the trip in a great way and the whole trip went smoothly and without any problems. (Which in India is not trivial matter :)).
Our India trip itinerary
Landing in Delhi and continuing to Agra
We landed in Delhi in the morning and from there we continued directly to Agra with the driver. There are two sites in Agra that are considered mandatory for those who visit Rajasthan. The first is the Agra fortress. One of the largest fortresses in India and in our opinion one of the most impressive anywhere. The fortress has a very interesting architecture and the place itself is huge and beautiful. Anyone who is looking for a place to take photogenic pictures at, its also a great place to do that (our guide also turned out to have a talent for photography on a cell phone and took a lot of artistic pictures).
The second undisputed site is the Taj Mahal, of course.
For the visit we woke up at six in the morning to arrive at sunrise. Not surprisingly, there were already a lot of people at this hour, but if you wait patiently you can take a picture that looks like there are not many people in the area. At the Taj we hired a private photographer (there are many who wait at the entrance and you can choose one of them). The combination of the photographer and the guide who explained to the photographer what we want and what is important to us helped us take impressive pictures of the Taj Mahal, as well as learn about its history. For a detailed post on the things we did in Agra. In Agra we stayed at the five-star hotel Ramada Plaza Agra.
Agra to Jaipur and from there to Pushkar
From Agra we were supposed to continue to Pushkar, but since it was a long journey of over eight hours, it was decided that we would travel four hours to Jaipur and spend the night there and from there we would continue to Pushkar in the morning. The hotel we stayed at in Jaipur was Alsisar Haveli. In the evening we managed to go to a Bollywood movie theater and in the morning, we continued to Pushkar.
Pushkar is a kind of mini-Israel. A lot of guys come there to settle down for a few months after the army, which is why you can find lots of signs in Hebrew, Israeli food and Indians who know a little Hebrew there. But it is also a holy and calm place. There we stayed at a luxurious boutique hotel, Brahma Horizon Pushkar. We found an amazing local restaurant with high-quality food at crazy prices of NIS 3-4 for a main course. We toured the temple, the market, and the holy lake (which is very beautiful, but people toss the ashes of their loved ones in it, so my feelings for it are ambivalent). For a detailed post on things to do in Pushkar.
Pushkar to Jaipur
From Pushkar we returned to Jaipur to a hotel that looked like a palace Alsisar Haveli, a street food tour (the guide took us to small alleys to specific stalls that we would never find alone and everything was so tasty and successful), we visited the Amber Fortress which is also an impressive fortress with beautiful colored doors, well-tended gardens and fancy wall ornaments, and we also visited an astrological astronomical observatory, which is one of six such places in India. For a detailed post on things to do in Jaipur.
Jaipur to Delhi
From Jaipur we went to Delhi, one of the craziest cities I ever visited. The city is full of traffic, rickshaws, people, markets, temples. A huge dissonance between rich New Delhi and poor old Delhi.
We did a rickshaw tour in the biggest market in India (it could be a cultural shock to those who are visiting a third world country for the first time). We visited a temple that is considered one of the most beautiful in the world (unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures there, but I can tell you that this is a temple that should not be missed if you are in Delhi!)
We visited the place where Gandhi was murdered (this is the house where he spent 114 days when he arrived in Delhi, where he was also murdered during a speech against the violence. The house was turned into a museum that shows Gandhi’s inspirational life story). We visited the gateway of India (A gate which serves as a memorial for the fallen of world war one) and visited the only Bahai temple in India. The hotel we stayed at in Delhi was The Lalit New Delhi. Our detailed post about top things to do in Delhi.
Delhi to Rishikesh
From Delhi we went for a short visit to Rishikesh. It is a holy and spiritual city with a sort of spiritual peace of feel immediately upon arrival. We climbed the Neer Garh Waterfall (there are places to stop with tables in the water and you can drink coffee), we were in a spiritual ceremony held every day at five o’clock and lit a candle we sent to the river Ganges. The hotel we stayed at is Rishikesh is Divine Resort.
Although it was a short trip in terms of days, we managed to experience a lot and see lots of places and actually get some rest and indulge ourselves at hotels in the process. We chose slightly tougher route, but India is so big that anyone can find the areas that are more his style.
As for the food I know there is a concern sometimes regarding eating the street food there, but the truth is that we prefer to eat it, it is really delicious and also has a high turnover of raw materials as there are lots of people eating at street food stalls every day. However, of course, you do not have to eat street food and you can eat in clean and well-maintained restaurants. This trip left us wanting more and I have no doubt that we will return to explore more areas we have not yet seen.