A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about agra

1) Introduction & India


Welcome to our travelling blog, it's been a long time coming. Mat started writing one and I was writing in a journal. Then he decided he would just take the photographs instead, so I typed all my journal up. This works well because the less I have to get my phone out the better, as I'm fairly clumsy and it's likely that at some point it will end up over the side of a boat. Plus Mat doesn't know big words such as sesquipedalian, beleaguered and exacerbate which you'll see me use frequently throughout this blog.

Firstly I need to explain some TLA's (three letter acronyms) to my parents, or much of it might not make sense to them:-
Tbf = To be fair
Tbh = To be honest
Atm = At the moment
Cba = Can't be arsed
Wtf = What on earth!
Lol = Laugh out loud (No Mum, this isn't lots of love)

Secondly I should probably warn you that there are some naughty words in here.. (sorry Dad) But sometimes you just can't get your point across without chucking a shit in here and there.
Lots of the factual information I've used has been lifted straight from Wikipedia so it's probably a load of bollocks.

I think we've covered everything.. Happy reading!

This is us at Heathrow Airport on 11/12/2014


India hit me like a sack of shit. Like a sack of shit falling from a really, really great height. All the research I did, all the pictures I saw, none of it prepared us enough. Many of the brochures and guides on the Internet paint India as a dazzling, multicultural developing country with beautiful ladies swirling around in brightly coloured sari's offering you tasty fruit with beautiful smiles. Perhaps that actually happens when you are tucked away on the coast somewhere in a 5* resort paying hundreds of pounds a night, but this is not the India I saw. Liam tried to warn us not to fly in to Delhi if we could help it, but we did anyway. For me, India wasn't a country I instantly fell in love with. It was a slow burner, but it was probably a good idea to start with Delhi as the places we saw only got better after that and I grew to like India more.

Day 2 - Saturday 13th December - Delhi (National Capital Territory of Delhi

Last night was a nightmare. We found our way out of the airport, asked some advice about taxi's from a passer by and managed to get in one. The drive to the hotel was insane. I'd read about the blatant disregard for lanes and the constant honking, but this was a million times more mental than I'd expected. Especially after a 14 hour flight. I could tell Mat wasn't in a good way because he was mostly uncommunicative except a hand squeeze every time we almost crashed. I tried to sit back and enjoy the chaos, but as we arrived in Karol Bagh the panic started to rise in me. The driver didn't know where the hotel was and barely spoke any English. Every time he stopped to asked someone, they would peer in to the car, looking us up and down and not in a particularly friendly way. After asking lots of people, a few wrong turns and a phone call we eventually arrived at The Hotel Grand Park Inn at about 10pm, I was so relieved I almost cried. The hotel was ok, I was just so happy to be off the streets that I'd have stayed at any hotel I think. We shared a paneer makhani and then went to sleep. I woke up at 1:30, completely jet lagged, wondering if we'd made a terrible mistake. I was completely overwhelmed by the last few hours and promptly burst into tears because it had started to dawn on me that I was in the strangest country I had ever been in and felt so out of my depth. I told Mat that I missed my Mum already, which made me cry even more. Ridiculous! We both had broken sleep after that, although Mat made me feel loads better.

Day 3 - Sunday 14th December - Delhi and Agra

I felt much better today. The rest of the tour group are really nice and Manu our tour guide is hilarious. Mat just shared a meal for 2 with Sam because I'm not eating meat or fish now. Today we started the tour with a street walk around Delhi. The smell of Delhi is unbelievable, it permeates everything; hair, clothes, skin. It smells like shit and piss and sickness and food. This city has absolutely blown my mind. The things I have seen and how they have made me feel, I will never forget. We visited a boys orphanage today run by the Salam Balaak Trust. They seemed happy we were there and happy in general, but I did feel as if they were expected to perform for our benefit, so it was quite a bizarre situation and I wasn't really sure what to do. We ended up posing for pictures with them and then showing them, which they seemed to like. After this we got on the metro which was frightening! People were pushing and shoving their way on, like London Underground at 5pm on a Friday only about a million times worse. We also visited a Sikh Temple today which was really nice. They offer a free meal to anyone that needs one regardless of race or religion and we got to see it all being made onsite. I can't really remember anything else of what we've seen or where we've been today, I've mostly had my head down dodging shit and pot holes or trying not to get run over. It's exhausting. Later we drove to Agra. I can remember Brian telling me that it was a shit hole and he's not wrong. I'm still being stared at absolutely everywhere we go and even though I'm telling myself it's just the Indians curious nature, it's still hard to feel hundreds of eyes on you constantly. I guess it's just something I'll have to get used to. We've just eaten as a group in the Hotel Royal Agra. Had a paneer tikka masala, maybe I'll get more adventurous as time goes on!

Mat and Sam's romantic dinner at the hotel in Agra

The boys at the Salaam Balaak Trust - New Delhi. The trust is an India non-profit, non-governmental organisation which provides support for street and working children in the inner cities of Delhi and Mumbai. They welcome all children under 18 years of age, providing food, shelter, education, medical support, counselling and anything else these at risk children may need.

The Sikh Temple, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib - Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. This temple marks the site the ninth Sikh Guru was beheaded by the Mughal Emperor for refusing to convert to Islam

Mat helping to make some roti's in the Sikh Temple. He was rubbish and they all laughed

Some delicious veggie koftas at a restaurant in Agra

Fatehpur Sikri, abandoned ghost city - Agra. The Mughal Emperor Akbar, constructed this city which took 15 years and is made of red sandstone. It was abandoned in 1585 shortly after its completion due to lack of water and proximity to areas of turmoil.






The Agra Fort - Agra. This fort was originally built by the Mughals in the 11th century. The Mughal Emperor Akbar arrived in 1558 and made it his capital. It was in a ruined condition by then and he rebuilt it with red sandstone which was worked on daily by 4000 builders for 8 years

Day 4 - Monday 15th December - Bharatpur (Rajasthan)

In a beautiful hotel in Bharatpur. It's clean and bright with a balcony and a fantastic view. Mat's gone out for a village walk with his buddies, I needed some alone time. Saw the Taj Mahal today, it was beautiful. The sun came out today too, the first bit of sun we've had since arriving. Indians amaze me; they'd taken the time, effort and money to get to the Taj and all they wanted to do was take pictures of us. They must think we're daft, positioning their friends exactly in front of us for a picture haha. I'm getting firmer with hawkers, they seem to bother me the least out of the whole group - must be my unfriendly face and perma-scowl.
I'm feeling so relaxed today. As we were driving out of the city I could see the fields and blue sky and there was less rubbish around and the people seem happier too. When I look out of our window there's a field for as far as the eye can see and people working in it. I've just watched two ladies in brightly coloured sari's cross the field with huge sacks on their head. This feels closer to the perfect India I had in my mind before we arrived and it feels nice to know that maybe it does exist, especially after the grey shock of Delhi. Also, I've just about got used to seeing goats in jumpers but I swear to god I saw one in a skirt today!

The Taj Mahal - Agra. The Taj is a white marble mausoleum built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, to house the remains of his third wife Mumtaz who died during the birth of their 14th child




Tour group at The Taj

Shuttle tuk tuk back from The Taj

Our lovely hotel in Bharatpur



Boozing around the fire

Some children from Mat's village walk. Because they aren't used to tourists they do not associate tourists with having money and so do not beg. They were just genuinely happy to see us, until Manu told one of them off because he got a bit excited and bit Sam on his arm haha


Day 6 - Wednesday 17th December - Jaipur (Rajasthan)

Loved yesterday. Visited Abhaneri, a lovely little village with bright colours, cut grass and not too much crap about. We visited an old step well which was amazing! After that we went to Jaipur for a walk at dusk. I much prefer Jaipur to Delhi. There were a lot less people begging and mostly everyone was working, getting on with managing their stalls and selling their products. There were so many brightly coloured clothes and fruit and veg to look at, it was fun. Then we took a cycle rickshaw ride to the cinema which was pretty scary but awesome and watched a Bollywood film called Action Jackson. There were no subtitles but I got the point. Probably wouldn't see another!

Beautiful step well at Abhaneri


Fruit & veg stall, Jaipur

Action Jackson, Bollywood Film. Every time something a bit sexy happened the cinema went wild!

Jaipur: The Pink City. So called because of the stone exclusively used for the construction of all the structures

Day 7 - Thursday 18th December - Jaipur

Today was another good day. We started at the Amber Fort which was beautiful and had to be reached by jeep. Then on to the floating palace which was ok then a museum which was fine. I'm exhausted today from trying to book flights with the hotels wifi, it's so frustrating! We finally booked a flight out of Delhi on the 20th to Bangalore which means we get another day with Chess, Sam and Manu. It was cheaper to fly from Jaipur but I don't think we quite felt ready to go it alone yet and anyway, Manu's promised us pizza and a party at his.


The Amber Fort - Jaipur. The Palace was lived in by the Rajput Maharajas and their families. They were clans of western, central, northern India and eastern Pakistan




Taj Lake Floating Palace, Udaipur. This is actually an expensive hotel

Day 9 - Saturday 20th December - Delhi Airport

Me "Did you like anything about Delhi then?"
Mat pauses "........No. But maybe I will on reflection. It's all a bit much right now..."
We're in the airport waiting for our flight to Bangalore. As soon as we got in the taxi I felt so relieved to be leaving Delhi. Maybe there are things we liked but I can't think of them right now. All I can think about is the bad stuff, the things that stay with you for the rest of your life. The three homeless girls dressed in filthy clothes in the middle of a busy road doing back flips for money. They can't have been older than 10. The man outside the Taj with hands and arms so disfigured he could only hold them across himself. The old guy, stooped and shaking so badly that he could hardly hold the flowers he was selling. A young girl leaned out of her window, gave him 10 rupees (the equivalent of 10p) and told him to keep the flowers. The tiny girl begging who was clawing at Mat's hoody as we tried to cross a road. Watching Manu tuck some rupees into the top pocket of the shirt of a man with no hands. Manu had told us as tourists, not to give any beggars money because most of them would just buy drugs and within minutes you'd be surrounded. Instead we should only give them open food that they can't sell. But how do you know? How do you differentiate between the mother who just wants to feed her children and the junkies? Everyone looks so desperate and filthy it is impossible to tell. We'd just visited a sandwich shop in Connaught Place in Delhi and Mat had gone to get some water from a stall. A tiny boy came up to me begging for money and I gazed at him and shook my head at him guilt stricken, then he pointed at the cheese sandwich in my hand and looked at me imploringly. It took me about half a second to decide to give him Mat's cheese sandwich, and about the same amount of time for him to eat it.
I watched so many people throwing their rubbish on the floor today and a man almost spat on my shoes. Lots of the men chew tobacco which stains their mouths, teeth and saliva red. It looks like little puddles of blood everywhere you go because they just spit it all over the floor. Disgusting and heartbreaking all at once.
We went for tea at Manu's last night with Chess and Sam. All four of us squished into a tiny tuk tuk. Sad to think we'll probably never see Manu again. Unfortunately after a few beers we turned into those douchebags that sit around a fire singing Oasis because somehow, in the middle of India, Mat still managed to find a guitar. We're hoping to meet up with Chess and Sam and do another country together which would be cool, maybe Laos or Vietnam. When they drove away in their taxi I wanted to run after them and shout "Please don't leave us!' And I'm scared without Manu but he said we can call him if we need to. I hope Bangalore is amazing and stress free, but I don't think anywhere in India is stress free.



Sam and Mat with their coordinated outfits. This happened on a few occasions!

Day 10 - Sunday 21st December - Bangalore (Karnataka)

After having a nightmare trying to book a coach from Bangalore to Kerala, we decided to venture out and I'm so glad we did. We successfully navigated from our hotel to MG Road which is the main strip in Bangalore. We barely attracted a look as the place is pretty westernised, which I guess is a shame and I'm slightly embarrassed that I feel relieved by that. Although we're sat in our room now watching Liverpool vs Arsenal, eating crisps and drinking beer so I guess that's about right. And we had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. Idiots. Then we went out for a few beers but it was so hot and humid that I felt all snoozy, so we took a tuk tuk back to the hotel, which was almost comfy with just the two of us in it. I've found a cheap half day tour for tomorrow that does all the sights of Bangalore which should be good and then we're going to see Raghu Dixit!

Managed to find a 'brewed on site' wheat beer!

Mat with the bassist and Raghu (below) from Raghu Dixit Band. Amazing show although we were probably the only ones not singing along as most of their lyrics are in Hindi, Kannada and Tamil languages!


Day 12 - Tuesday 23rd December - Bangalore

On Sunday night Mat started feeling really ill. He was up all night with a fever, headache, aches, shivers etc. we tried pretty much all of our medicines but he just got worse. We set out yesterday to find a pharmacy and luckily there was one inside a hospital pretty much next door to our hotel, there was no way he could have walked any further. Think the pharmacists were pretty concerned anyway because as soon as they felt his forehead they sent him straight to a doctor. Within 10 mins he was laid on a bed having blood taken with a thermometer in his armpit and a heart rate monitor clipped to his finger. I was pretty worried and almost cried when they wanted to keep him in, but then I came back to his cubicle and 2 male nurses had stripped him to his underpants and were giving him a cold water bed bath. I started pissing myself and then so did Mat and then I wasn't scared anymore. They diagnosed a bacterial infection that could have come from almost anywhere and gave him some antibiotics, He's loads better now anyway, we went out for a pizza and he shovelled that in no problems.

The Patient

Day 14 - Thursday 25th December - Bangalore

What a strange Christmas Day! Didn't really feel like Christmas at all. We had a KFC and watched The Hobbit at the cinema with Sam Selmon who we met on the tour in Delhi. Trying not to dwell too much on being away for Christmas, although now we're back at the hotel I think Mat's struggling seeing festive photo's of friends and family on Facebook. I was pretty teary yesterday myself and then we got to our next hotel and it was a bag of shite, so I cried in the lobby, paid for one night and then we left as quickly as possible. Then our tuk tuk driver tried to take us to a shop to buy his daughter a Christmas present the cheeky twat! We came back to our original hotel 'The Chevron' and they sneaked the price up, everyone's bloody at it! I reckon they think we're a bit daft now.

Merry Christmas from us and a creepy Santa

Day 16 - Saturday 27th December - Bangalore (Hyatt Hotel)

This hotel is amazing. Yesterday we laid by the pool and then went to eat at the hotel restaurant 'The Pink Poppadom' which has won loads of awards. We got 2 baskets of crispy snacks, then another small course before our starter, which was a thimble sized amount of rice that they put down in front of us. I thought they must have been taking the piss but then they poured creamed lentils over it and it became a soup! I had fig and apricot seekh kebab for starters which were amazing and then baked paneer (surprise!) for main. All great. Then an ice lolly dippy thing and then a shot of something to aid digestion. I kept trying to add up in my head how much our fine dining experience was going to cost but tbf, food is mostly cheap, until then they stick a million different taxes on it and you end up paying almost as much in England anyway. After we'd eaten we piled all our plates up neatly and the waitress came over and laughed at us, think they're used to waiting hand and foot on fat, rich business men. There was one at breakfast this morning who beckoned a waiter over,
'Can you change my chair? There's an insect on it....." Just flick it off you daft twat!
Anyway we're back by the pool, it's red hot and I'd like a bit of colour please. We've been given a late checkout of 6pm because we're on the night bus to Kochi to start our tour of Kerala.

Hotel room and pool


Just chilling in our robes

Everyone likes a good food picture

Lentil Soup

Veggie seekh kebabs

Mat's fish 4 ways

Baked Paneer

Ice lollies

Day 18 - Mon 29th December - Kochi/Munnar (Kerala)

So we got on a semi sleeper coach to Kochi. It was surprisingly comfy and we both slept most of the night. Which is mental considering how stressful it was to find the coach stop. We had it in our heads that we'd just rock up at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere and it would just arrive. WRONG! The taxi driver almost dropped us at the railway station instead of the bus station, then he couldn't find the stop for ages, then had our pants down over the price and then the coach was half an hour late. We got on it and were given different seats to what it said on our ticket, which didn't matter anyway because we had to stand up until the next stop until people got off. We finally sat down and someone had either chundered on the floor next to Mat's feet or else it was squishy old food. Either way it was super grim so we put a blanket over it and then we were on our way!
In the morning we got picked up by our driver from the coach and went to our first hotel. I managed to get across to our driver Joby that animal cruelty upsets me so we're going to a national park tomorrow instead of getting dragged to Elephant rides. Fort Kochi was cool, quite chilled. Less staring, more tourists and stall after stall of wafty pants. We got back to the hotel and after a fairly disappointing day, we felt a bit homesick and that familiar feeling of 'Am I doing the right thing, have I made a mistake?' came back. So far, the tour and the hotel are mostly uninspiring and Kochi looks just like other towns we'd seen. Shit everywhere, unfinished buildings with the odd shop selling brown bananas in between.

Our driver Joby. Top photo bomb marks to that lady

One of many nice churches seen while out and about


Jeep safari that was a bit rubbish as it was just to take us to view points not to see animals. It was so misty anyway that we couldn't see a thing

Nilgiri tahr mountain goat at Eravikulam National Park. They are found only in Southern India

This is Sree Padmanabhaswamy Hindu Temple which we weren't allowed into because we aren't Hindus

Day 19 - Tues 30th December - Munnar

I was determined to start today off more positively despite my reservations. This afternoon we got to see the Kerala that people rave about. We travelled through Munnar, the colours were amazing. The red earth and blue flowers and the churches were painted in the brightest shades and looked so well kept. All this surrounded by lush greenery was absolutely breathtaking.

Tea plantations and beautiful scenery driving in Munnar





Having a really tasty, cheap tea in Munnar here. Looking pretty tired and puffy though!

Traditional Kathakali dance. Very erm, different!

Day 22 - Friday 2nd January - Allapuzha/Kovalam (Kerala)

I feel like I've missed a thousand photo opportunities these last few days. We've seen some beautiful scenery and visited Allapuzha beach yesterday. All the locals were covered head to toe, splashing about in sari's and shawls. I wanted to take my long trousers off and jump in the sea to cool down but I managed to resist. Our hotel is great in Kovalam, we've just checked in, balcony and sea view. We're going for a boat ride in the backwaters shortly.

Poovar Island - Trivandrum


Amazing Kerala backwaters boat trip






Day 28 - Thursday 8th January - Palolem (Goa)

Haven't written for ages, been having too much fun. Arrived in Palolem, Goa, 4 days ago and having an amazing time. Spent lots of time at the beach, a day out dolphin watching on a boat and various other activities. When I think about paradise in my head, what we have here is fairly close, except for all the other people. We're in a cute little hut a stones throw from the beach, hammocks tied to palm trees and great food in beach front restaurants. Met some cool people. We've just said bye to Chris, he's travelling on his own for a year (brave!) Then there's Beccy and Nick who are just on a 3 week holiday in India. We went out for drinks and food last night and ended up at a silent disco which was ace! Palolem is only allowed silent disco's which I think is a great idea because it stops loads of wankers going and it lets the families get some sleep. We got in at 5am, we're definitely too old for this now and Mat's hanging out of his arse. Hopefully we'll manage a trip to Panaji to see the old town of Goa and fit in a massage and go kayaking before we leave but I feel like time's going so quickly here. I've settled into a routine of eat, drink, sleep, repeat. When Chris was still here I felt like he gave me strength to be vegetarian. Since he left I've gone back to eating fish and I'm so cross with myself. Mat tempted me with an amazing looking piece of calamari and I gave in. I'm a rubbish vegetarian. Hopefully I can start to cut out fish again as soon as we're away from the sea!

Beccy, Nick and Chris

Silent Disco

Our hut, Daisy Cottage

Dreamcatcher grounds


Mat in a hammock

These are animals in our hut. We didn't mind these guys so much, it was the cockroach in our bed that was a nightmare!

Freddie Frog and Larry Lizard (above)


Palolem Beach

Sunset at Palolem Beach

Cows are everywhere in India!


Beccy nicknamed this dog 'Sad Dog' because he was always getting chased by the others and they wouldn't let him play so he had a sad face

This was a happy one though

Happy to have seen some Dolphins on our trip

Another sunset

Some amazing tapas

Breakfast at D'Costa's. we ate some of the tastiest food ever here

After I had succumbed to that piece of calamari from Mat, we went out for tea that night and I had the tastiest seafood curry I had ever had in my life. It was HUGE and it was packed full of fish, prawns, squid and mussels. What a massive failure!

Met these guys on a night out, they were so funny. One of them came out to the silent disco in his underpants. Mat nicknamed him Mr. Bean which they both thought was absolutely hilarious!

Day 33 - Tuesday 13th January - Mumbai (Maharashtra)

Got up this morning and left Dreamcatcher Resort. We got a taxi to the airport and arrived in Mumbai within the hour, and then our hotel within the next hour. We're trying to keep our modes of transportation varied so that it doesn't become too much of a struggle. Our hotel is really nice and in a great location. The guys on the desk have had a look at our list of 'must visit places' and arranged a tour for us tomorrow. We've just eaten at a supposedly swanky restaurant called Manesh where there were, I shit you not, 13 staff loitering. I felt like I was in a zoo and it really pissed me off actually, so much so that I didn't fill in their review form that came with the bill. I would have written all this in the comments box but he was stood over me the whole time anyway so I daren't haha. Despite this, I'm getting a good feeling about Mumbai!

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - Mumbai. This is a five star hotel in the Colaba region of Mumbai. The hotel, which many claim offers the highest level of service in India, has hosted many notable guests from presidents to film stars. Our friend Sam Selmon managed to stay there at a reduced price the jammy bugger!

We just had to settle for Mat getting a beard trim there

The Gateway of India - Mumbai. This is a monument built during the British Raj and overlooks the Arabian Sea. It was originally used as a fishing jetty and later as a landing place for British Governors and other prominent people

Marine Drive - Mumbai. This is a 4.3km boulevard known as the Queen's necklace because at night the street lights resemble a string of pearls. This road is famous for having a beach and a lot of swish hotels

Mani Bhavan (Mahatma Ghandi's House) - Mumbai. This is a museum of honour to Ghandi and everything he did and fought for. I found this really interesting as I didn't really know much about him before this. What an amazing chap

Drying fish in the streets of Mumbai

This is a Parsi 'Tower of Death' in Mumbai. A Parsi is a member of the Zoroastrian religion found in South East Asia. Many of them migrated to India from Iran to avoid persecution by Muslim invaders. When they die, the body is taken to the tower where it is left for the vultures. Apparently Freddie Mercury was a Parsi!

Dhobi Ghat -Mumbai. Dhobi Ghat is an open air laundry that services mainly local hospitals and hotels. It was amazing to see how oraganised everything was and not a woman in sight!


Worker just catching some Z's

Washing being dropped off. This poor guy has probably just pushed this cart around most of Mumbai on his own

Day 34 - Weds 14th January - Mumbai

I'm sat outside a beautiful *Jain Temple while Mat and our guide Dilip went inside. There's a sign outside saying that menstruating women aren't allowed in because they're believed to be impure during their period apparently. At first I wished I'd kept it quiet because Mat said the Temple was so beautiful, but Dilip said that it was very respectful of me and I think he was a bit impressed so then I felt really good about it ha. We saw lots of Mumbai's sights today, I really like this city. It's a world away from Delhi although we ended up lost, in the dark down some scary looking streets and Mat shit his pants until we found the hotel. It feels good to be more comfortable and have more confidence walking around an Indian city though.

  • Jainism is an ancient religion from India that teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live a life of harmlessness and renunciation. The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul (lifted straight from Google so it's definitely correct. Probably.

The Jain Temple - Mumbai




Miscellaneous India pictures

Triple Denim

Mat having yet another hair cut and beard trim

This man is filing tiny marble pieces to inlay into tables and ornaments

View of Agra

This was an insect bite that got bigger and bigger, was insanely itchy and lasted for weeks

Some cows in a truck

Some monkeys

A tuk tuk with a million people in it

City life

Another creepy Santa


Mat and Sam in matching outfits again

A boy with some goats

See you in Sri Lanka!

Posted by jayandmat2015 02:40 Archived in India Tagged bangalore goa mumbai delhi kerala jaipur agra Comments (0)

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