A Lifetime Trip

…creating colorful memories


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A day well spent at Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi

A Day Well Spent at Chandni Chowk, Purani Dilli

Homework well done

Part of Mughal emperor’s Shah Jahan’s capital Shahajanabad, the old part of Delhi, now popularly called Purani Dilli, is deeply entrenched in heritage, culture, chaos, commotion and dotted with various mesmerizing sights. The crowded by-lanes reek of history, which is what the charm of the area is all about. And the crown of Purani Dilliis the boisterous and legendary Chandni Chowk, reminiscent of an era gone by, yet so famous and teeming with people all the time.

Having read so much about this place and wanting to experience the charming place myself, I decided to spend a day in Chandni Chowk.

How I reached

I have heard people say that reaching Chandni Chowk earlier was a nightmare. But the metro connectivity has made the old city easily accessible. I too boarded the Delhi Metro for a comfortable ride. As I alighted from the station right into Chandni Chowk, the buzz and liveliness of the place both shocked and enchanted me at the same time! From here on, I began to explore everything I had mentally noted down in a quick checklist in preparations for today. I was capable of walking throughout the market, but could not resist the thrills of a rickshaw ride, amidst close and tight jammed up vehicles on the road.

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Pic Credits: Pinterest

Religious tolerance in complete harmony

What I found remarkable is that the marketplace has been here for three centuries and all possible faiths co-exist in this small area in total harmony. This is clear with the presence of the 16th century Digambara Jain Temple, next to the Hindu Gauri Shankar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Up ahead there is the Svetambra Jain Temple, also the famed Sunheri Masjid, a mosque. The other end of the street is flanked by the holy Sikh Sisganj Gurudwara! Mini secular India, exemplary for the entire nation, don’t you agree? And one can walk into any of these religious and revered premises without inhibition, regardless of one’s faith.

Temples_JainPic Credits: Pinterest

Shoppers haven

I found myself gazing with marvel at the varied bazaars, each one a theme market.  The Dariba Kalan Road is a haven for exquisite craftsmen who have been creating wonderful jewelry for generations. The Kinari Bazaar is colorful and is dedicated to the Indian wedding extravaganza, the bridal embellishments and zari outfits being the most coveted! The cloth bazaar of the Katra Neel beckoned me with the finest of linen. The Bhagirath Palace showed glittering lampshades, electrical lights and modern medical equipment. It is also the wholesale centre for allopathic machines. Perfect example of old traditional wares adapting well to the modern wonders.

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Pic Credits: Pinterest

The best part that I liked was that the streets were full of tourists jostling for space with shoppers. Also dealing in bulk buying were traders from all over India, the northern part in particular. I was then told that Chandni Chowk is a hub for wholesale prices and many merchants operating in NCR and across the country come here to get bulk stocks. Interesting!

Tempting Eateries

Chandni Chowk is a gastronomical delight, with enticing smells of delicious foods tempting you from every nook and corner. I had gone empty stomach to be able to relish as many as possible of these culinary treats! I started out with the famousParanthe Wali Gali, where desi-ghee parathas of every imaginable stuffing are served with sumptuous accompaniments! Too heavy, but oh so tantalizing! And the malai lassiwas simply irresistible!

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Pic Credits: Pinterest

Then to satisfying my sweet tooth, I headed to the Jalebiwala. I really wonder how they manage to make such heavenly jalebis? Is it syrup or pure nectar that runs through the twisted veins of the jalebis?

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Pic Credits: Pinterest

After walking around a bit, I felt that my stomach may be able to accommodate just a teeny weeny more. So off I headed to the reputed Natraj’s Dahi Bhalle counter, established in 1940.  The dish was the best ever, tangy and digestive, with the softest of bhallas served with delicious tamarind chutney! The rush at this famous eatery was unimaginable . The staff was smiling and courteous, quite oblivious to and seemingly unperturbed by the awaiting frenzied crowd!

Took a bite of the rabri-falooda at Gianiji Ka Falooda and got some sinful sweets packed from Ghantewala Halwai and some namkeens from Kanwarji Bhagirathmal Dalbhajiwallah, having being too full by now! So much for the gastronomic adventures! Chandni Chowk lived up to its reputation to the hilt! And the rates are so reasonable!

A promise…

One day is surely not enough to enjoy the wonderful and enchanting Chandni Chowk. I did manage to get a small glimpse of it in one day. As I walked in the narrow alleys, I felt myself deported back in time and I could imagine the people living there decades and perhaps centuries ago. The perfect way to enjoy heritage at its best!


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Why I lost my heart at Taj Mahal

Why I Lost my Heart at Taj Mahal

Every Indian or a tourist to India wants to be able to see the legendary Taj Mahal. I too had planned a trip to visit the great architectural wonder in the city of Agra in UP. Having heard of the beauty and the stories around this Wonder of the World, it had been my long awaited dream to come face to face with this famed monument of love.

Arrival in anticipation

I arrived in Agra, a walled city where there is an amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim history, evident in its rich architecture and culture. My hotel window gave me the most gorgeous view of the Taj, at a premium rate of course! But all was worth it, as I gazed at the monument in the setting sun, bowing mentally to its grandeur, unable to wait excitedly for the next day when I would be able to visit it in person.

The day of the visit

I had to go by taxi to a parking lot, where I procured my entry ticket and from where the rickety charming rickshaw took me to the entrance of the Taj Mahal.

I felt my excitement grow as I approached the mausoleum.  The front façade gate is simple and doesn’t give the slightest of hint of what lies behind. As soon as I stepped into the archway of the gate, I got my first glimpse! Having seen so many pictures of the Taj Mahal before, I was sure I knew what to expect. How wrong I was!

My first encounter

It was a picture perfect scene. The white glazing marble beauty, with reflecting waters and the green courtyard, against the backdrop of the sky, was enchanting. In its simplicity and austerity!  For a while I forgot all about my surroundings and stood gaping! I must have dropped my jaw wide open in wonder I guess!

Taj mahal

A slight brushing of another visitor against my shoulder woke me up from my reverie! The best known symbol of India is every bit true to its fame. Perfectly symmetrical structures that compose a geometric wonder have many a mathematician wondering as to how such precision could be achieved in those times. Having read up so many facts about it as a prelude to the visit, I too felt the same questions popping in my mind, as I traced the perfectly smooth circumference of one of the minarets!

The legend

One of the rare attractions of this wonder is the awe it creates in both the poets that draw inspirations from it for their compositions, as well as architects that try to understand the flawless execution of the construction of this majestic edifice.

The lovely story of Shah Jahan, having built this beautiful mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, feels to be lingering in the air around the Taj. As I walked in and around, I could feel a sense of unexplainable mystery, as if the love is still very much thriving between the two. Biggest testimony that the emperor was able to accomplish what he aimed for – that his love for his queen is known for centuries!

Some more than is said always

The intricate carvings and inlay work in the walls was so beautiful! I wondered at how the craftsman from Persian and Mughal schools of architecture had gained such mastery. Completely immersed in my thoughts, I took rounds of the monument again and again and then went inside the tombs that are imitations of the real ones below. The scene inside was serene and equally captivating! The trellis work which allowed light to trickle inside was awesome!

Gazing inside the actual tombs from above left me with a mixed feeling of awe and a tingling sensation of feeling where I could vividly imagine the bodies of the emperor and his wife lying next to each other in peace forever. I bowed mentally to their undying love!

Adieu with a heavy heart

As I left the breathtaking beauty, I felt a bit sad, sure that I had left a part of me with it. Yet I felt richer, as I carried a part of the love and beauty of the Taj with me. So we became part of one another. Why? I can’t answer that. Such is the enigma of the Taj!

Perhaps it is this magnetic force that draws such reactions from each one of its visitors. This is what makes Taj Mahal stand out from the other monuments of the era and beyond. I was very lucky to have experienced this charisma first-hand. Will you?


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India for a solo traveler

India is a mine of cultural gems, vibrant and poignant. There are many ways to experience its warmth, charms, romance and intriguing traditions. Many travelers, both from the country’s own soils and others from global lands, like to traverse the length and breadth of this huge country alone.

Whilst this gives you a chance to travel as you like and is the perfect recipe for adventure, it is good to travel responsibly to enjoy and cherish your trip. Here are a few tips that can come in handy while you take the solo path to enjoy ‘Incredible India’!

 

  • Take it slow

India is a vast country and it simply cannot be covered in a single trip, unless you are stretching it on for months. Instead of making your trip hectic, localize your visit to cover destinations that are close to each other. This saves time, is budget friendly and can give you more time to explore the intricacies of each place that you visit. If you desire, make multiple trips to cover different parts of this beautiful country. The more you see of this wonderful land, the more you will be left yearning for – that is a promise!!

  • Carry first-aid and some handy snacks

Pack in come usual medicines and a first-aid kit, in case you need them when you travel alone. Medical shops may not be available everywhere and in any case may not stock up what you need. Likewise, pack in a few energy bars and light snacks, at least for the initial days till you get familiar how to move around.

  • Understand the Indian culture and mindset

India is a traditional land, and one with many religions. The culture by and large is one that respects people. Before visiting a place, read up about its culture and the general thought-process of the inhabitants.  This will help you mingle in better especially when you interact with the locals. Dress moderately, especially if you plan to visit places of religious worship, as some of these have some basic rules for dress codes.

  • Give Indian hospitality a chance

Indians by nature are very friendly and open up easily in fluent and warm verbal exchanges. These are valuable opportunities to get insights about their beliefs, lifestyles and you might learn a few things that may not be available in any tourist brochure. These glimpses of local life will stay with you forever! You can get handy and practical tips from the locals as well. You never know, you could end up forging a real friendship!

  • Taste the local flavors first hand

If you have been to India and not savored its gastronomic delights, you’ve missed something awesome! India is a land of spices, and flavor and food habits change every few miles. Pamper your taste buds with the local dishes. Most of the hotels and restaurants will dole out these for you lovingly, being their pride and tradition! If you are the adventurous type, ditch the expensive hotels and head down the by-lanes and streets for the true Indian cuisine wonders.

Be aware that some of these eating joints may have hygiene issues, so be sure to check them out well. Also, Indians go high on spices, masala and oil, so be careful what you pick to eat!

  • Avoid travel at night

It is advisable to travel during the day, since you are traveling alone, as far as possible. Avoid going into the city or desolate areas around dusk and later. This is even more important if you are a woman. If you do have to travel at night, be sure to use public and well-habited modes of transport such as trains or planes.

  • Stay Connected and Safe

Enjoy the joys of the virtual connectivity, and keep your family and loved ones informed about your safety. Use Wi-Fi hot-spots and Internet mobility to send regular updates back home. Buy a local calling card or a local mobile SIM card and talk to your family at least once a day. You can purchase a SIM card at the International Airport on arrival and saves you a lot of hassles/formalities to procure one outside. Every International Airport in India has telecom operators, selling these cards inside the airport. Download some of the safety apps on your mobile and configure them for emergency contact numbers for emergency.

  • Never compromise on your accommodation

Save in other places, but never compromise on the quality of your accommodation, since this is linked to safety and your well-being. Having a good manager with helpful staff is very important to make you feel happy and relaxed. Choose a budget hotel or warm family home-stay options if you want to cut costs, but one that is well known and has good reviews.

  • Don’t be wary of public transport

Public transport is safer as compared to taxis. They are cheaper too, especially the buses and trains. They also give you a good chance to meet locals and interact with them! Check out the bus, metro and train routes well in advance when you make your detailed plans. Download mobile apps of Indian Railways, Metro routes & bus routes. India is a technologically advanced country now, we have a lot of such technology readily available.

  • Don’t stick to the tourist hot-spots

Touristy places may sound ‘safer’, but are also commercialized and overcrowded. You may find a pleasant village tucked away nearby, relatively untouched by the money-making frenzy. This could be the perfect quaint place to visit, even though it may not have fancy offerings. This shall give you genuine first-hand experience to soak in the local ambience, perhaps at the cost of a bit of compromise on comfort. Don’t miss it!

  • Don’t forget to keep a self-defense weapon with you

Being safe and well-equipped for any unforeseen emergency is always good. Carry a handy weapon like a pocket-knife or the very suave and effective pepper-spray with you. Hopefully, you shall never need it, but it’s always good to be prepared, isn’t it?

So go on let the country soak you in its myriad colors and inspire you. Never cease to be surprised, as each of the 29 states has its own set of unique dialects, languages, food, culture and traditions. Travel well, travel smartly, safely and enjoy a memorable trip!

You might like to read more on traveling to India below:


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Golden Triangle with Ganges- 9 Nights 10 Days

Itinerary:

Day 01: Delhi
On arrival you will be welcomed by our representative and then you will be transferred to the Hotel. After some refreshment proceed to cover the city attractions i.e. Red Fort, Jama Maszid, Chandni Chowk and in the evening back to Hotel.

Day 02: Delhi
After breakfast proceed to cover the rest of the City Attractions of New Delhi i.e. Parliamant House, Lotus Temple, Humayun’s Tomb, Quotab Minar and India Gate. Later evening back to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 03: New Delhi To Jaipur (248 Kms/ 5 Hrs)
After breakfast, you will be taken to Jaipur. Check in to Hotel and after some refreshment proceed to cover the city attractions i.e. City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. In the evening visit local market of Pink City and enjoy your time at Chaukhi Dhani- Traditional ethnic Resort(on your own), then back to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 04: Jaipur
After breakfast proceed to visit city attraction covering Amber Fort enjoy elephant ride to the fort, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar (observatory), City Palace & Museum. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 05: Jaipur- Fatehpur Sikri- Agra (250 Kms/ 5 Hrs)
Early morning after breakfast checkout from the hotel and proceed towards Agra. Enroute visit Fatehpur Sikri, a perfectly preserved red sandstone “ghost town” which was the estranged capital of Mughal Emperor Akbar, built in 1569 and deserted when its water supply failed. Evening will be at leisure. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 06: Taj Mahal and transfers to Varanasi (overnight by train)
Morning at sunrise visit the magnificent Taj Mahal – one of the seven wonders of the world surely the most extravagant expression of love, built by Shah Jahan’s in honour of his beloved wife. After breakfast, checkout from hotel and visit the Agra Fort – the rusty and majestic red sandstone fort of Agra standing on the banks of the river Yamuna. Check out the local market in evening and Later transfer to railway station to board the overnight train to Varanasi.

Day 07: Varanasi
Arrive in Varanasi, known as India’s most sacred city and oldest living city situated on the western bank of the holy river Ganga. As a place for devotion and worship, with hundreds of temples dotting the city, sunrise on the river front as seen from a boat can be a spiritually uplifting sight. Varanasi is the city which cannot be described, but only experienced. Meet our representative at the railway station and transfers to your hotel. Later sightseeing of Varanasi (the oldest and holiest city of India) covering temples, Aurangzeb’s Mosque and one of the biggest universities in India. Evening view an “Aarti” ceremony on the Ghats. Overnight at hotel.

Day 08: Varanasi- Sarnath- Varanasi
Morning boat cruise at the river Ganges to observe the way of life of pilgrims by the Ghats. Later an excursion to Sarnath, 10 kms east of Varanasi, is one of the Buddhism’s major centres of India. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha came to Sarnath where he gave his first sermon. Visit the deer park and the museum and later return to Varanasi.

Day 09: Varanasi – Delhi ( By Flight )
After a relaxed breakfast, in time transfers to airport for flight to Delhi. Arrive in Delhi and transfer to hotel. Remaining day free to relax or do some last minute shopping.

Day 10: Drop at Airport
After breakfast, checkout from hotel and transfers to Delhi Airport for your onward flight to next destination with memories of ALifetimeTrip of India.

 

Hotel Details

Jewel (3*):

  • Delhi- Sarovar Portico/ Similar
  • Jaipur- Welcome ITC Traditional Heritage Haveli/ Mahal Khandela/ Similar
  • Agra- Taj Vilas/ Royale Residency/ Similar
  • Varanasi- Hotel India/ Similar

Classic (4*):

  • Delhi- Holiday Inn/ Similar
  • Jaipur- Country Inn/ Similar
  • Agra- Howard Plaza/ Similar
  • Varanasi- Hotel Hindustan International/ Similar

Luxury and Elegant (5*):

  • Delhi- Le Meridian/ Hilton/ Similar
  • Jaipur- Hilton/ Similar
  • Agra- Wyndham Grand/ Radisson / Similar
  • Varanasi- Radisson / Similar

Royal and Heritage (5*):

  • Delhi- ITC Maurya/ Similar
  • Jaipur- ITC Rajputana/ Similar
  • Agra- ITC Mughal/ Similar
  • Varanasi- Taj Ganges/ Similar

Price:  Enquire NOW for best deals and services.

 

Inclusions:

  • 8 Nights Stay on twin/triple sharing basis- as applicable.
  • 1 Night in air conditioned sleeper class train as per the itinerary.
  • Train tickets for Agra – Varanasi in 2 tier airconditioned sleeper class.
  • Private Transfers and movement to monuments.
  • Breakfast and Taxes.
  • AC Car Indigo for 2-3 people, Innova for 4-6 people.
  • Rickshaw Ride at Delhi.
  • Tonga ride in Agra.
  • 1 Dinner at Choki Dhani
  • Elephant ride to Amber Fort, Jaipur. (Subject to availability).
  • Morning Boat ride on holy river Ganga in Varanasi.
  • Evening Aarti at Varanasi.
  • Services of local tour guide at all places.
  • All Monument Entry Fees.
  • Toll Tax and Parking.
  • Driver Allowance.
  • GST of 3.09%

Exclusions:

  • Lunch and Dinner.
  • Air/Rail/Bus Fair.
  • Personal Expenses in Hotel like tips, beverages and laundry.
  • Visa/ Insurance costs.
  • Cost incurred in case of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Camera Charges.
  • Anything not mentioned except Inclusions.


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Golden Triangle- Pushkar Fair Special

Itinerary:

Day 01: Delhi: On arrival you will be welcomed by our representative and then you will be transferred to the Hotel. After some refreshment proceed to cover the city attractions i.e. Red Fort, Jama Maszid, Chandni Chowk and in the evening back to Hotel.

Day 02: Delhi
After breakfast proceed to cover the rest of the City Attractions of New Delhi i.e. Parliamant House, Lotus Temple, Humayun’s Tomb, Quotab Minar and India Gate. Later evening back to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 03: Delhi To Agra (180 Kms/ 5 Hrs)
Early morning after breakfast checkout from the hotel and proceed towards Agra. Check in to Hotel and after some refreshment proceed to visit Tajmahal and Agra Fort. In the evening visit the local market of Agra and then back to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 04: Agra To Jaipur (248 Kms/ 5 Hrs)
After breakfast drive to Jaipur. On arrival check-in at hotel, evening visit Birla Mandir & Albert Hall Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 05: Jaipur
After breakfast proceed to cover city attraction covering Amber Fort enjoy elephant ride to the fort, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar (observatory), City Palace & Museum. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 06: Jaipur to Pushkar (132 kms / 2 hrs)
After an early morning breakfast drive to enchanting city of Pushkar. This place is known for its Brahma Temple that is believed to be one of the few temples dedicated to Lord Brahma in the country. Spend time upon the ghats of Pushkar and also visit all the three sacred lakes of Pushkar.
Every November, Pushkar comes alive with a riot of colors and a frenzied burst of activity for Pushkar Fair. Most people associate the Pushkar Fair with the world’s largest camel fair. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 06: Pushkar to Delhi (405 Kms/ 7 Hrs)
Early morning after breakfast checkout from the Hotel and proceed towards New Delhi where you will be dropped at Railway Station or Airport for your onward journey. Tour Ends with memories of ALifetimeTrip.

 

Hotel Details:

ACCOMMODATION
DESTINATIONS LUXURY DELUXE STANDARD
     
Jaipur Country Inn / Similar Traditional Heritage Haveli / Similar Radoli House / Similar
Delhi Holiday Inn / Similar Sarovar Portico/ Similar Sunstar Heights/ Similar
Agra Howard Plaza / Similar Royal Residency/ Similar Amar Yatri Niwas / Similar
Pushkar Aaram Bagh / Hotel Kishan Palace The Third Eye/ Prem Villas Sajjan Bagh/ Similar

 

Price(per person)

NO OF PAX LUXURY DELUXE STANDARD
(COST PER PERSON)      
02 PAX 29200 19250 14629
03 PAX 24000 15536 11166
04 PAX 24888 15687 11250
05 PAX 22551 14176 9778
06 PAX 23192 13933 9333

 

Inclusions-

  • Stay on Double/ Triple occupancy as applicable.
  • Transfers and movement to monuments.
  • Breakfast in menu plan.
  • AC Car- Indigo upto 3 pax and Innova upto 6 pax.
  • Toll Tax and Parking.
  • Driver Allowance.
  • GST of 3.09%

Exclusions-

  • Meal- Lunch and Dinner
  • Any monument entry fees.
  • Air/Rail/Bus Fair.
  • Any guide charges
  • Personal Expenses in Hotel.
  • Camera Charges.
  • Anything not mentioned except inclusions.