It’s rare for me to hear Filipinos talk about India as a dream destination. In my social circles, I only know of four people who have been there (and that includes me). All four of us went to see India on official business–graduate school, work conference. But the side trip to its landmarks pleasantly surprised us. Hence, the first (
hopefully I could follow up soon) of my year-long overdue travelogue about one of the largest countries in the world.
Based on the places we visited, I say that India is a must-visit for history buffs, old souls, and vintage enthusiasts. But then, there is a whole other India for nature lovers and adventure seekers. To cover that other side (Goa in the south, and the Himalayas up north), another two weeks or more must be allotted. Someday, I’d go back to India and visit its northern most parts to see the Himalayas.
But for now, let me share through more photos, less words (yeah, right, haha!) how we DIY’ed our way across four cities. I’ll list the landmarks we’ve visited, and hopefully continue this travelogue with more details per city
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As the conference we attended was held in Mumbai, this itinerary will start in Mumbai, move to Jaipur to Agra, and fly out of New Delhi. But feel free to do it in reverse. AirAsia has direct flights from Manila to Mumbai and New Delhi so it should be easy to book affordable flights.
Mumbai is huge. I had a record-breaking 30, 000++ steps on our first day exploring the city. One can definitely stay beyond two days, but that was the only luxury we had after the conference. Here’s a quick list of the places we visited and where we ate, and stayed after the conference.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel across the Gateway of India. At night, it is filled with fairytale-like lights and surrounded by horse-drawn carriages; during the day, it is flocked with locals and tourists running for coffee and booking tickets to the Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Powai Plaza is the business district in Southwest Mumbai. It has banks, money changers, shopping centers, and a lot of pretty buildings.
Bandra Area is a posh district in West Mumbai. We even saw a Bollywood film shooting some scenes while we were strolling the Bandra Bandstand. Our local friends said the actor being filmed that time is one of their most famous leading men. We also bought most of our pasalubongs from the thrift shopping center in this district. And DO NOT MISS trying out Mumbai street food in Elco Veg Restaurant!
Bandra Bandstand, where I also realized how close to the equator India is because the sun looked HUGE or really close by.
Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach is a good stretch for discovering more local food and more Mumabi architecture from old to present times. We got lost a bit but walking around also led us to the C.S.T (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) train station, where a famous scene in Slumdog Millionare was filmed. A block or two away from the station is my absolute favorite because it was BOOKSALE HEAVEN. If you’d ask me what’s my best takeaway from my India trip — it would be that I was finally able to buy a complete Narnia collection for only 600 PESOS!
From Mumbai, we rode the train going to Jaipur. This ride took about 18 hours in total. We left some minutes past 11PM on Sunday, and arrived in Jaipur around 5:30PM the next day. Also, this was my first real train ride, y’know.. the kind with scenery, lots of time for reading (and sleeping), and also the crew served breakfast, lunch and snacks!
Jaipur and Agra
Jaipur, dubbed as the Pink City, is a vibrant city. Bursting with museums, old palaces, and temples, the city is royally fit for old souls. Jaipur is also less crowded than Mumbai, Agra, and New Delhi so walking/driving around was a breeze. In two days, we were able to see Chokhi Dhani, Hawa Mahal, Amber Palace, Jaigarh Fort, City Palace Jaipur, Jantar Mantar, Jal Mahal, Albert Hall Museum, Jama Masjid, and Agra’s Taj Mahal.
With a limited time, we arranged the services of Sukhdev Choudhary of Choudhary Tours and Travels. You can contact him at 09929577870, 08385023207, and/or [email protected] He drove us around Jaipur for one full day, and took us to the Taj Mahal in Agra before dropping us off to our hotel in New Delhi. He is a really cautious driver with a warm personality. He made sure we’re having a good time and was never pushy about his recommendations on where to eat, who to hire as tour guide, etc. He recommended the best tour guides for huge palaces where we might appreciate a local’s perspective.