In May 2008 I went to India to travel the area known as the Golden Triangle (New Delhi, Jaipur in Rajasthan and Agra) to do some sightseeing, go to IPL Twenty 20 Cricket matches and to take a side trip to Ranthambore National Park to see Bengal Tigers. I have kept my travel emails from that trip, so I thought it might be fun to repost them here and add a few photos. This blog is Part 2 of that journey (New Delhi and Jaipur).
May 18th, 2008
Well the adventures continue….
I visited Mughal Emperor Humayun’s Tomb a UNESCO world heritage site in New Delhi. Built between 1569-1570 (14 years after his death), it was the first tomb of it’s type in India and inspired several major architectural innovations, which resulted ultimately in the construction of the Taj Mahal a century later. A beautiful place, I ended up exploring the tombs and temples with a bunch of Indian bikers which was interesting to say the least!
The Indian Premier League cricket (IPL) match in New Delhi was an awesome experience – packed house, lots of sixes, crowd got a bit rowdy and the game actually stopped for a while – someone hit the captain of the Deccan Chargers in the head with an object (thrown in from the crowd), then they had to relocate the cheerleaders due to the crowd who were throwing things at them also! But other than that it was an exciting game which came down to the last over, then one of the Delhi Bowlers got a hat trick to finish off Deccan. A highlight of this game for me was to watch Australian cricket legends Glenn McGrath (Daredevils) and Adam Gilchrist (Chargers) play as both of them are retired from playing for Australia now.
To get to that game I went on the back of a motorbike with the Chef from my hotel – he was going to the game as well – now that was a relatively “terrifying” experience – traffic was chaotic – especially the cow running on the road in the opposite direction to us!!! Kind of like a cow running down Victoria Parade in Melbourne (a very busy city road)!
Since then I went by train to Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan, a beautiful place – the curfew from the terrorist bombings had ended and the city has returned to normal life. There is still a heavy police presence though, which is good. They are stationed in numbers around tourist spots in the city.
I visited two very ornate and beautiful Royal palaces in Jaipur the City Palace (the seat of the Maharaja. construction began in 1732, but additions were still being made up until 1890) and Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh the then ruler of Rajasthan. Hawa Mahal has many stone latticed windows which were said to have been designed to allow the royal ladies to watch events outside the palace such as processions and everyday life without being seen (they were under the strict observance of purdah, which did not allow men to see them).
I made a trip to the Amber Fort which is about 6.8 mile/11 km out of town in the mountains. The fort once home to the Rajput Maharajas was a particularly impressive sight up high on the hill in the desert like conditions with its huge walls and ornate palace behind them (built in 1592). A fascinating place to visit.
Attended another IPL cricket match in Jaipur between the Rajasthan Royals (captained by retired Australian spin bowling legend Shane Warne) and the Chennai Super Kings (captained by great Indian cricketer M.S. Dhoni) – Shane Warne almost got a hat trick and took an awesome caught and bowled – he retired from international cricket too soon! Rajasthan won the match by 10 runs which was great as the local crowd were ecstatic!
I have a story about what happened trying to get into that game – security was in lockdown mode due to the earlier bombings – I went there by auto-rickshaw, went to go into the gate, to find out that mobile phones were not allowed (my understanding was that only cameras were not allowed). So I had to go back into town and leave it at the hotel, then make my way back again.
Went to the same gate – to be told this time that you can not take in a hat or sunglasses (it’s well over 40 degrees celsius / 104+ F every day here)!! – What??? I was wearing them the first time – with no mention of this!!! Anyway – it was happening to everyone – including locals. All they were doing was throwing all these things into a big pile (there was no way they would still be there at the end of the match). So l was lucky enough to see 2 Rajasthan State Policemen that I had talked to earlier, one of them said he would look after my things. A risk, but I wasnt going back to the hotel again!
True to his word the policeman was there waiting with my things after the game. I declared him the number 1 cop in Rajasthan and gave my commendation to his mustachioed sergeant.
Funnily enough all my antics during the game (chants and cheers, especially when Warnie was bowling) and the security incidents somehow made me the 3rd most famous Aussie in Jaipur that night (after Shane Warne and Shane Watson from the Rajasthan Royals) – people coming up to me talking during the match, joining in on the chants and cheers, even asking me at the end of the game if I got my stuff back! Admittedly there were not many Caucasians in the crowd so I did stand out a bit. I can’t tell you how many photos I have been in with locals! I even got on local TV with this crowd of people around me playfully chanting and cheering after the game. A very funny moment and a major experience in my travels!
Anyway – now I am in the city of Agra for some cultural sightseeing (again travelled by train – I am in the section up from “cattle class”, I couldn’t imagine travelling long distances packed in there with so many people). I plan to see the famous Taj Mahal tomorrow.