My trip started in Cape Town, from where I flew to Johannesburg, to meet the eleven other members of our tour group. Once all of us were gathered, we set out on SAA, for an approximate nine-hour flight to Mumbai (Bombay).
After clearing customs and changing money, we were met by the hot and humid weather of India, followed with a flower garland greeting by representatives of Trans India Holidays, the local tour operator, which we would be travelling with during our week in India. We left for our transit hotel, to freshen up and rest before our flight later that morning onto Delhi, with Jet Airways.
Arriving in Delhi, you immediately feel the difference in temperatures between this inland city and the coastal Mumbai. The tour operator transferred us to the elegant Park Hotel, situated in the CBD of New Delhi - Connaught Place, where we did a site inspection of the hotel.
During our morning at leisure, used mainly for shopping at the local markets, we came across all the different sights, sounds and aromas, so unique to India. Colour, hustle and bustle, bargaining and BUYING is an everyday and abundant attraction.
After breakfast in one of our hotel's fine restaurants, we started our day of sightseeing, by travelling to the great mosque of Jama Masjid. Here you remove your shoes and cover your shoulders and knees, to enter this red sandstone monument, still in use today.
We drove past the Red Fort built by the famous Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, to reach Raj Ghat, the sacred cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. Afterwards, we travelled to the luxurious Hotel Oberoi, for a site inspection and delicious Chinese lunch in one of their four restaurants.
Our sightseeing continued with a trip to Humayun's Tomb ( 'Mini/Baby Taj Mahal') after which we drove past India Gate, the President's House and House of Parliament. We enjoyed dinner and a site inspection at the Hotel Connaught.
Our second day started with some more shopping, after which we 'hit the road' for about eight hours to Agra. Traffic in India is a risky business. Good brakes, good horns and good luck is a definite 'must have'. Water buffalo, cows, goats, pigs and camels form an everyday part of traffic and are forces to be reckoned with.
Check-in at the Trident Hilton Hotel, was followed by dinner, a site inspection and an early night.
Day three of our tour was kicked off with an early morning visit to the splendid Taj Mahal. It is difficult to believe that such an enormous structure, with such intricate decorations, looks today almost exactly as it did when it was first built.
Following breakfast, we invaded the local shops, resulting in some of us not being able to fit everything into our suitcases. Leather, marble, carved wood and jewellery are amongst some of the most sought after articles on sale.
The Taj View Hotel played host to our lunch and site inspection, where after we went to the formidable Red Agra Fort, where centuries of history could be felt all around. The following day took us to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur. En-route we stopped off at the haunting, deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri, which was built, occupied and abandoned all within thirteen years. Once in Jaipur, we checked-in to the fabulous Trident Hilton Hotel, often used by the Queen (Rani) of Jaipur, herself.
Our second last day was spent driving past the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) a famous landmark of this city, as well as visiting the City Palace, still used today by the King (Raj) of Jaipur. We enjoyed lunch and a site inspection at the exquisite and richly decorated five-star Rambagh Palace, once home to the Royal family.
The Jantar Mantar ancient astronomical observatory, was next on our list, after which we travelled to the stunningly beautiful Amber Fort of Jaipur. Here we ventured up the mountain on elephant back, to reach the cleverly protected citadel of old.
After returning to the city, we were welcomed with flower garlands at the Jal Mahal Palace, for late afternoon tea.
On our last day, we travelled back to Delhi with heavy hearts and even heavier luggage. The trip had almost come to an end, with all that remained, was to fly back to Mumbai and from there onwards to home.
It definitely was a most interesting and enjoyable trip, with hundreds of photos, a newfound appreciation for curry and unforgettable memories, my most precious souvenirs.