My friend and traveling companion to India, Pamela Macdonald, has allowed me to share her posts from her travel blog. She writes so much better than I do and so thought I would send them as part of my blog. I hope you enjoy them.
Day Trip to AGRA
After breakfast this morning, we 17 met in the lobby, cleared our bills and brought our luggage to the bus. Pick up was arranged at hotel for 9 am and we met our guide Mr Luv. He will be with us – and his team of driver and assistant, for the entire two weeks. He is lovely, kind and well informed.
He informed us of a few facts as we toured the city of Delhi and New Delhi. Namaste is the greeting used widely in this country despite many languages spoken. Guests are considered like gods and service is very important. Delhi is the second largest city in India, 20 million population. Mumbai is the largest with 22 million. India is the second largest country in population, next to China. There are 1.5 billion people living in India.
Delhi is rich in diversity of all kinds. Religion categories include Hinduism which is the oldest religion practiced by 82% of the population of India. Followed by Muslims at 12.5%, and third Christians at 2.5%. The Sikh religion is 400 years old, relatively young in age and less than 1% practice, .7%. Buddhism is practiced by less again. Why? We will talk about it more another day. The city of Delhi is the city of dreams and opportunities with many universities and educational facilities.
Delhi is the book that narrates the history of India. Del means heart and this city is the capital of India. 20% of the city is covered in green space. 180 sq miles is this city.
Diversity is also seen in wealth, with the very very rich and the very very poor. All people sail and are enjoying life and are happy, says Luv. This makes India a most exotic destination and different from any other. Our tour is called Royal India and we will learn about the land of the Kings and Queens of India.
India has been taken over some 7 times in history. This 26 January marks Republic Day, a celebration of independence for India. India celebrates many festivals for such things as full moon, half moon and no moon! Life itself is about celebrations and happiness, says Luv.
Our first stop is Qutab Minar. It is a very ornately carved and stunningly beautiful minaret situated in a park like peaceful setting with plenty of green space and many ruins around it.
Meen trees are medication, used for toothbrushes.
Referred to as the Tower of victory. This Minaret is the tallest. 72.5 meters, 379 steps, 5 stories. Pride of Delhi. From 7 and 8 century was worship place.
Rulers took over and divided people and tried to stop the religion. In 1199 began construction of the World largest brick minaret.
Looks like lotus flower in ground from aerial view. Access is closed here due to suicides. Also on the property is the Tower of jealousy. Calamities happened and it was never finished.
Demolished all temples that were here prior .. Now Ruins here … Also, first mosque facing to west. More mosques in India than any country in the world. First mosque and largest mosque in Delhi and New Delhi.
We also visited today the Lotus Temple, which is the Baha’i House of Worship. It is made completely out of white marble and has 27 massive lotus petals. Once inside we were treated and blessed by the chanting and prayers. The sound was so moving it brought tears to my eyes. What an experience!
Lotus flower is symbol of creation and is the seat of the thrown of Lord Brahma, God of creation. The temple to him is in Pushkar and we will go there later on the tour.
Lastly we stopped at the burial and cremation ground of Mahatma Ghandi – another powerfully moving place.
Security is high in Delhi, however we are making our way :).
Tomorrow we will tour the Taj Mahal. Described as a poem of love in marble. We will stay tonight at the Trident Hotel in Agra, part of an Indian chain of hotels of very high quality. It is considered an oasis in Agra.