Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jaipur and Agra: Food for Thought Part 2

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After 10 amazing days in Thailand, I'm back to continue and finish the story of our time in India. Heads up: there won't be any food related content on this post. Our remaining time in Jaipur and our day in Agra were not particularly food centric. For various reasons (timing, safety, etc) we ate at our hotels, and the food wasn't particularly noteworthy!

We had one full day to explore the city of Jaipur. A city southwest of New Delhi, Jaipur is known for the beautiful Amber Fort and the Palace of Jaipur. We started our tour at the Amber Fort. The fort has a beautiful wall around it, almost reminiscent of the Great Wall of China. 

One thing I've really struggled with on this trip is the treatment of animals. As part of our tour (we did a paid/guided tour while we were in India), we rode an elephant to reach the fort. I can honestly say this was a terrifying and sad experience all at once. I won't get into animal rights on this blog, but I don't think elephants enjoy walking up an incredibly steep hill an unimaginable number of times per day in the scorching heat. All while carrying 3 humans on their back.  
Next, we visited the City Palace of Jaipur. Full of history, part of this compound is actually still a functioning home for royalty today! I believe the current prince is 17-years-old. Lucky guy!

Our last stop was the observatory.There are tons of very interesting tools to read the time based on the sun's position. They work with amazing accuracy!

After our time in Jaipur, we set out for a 4 hour drive to Agra. On our way there, we encountered a serious Indian traffic jam. They are the real deal. Because of the gridlock on our side of the road, our driver, and many other cars, moved to the opposite side of the road. This created another gridlock situation. Suffice it to say, I will never complain about an American traffic jam again!

Our time in Agra was spent visiting the sites. We got to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. It was gorgeous; photos simply do not do it justice. The monument was built as a sign of love and to house the body of Shah Jahan's third (and most favorite) wife. Made of white marble, the building is also covered in gem stones.

Next, we visited the Fatehpur Sikri. This was essentially a walled city built in the late 1500s. From palaces, to courts, to banks, to a mosque, this place had it all. While the Taj Mahal is built of marble, this compound was built of red sandstone. Built by a King named Akbar, we were told that he left the main city of Agra and built Fatehpur Sikri to have children.

Our final stop was the Agra Fort. The grandson of Akbar, Shah Jahan, was imprisoned here by his son (who also killed several of his siblings). Similar to Fatehpur Sikri, the Agra Fort as it currently stands is a walled city made of red sandstone.

Agra was a very tough place for me in India. Perhaps the toughest we've seen so far. Millions of tourists, myself included, flock to see the Taj Mahal. But, what few mention is that steps outside the world wonder is poverty so extreme it broke my heart into a million pieces. From talking to our tour guide, my understanding is that the local government outlawed local industries 10-15 years ago because the pollution was damaging the Taj. Little if any profit from tourists goes back to the people in Agra. 

I hope at some point to be able to give back to the people in this city. In the meantime, I'm trying to shift my perspective to be a bit more thankful for how fortunate I am and a bit less quick to complain. I encourage all of you out there to take a moment to do the same. 

Next up, Jackie and I traveled to Thailand. Cooking class, island views, and tons of food pics to come!

1 comment:

  1. Very beautiful pictures. Your trip to Jaipur and Agra seems very adventurous. The medieval city located on the banks of the river Yamuna, Agra is one of the most visited cities in the country. Explore more about Jama Masjid Agra also.


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