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My experience in Delhi and Agra
Day 1 (July 21, 2002)

We left our home at around 4:30 p.m., as the plane was scheduled for 8:15 p.m., but the plane took off 45 minutes late. We had to fly by Air India, as all the seats in Saudi Arabian Airlines had already been booked, as it is the first choice for all. We reached Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi at 5:00 a.m. We then went to Grand Intercontinental Hotel in a Toyota Qualis (a jeep), which was provided by a company known as Services International, whose services we availed of for the tour of Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. They were to provide us with accommodation, guides, drivers and the jeep. In the hotel, we had been provided with 2 rooms, which were next to each other (actually we had asked them to reserve 2 interconnecting rooms). We went to our rooms (room numbers 1401 and 1402), and brushed, had a bath, changed our dress, and then went down to eat breakfast, which was a buffet, the cost of which was included in the room charges. After eating, we started our tour of Delhi at around 10:00 a.m. in the Toyota Qualis.

Everywhere we went, there was a lot of greenery. All the autos and buses were using CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) as fuel, by order of the government, so as to reduce pollution. The following are the places that we went to, in order of visiting:

Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House):
As there is a lot of security around the President's House, and vehicles are not allowed to stand, the guide told the driver to go for a round for 10 minutes, while we got out of the jeep and took a few photos. The Rashtrapati Bhavan was built by Lutyens. It is an imposing structure with 340 rooms, constructed high up on Raisina Hill. On either side, are the impressive office buildings – North Block and South Block. Another building that was situated nearby was the Lok Sabha (Lower House), on top of which the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) was situated. Visitors are not allowed inside these buildings nowadays, so we had to see them from outside only.
India Gate:
It is a war memorial arch, which was built in honour of 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in World War 1. Below it burns the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the eternal flame in tribute to all martyred soldiers of India.
Humayun's Tomb:
We just saw the tomb from outside, as my younger brother, Masood started crying, and became very irritable, as he was feeling hot. It is an elegant example of early Mughal architecture.
Royal Dakshin:
After all this, our guide took us to eat at the Royal Dakshin Restaurant, an air-conditioned non-veg restaurant. The food was too chilli for our liking, as at home we eat almost no chilli.
Qutab Minar:
It is a soaring stone tower, 72 metres high, which was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak in 1193. The tower has 5 distinct storeys, each with a projecting balcony. They had stopped allowing people from climbing the stairs to go to the top of the tower, as a few people had fallen from the top and died. At its base is the Quwwat-ul Islam Mosque, the first Mosque to be built in India.

We then went to our hotel to sleep, so that we could get up early the next day, to catch the train for Agra, which was to leave at 6:00 a.m.


Day 2 (July 22, 2002)

We got up at 4:30 a.m., as we had booked with the hotel for a car to go to the Station at 5:15 a.m. We boarded the Shatabadi Express bound for Agra. The trip was very comfortable, as it was air-conditioned, and its interior resembled that of an airoplane, with seats having a foldable tray to keep food on. As soon as the train started its journey, they gave everyone a big bottle of cold drinking water, which you can keep in a specially made holder in front of you. They even gave newspapers to whoever wanted to read one. After this, they gave us breakfast. After we finished eating our breakfast, they provided each one of with flasks containing hot water to pour in plastic glasses, and make tea. We arrived at Agra at 8:00 a.m., and were received by a representative of Services International, who took us to the jeep. We were then taken to their office, where the guide who was to take us for the tour of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri joined us. We visited the following places:

Taj Mahal:
Well, this was the main reason why we went to Delhi - so that we will be able to see the Taj Mahal. It was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved queen, Arjumand Banu (Mumtaz Mahal), who died in 1630. It is one of the wonders of the world, and has been described as a “dream in marble”.
Agra Fort:
This fort was made of red sandstone, and was very big. It was built by Akbar. Through some of the windows, we could see the Taj Mahal, which was also constructed by the river Yamuna.
Akbar:
After visiting the red fort, we went to a handicrafts shop known as Akbar, where the descendents of the people who built the Taj Mahal continue their traditional art of inlaying semi-precious stones in marble. We bought a small table from there. We were also shown how the people were making the handicrafts.
The Oberoi Hotel:
We then went to eat at The Oberoi Hotel. As my stomach was not good, I did not eat anything, but I drank lime juice.
Fatehpur Sikri:
We went to Fatehpur Sikri (37 km from Agra), which was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569, and later abandoned due to scarcity of water. Among the many buildings that we saw there were the Diwan-khana-I-khaas, Diwan-E-Am, Palace of Jodha Bai, Panch Mahal, Birbal’s Palace, The Jama Masjid, and the Buland Darwaza, which is the highest gateway of India.

We were then taken back to Agra to board the Shatabadi Express at 8:20 p.m. to go to Delhi. We arrived at Delhi at around 11:00 p.m. and checked in again at our hotel, Grand Intercontinental.


Day 3 (July 23, 2002)

We got up at around 9:30 a.m. After eating breakfast in the hotel, we started our tour of Old Delhi at 11:00 a.m. We visited the following places:

Red Fort:
We just saw the fort, which was made of red sandstone from outside, as it is very similar to the Agra fort.
Jama Masjid:
Jama Masjid is one of the largest mosques in India and the final architectural extravagance of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It is situated some quarter of a mile from the Red Fort. We climbed till the top of one of the Minarets (towers) through a winding, narrow staircase.
Raj Ghat:
We saw the Raj Ghat from outside, which is the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi.
Indira Gandhi Memorial:
Formerly, the house of Indira Gandhi, a former Prime Minister of India, it has now become a tourist spot, where things that were related to her were displayed.

We then went for shopping, and after that, returned to our hotel to relax and rest, until our flight to Chennai at 7:45 p.m. (Jet Airways).

Well, all in all, it was a memorable experience, which I will remember forever!!!!

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