india #1

340 days have passed since I posted anything on my sad excuse for a ‘blog’ and for this, I apologise. Since then I’ve moved 463 miles away from home, travelled to 10 different countries and somehow managed to pass my first year of university so all in all, I don’t think I’m doing too badly. So much has happened in this whirlwind of a year and it’s going to be difficult to catch up but today, I wanted to talk about my short but sweet trip to the wonderful country of India.

Back in January, one of my good friends from university, A, mentioned to a few of us that he would be going to a royal Indian wedding when home over the summer and we would probably be able to join him if we wanted to. We laughed and imagined the 5 of us gatecrashing someone’s wedding, never really thinking that it would become a possibility. Fast forward a few months to the 31st of May and there I was at Heathrow, ready to catch my flight to Abu Dhabi and then onwards to New Delhi!

how the other half live- upgraded to business class from Abu Dhabi to Delhi
How the other half live- blagged an upgrade to business class from Abu Dhabi to Delhi.

Our first day in Delhi was quite slow due to our collective jet lag but we managed to spruce ourselves up for dinner with another friend we know from Edinburgh, D. The menu was a fusion of traditional Indian cuisine with Western dishes (there was a tandoori risotto) and was very delicious.

the size of the Taj Mahal was astonishing
The size of the Taj Mahal was astonishing

Agra was our next destination and is a small city in India which most tourists will visit because of the infamous Taj Mahal. All I can say is that the mausoleum is just as grand and impressive as you would expect, if not more. The monument took 17 years to build and was commissioned in 1631 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his third and favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Although the entrance tickets were 750 rupees for foreigners and 20 rupees for Indian citizens, it was £7.50 well spent. I was completely blown away by the sheer size and beauty of the building and, although incredibly touristy, it’s something I would urge each and everyone of you to see at some point in your life.

It’s very common throughout India for attractions to charge different prices for locals and tourists. Apparently it’s something to do with promoting Indian tourism within the country but let’s be honest, it’s probably just (well deserved) revenge against foreigners for the British colonisation of the country…

Entrance of Agra Fort
Entrance of Agra Fort

Our trip to Agra also included a visit to the beautiful 16th century Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and later on an argument with an angry auto driver who wished death upon A’s entire family. Lovely. It was here where my love affair with paneer tikka first began, more of a side than a main, it is a firm Indian cheese which is covered in spices and grilled in a tandoor. I ate way too much paneer in India and it is something I have been craving daily since returning to the UK.

The boys getting cosy with one of the many kind and welcoming auto drivers we met throughout our trip
The boys getting cosy with one of the many kind and welcoming auto drivers we met during our trip

Our trip to India was jam-packed and I want to share as much as possible with you all so it’s probably best to split the journey into several different posts. Still to come we have: the weeklong royal wedding, Goa- my newfound love, the bustle and noise of Bombay and the rich traditions of Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur. Bet you can’t wait.

Speak soon,

Betty x

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