My Visit to Incredible India

December 10, 2017

Let's be honest, even though I find India an interesting place, it's never been on the top list of the countries I want to visit. But one day, an invitation came from US Embassy to attend the very selective Global Entrepreneur Summit in Hyderabad at the end of November. So of course I wanted to go and browsed more about the country. And the more I read the more intriqued I became to visit other cities especially to Taj Mahal. I mean, if I'm already there, might as well, right?

The thing is...India is not a country where you can just roam around solo if you are a woman! But guess what, suddenly Nopai & Amal decided to meet me in Delhi to travel around the Golden Triangle! And Riana also decided to come at the last minute. Yayy!!

So we all meet in Delhi on December 1 and here's our itinerary:

Day 1 - Delhi
-- Arrived at 11am
-- Lunch at Lazeez Affaire (recommended!)
-- Drove around to see India Gate and the Secretariat Building Houses
-- Old Delhi to see Jamaa Masjid and Rickshaw ride around the huge market called Chandni Chowk. Di pasar itu seru banget sih, tapi mesti naik becaknya ya karena di situ serunya dan nggak akan sanggup ngelewatin semua distrik sendiri. Our tour guide took us to the 4th floor of an old apartment building in the spice market district. It's a nice spot for taking picture and to see the old Delhi from the top.
-- A bit of shopping, I don't remember the store name but it's in quiet a nice area and sell good quality scarves.

Day 2 - Delhi/Jaipur
-- We went to Humayun Tomb at 8am. Recommended banget sih untuk ke sana pagi - pagi disaat masih sepi banget.
-- Stopped by at Khan Market to get Forest Essentials and Kama Ayuverda. Bisa beli oleh-oleh juga di sini.
-- Qutb Minar
-- Lunch at McDonalds & grab Starbucks on the way to Jaipur (5 hours drive)

Day 3 - Jaipur
-- Started the day with a visit to Amber Fort. Ini besar banget so expect to spend at least 2 hours there. Since it's located at the hop of the hill, you can take elephants on the way to the top. There is a water/lake palace near Amber Fort but it was closed for renovation when we were there.
-- Stop by at a jewelry store. Jadi Jaipur itu pusatnya gemstone sourcing, trading, polishing di dunia. Trus kebetulan yang punya tokonya orang India yang pernah tinggal di Indonesia jadi dia lancar banget bahasa Indonesianya.
-- Lunch. Lupa nama restorannya apa, semua restorannya udah dipilih sama tur guidenya.
-- Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, City Palace (very close to one another)
-- Shopping! Lupa nama tempatnya tapi di satu tempat itu kita bisa liat pembuatan karpet, bisa beli juga, baju-baju, scarf, pajangan2.

Day 4 - Jaipur/Agra
-- Stopped by at another gemstone store :D (harusnya pagi-pagi ada Yoga but it's 5:45 dan setelah dicheck di Google tempat Yoganya biasa aja..haha).
-- Lunch
-- Leave for Agra dan mobil kita hampir nabrak babi! Pas udah deket Agra juga nabrak mobil depannya. sigh.
-- Stopped by at a little area/masjid/palace called Fatehpur Sikri

Day 5 - Agra/Delhi
-- Well, Taj Mahal of course! We got there at 7am to beat the crowd.
-- Back to the hotel, breakfast, checkout
-- Grab McDonald to eat on the way to Delhi
-- Dilli Market in Delhi. Ini heaven siihh buat belanja. Tempatnya bagus dan terawat, outdoor macam di pasar seni gitu, masuknya juga bayar tapi harganya murah-murah banget. Jangan sampe kelewatan!
-- Airport

Road trip!

 Fatehpur Sikri
Amber Fort

Hawa Mahal

Humayun's Tomb

City Palace

On the way to Amber Fort

Chandni Chowk

The spice market

So do I like it? YES! In fact, it's exceeded my expectation, maybe because I went there with a very low expectation then I was surprised to see the beauty of it once we can look beyond the hills of trash on the side of the road, the non stop honking, the chaos, and everything. India is indeed beautiful, I find the country to have two sides of everything, it's full of contrast. It houses many grand palaces, but on the other side the slum is the worst I have ever seen. It's a country full with beautiful vibrant colors yet there are trash and stinky smells everywhere. Some people/stores are so high tech they use app to charge our credit card but then we can also see how primitive they can be when it comes to living their daily life, for example in Jaipur we still see horse, camel as a mode of transportation dan bukan kaya delman di sini yaa tapi kuda untuk bawa barang bangunan misalnya.

Another reason why I love my visit is because it fulfills my spiritual need as a muslim. I've always wanted to go Umrah again, or visit Spain again only to explore the area where the muslims have strong presence in the past. But for now, India feels the void. It has the 2nd largest Muslim in the world after Indonesia. There I learned about the history of Islamic movement in India, discovered about the Mughal dynasty, Islamic arts, visited many old mosques and witnessed how religion and culture can be blended in harmony. I also witness the beauty of tolerance between different religions, something that I'm worried the most about Indonesia.

Now I totally understand why Martin Luther King said that 'To other countries, I may go as a tourist, but to India I come as a pilgrim'. 

So will I go back? Of course. I want Oki and the kids to experience what I experience as well and visit other other cities in India. There are a lot to offer from the country and if you are into photography, it's heaven. Just be ready to go back home with gigas of pictures :D.

Next post I will share more tips to go to India.

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