Sunday, 21 April 2013

Amritsar, India

Amritsar Is "India At Colorful Best" !

Why Amritsar was on my list?

I have always been a big fan of Punjabi tradition. Great food, honest and hard working people. And guess what they are the inventor of my favourite food sarson ka saag, makki ki roti with makhan :) OK, No more food talk I have already started feeling dam hungry!

Kirtan At Golden Temple - The Holiest Place For Sikhs
















Tourist places in Amritsar city:

==Photos from my trip== 
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Food and Drink


Come on, food and drink ! Are you kidding with me ? Punjab is world famous for two things delicious food and drinking :). I am not going to write any further on this topic. Just walk to any "dhaba" and enjoy your meal. 

If you are at Golden Temple, you get free food (Prasad) at the langar, don't forget to give a helping hand once you are done with your food. It is not mandatory but this is how entire kitchen work gets done at the Langar. 

Where to stay in Amritsar?

There are few budget range hotels situated near to the main bus terminal and fun cinemas Amritsar. There are not the best hotels in Amritsar but given the location they are good enough to stay. It costed us around 600Rs per day and was pretty OK to live there. The room had air conditioner which you will definitely need in summer season. 

Transportation

Amritsar is around 470 KMs from New Delhi. Given the weather it is best to travel in night by train or bus. It takes around 7-8 hours to reach Amritsar from Delhi. There are two types of Amritsar bus services available one by government and another one private. We took a private tour operator bus from ISBT Delhi. It was a sleeper bus so we could sleep overnight. We reached Amritsar around 7.00 AM, booked a hotel room near to the bus terminal itself and bought a Amritsar map. 

To travel in the city itself, you can hire an auto or book a taxi, there are easily available. But make sure to bargain else they might charge you atleast 3 times more. Also take note of weather in Amritsar in day time during summer is quite hot.

If you ever come to India and don't visit this place well you will have to visit us again!

Happy travelling...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Agra, India

The City Of Taj Mahal

Why Agra was on my list?

Agra is the city of Taj Mahal. It's a city with three UNESCO world heritage sites. It has lots of history to brag about. At the peek of it's glorified history, it was the head quarter of Mughals during their Indian occupation. Agra has also served as the capital of Hindustan during the era of Sikandar Lodi. A trip to India without going to Agra to admire the beauty of love is always an incomplete tale.

For me there was one more reason. A will to go on long bike drive with the lady of my life which we never dared to do before. If you are anywhere in NCR and want go missing for two days I would say Agra is place you are heading to, just get disappear from the radar.

Royal Gate Of Taj Mahal
















Tourist places in Agra: There are three historical places in Agra to visit:
== Photos from my trip ==
Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Food and drink


If you are visiting Agra food should not be one of your concern. There are few restaurants available near to the Taj Mahal location. You can find few international flavored one in Taj ganj area too. For drinking well plenty of options available. One such place to buy drink at cheap rates is situated in main market of Taj Ganj area next to bike repairing shops. 

Stay

It should not be much of a trouble to find a good budget option near Taj Mahal itself but keep in mind: 

- Don't expect too much but worth every penny paid. 
- Be sure to check out the room before paying for it. As you might get trap in paying for a room which doesn't even exist in the entire hotel :). 
- Bargain and bargain hard. We saved around 40% at the rate initially offered.
Don't follow people offering hotel rooms on bike. Security Issues!

One of the biggest plus point of booking hotel room in Taj Gang area is that you can walk from there to the Taj Mahal and if it is your lucky day you could get a room window facing Taj itself. We were not that much lucky that day :( 

Transportation

Bus: You can get bus to Agra from ISBT Delhi costing around 400Rs. Another option to book a bus seat is near Red Fort area in Delhi. This area is basically captured by private bus/taxi service providers. Note: Since buses are not allowed to wait for pickup at the highway they will keep on circling same area for a while until it's fully loaded. But going to Agra by bus I wouldn't take that option unless it's tour operator bus.

Train: Train is much better option than bus since many trains are available from Delhi to Agra. The train service starts quite early in the morning near about 6 AM. For more information on trains you can browse through Indian railways website and on the same you can book tickets online too as per your convenience. 

Taxi: You can book taxi to Agra from Delhi. There are many taxi services available from Delhi airport or another better option is near Red Fort area in Delhi where you will find many private taxi service operators.

Route - Agra from Delhi or vis a versa: 

Route one: Most of the buses take the old route which increases the travelling time atleast by 1 and 1/2 hours or so. Road condition is pretty drive-able just near by of Mathura it gets bit crowded. When we were travelling back we took this road by mistake from Agra to Mathura.Taking trains from agra to delhi would be anytime better option than travelling via Mathura. 

Route two: An international standard express highway from Delhi to Agra. We took this route. It is known as Yamuna Express Highway or Delhi Agra express highway. 

Route goes like, Delhi - Noida - Greater Noida - Agra. 

We started 8.15 AM, reached Noida - Greater NOIDA Expressway by 9.00 AM. Initially there was hell of traffic from Delhi to Noida, it took around 45 Mins to cover 15 KM which made us think whether it was a good idea to travel by bike. 
But the moment we hit Noida-Greater Noida expressway traffic started to disappear. We covered next 10 KM in hardly 10 Mins. 

We hit the Yamuna Expressway by 9.15 AM. This highway could come as a shock to those who never traveled to any developed country. After looking at the highway all I could say was 'Is it really Indian road?' I never thought India could have such kind of straight line highway which says speed limit "100 Km/Hr". 

It was bit unbelievable at first to see such sign board in a country where you can hardly hit 60 Km/Hr. Where most of the road are filled with potholes and only god knows which one you are going to hit sooner or later. 

But this road was just plain as anything could be. The only concern now we had was weather in Agra as I heard it's get bit foggy near to Agra because of industrial pollution but it turns out to be manageable later on. It's also strongly suggested to have a look on the wheels of car before starting your journey on this road. I saw it personally that most of the people were running on very old wheels "specially taxis" and an old wheel on such a highway doesn't response well to the breaks if applied on the high speed since the road is made of concrete they tend to get bit slippery. 

All in all it was a good trip. This trip became one of the most remembered journey of mine because it was my first long bike ride :). A beautiful express highway, low to no traffic, companied by partner of my life, going to one of the wonders of this world what else can you ask for, right?

Happy travelling...