If you have read my post on my experience with VP Bali, you would know, I love to add more to just plain traveling. Initially, I wanted to join a summer school in Malaysia, but it did not work out because of timelines. So, I […]
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I had spent almost a month of solo backpacking in Europe, exploring its mountains, fairy-tales villages, cobblestone streets, colorful houses, historic palaces, and much more.
Before even returning to India, I had made plans with my friends back home for a short trip from Delhi. I reached Delhi from Budapest on the morning of 9th September'18, and we still hadn't decided a place yet.
By night, we had already done thorough research of all the places we could visit and explore in the given 2-day time frame. And just when it started to seem that there won't be any plan, two of my friends took the initiative and finalized Gwalior and made the required bookings.
Phewww!! Finally, we were going to take this trip!!
We had to leave for Gwalior the next day early morning, so I had almost one day to rest and rejuvenate before going for the next trip.
How to reach Gwalior from Delhi?
One of my friends had his car in the city, so we decided to self-drive from Delhi to Gwalior. Gwalior is around 330 km from Delhi, and if you take the Yamuna Expressway, it will take you about 6 hours to reach Gwalior. I would advise you to leave early morning to avoid city crowds.
It took us almost 3 hours to reach Agra from Delhi where we made a quick stop for breakfast at a funky hostel. And from Agra, it took us another 3 hours to reach Gwalior.
PS: We had decided to stop in Agra on our way back. You can do the other way too!
We reached Gwalior around 2:00 pm. After a quick nap and freshening up, we left for Gwalior Fort. Since it was almost evening, instead of hiking up the fort, we decided to take our car to the top to save some time. But I'm pretty sure that hiking must be a great experience - enjoying every part of the fort as you walk up.
TIP 1: If you are planning to take your vehicle up to the fort, navigate to Urvai gate where you'll find a dedicated parking spot. Do not get swayed by the people at the main Gwalior gate who might offer you to show the right direction and get paid for almost nothing.
Trust your google maps 🙂
The fort has two main parts - Man Mandir Palace and Gujari Mahal. Enter the fort through Hathi Pol and be welcomed by glazed blue and brown tiled ochre walls.
Continue to the lower level rooms, and you'll see the dark dungeons where people were held captive and tortured.
As you step out of the prison rooms, walk to the Johar Kund, where the Rajputani ladies used to perform mass Sati if their king lost a battle.
Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to explore Gujari Mahal as it was already the closing time.
Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhorh
After touring the fort, we went to the nearby Gurudwara Sri Data Bandi Chorh which also has strong historical links.
History of the Gurudwara
Once, when the Mughal ruler, Jahangir, fell sick, he was suggested that a religious person, specifically Shri Guru Hargobind Singh Ji, needs to pray for his wellness in the Gwalior Fort. Jahangir asked Guru Ji to stay in the fort and pray for him. Given his good relations with the emperor, Guru Ji agreed to it. During his stay in the fort, Guru Ji met 52 Rajput rulers who were captured by Jahangir and tortured in the fort.
Days passed, and Jahangir got unwell again. This time his wife was told that the emperor is holding a holy man as captive, and they need to release him for the well-being of the whole empire. Jahangir ordered for Guru Ji's release, and that's when Guru Ji put a condition that he will leave the fort only if the emperor agrees to release the 52 arrested kings along with him.
Jahangir agreed to Guru Ji's condition stating that only the rulers who'd be able to hold Guru Ji's veil would get released. So, all the 52 Rajas held Guru Ji's veil as he walked out of the fort. And that's how the name came to be - Bandi (Prisoner) Chhorh (Release).
We stayed in Gurudwara for some time - paid our respects and ate Langar, before heading back to the hotel.
The next day, we ate Gwalior street food for breakfast before starting our journey back to Delhi. On our way back, we made a stop in Agra to see Taj Mahal, the unbeatable beauty of India.
The Taj Mahal
It has been in my list for quite some time now, that I had to visit one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal.
We got a little late in leaving from Gwalior, and it was almost 4 pm when we reached Agra. By this time the weather had cooled down a bit, and it wasn't as hot which made exploring the place easier for us - so getting late was, in fact, a blessing in disguise.
We took the West side entrance and parked our car there. It was around a-20 minute walk from the parking lot to the main entrance gate.
TIP 2: Try to park your vehicle in the dedicated parking spot of the Taj Mahal premises. It is cheaper and more reliable.
TIP 3: It is generally suggested to take the East side entrance because it is less crowded. But depending on the day of the week and time of the day, you can also take the West gate. For us, we didn't have to wait in a long queue primarily because it was a Tuesday evening.
As you enter from the West Gate, you will see a red sandstone building, known as the Fatehpur Begum. It serves as the main entrance, and as you walk through it, you'll have your first look of the Taj Mahal.
Walk around and click lots of pictures.
Head to the sacred tomb after that. Wear the throw-away shoe covers that you must have received at the ticket counter before joining the queue that leads you inside the hall. Keep in mind that photography is restricted there, so try to take in every moment as you walk through it.
TIP 4: As you walk towards the Taj Mahal from the parking area, you'll see many vendors trying to sell you the shoe cover for a price a little higher than what you'll get inside, so keep that in mind, just in case you get inclined towards buying it from them.
It costs 5 INR for a shoe cover at the counter.
Be greeted by views of the river Yamuna as you walk out of the hall.
Spend some time appreciating the architecture, and gardens of the Mahal before heading back.
Agra Street Food
After Taj Mahal, we made a stop at Sadar Bazar Agra, for the much-known street food of the city. We tried food from many stalls and ate to our heart's contentment.
Do get yourself the famous Petha (an Indian sweet) packed from Panchi Petha before you leave.
Almost 8 pm by now, we had a 3-hour journey ahead of us before we reached back home. We just had to be a little careful of not dozing away after all the food that we had at Sadar Bazar.
Budapest was the last stop of my Euro trip, and though it had been almost a month of traveling, I was all fresh reaching this quieter yet one of the most happening places in Europe. Budapest is the largest city of Hungary and is flooded […]
I would have never known about Villach if I didn’t choose a cheaper bus option from Salzburg to Bled. With 5 hours in hand before my bus to Bled, I decided to explore the city rather than waiting at the bus station. A tip before that: You […]
A lot of you must have had the experience of opening up to strangers, be it talking about your problems, your life goals, or sharing your deep dark secrets, or just being more yourself.
I have had this feeling quite often in recent times. One when I was planning to leave my job, the only person who knew about it was a friend I made on my trip to San Francisco. And then, when I was traveling through Europe, I met several people in front of whom it was easier to be just me without any pretense.
On one of the self-reflection days, I started wondering why it is so easy and why I don't think twice before opening up in front of the person I don't know so intimately and am able to form that inexplicable bond with. Why words and stories come out naturally while talking to a dorm-mate, to an Uber driver, to a fruit vendor, and the list is endless.
As I pondered over the topic, I came up with a few reasons that I could relate to.
We expect our loved ones to understand us and our problems, and assume that they will give the best solution or suggestion in such a case. But when this doesn’t happen, we tend to momentarily hate them (Hate is a strong word here!) and avoid having further discussions related to that topic with them.
But in the case of a stranger, we don’t really expect a perfect response from them, as a matter of fact, there is no or very little expectation that they would even understand us. At the time, we just want to talk out and maybe not expect anything in return, just a mere acknowledgment that they are listening. Just in case, if the person suggests something, we'd know deep down that the other party is not aware of the entire situation and hence it doesn't really matter if they have a positive or a negative or even a neutral response to it.
Breaking of expectations hurt, but again most of the expectations are irrelevant!
It is great to know the viewpoints of a person with a lifestyle completely different from ours or a person who has a different take on the whole situation. Sometimes an unbiased opinion given without knowing the complete story can actually turn out be more useful.
I have talked to several people lately about my blog, and long-term ideas, and for sure I have been able to receive many encouraging suggestions on how to continue working towards my goals.
Lack of context
Sure every conversation has some follow-up questions, but with a stranger, most of the times there are no follow up questions given the comfort zone. At other times, it is easier to dodge questions and change the topic or just say we are not very sure of the answer.
Basically, there is no digging of a situation or any uncomfortable conversations as there would be in case of a friend or a loved one.
The fear of being judged is one of the most prevalent fears and most of the times, it is difficult to overcome this innate quality of ours.
A stranger's opinion about us does not really matter in the long run, even if it does at the moment. We know deep down that there is a rare chance that we'll meet the person again. It is easy to ignore the judgemental comments if there are any because we have a choice to judge them back based on however illogical assumptions we have about them. We can easily end our conversation with them and be chill about the whole situation.
I remember talking to someone I met on a flight where I discussed with him my idea of leaving the tech industry and moving to arts. Incidentally, he was just a step away from offering me a job when I blabbered my plans about quitting and trying something new. And when he heard me, he was shocked and made such expressions that I had to stop talking about my big plans. But all of this didn't matter me at that point because I was happy to be able to talk myself out. That person's opinion didn't really matter that much as he didn't know the ins and outs of my life.
It is okay to sometimes listen to your heart and not the people outside!
No obligation to maintain a relationship
As I mentioned above, that sometimes when close ones fail to understand us, we start to avoid talking about the similar situations with them, in fear of judgment or a negative response.
But in the case of a stranger, there doesn't exist a relationship that can be broken. If they don't like our decisions or actions, we'd just not talk any further about the situation with them or not talk at all, without thinking about the impact on our non-existent relationship.
The end of the conversation would be the last thing to bother us.
But I'll admit it is great to have a friend who knows everything about you and you are comfortable talking about anything that goes on in your life!!
I am the kind of girl who jumps on every opportunity to travel to a new place. As much as I’d be excited about the trip I’ll be apprehensive about the challenges that I might face – be it from a very basic one like […]
Prague is a beautiful-budget city with colorful historic buildings, narrow alleys, intricate architecture, and a river that divides the city. I was in Prague for two weeks in mid-August and the weather during this time was just perfect, with no rain on most of the […]
Our first dinner in Prague was at a Vineyard, Viniční altán. We went there late at night, around 10, but this restaurant is on a small hill in the center of Havlickovy Sady Park and is a great spot for providing city views while you dine.
Food options were limited though, but if you enjoy wine with good views, this is a must go place 🙂
Ice cream/ Shakes
Our hostel was very near the Bohemians station, and if by any chance you are staying there or visiting that area, a must try ice cream place is Ahoy Gelato. It is actually just at the station when you get down. They have one of the best ice creams in Prague with a huge serving size and not expensive at all.aaa
On my last day in Prague, I was craving a good frappucino, and I got to this place, I swear I have not had a worse frappucino - it was coffee blended in water. I must have ordered something wrong because there was an option of "with milk". So, if you go to this place, and want to give a try to a Frappe with milk, do tell me how it was 🙂
Amornio - Oh you great good Mother of the best Frappucino ever!!!
If I go to Prague again, I am definitely going to this place. They had the best Frappe ever - 2 scoops of dark coffee ice-cream blended with vanilla - for me, it was a perfect blend of bitter and sweet.
My friends tried ice-creams there and I swear they were as crazy about the ice-cream as I was for the coffee.
It is a little more expensive than Ahoy Gelato. So if you are only in for the ice-cream, Ahoj is your place 🙂
Amorino is located just off Charles bridge and on your way to the Prague Castle.
Good Food Trdelnik
If you are in Prague, this is a must try, one because they are claimed to be traditional Czech pastry (not really true though), two they are extremely good. Have one and you'll be full for rest of the day. More details here.
Europe has been a lot about Pizzas for me, so you might find a lot of options for that 🙂
We went to the place, Green Tomato. While I really loved their Margherita Pizza others liked theirs too, the place does not accept Cards and the staff was a little rude - we actually experienced this in quite a lot places in Prague, so just be calm 🙂
If you are an Indian and missing home food or you are simply a fan of Indian food, head out to this restaurant, Bombay Express, near Institut Francais de Prague on Vodičkova Street. My European friends enjoyed their meal, I, on the other hand, would give it an average rating for the taste. But the host was really kind, especially when he knew I am from India. We were also given free dessert and Naan bread out of generosity