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Jaipur to Calcutta

The long road home...

sunny 46 °C
View Honeymoon! & Marrakech on Steve-Kay's travel map.

Next we went to Jaipur which is full of gorgeous buildings...

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This is the City Palace...

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...where we unexpectedly saw this snake charmer!

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After this we were walking down the road and saw a camel-pulled cart coming down the road...

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THEN, we saw a man doing his shopping on an ELEPHANT...

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They stopped at a street stall and the vendor gave the elephant about 6 rotis (Indian breads) which it stuffed into its mouth, and then another load which it held with its trunk as it walked down the road, unbelievable!!

After that we thought we’d stop and get ourselves some nice rotis too, these men churn out god- knows-how-many breads everyday...they cost about 4p each and were absolutely delicious!! (See the holes in the floor where the tandoors are)

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Agra was our next, much anticipated, stop and we decided to treat ourselves to a room with a view...

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The Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife, who died giving birth to their 14th child, and he was eventually buried there alongside her.

We went in to see the Taj Mahal first thing in the morning to avoid the huge crowds and heat of the afternoon. Obviously we’d already seen it from our hotel, but nothing could compare with walking through the gate and seeing that famous image - We spent a good few hours there walking around and trying to soak it all up, it was absolutely incredible...

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This is Agra Fort, where Emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned for 8 years by his son...

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The Emperor was imprisoned in this section, from where he could gaze out over the Taj Mahal...

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From there we went to Delhi...

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It was definitely the busiest and craziest place we’ve been to so far!...

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We stayed in the Paharganj area which is full of backpackers, shops and rubble!...

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This is Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in India, which can hold 25,000 people...

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The Red Fort...

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India Gate...

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Parliament...

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Secretariat...

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President's House...

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This is the last house that Gandhi stayed in before he was assassinated in 1948...

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It’s now a museum and this memorial marks his final steps and where he was shot...

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He was cremated at this spot near the river...

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After Delhi we caught the train to Amritsar which is on the India/Pakistan border and is famous for the beautiful Golden Temple...

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It is considered one of the holiest shrines and culturally the most significant place of worship for Sikhs, although everybody is welcomed there and they feed thousands of people (of all religions) everyday...

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There is an extravagant border closing ceremony everyday and we couldn't believe how fun and light-hearted it all was given the tense situation between India and Pakistan, especially considering Lahore is only about 20 miles away.

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The crowd was worked up into a frenzy, shouting 'Hundustan zindabad' (long live India) while dancing, waving flags and generally going crazy. It was amazing, and although we were grateful that they put us foreigners into the mellow VIP seating section, the other stands did look like much more fun!.

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These Indian guards were doing Monty-Python-style silly walks!...

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Our next stop, Lucknow, was great because it wasn't very touristy so there was hardly any hassle from rickshaw drivers, touts, etc. There wasn't that much to do there so we just chilled out, did a little bit of shopping and a lot of eating!!

This is the residency where the British Raj were under seige for almost 5 months during the uprising of 1857...

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Lucknow University...

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We didn't like Varanasi at first because we got a lot of hassle when we arrived and had problems with the even-more-persistent-than-usual touts that followed us, acted the innocent when we turned around to have a go at them, and then followed us again straight away afterwards, aaargh!! Once we'd got ourselves settled though and found the locals' area, we started to really enjoy ourselves and our hotel had a great view of the river from the terrace!

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Varanasi is on the River Ganges (or Ganga to the locals), a holy river for the Hindu people.

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It's an incredible place where everything happens in or around the holy river, including even cremations which take place at the 'Burning Ghats' for all to see. Apparently, around 2,000,000 people ritually bathe in the river daily, but with raw sewage and human remains floating around, we decided against it!

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We hired a boat to take us along and show us the 'Ghats' (a series of steps leading down to a body of water) and, because I felt bad for the old man rowing it, I managed to convince Steve to pay what turned out to be double the real price - still only about £3 for an hour though!

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From there we had our last Indian train journey (HOOORAH!!!) to Calcutta, our final stop! We'd thought that Delhi was as crazy as it gets but Calcutta was absolutely insane! After 3 1/2 months in India, we were still shocked by the traffic, poverty, begging and rubbish-strewn streets of Calcutta - That's not to say we didn't like it of course, it was still an amazing city with fabulous food, cheap shopping and friendly locals!

Victoria Memorial...

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There were lots of these hole-in-the-wall food stalls selling fantastic chicken tikka paratha rolls. They tasted delicious but at one of the places I found a half-eaten (by me) feather in my roll, urgh!! Steve thought I was pretty disgusting for picking the feather out and carrying on eating the roll but honestly, it really did taste that good and for 30p you can't complain can you?!

Not sure how clear it is but this man is making the fresh parathas from a HUGE lump of dough sitting on the side...

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We've become addicted to sweet lassis (creamy yogurt-type drinks) and these ones were great because they were served in a DISPOSABLE terracotta pot!...

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Our last supper and best naan bread of the trip, at a roof top restaurant overlooking the city...

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We thought we were going to be stuck in Calcutta after hearing about the huge travel disruptions caused by the volcano, and we couldn't get a straight answer from the Air India office, so we went to the airport not really expecting to get on the flight which made it all the more surreal when we landed at Heathrow just 13 hours later!

We hadn't told anyone that we were coming home and we decided it'd be fun to turn up un-announced on the door-step...of course the real surprise was on us because they weren't in and we had to wait for about 2 hours in the freezing cold!! It was quite a drop from the 46 degree humid heat of Calcutta to the 2 degrees it was in England, so we wrapped up in our flimsy Indian blanket and prayed we wouldn't get frost-bite!!

Big Issue anyone???...

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Of course it was all worth it just to see the looks on their faces as they pulled into the driveway!!

SO.......2 years, 5 weeks, 226 stops and 13 countries later, we're back from our honeymoon and home sweet home at last!!

Posted by Steve-Kay 15:15 Archived in India Tagged backpacking

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