A Cultural Journey in Northern India

Two years later than planned (due to a bit of a Covid delay), we returned to India to explore the northern region on WT’s Royal Rajasthan adventure. We were fortunate to wits WT’s Treasures of South India trip in early 2020 and were excited to visit other regions in the country.  We began with a pre-trip extension that included exploring the old municipality of Delhi by rickshaw.  The sights, sounds, and aromas of the tightly packed merchants made a unconfined start to our trip.

Fellow travelers Debbie and Arnold explore the alleys of Old Delhi by rickshaw.

Agra is full of trappy and historical sites, and we began with the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula, a stunning example of the Mughal style synthetic of white marble, intricately carved and inlaid with semiprecious stones. The Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula, moreover known as the “Baby Taj”, is considered by some to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. The detail of inlaid semi-precious stones in white marble is extraordinary.

Our second stop in Agra was the Agra Fort. 

Entering the Agra Fort, moreover known as the Red Fort

Built of brick and faced with red sandstone, the unusual defensive features included a moat stocked with crocodiles and a 90-degree turn between inner and outer gates, designed to slow attacking elephants! 

The inner courtyard features formal gardens and the trappy Diwan-i-Aam, or Hall of Public Audience, where rulers received members of the public and heard their complaints.

The Taj Mahal (literally, “Crown of Palaces”), supposed in 2007 to be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, is a stunningly trappy towers in white marble (Figure 6) inlaid with semi-precious stones (Figure 7).  The Mughal structure is noteworthy for perfect diamond proportions that make it seem from a loftiness to be smaller than it unquestionably is.  We had the opportunity to visit twice, at sunset and sunrise.

Our stop at Ranthambhore National Park gave us three photo safari outings.  We were lucky on our first morning, spotting a trappy Striped Hyena. The park has diverse habitat including lakes, dry forests and unshut land providing habitat for birds, amphibians and mammals. 

Luck was with us and on our second day we spotted a Bengal tiger.  The tigers in Ranthambhore are well-documented, and distinctive fur markings identified this one as T-120, aka Ennead. Our safari guide did a unconfined job of predicting behavior, so that we were well placed for unparalleled close-up viewing for nearly half an hour.

Moving on to Jaipur, we then enjoyed the historical buildings, but were expressly struck by the colorful markets and wondrous scenes on the streets.  Roadside attractions were too numerous to count, including vendors for zestless seeds and grains, open-air flower markets, and musicians playing traditional instruments.

Our last destination was Jodhpur, where the red sandstone Mehrangarth Fort dominates the skyline over the old walled city, which we entered by tuk-tuk to navigate the twists and turns of municipality streets en route to our hotel.

Fellow traveler Neil and Trip Leader Hashmat Singh share a tuk-tuk in Jodhpur.

We explored the rented and colorful Jodhpur municipality market, with plentiful vendors and entertainers.

Tightrope walker in the Jodhpur municipality market.

Our final exploration was the imposing Mehrangarh Fort complex, where the red sandstone construction features a profusion of soft-hued carvings.