Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Agra, the Taj Mahal and shopping

After two days exploring Delhi, we finally made a later than expected 6 hour journey to Agra.  Our driver is so lovely too and has shown us quiet a few different things on route here too.

Had a bit more than a mishap with our hotel when we arrived here too, no thanks to Expedia.  Who after this I would be very dubious to book with again.  We arrived late to the Raj Mahal hotel, so it was dark outside and we were pretty tired from traveling all day and seeing the rest of the sights in Delhi.  The hotel were no help at trying to sort out the booking that hadn't been placed via Expedia, so I was left to sort the issue out myself or they would have been happy to leave us out on the street for the night.

Once that was finally all sorted out, after a few hours of going back and forth on phone calls, we finally made it to our room, which we couldn't fault.  Outside our window we could see that there was a wedding happening, so we popped down to be nosy after dinner and ended up being invited to the wedding.

Groom and his family
We were invited to the wedding, as the guys in the photo explained to us, we are a symbol of luck for the family.  They were then all more than welcoming, they offered us food, drinks and told us all about how the ceremonies happen/work.

This wedding was a Muslim wedding, which we were told are a little more rare in India as the main religion is Hinduism.  At the wedding there are three stages (bride's family accept groom, groom's family accept the bride and then they accept each other) and the bride and groom don't meet each other until the ceremony is over.  The bride was in the hotel with other female members of her family, while the groom was having a party outside, which I have to say he didn't appear to happy to be at.

Brides Family
Once the three stages are complete, a gun is fired (yes a gun) and then everyone eats a celebratory pot of food containing fruit and nuts.

We made quiet a few new friends at the wedding, some adding us on Facebook too... they were especially fond of Siobhan.

Siobhan's new Facebook friend tagged in a photo with 15 of his other friends...
After the wedding we went back to the hotel, where we were talking to one of the guys that worked there about arranged marriages and love marriages and what he thought of them.  He had had a girl friend that he loved and who was made to marry someone else, who he had begged her and her family not to.  It was pretty sad actually.

This morning in Delhi we went to see the Raj Ghat and Laxmi Narayan Biri Mancir which is a temple and a crematorium for some of the Hindu gods.  Here we bought a few different things, I bought a silk scarf made by the in temple artist, which is intricately laced with a delicate pattern significant to that particular temple.  (I will see if I can get a photo of it up here asap)

Yesterday we visited a few more places in Delhi than we managed this morning.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the first place we visited was Jama Misjid whrer I met a fate worse than death in the 'toilets' and were forced to wear multi-coloured bin liners.  All the locals were laughing at us.

After this lovely introduction to India, we made it to the Red Fort or Lal Qila which was absolutely stunning and were made to feel like actual celebrities, again having more photos with strangers than we did with ourselves.

So far we have had two lovely drivers here, already owing today's driver a massive tip for how amazing he has been.

Our last trip in Delhi was to the slums, which until you have seen with your own eyes, you couldn't imagine the poverty that they live in and how genuinely happy they still are.

These pictures are just some of the 'better' slums in the Delhi area.  We weren't allowed to go into the inner circle of the slums as they are too dangerous, but we wanted to witness it for ourselves.

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