This trip was coming for a long time.. Hotel bookings were done in May itself, train reservations were completed almost at the start of the 120-day advance reservation period, and after that there was nothing much to do but wait for the trip. My first extended trip with the full family, and much planning and preperation had gone into it. But before we could begin, there were several moments of anxiousness when little Aarya (all of 18 months) fell victim to diaarheoa just a week before we were to depart from Mumbai. On more than one occassion, we were worried that the trip would end even before it started. But thankfully she recovered well in time, and on the afternoon of 25th October, my parents, wife (Anjali), Aarya and me gathered at Mumbai Central station to board the August Kranti Rajdhani to Delhi, everyone in a state of excitement and expectation of a good time in the coming 10 days.
Travel on the AK Rajdhani was largely comfortable (though we felt more than our fair share of jerks). Anyways, in a Rajdhani, most of your non-sleeping time is spent eating ! And it was no different for us as we gulped down the samosas, juices, soups and then the dinner !. Next morning, we ended up at the Nizamuddin Station in Delhi, from there it was quick drive down to the Ginger Hotel outside New Delhi station. A word on the hotel: excellent location and decent facilities (where else would you get an AC room within 2 minutes walk from the railway and Metro stations for just 1700 bucks ?). If you are going to Delhi with the aim of not spending too much time in your hotel, then this is the place for you. That evening, we had our first ride on the Delhi Metro. And I am must say I was impressed (and coming from a Mumbaikar, that IS saying a LOT !! ;). Coaches were well maintained, stations were clean and the connections were quick. In fact the whole set up (travelling in a Metro and the hotel just outside the main station) reminded me of an earlier trip in 2007 to Nuremberg, Germany. The next day (27th October) we hired a cab (got a good deal from EasyCabs) and left for Agra. As I have detailed in an earlier blog post, the experience was not very pleasant. The Taj was overflowing with people and civic sense was largely absent in the general population. Had it been my first trip to the grand monument, it would have been tragic and heart-breaking not to see the granduer of the Taj in liesure. In the evening, we also w the Fatehpur Sikri, another beautiful place to see. Next day, there was a short journey to the Lotus Temple followed by one of the better lunches that I have had (at the Purani Dilli restaurent in the Kalkaji Metro station). In the evening, we all came back to our hotel, ready to say Bye Bye to Delhi and to begin Stage 2 of our trip... a ride up in the mountains and into Uttarakhand !!
Details in the next installment !! :)