We all had felt that the visit to the Taj Mahal had made our journey , but our dear tour guide said that there was much more beauty to be seen , and he was right , driving past the Palace of the winds , the amazing architecture of the palace .
The elephants at the Amber Fort , monkeys , goats and cows in the street…..and beautiful faces everywhere.
At each stop we made , there were men who would take photos of our group and try to sell them , and when we didn’t buy them , they wouldn’t give up , one man followed our group to 3 different sites that we visited and we all ended up wondering how he could remember so many faces ?, and where everyone was? ….as lots of tour groups from all over the world seem to do the same route each and everyday .
Children knowing that a bus load of tourists were around , this made for eventful times getting on and off the bus with children asking for money . i had decided that i would rather give them some biscuits or a piece of fruit , then at least i knew that they were eating them in front of me , there were days were this was quite confronting , but this was how i was going to manage it for myself .
Apart from children, there were many homeless dogs , as i am such an animal lover i found myself taking just as many photo of the dogs as i did the magnificent structures that we were seeing .
Our tour guide even asked me why i was doing this and what was i hoping to be able to do about it , i explained that next time i was coming back to India to help with an animal welfare group and try to help where i could .( i was already planning how to make this happen …….)
Hours and hours on the road saw our tour Guide telling us wonderful stories and it helped us to understand more of what we were seeing .
One of my most memorable things each day was watching our driver slow the bus whenever we passed a temple, and show his respect , it was such an insight to this country that he was sharing with us.
Historic Palaces that have been turned into beautiful and luxurious hotel, all had amazing themed rooms , and all we found ourselves looking at the different styles and colours in each of our rooms, there was a visit to a shop that made outfits that were made from saris , we all could choose our own styles , this was a fun day . the most glorious saris, all colours and textures , fabric all over the floor , many helpers all trying to process our orders , and when they all were ready they were delivered to the hotel that we were staying at that night .
Our group was meeting for a farewell dinner, so many new outfits were on show that evening .
Yousef, our tour guide had a lovely speech for us , saying that he was so happy to have us met us all and that we all had helped him enjoy this trip as well , as i must say we were a well gelled group , all of us just wanting the experience of a lifetime , and no problems had even been raised in the group , which he said was very unusual .
We all were very lucky to get along , and to be able to see the good in each other .
( to this day i am still in contact with some of them )
The group was to split up from here to do other “bolt ons ” (travel talk)
Back to Delhi on the bus and then straight to the Train station …….. i was to be on my way to Shimla , a few on our tour were also going so we would travel together on our 12 hour train trip.
The only thing that happened to me was that it was so crowded at the train station, i started to feel very unwell and dizzy , and all i remember is how our guide grabbed my pack and kept me upright and got me to the platform .
Everything started to get dark and i honestly thought i was going to black out , but somehow he manged to get me on the train , and there i was able to sit down . thank goodness for him , as i didn’t want to miss the train .
Our train ride was an overnight journey , and then we had to change trains to ride the Historic….( Unesco listed ) toy train for a 5 hour journey to Shimla .
A beautiful experience and there were little children next to us , who were so happy to be on the train.
Shimla was a magical place and our hotel overlooked the town , the air was crisp and clean.
We spent a few days there at our leisure with a few small tours around the town.
One tour was to a very Big temple that was dedicated to the Hindu God Hanuman ( the monkey-god ) and when we got there we were asked to not carry anything as the monkeys that roamed free would try to take them , there were monkeys everywhere so we did have to be careful.
We saw where Gandhi had met with politicians , and discussed the Independence of India , which was very interesting for me as i love to know all the information about this time for India and great change in history .
i found myself walking the streets and just feeling so very peaceful , knowing that maybe my grandmother may have been there ,
i came across a lovely church and went inside and asked if i was able to leave my candle there , they seemed to appreciate my story and said of course i could light the candle and leave it there , but to also take a photo of it to be able to remember the place .
The time in Shimla went quite quickly and before we had to leave ,
i took a short stroll around ,
and an older gentleman walking past me nodded and asked me ..
” did your relatives come from India ? “
i replied “Yes sir they did “ and he looked at me and said ….
” i thought so , it is lovely that you have come to retrace steps “
he then said “ i hope you have a lovely time here ….good evening”
what a lovely way to end such a memorable journey …..
Back to the hotel and then into the car for 5 hours of winding roads, to meet back with the train to Delhi …….. that train journey was a long and funny one , we all took turns of trying to get some sleep , finally arriving to a very crowded Delhi Station and headed back to the same hotel where we all had started from.
My next destination was Mumbai …….
( Bombay to my Grandmother …..as she could never understand why the name was changed )