(Click on the links for detailed info on the sites, and additional interior and incredible photos.)
My husband and I planned this trip 2 years ago, as soon as the cruise itinerary was posted. We had traveled extensively but a journey to this part of the globe would have been our first. The plan was to fly into Delhi/India to visit the Baha’i Temple and Taj Mahal. Next, fly to Singapore, where we would take a 31-day cruise. After spending two days in Singapore exploring the Marina Bay Sands building and enjoying Singaporean chilli crab (I must add, my recipe tastes better), we would start our cruise.
Radhika of Sinsations Cakes invited us for dinner at her home in Singapore. This was my first time visiting one of the fellow Bloggers in person. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos. Radhika warmly greeted us. We were pleased to meet her husband and both of her parents as well. It was a wonderful first meeting and we were treated to varieties of Indian vegetarian appetizers and main dishes. Yum! Thank you Darling Radhika.
We began our cruise to visit 9 countries (12 ports of call) we had never been to, including a stop at Mumbai/India.
I will start with magical India, land of colorful saris, aromatic spices, and spirituality.
While in Delhi, notable places we visited:
The Baha’i Lotus Temple is one of the remarkable architectures of The Baha’i Faith. It is located at Kalkaji in
New Delhi. The temple looks like a lotus flower and is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. The temple has no restrictions for visitors and is open to people from all religions. It provides an immaculate environment for meditation, peace and wisdom. The Baha’i temple was completed in 1986.
Humayun’s tomb (UNESCO World Heritage Site, built 1565 ~ 1572) Hamida Banu Begum, his grieving widow, built Emperor Humayun’s mausoleum. Precursor to the Taj-Mahal, it stands on a platform 12,000 square meters and reaches a height of 47 meters. The earliest example of Persian influence in Indian architecture, the tomb has within it over 100 graves, earning it the name, ‘Dormitory of the Mughals’. Built of rubble masonry, the structure is the first to use red sandstone and white marble in such great quantities. The small canopies on the terrace were originally covered in glazed blue tiles, and the brass finial over the white marble dome is itself 6 meters high.
Akshardham (Delhi) Besides showcasing 10,000 years of Indian architectural heritage and culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, the sprawling Akshardham temple complex, built in 2005 on the banks of the Yamuna boasts several attractions. These include, The hall of Values; giant screen theater, Yagnapurush Kund and musical fountain, India’s largest stepwell; a fascinating 15 minute boat ride experience of the Indian heritage.
(Photography was not allowed outside or inside. These two photos are downloads from the internet).
Taj Mahal (Agra), UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Who doesn’t know about this “Crown of Palaces”, Taj Mahal (from Persian)?
It is a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as “The jewel of Muslim art” in India, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles, and is one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. The Taj Mahal area is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen, many from Persia, to incorporate the Persian skills of inlaid stone tiles.
A Must See: In this 5 minute video, you will see more than what we saw in person (with story!). 🙂
When visiting a destination as a port-of-call of a cruise itinerary, touring time is limited. The best way is to choose one of the excursions offered by the ship, to make sure you get back to the ship secure, safe and on time. Since we had already visited an adequate number of temples and spiritual places elsewhere, in Mumbai, we took an excursion to see the ‘day-to-day life of people’. We toured the city and then took a commuter train to the famous, world’s largest outdoor launderer, Dhobi Ghat. We also experienced Crawford Market and later saw how thousands of dabbawala (lunch boxes) were distributed near Churchgate Railway Station and the Gateway of India Monument.
This was a long overdue destination on my bucket list. Our main goal was to see the Baha’i Temple, as well as the Taj Mahal and be able to mingle with people.
We accomplished even more. India is fascinating and complicated. Everyone we spoke with was anticipating the upcoming election. People were frustrated with the present social and economic situation. The nation definitely needs changes, which the people are most willing, ready and capable of making happen.
What were highlights of my visit and images most imprinted in my mind?
The resilience of the children and extremely charming, beautiful women in their ever-so-colorful, radiant saris, ghagra choli, shalwar kameez, and intricate jewelry, especially that worn by newlyweds, all dressed up in their ornate, national ensembles, broadcasting the beginning of their affection and love union. Namaste!