india: part two

There are no words to describe our second day in India.

When my family came to India, we knew we wanted to see the Taj Mahal. The plan for the day was have a peaceful, relaxing drive for four hours to Agra, visit the Taj Mahal, and sleep on the four hour drive back to the hotel.

It was not very peaceful or relaxing to say the least. Everywhere I looked were petticabs that were built for three people, but filled with families of ten, children hanging out of the sides and back windows nearly falling out onto the dangerous highway. There were people riding camels. Elephants. Donkey-driven and bicycle-driven carts riding down the freeway with enormous agricultural trucks barreling down the road. Families of five riding on a single motorcycle.

These were a few of the safest guys on the freeway:

No hands!

The villages on the drive to Agra can’t be explained in words or photographs.

We finally made it to the Taj Mahal. As you’d expect, it was absolutely gorgeous, and such an incredible landmark reflecting an important part of India’s history. It reflects a beautiful love story of an emperor of India and one of his wives.

This group of tourists from rural India was so excited to see a blonde woman (my mom) at the Taj Mahal that they actually hired a professional photographer to take pictures with us!

Isn’t it beautiful?

Agra, India

How to Visit

I would highly recommend staying in Delhi and enduring the four-hour drive to Agra. While the drive is long, it gives you the opportunity to see so much more of India, and it was definitely the most meaningful portion of our time spent in India.

With that in mind, I would highly suggest making travel arrangements with the hotel for both a driver and a tour guide. The tour guide can spend the duration of the drive sharing his or her experiences in India – the culture, lifestyle, and day to day life. We loved learning about our guide’s struggles with arranged marriages, her goal to start a fashion line, and her experience at the university in India.

The tour guide will also be able to lead you through the Taj Mahal and help in purchasing tickets, the process of which can be very overwhelming!

Where to Eat

As a way to break up the long drive, I recommend stopping at the Oberoi Amarvilas, located 650 yards away from the Taj Mahal, for lunch before heading back to Delhi. The food was delicious, the air conditioning felt like heaven, and the view of the Taj Mahal didn’t hurt either!

Next Stop: Kathmandu, Nepal!


50 Responses to india: part two

  1. Meg says:

    hi star, wow the taj mahal and you are visiting it, how lucky. maybe i missed it why are you in india? loving hearing all about your travels. meg

    • Star says:

      Thanks so much Meg! We went to India just for fun – kinda weird, I know! The whole trip was all for fun, we just picked a few of the most random places that looked interesting to us! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your comments!!!

  2. Hi Star! What a fantastic review. You know, I felt for you, seeing those poor poverty stricken children, begging for money. I’ve never been to India nor have I ever really seen poverty stricken children begging in the street of any country but I sometimes wonder if they really know a different way of life. Did you ever see “Slumdog Millionaire”? Most of those children are working for evil money-making tyrants in return for food, water and shelter, so who really knows? I don’t think they would ever know of a childhood like you or I had. We truly are blessed to have the lives we do. And how insightful you write.

    Looking forward to Nepal! (I’ve saved myself a lot of money. I feel like I’m already there with your lovely photos and commentary. LOL)

    Anne xx

    • Star says:

      Anne you are amazing! Thank you SO much for such a long, thoughtful comment! I did see Slumdog Millionaire – the movie so accurately portrays life in India! They actually shot part of the movie in Agra right where we were. We really are so blessed.

      Thank you so much for your sweet comments!!

  3. Ana says:

    This breaks my heart and makes me so grateful at the same time. I love that you are giving tips and you are talking about the reality of the place rather than just its beauty. You look Stunning Star, making honor to your name. I love that dress.

  4. Nicole says:

    Wow……. What an amazing trip. And an eye opener… God Bless our Great Country! We are so lucky to live in the USA.

  5. Jo-Anna says:

    What an amazing experience! We are truly lucky to live where we do… Thanks for the tour!
    Jo-Anna

  6. I would have anxiety attacks driving there!
    God bless the U.S. of A.!

    YOUR DRESS IS SO BEAUTIFUL ON YOU, ITS INSANE, I NEED IT! DO SHARE DETAILS.

    • Star says:

      Aw thank you SO so much girl!!!! It is actually a thrift store dress I got for $5 near my house :). If you’re ever in San Diego, it’s called Flashbacks! So much fun!!! You are so sweet!!

  7. colleen says:

    Great commentary, Star! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

  8. Tang says:

    OMG if someone came up to me with a COBRA, I would die because I’m terrified of snakes!!! But otherwise, it looks so amazing there.

  9. The stark contrasts of India are…I don’t know what the right word is…eye opening. The very first picture gave me chills, but I don’t think I can even fathom how incredible seeing the Taj Mahal must be.

    And your mom? Wow, she looks like your older sister!

  10. Wow Star! It was so fascinating to read about your travels. As I read your beautiful words, I was feeling just as anxious as you probably were riding in that car! Wow. What a life changing experience!! I wish you all the best on your continued travels. I look forward to hearing more. on another note, you and your mom are so beautiful! xo Samantha

  11. Jennifer says:

    Star, this made me feel even more grateful for having food on the table every night and running water to bathe in everyday. The child’s eyes says it all. I’m beginning to think they really did think you guys were celebrities. Just think you and your mom’s pics are probably floating around on the page of some Indian Facebook pages…LOL

  12. wow, that first picture is so striking. it really brings me back.

  13. Hi Star,
    I came across from Anne@Domesblissity’s blog. I am loving your blog!
    Travel safe, Lee

  14. This does just kind of break my heart. It makes me feel so lucky to live like we do. On a happy note – I just LOVE your dress!

  15. Oh Star, how lucky we are to live in such wonderful developed countries. It is hard to read about the poverty in India but your story is a reminder of how truly blessed we are. The photo of the child looking in the car window made my eyes fill with tears.

    You are such a great story teller and I can’t wait for Nepal tomorrow xo

    • Star says:

      Aw thank you so so much Belinda! I’m sorry I haven’t posted Nepal yet – I am almost finished writing it ๐Ÿ™‚ I soooo appreciate your comments!

  16. priscilla says:

    South america where I’m from is beautiful but there’s alot of the ugly poverty also. That’s so funny they wanted to take pictures with you guys hahaaha. Your mom looks so young and the dress is great!

  17. Lindsay says:

    Star…for starters you need to be a writer. The way you write and tell stories is amazing. The first photograph makes me feel a little sad but I think you captured your experience in such a beautiful way! Ahhh scary about people banging on your car doors! That would give me a major panic attack!! I also think it’s great that they wanted pictures with you guys! Thanks for sharing all your pictures!

    • Star says:

      Aw Lindsay!!! You are SO kind. That was just the comment I needed today! It made me so happy and was just the positive feedback I was needing :). I sooo appreciate it girl! Thank you!

  18. wonderful documentation of your india trip! while so heartbreaking to hear about, i bet it was quite an experience visiting the villages on the outskirts of the city.

  19. Leya says:

    Hey Star,
    First of all, nice to know that you liked India. But, like everyone who visits India or any country with the poverty tag tied around it, your review is also biased heavily, although I am sure you do not realize it, since you only visited a tiny part of our huge country.
    Delhi is a wealthy place with an amazing shopping scene and enough big malls just like you see in USA. Satellite towns of Delhi like Gurgaon, Noida place themselves firmly atop 100 s of smaller places in the USA when it comes to land prices and real estate. I am sure half the people who are from smaller American towns do not even realize the extent of power and wealth that our cities in India have because the one thing that always projects ahead of all this is the poverty. I live a neat little city in southern India, and I love our big cities, just like you guys love your NY.
    The fact is there is always two sides of the coin. Difference is, heads for India and the subcontinental countries is always poverty, which is not so much the entire picture. This is similar to saying that you have seen all of America by looking at the illegal immigrants crossing in from Mexico, working in 22 hour shifts without VISA s in some hot tomato farm off the border, ethnic families of 10-12 living in a two bedroom apartment without heat, or the huge filthy drugs, guns and prostitution filled underbelly of American cities that is very real and existent. But, all these still does not discredit USA in spite of all the economic problems there. It is similar here in India. We are a nation with differences. We have poverty, we have people living in filthy conditions, we have red streets where 10 year old girls are sold, but we also have a strong and emerging economy that renders work to millions of youngsters, road systems that work no matter what despite having very little to expand on because of our population, gold reserves that might just hold up against the weakening dollar, and just for arguments sake, a strong army with an enviable nuclear mother load to stand against all those terrorist infusing nations that your great army has not won a war against (and we have won whichever we fought). (The last one is not something I endorse, but still, it proves our strength nevertheless)

    Anne @ Domesblissity and others who have thought that Slumdog Millionaire is an articulate and correct description of India are heavily mistaken. That, again, is shot by a western director whose eyes only swept the poverty scene. Not that he didn’t do a good job at it, but the film also just shows a tiny part of the country. I think this film discredits our great country in a really scandalous way.

    I know this comment is long and a little hard, but, just to put it straight, India is an awesome country. Girls who have commented Thank God we live in USA- for this post and the previous one must know that our country is wonderful too. And we feel the same pride living here like you do living in your country.

  20. Jenna says:

    Those photos are heartbreaking. It must be hard to see that but it makes you truly appreciate the life we have. We are lucky.

  21. omg Im planning to go to india next year, I can’t wait, from your pics it looks so fun and different. i went to cambodia a few months ago and some parts dont’ have running water or electricity either, it’s heart breaking and make me think how lucky we are!

    • Star says:

      Oh how exciting! I can’t wait to hear how India is! Cambodia is on my list to see – I’ve heard it’s beautiful, and the culture sounds amazing!

  22. Natalie says:

    I’m loving your posts about India, what an amazing place, but the poverty is overwhelming. It is amazing to me how different our lives can be from people who live just a plane ride away.

  23. priscilla says:

    Hey Star, you asked me where I was from, I’m from Guayaquil, Ecuador, I was born there, raised here. Ecuador is very nice. I’ve always dreamed of going to Brazil and Argentina though.

  24. I really hope you enjoyed India – I travelled around the country a couple of years ago, and whilst I absolutely loved it, I did find the North of the country very overwhelming, even though I’d travelled a lot of Asia before…. especially Delhi & Agra! I did meet some incredibly lovely people though, between all the madness, and now that I look back on it I just have amazing memories and desperately want to go back. I definitely preferred Southern India though, did you make it down there?
    Looking forward to your post on London!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Sally

    http://ourdreamlives.wordpress.com/

    • Star says:

      That sounds amazing! I would have loved to see more of India. The people in India are incredible – some of the kindest people I’ve ever encountered. We didn’t make it down to Southern India – maybe I’ll have to make another trip! And thank you Sally! I hope the London post does it justice – it is such a beautiful place!!! You’re lucky to live there ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Jess says:

    WOW! what an incredible journey and love that you shared all this wealth of information. I can’t wait to see the next stop ๐Ÿ™‚

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