A 5.30am start to the day may not be everybody’s cup of tea but with a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal on the agenda, I needed no encouragement to get up and go! Sunrise is most certainly the best part of the day to enjoy this wonderful treasure house of India. The Taj Mahal proved to be everything I expected it to be – and more. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife, this magnificent monument is indeed one of the greatest and most romantic buildings in the world. The days of an emperor in residence here may be long gone but I was intrigued to discover a pair of golden eagles had made it their home. Rather regal I thought.
The palace has access ramps throughout the visitor area right up to the very last sections into the main building, which can only be reached via stairs. The gardens however can be enjoyed in all their glory and photographs with the Taj Mahal in the background will give you wonderful memories of a holiday that is most definitely exotic. The area leading up to the last section is very flat, and it is here – perched in front of the water fountains – you will find the famous bench that is now affectionately known as Diana’s bench.
Upon leaving the Taj Mahal, our next stop was a sightseeing tour of Agra City and a visit to the Bagar Fort – the seat of the stronghold of the Mughal emperor under successive generations. Bagar Fort is another extremely impressive example of Mughal architecture, which also benefits from having plenty of ramps to ensure most areas are accessible. This is good news indeed for tourists with walking difficulties – and proves once again that India is keen to cater for the needs of disabled people.
The Road to Jaipur: Fatehpur Sikri, Bharatpur
Having sourced and audited several hotels in Agra, I’m satisfied they would qualify for an E3 grading (this is the highest grade we offer hotels that meet our criteria for accessibility and suitability for wheelchair-users and people with limited mobility).
It was now time to move on to our next destination, Jaipur. And as we crossed the Yamuna River, the banks were vibrant with colour with locals busily laying out their clothes to dry in the warm sun. Beyond which every spare piece of land was occupied by teenagers and young boys mostly playing cricket (which I’ve been reliably informed is not just a sport in India – but almost a religion). We pass a camel towing a cart of supplies, there are street vendors with home-made contraptions called jugaars, where juice is sold from sugar canes; and I spy w hat must be a builder’s merchants – not because there is a yard full of construction material and big brawny men in hard hats but merely for the reason of there being a great mound of sand and blocks of bricks spilling out onto the street.
Eventually we arrived at Fatehpur Sikri – an abandoned city, which was built by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in the late 16th century but was abandoned soon afterwards when the water wells ran dry. It remains today much the same as it was over 300 years ago. Most of this site is accessible and has been fitted with ramps and adapted washroom facilities.
On the journey to Jaipur we stopped for lunch at The Hotel Bagh in Bharatpur, which proved to be the perfect relaxing retreat after the hustle and bustle of Delhi and Agra. This hotel has wonderful gardens and is a must for tourists who are looking escape the hectic schedule for a couple of days of peace and tranquility. The area is also an ornithologists paradise with a huge selection of birds to watch. (I was entertained by the antics of a family of owls!)
After another wonderful lunch, we are back on the road to Jaipur, which will take us approximately three hours to reach from here. So it is time to sit back relax and enjoy the scenery of this wonderful country.
And so to Jaipur, where I’ve had the pleasure to discover the 5-star LaLiT hotel – one of the finest luxury hotels in the city and conveniently located near Jawahar Circle. The hotel was pristine, beautifully decorated and very well-appointed – and as for the staff they were faultless, and included a fine gentleman with a 14 foot moustache coiled underneath his regal looking turban. Look out for him on the rollover of images above, where you will also see me loving my date with elephants, and there’s also a wonderful shot of 12 young students heading to school in a tuk tuk. Jaipur is the capital city of the state of Rajasthan and is known for its remarkable gridded street system.
With awesome fortresses, palaces, temples and beautiful havelis; Jaipur is a popular tourist destination offering royal attractions and cultural ones with traditional handicrafts and spectacular jewellery.
I was advised that the best time to visit Jaipur is between October and March when the climate is at a very pleasant temperature; and even though it wasn’t unbearably hot for my mid-April visit I could really feel the strength of the sun.
Read an interview with Lynne Kirby.
For holidays for those in wheelchairs, with limited mobility or slow walkers, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Enable Holidays.
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 1
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 2
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 4