Reflections On Our Road Trip

We are back from our 1700 kilometer road trip – excluding our flight to and from Delhi – that covered more tombs and places of worship than we have visited in all our years of travel! It was an intense roller coaster ride into centuries of Indian history in reverse, from imperial New Delhi to vedic Varanasi. 

We are glad we chose to drive, despite the abysmal roads and arid landscapes we passed through, for we got a glimpse, however fleeting, into the lives of people in the Hindi belt. And it wasn’t very pretty. The conditions in a state that has given the country eight of its fourteen prime ministers, and boasts the highest representation in the Lok Sabha (Lower house of Parliament), are tragic testimony to the apathy of our political class. For the first time ever, Chennai didn’t seem as ugly and chaotic on our return as it usually does!

But despair at the living conditions of common people and the appalling state of some of the ‘protected’ monuments (and achy bums from the potholes) aside, our trip was punctuated by many sublime moments.

Having Humayun’s tomb all to ourselves one beautiful morning, people watching in the Lodi gardens, paying our respects to Akbar the Great in Sikandra, witnessing the faded decadence of Nawabi culture in Lucknow, being dumbstruck at the exquisite workmanship of the 2300 year old Lion Capital of Asoka (The state emblem of India), a serene dawn boat ride on the monsoon swollen Ganges in Varanasi………….

And oh yes, admiring the first rays of the sun glint off the pristine surface of the Taj…..that was, quite surprisingly, as breathtaking as hyped!

Taj Mahal, Agra

Shall tell you all about it and more. Until then here is a pictorial summary:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by

Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

57 thoughts on “Reflections On Our Road Trip

    1. We went just after sunrise since the day started cloudy with a hint of rain. But it cleared up all of a sudden and we got to see the the monument in amazing light. A very happy October to you too Marina 🙂

  1. Thank you for your post on India! It has always been a country that intrigued me and I may very well pack my bag to travel there one day soon. I look forward to reading your posts!! Please visit me at breakyourcage.com. Maybe you will find useful information on there, as I have on yours. Cheers!!

    1. Thank you for your visit and comment. Your blog looks interesting. Shall certainly spend time there when I am done catching up 🙂

  2. Welcome back, Madhu. Road trips are stressful, but it is the only way to “feel” the country, even if it is ones own. Ron and I are traveling to India in March. We are in the planning stages and are excited about going. There is so much to see and take in and your thoughts and reflections and wonderful photos are just what I need.

    1. Happy to help anyway I can Lynne. Which part of India are you visiting? Ron I know is very familiar with India, possibly more than I am, so a great holiday is guaranteed 🙂

  3. I’m just so glad the Taj didn’t disappoint, after all that. I’d be inconsolable 🙂
    Varanasi and all the ghats always seemed very sombre to me but that sunrise looks serene. And the best bit? All your lovely photos to come 🙂

    1. Thank you Jo. We half expected to be disappointed by the Taj, since several of our friends had felt underwhelmed. Guess high expectations always set us up for a let down. Holds good for my ‘photos to come’ too 🙂

  4. Dear Madhu,
    Welcome home! I thought you might be on an adventure, as it was very quiet in your part of the blogosphere. Your photos are stunning, and I can hardly wait to hear more about your trip.

    1. Thank you Naomi. Its great to be back. Am going to take a while to catch up though, since I have baby siting duties coming up 🙂

  5. Your photo of the Taj is perfect — love that it is not the classic full view, as exquisite as it is, because your framing of it seems to set off its beautiful details even more so.

    1. Thanks Kat. Thought those shots have been done to death too. But you just might have to suffer some of them in a later, exclusive post 😉

  6. Bellissime immagini, in particolare la Tomba di Humayun. Sai io amo viaggiare in auto, proprio per il fatto che così il viaggio lo si vive con lentezza, viceversa detesto l’aereo che catapulta da un mondo all’altro senza dare la possibilità di vedere quello che ci sta in mezzo, siano cose e più ancora persone.
    Ti confesso una cosa, mia moglie è stata in India diverse volte, ad un certo pu to potevamo anche decidere di viverci (avrei fatto il casalingo, che bello ;)) ma a lei non andava. Sull’India ho visto molte immagini e molti documentari in questi anni, ma sentire da una voce diretta come la tua è diverso, ovvero è molto meglio 🙂

    1. You are so right Popof, air travel apart from being impersonal is a huge waste of time as well. But there were moments on our journey when I thought I was crazy not to have just got on a flight. Thank you for your comment. Hope my travelogue doesn’t disappoint 😉

      1. delude? niente affatto, è molto bello leggere delle esperienze altrui, forse dovrei fare anch’io altrettanto, chissà ci proverò 🙂

  7. Such wonderful photos Madhu! Your journey sounds as though it has been a truly epic experience, and I am in awe of your reverence at having remained sane after everything you experienced, all the wonders and the tragedies. Thank you for always stretching my perceptions of the world. You are an inspiration! 🙂

    Warm regards
    Ishaiya

    1. Thank you dear Ishaiya. It feels great to know that my readers actually read through the lines and connect with what I have to say.

  8. I can’t wait to read more. That glimpse of the Taj Mahal is breathtaking! But I also want to hear about the potholes and the people and life you saw along the way. Get writing!

    1. Uh oh, I don’t think I clicked one of a pothole Juliann!!! Was too busy ranting – in my head – at the people in charge of those roads. But I might have some decent people pictures to show you 🙂

  9. Beautiful photos, and I look forward to seeing more and hearing more tales of your trip. You are helping me see a part of the world that I’m not familiar with, Madhu.

  10. I remember those journeys in India by road. I particularly remember one trip from Pune to Kodaikanal when it seemed every bridge in India had been demolished in order to build better ones. Why it was done simultaneously I’ll never know but those diversions and delays made the trip into a two day nightmare. lol

    1. The comfort and convenience of citizens is the last thing on the minds of our authorities Ian. Politicians usually hop across destinations in their personal choppers. Or if a very big shot has to visit a rather bad stretch, it is hurriedly done up to just last until the next rain. I wonder if non durability of road surface is an unwritten clause in those contracts. Win win for both contractor and minister.

  11. Madhu, it sounds like you went to many of the same places I went on my 2011 trip through northern India. I can’t wait to read more about your trip and see your pictures! A beautiful glimpse so far!

  12. Madhu, you must be exhausted! Rest your brain, your body (especially your feet) so we can see and hear more about your fabulous trip!

  13. What a magnificent image! A perfect light reflected on the shapes of stone. Your whole slide show is wonderful but the Taj photo is amazing.

  14. Looking forward to reading about your trip, seems you had some interesting moments…. I thought you must have been away, so welcome back! As ever, your images are great, especially the gentle light on the Taj and sunrise on the Ganges at Varanasi. 🙂

  15. The Taj is beautiful. I like you composition of it, rather than the one usually shown from afar with the long walkway leading up to it.

  16. Amazing shot of the Taj! Would love to visit it someday. Great insight into the political failings of the area too. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Welcome Madhu!
    I bet it was a full experience…The pics you posted are a good aperitive…Take a good rest (I imagine some days were dead tired), and offer us your photographies and stories…We will be here…:)

  18. Your description of your adventure so far is exciting. Your photos captured everything so well. The people doing Tai Chi (I’m assuming it’s Tai Chi) in the Lodi Garden look peaceful. Stunning sunset, too. I look forward to more stories about your adventure. You create a picture with each story.
    Namaste …

  19. Welcome back Madhu. You make the Taj look more beautiful than it does in my memory.

    I tip my hat to your courage on taking a road trip through these well-documented bad-road cities. It can be a nightmare, I know… and you managed to still take pics and get down to enjoying the sceneries – you are the consummate traveler! Columbus reincarnated!

    Take care! Recuperate! Nurse your aching back and bums… 🙂

    I have the loveliest memories of our little excursion at Dilli Haat. Will write more soon…

  20. Yours is a part of the world that I find so fascinating, such awe-inspiring centuries-old architecture. I feel a sense of reverence just looking at your images, imagining the Buddha addressing the faithful. Can’t wait to see future posts!

    1. Thank you so much Hanel. Am just drafting my post. Can’t seem to find your entry. Could you post a link please?

  21. What a wonderful trip! I remember it being pretty hard work, back when, so I understand the discomforts, but isn’t it just thrilling to see these sublime buildings, sites and monuments up close in all their glory? I’m so looking forward to your posts – it’ll be like going there again, I’m sure. Have fun with the grandkids … 🙂

  22. Ahh Madhu, Humayan’s tomb was a highlight for me in India. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip and that north is a big contrast to your area. Also you hired a car? very wise not to trash your own on those roads 🙂 Looking forward to seeing more.

  23. Thanks for these beautiful travelogue photos. I love how you captured the beautiful architecture and the slice of life. It is sad that some places and people seem to have been forgotten in the distribution of wealth and opportunities. I hope that the lot of the poorer places and regions will be improved someday soon.

  24. Stunning structures and views. Thanks for sharing, Madhu.

    Traveling can be a double-edge sword. We’ve seen incredible beauty and met wonderful people on some of our vacations, but we’ve also witnessed heartbreaking poverty.

  25. Wow Madhu! Sounds like quite the journey! I can’t wait to read more! Your capture of the Taj is breathtaking! Mine is no where near as good!

Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s