I N D I A trotting- Agra, Mumbai & Bangalore
- November 18, 2019
- Aaliya Mohamed
My April holidays have always been last minute and just like that, our trip to the land of Biriyani was planned in less than 2 weeks over brunch. Of course the only think I could think of when someone mentions I N D I A is Taj Mahal, Biriyai and Sari shopping, and that being said, we decided to explore Agra, Mumbai and Bangalore, 3 of India’s key cities popular for high tourism and plenty to see!
We landed in Delhi and took a Uber straight to Agra with intentions of staying a day there (biggest mistake ever!) If your plan is to just visit the Taj Mahal (Which is technically the only thing to do in Agra), STAY in Delhi and drive to Agra for a day. Staying there is bad idea considering the fact the city inst the most appealing to ‘holiday’! We were exposed to people peeing in public, terribly constructed roads and overflowing drains. Not a very fancy way to start a holiday and we learnt this the hard way!
If you are taking an Uber to Agra (which is the most reasonable option when compared with other cab services), know that the Uber charges INCLUDE the city taxes as well. We got cheated by our Uber driver on our way there having to pay an extra 900 INR to get passed the highways. Sighh!
THINGS TO SEE & PLACES TO BE..
The Taj Mahal through my eyes
Day 1 in A G R A was obviously the Taj Mahal, we headed there at 7 am and started the day early to accommodate our 500 million pictures. Luckily for us, our hotel was 5 mins a way from the monument so that made life so much easier.
GET A GUIDE – If you are a first timer here, get yourself a tour guide. Not sure to what extent they rip foreigners off, but allocate a few extra bucks for this if you are getting one. This will cost you approx INR200-400 apart from the entrance ticket, but its worth if you haven’t been before. They take you through it all and give you a briefing at every point. Some of them even help you with photographs and multiple questions are allowed (So thats bonus!) 😛
All that were travel tips for you but here’s some real insight on this Marble Mansion!
The Taj Mahal AKA the ‘Monument of love’, is one of the 7 wonders of the world built hundreds of years ago by the Indian Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, as a symbol of unconditional love and matrimony for his wife. It is also symbolic of India’s rich history as a result of its highly expensive architecture and construction.
The structure is a magnificent white marble Mausoleum with handcrafted engravings and precious stones encrusted on its walls. Studies prove that most of these stones have been removed or stolen by peasants and labourers in riots and invasions over the years.
India is massive so there is no way you can cover all of it in one visit, but you MUST prioritise a trip here if you are travelling the north.
The white Marble on the walls of the Taj Mahal is crafted BY HAND and took many many years to complete by skilled labourers. Marble crafting has now become rare in India as a result of machinery and practiced only within home based businesses where the expertise is passed from generation to generation.
We popped by one of the souvenir shops outside the monument and got a free demo on how its done. The experience was pretty lit, but I wouldn’t say its mandatory unless you really want to understand the craft.
Lunch at the Dhaba Dictionary – AGRA
Big shout out to the Dhaba Dictionary for being the only place in Agra we were comfortable to dine in! I swear, if it was not for this place I would have survived on Pringles and lays till the next flight to Bombay.
The restaurant served up delicious Uttar pradesh style food that was prepared from scratch and most importantly hygienic and fresh. ‘Hygiene’ is something you must be particular when travelling India, specially when eating by roadside restaurants.
We ordered their fast moving garlic and butter naans, chicken butter masala and homemade paneer and dived straight into seconds.
As much as we were terrified of consuming water based beverages from street shops in Agra, we couldn’t resist this cup of tea offered to us by a vendor outside the Taj. With great reluctance we tasted; Milk tea infused with a blend of local spices, omg! it was the Chai of my LIFE!
We were told that the village areas of India often prepare the spices for their Chai’s from scratch and that is why its so good, but Chai in this country is generally their prized possession where the cuisine is concerned! Its one of a freaking kind.
Tip- If you are concerned about the water situation, I’d recommend getting it from a reputed/known tea shop or restaurant.
Where we stayed 🙂
Colaba is a part of Mumbai known as the Art center of the city with museums, colonial style buildings and structures preserved from historical times. Its well known for tourism as this area has everything you need to ‘holiday’. From shopping, local street food, bazaars, clubs, pubs and last but not least, India’s best B I R I Y A N I; the place has your vacation covered. Highly recommend staying here if its your first time in Mumbai.
THINGS TO SEE & PLACES TO BE..
Gateway of India Mumbai
India’s most unique landmarks situated in the city of Colaba. The structure is an arch-monument built in the early twentieth-century to honour the landing of the first British monarch in India and is now one of Mumbai’s top tourist attractions. The gate gets pretty busy on weekends, with large crowds flocking around for photographs and views.
Metro Plaza- Colaba
The Metro plaza in Colaba is a MUST for shopping if its your first time here! The diversity of this market ranges from Clothes, home decor, jewellery, chappals, hand crafts, accessories down to MC DONADS; the plaza has is all. The fact that you can bargain your heart out while at it also makes it the perfect place to shop for souvenirs and gifts in case you are shopping for family and friends.
Crawford Market- Mumbai, Maharashtra
You can never get enough of SAREE SHOPPING in Crawford market M U M B A I . The place is one of the oldest markets in south Mumbai and is known for its diverse shopping experience!
Ps- Bargaining allowed!
DELHI DARBAR- Colaba
Delhi Darbar is a well known restaurant famous for all kinds of biriyani and is a must visit spot in Mumbai. There’s a restaurant right opposite the metro plaza if you are looking to pop by. We tried the prawn and mutton biriyani here and had no regrets.
Mohammed Ali Street
This street is the most recognized ‘chat street’ in Mumbai and is not to be missed you are a foodie!
Mohammed Ali street has dedicated most of its space accommodating street food vendors, and is now world renown for it. From biriyani, kebabs, rottis, traditional beverages, down to drool worthy sweets and much more, this street has is all. Its almost like a food festival everyday! 😀 They also serve up super large portion quantities and prices are extremely reasonable.
Note- It’s not the easiest street to get about due to the large crowds and vehicles (we almost died in the process tbh lol), but the experience here was worth a lifetime.
NIGHTLIFE IN MUMBAI
Mumbai is definitely one of India’s big party cities! Plenty of places out there to grab a good drink and dance the night away. We only spent 2 nights here so our nightlife options were pretty streamlined based on location and schedule, but here are few places I can safely recommend for a good time.
We spent our Friday night ‘socializing at Colaba social’. The place served up cocktails and local specialities in the most creative pub fusions. Was quite the experience eating tikka tacos and watching our candy floss cosmopolitans ignite on this night out! The audience and ambience here reminded us of ‘Re-pub-lk’ back home and prices were quite affordable too.
Olive Bar & Kitchen- Mumbai
The place is a little away from Colaba but worth the drive. A well known trendsetter in the hospitality industry with its refined atmosphere and high end audience, Olive definitely maintains high pub standards. We walked in and immediately noticed the diversity of INDIA where people are concerned! lol. They don’t have a dance floor per say, hence can get extremely crowed on a busy night (which in our case was the situation :/) but a great place to grab a drink, meet new people and socialize.
ps- If I am not mistaken you need to get on the guest list beforehand!- so plan ahead.
Where we stayed 🙂
I found Bangalore to be the most relaxing and advanced from the 3 destinations we visited! What I’m trying to say is – I loved it here the most, because it felt like home! Indiranagar is located in the central part of the city and is a very lively spot with its happening nightlife and touristy vibes. We even shopped a little more here as we felt prices were more reasonable than Mumbai! (so note!)
THINGS TO SEE & PLACES TO BE..
The Bangalore palace
The Bangalore Palace is a top tourist attraction in Bengalaru. The place owns ancient Tudor style architecture with wooden interiors, large indoor halls and gardens. Furniture inside had an ancient British touch to it, where private rooms and floors were vibrant and traditional.
If you are into interior and architecture this is definitely inspiring.
NIGHT LIFE IN BANGALORE
Indiranagar after dark is the place to be! Its extremely lively at night and plenty to do. Here are a few pubs and clubs we managed to hop by on a Friday night.
The Black Rabbit is a quirky pub in Indiranagar that seems to attract a younger crowd. TBH we didn’t really gel well with the audience here (LOL), but their drinks were affordable and menu was diverse. Brunch is supposedly good here too! So I would recommend popping by.
The Loft 38
Our next stop this night was the Loft. The place was much more happening just like Friday nights should be, but the music here didn’t really rock our boat. Definitely more lively, great ambience and fabulous lighting!
The Tao Terraces
The place is a roof top bar with a decent view. However, we weren’t sure what kind of audience they attracted due a private party that took place this day, but pictures online look amazing. Suggest you visit on a quieter day for some cocktails and tapas.
Arena Artisan brew kitchen
This was probably the best out of the 4 club/pubs we checked out this night. Absolutely loved the selection of music played here! A bit of dance, hip hop & RnB, retro 90’s and the best was being able to dance to some local Hindi jams too!
The classy interiors and diverse audience here had us dancing till dawn.
Bangalore Brew works
You cant visit Bangalore and miss out on their Microbreweries! Bangalore’s love for stouts & lagers have birthed some world class breweries in the city you must see! Microbreweries in India are most popular in Bangalore, so if you are in Bangalore, prioritize this.
We managed to pop by Bangalore Brew works, a popular microbrewery located in Prestige Towers, Bangalore. Was amazing to have experienced some fine flavours and most importantly top quality beer here.
RESTAURANTS AND FOOD
Don’t fancy grabbing Chai’s off street shops? Well, tbh, Bangalore’s water situation isn’t as bad as Agra or Mumbai, but better safe than sorry.
India Chai is your one stop Chai shop dedicated to serving Chai’s and only Chai’s. You can guarantee hygiene and also not worry about missing out on the traditional Chai experience.
We all know South Indian cuisine is massive in variety and unique to all South Indian cities in general, but Maddur Vada’s origin is Karnataka,Bagalore! This local snack is full of texture and works bags of flavour with the chilli coconut sambol served with it.
Until next time I N D I A