Delhi, India. January 2014

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January 19, 2014 Sunil and I left Mandawa in the morning, shortly after the breakfast. After 16 days in Rajasthan and 35 days in India, it was my final road trip before reaching Delhi. Despite all the extremes that happened to me in Rajasthan, I made a right decision to come there and see with my own eyes this beautiful land of incredible scenery and rich history, learn about half-dozen of ancient kingdoms still co-existing within the Union of India, visit extravagant palaces and hear the secrets of zenana, witness the sunrises in Thar desert and spend a night on camel safari. At times, I felt exhausted to constantly look over my shoulder and …

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Ajmer and Pushkar, India. January 2014.

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January 7, 2014 After 3 fantastic days in Jaipur, I had to abandon the world of luxuries and start a real road-trip around Rajasthan.  On January 7, I planned to pay a visit to two most important religious sites in Rajasthan – Ajmer and its Dargah of the Sufi’s saint Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chishti  and an ancient Hindu  pilgrimage town of Pushkar. It is a very common itinerary since Pushkar is a huge touristic hub for both, hippies and spirituality seekers. Sadly, Ajmer always stays in a shadow, however, it was my favorite place out of two. Ajmer, the Rajasthan’s most important site in terms of Islamic history and heritage, was founded …

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Aurangabad, India. December 2013.

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December 27. I have never heard of Ellora or Ajanta Caves and after seeing Agra, I haven’t expected Aurangabad to impress me, however, it turned out to be a pretty remarkable place, worthy of a detour from the “standard India package” destinations. Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar, made Aurangabad (at that time still a small village called Khadki, and later Fatehnagar) his capital city in 1610. Due to Ambar’s love and talent for architecture, it took only a decade for the village to become an imposing city. With the capture of the impregnable Daulatabad fort (i will talk about it later) by the Mughal …

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Agra, India. December 2013.

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After spending a day discovering the ancient cities of Vrindavan and Mathura, Dimi and I arrived to our hotel, ITC Mughal, in Agra very late at night. The hotel is an oasis among the dirt and ugliness of the city. I have read a lot about Agra and its importance as a Mughal capital, 300 years ago, but, unfortunately, very little dignity is left from that time. Behind the car window, it seemed hectic, over-crowded and filthy. Agra was first mentioned in Hindu epic Mahabharata and by Maharshi Angira in 1000 B.C. However, it is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodhi, the ruler of Delhi Sultanate, established the city in 1501 (or 1504) and it stayed …

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Varanasi, India. December 2013.

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December 20, 2013 Oh, Varanasi! Brace yourself, you will either love it or hate it! Many say, it is a place of the best and the worst India has to offer, and even though it is only my 2nd and 3rd days in the country, I feel I’ve experienced India. The history, the river, the ongoing funeral ceremonies, the garbage, the animals, the holiness, the sadhus, the temples, the amount of people and touts – incredible! As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi won’t leave you unmoved. Varanasi, also know as Kashi (City of Life) and for locals as Banares, is regarded as one of the seven …

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Delhi, India. December 2013.

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Delhi, Dec 19, 2013 My Aeroflot flight to Moscow was delayed by several hours and I completely lost all hope in catching a transfer to Delhi, nevertheless, due to a large number of Indians traveling from the US to India on the same flight, the plane in Moscow waited for us, so we made it and arrived to Delhi not only with a minimum delay but also with all our luggage. Varun K., my classmate from Oxford, met me at the Indira Gandhi international airport and we went straight to his house. He and his family were kind enough to offer me and Dimitris an accommodation in Delhi and his …

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