Travel log: Delhi and Taj Mahal

Marking things off the bucket list!

I got back from India last Friday. I’m officially a certified yoga instructor!! There’s so much I want to share with you but honestly, I’m jet-lagged and feeling pretty meh. I recall last year when I got back from Australia/Indonesia it took me 2 weeks to adjust back to normal. But nobody’s got time for that as I leave tomorrow for Mexico to lead the 2nd annual blissed out yoga retreat. Crazy times! I promise to tell you all about the yoga teacher training in due time 🙂

The last 6 weeks were a whirlwind. It went by so fast. The yoga teacher training at Trimurti was an intense 4 weeks. But before I headed to the beautiful mountains of Dharamsala I made a pitstop in Delhi to do a photoshoot and take a day trip to see the Taj Mahal. How could I go to India and not?

Delhi was my first foray into Indian culture and food. I don’t recommend spending much time there because it’s hot, dirty, trashy, smoggy, and depending on where you stay you’ll be constantly harassed by taxi drivers and shop owners (I recommend Green Park area for a different experience!). There is however some amazing food to be had! I started by having a big fat dosa from a vegetarian fast food place called Haldiram. You order at the counter, and have a large number of choices from both North and South Indian cuisine. My lunch was a meniscal 150 rupees, which is like $2.50. Total score.

Keep in mind that most of India will not quite understand what vegan means. They LOVE their dairy. and ghee. The phrase “pure veg” means vegetarian without eggs, while in some other countries, it means no dairy or eggs. So it was difficult to explain and for that reason, I only went to pure vegetarian restaurants to keep contamination to a minimum. No coffee shops, except Starbucks, had soy milk, and I had to go to three markets to find a carton to take around with me.

My first hotel was not so nice. The photos lie people! Since it was inexpensive compared to what you would pay for a hotel in the US, I opted to move to a nicer place called Bloomrooms. The area is right by the New Delhi Railway Station, which takes you to Agra where the Taj is, but beware that it is the busiest part of town. Bloomrooms was a sanctuary from the loud, smelly streets and it was the best decision to spend a little extra for my room here. I got a single room that was just like the photos, air con, free wifi, free filtered drinking water, and a nice big bathroom for about $30 a night.

My next meal was an Indian thali from Navdanya Organic Cafe, a wonderful organization trying to keep organic farming alive in India. It’s located inside Dilli Haat market (Rs 20 admission required), which has handicrafts from all over India and is a great place to do all your gift shopping. The cafe is outdoors and is also a shop where you can buy organic grains and more.

They happily switched out the non-vegan parts for me. This was probably the best meal I had in India all for around 4 bucks. I also bought some vegan cookies made of soy flour from the store.

The next day I set up a photoshoot to document my new yoga journey amongst some of the coolest monuments of Delhi. We started bright and early, but it was still hot and humid. Thankfully the photos don’t show the dripping sweat all over my body. I haven’t got the final photos back yet but will share some when I do! Above is just a sample taken at Humayun’s Tomb with my phone.

The next day I took a train to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal! I arrived pretty early and it wasn’t too crowded. But of course, it was sweltering hot! I was so uncomfortable that it was hard to enjoy my time in Agra. I hired a tuk tuk driver (these are all over Asia, it’s basically a motorcycle with an enclosed bench on the back) for the day for a cheap 800 rupees and he took me to a number of sites. My return train wasn’t until past 9pm and we were done by 5pm so I sat in the train station for 4 hours reading and playing solitaire on my phone. It was super annoying. If you are going to do a day trip to Agra take the earlier train back to Delhi!

These sweet gals wanted to take a photo with me. I had strangers coming up to me all the time wanting to take my photo. But if you are blonde you will be harassed even more since they aren’t used to seeing anyone with light colored hair.

After a few more tasty meals around town, I headed for the mountains. It was a turbulent situation getting to the airport and I had written off India completely. It wasn’t until I came upon the rice fields of Dharamsala that my mind was put at ease. Stay tuned for my next blog about yoga teacher training and finding vegan cakes and tofu of all things!!

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