An essential guide to Northern India
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Monkeys scampering across the gardens, whilst the sun hazily emerges around the curving banks of the Yamuna river. A gold film enshrouds the splendid white marble mausoleum; at 6am The Taj Mahal stands in all its glory. An iconic moment that brings many people to India. Are you tempted? India has had a turbulent and troubled past, but now it is flourishing, teeming with life and fighting to be recognised for its diversity, fortitude and colour. An undeniable assault on the senses. If you are considering where to even begin uncovering the jewels and treasures of India, the north of this vast country offers the perfect introduction. Start in New Delhi, the sprawling, mad and intense metropolis where old and new collide. After a nine hour flight, be prepared for a long wait in the immigration queue, despite procuring the necessary visas via the internet months before and a surplus of idle immigration officers; the first indicator of the sometimes maddeningly frustrating bureaucracy of India. The noise and oppressive heat is the palpable once leaving the air conditioned confines of the airport. A hair-raising taxi drive weaving through the rickshaws, mobile barbershops, entire families on one tiny motorbike intermingled with Holy Cows is how India will welcome you. In the heart of Old Delhi, amidst the hustle and bustle of street vendors and markets, Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques, stands built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656. The impressive architecture and sheer size (the courtyard alone can accommodate more than 25,000 people) makes it must see stop on your agenda. A short walk away, situated in the Chandni Chowk district of Old Delhi, is the Sikh Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, one of the nine historical Gurdwaras in the city. Before entering, wash hands and feet and cover your head. It is important to respect local dress codes, especially in places of worship. The langar, a delicious free meal cooked for anyone that wants it, is representative of the Indian hospitality that you will encounter in every corner and offers you an immersion into the tastes and flavours of north Indian food. Spend the evening at India Gate to soak up the holiday atmosphere.
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