The old city, the Pink City, is dominated by the endless streets of bazaars, The buzzing shops sell everything from jewelry, carpet, spices, to housewares and saris. You are disoriented by the constant deafening honking from tuktuks, cars, the scream of monkeys and tourists. You cannot win the fight against the merchants. They are professionals, negotiators, warriors.
Outside of the Pink City is another world. The countryside of Rajasthan is unbelievable. Medieval fortresses dot the lush hills, and palaces were built in the middle of the lake. Elephants roam on main roads. Time has stood still in this part of world for centuries.
Taj Mahal and Agra
They say Taj Mahal is the most beautiful building in the world. I don’t know whether I should agree. It gives me a surreal feeling to finally see it with my own eyes. The pollution, on the other hand, is definitely real. Maybe even worse than Beijing. The smog turns the morning sky purple, which makes Taj Mahal the most beautiful building in the world under heavy pollution.
Nothing is boring in Punjab. They have the Wagah Border [Youtube link] closing ceremony between India and Pakistan everyday, which is a show of force between the two countries’ Ministry of Silly Walks.
Harmandir Sahib, or the Golden Temple in Amritsar, offers a tranquil oasis in the middle of madness. It is the holiest of the holiest sites for the Sikhs. And even though tens of thousands of visitors pour into the site everyday, it still somehow holds its great dignity with an indisputable sense of ease.
The most important lesson learned in Amritsar is, no matter how holy the water from the sacret pond looks like, never drink it.