Dharamsala to Jaipur via disappointment

Dharamsala is famous as the place where the Dalai Lama took up residence in exile after fleeing from Tibet in fear of his life. There was still refugees that make their way into India every year and find themselves in Dharamsala and so the place has a distinct feel compared to other places in India I visited. Yoga courses, meditation courses, spirituality courses and much more abound but for me it was nice to be out of the city and learn something about Tibet. After that I made some bad decisions on arriving in Agra, deciding to visit the Taj Mahal in the morning to beat the queues and have less people. I did beat the queues and there were less people but I also didn’t see the Taj Mahal. Crushed. Reminds me that it’s not enough to see places and tick them off the list but that the experience counts for much more and a lot of that depends on weather, the people you’re with and the choices you make. Those factors all combined (through my fault mostly) in the worst possible way. Anyway I got over it (eventually) and then continued to Jaipur.

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Dharamsala is unsurprisingly full of Buddhist monks and nuns
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There were many devotees from Tibet and at times I had to remind myself I was still in India and not transported to somewhere else
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You can circumambulate the Dalai Lama’s residence and temple complex but there are a lot of prayer wheels to spin
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A visit to the Tibetan Museum was an eye-opener. It shows how the Chinese government invaded and supressed Tibetan culture, language and heritage (and still does)
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Then I travelled a long distance to Agra and was rewarded with this stunning view of the Taj Mahal
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You could see it when up close but even still it was far from being entirely clear
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I was crushingly disappointed by how thick the fog was. I was so excited to see the Taj Mahal, one of the world’s most famous and beautiful buildings that it made it all the worse when I couldn’t
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Of course this was entirely my fault. I knew it was foggy but thought I would visit and it would be mysterious and unique and that hopefully the fog would lift. However I couldn’t even see it clearly when close and the fog was too stubborn. I could have waited another 2 hours but didn’t have the time as I planned to move on
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Fog or no fog you can still appreciate the stonework

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I should have been more positive and tried to enjoy the experience more but honestly I was too dejected by this point
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Well…maybe next time?
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Agra also has an impressive fort. Incidentally I would have been much better visiting the fort first and then the Taj Mahal but as usual I did things all the wrong way
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Impressive arches
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The red sandstone is highly decorated. By the way Agra Fort is much more impressive than the Red Fort in Delhi
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Monkeys chasing pigeons at Agra Fort. What do they do if they catch one? Eat it?
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Travelled to Jaipur in hopes of less disappointment. Here is the famous Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds which allowed ladies of the court to watch the comings and going in the city
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It’s almost like a copy/paste job
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Inside, coloured windows cast a beautiful light
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From below it’s impressive
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The City Palace in Jaipur is nice to visit but not essential (especially considering the steep 500 rupee entry fee for foreigners)
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This cool guard wanted to have his picture taken; I happily obliged
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The city wall and gates are striking against the hustle and bustle of the streets
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Watched the sunset from high above the city. It’s always fascinating to see the transition of a city from dusk to night and natural light to artificial
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Just outside Jaipur is the imposing Amber Fort
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I was as impressed by the interior as I was by the exterior
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This is a grey langur which unexpectedly (and frighteningly) came out of nowhere, bounded across the table where I was having coffee only a few centimetres from me and scaled the walls and chilled there before returning just as quickly back along the same route as before. Needless to say we all rushed out of the way this time. He was big and he was fast

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Next up: The surprisingly peaceful lakes of Udaipur

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