After our tour of the Taj Mahal and celebrating Christmas in Agra we boarded another train west into the desert, to Rajasthan and the city of Jodhpur. Jodhpur, the blue city, has been the home of the Maharaja's of Rajasthan for centuries, and is home to one of the largest castles still surviving in Rajasthan. And we were just in time to visit for Maharaja's New Year's fireworks.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic and recognizable buildings in the world, and was our next destination in India. And since we were going to be in India for the Christmas holiday we thought what better place to be than at the Taj Mahal. So we got our Santa hats ready and boarded a train for Agra, India!
With our Indian visas in hand, after our week long wait in Kathmandu, we arrived finally at the town of Sonauli on the border between India and Nepal. We were finally about to step foot into one of the countries we had been anticipating the most, India. We have bumped into many fellow world travelers along our journey and all who had traveled through India had stories to tell, some good some bad. We really weren't sure exactly what to expect, but we knew it would be unlike any other country we had been to before. Love it or hate it, we were about to experience the craziness that is India.
Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal would be our last stop in Nepal before India. Chitwan is famous for its rhinos, tigers and elephant riding safaris. We decided to check it out and have a safari of our own, to compare to our African safari. We rode an elephant, dodged alligators and searched for rhinos and tigers.
Kathmandu, the sprawling capital of Nepal situated in the muggy Kathmandu Valley, was our first and one of our last stops in Nepal. A city of contrasts, with ancient temples butting up against modern coffee shops, crowded streets and pollution nestled up against the rugged Himalayas.
After Bandipur we took a bus back to Kathmandu to work out our entry visa for India. Since the process involves waiting a week, we decided to visit the old capital city of Bhaktapur nearby in the Kathmandu valley. The city is filled with ornately constructed Newari traditional buildings, temples, shrines and palaces. The Newars are a hill people with much influence in the Kathmandu Valley.