india chronicles: ajanta hotel

a proof of hotel booking might be required by the immigration officer when visiting india on VOA.  it is actually a requirement if you check their immigration website and i did not took chances not to get one, anyway i have always made advance bookings for accommodations on all my travels.

the first budget hotel i stayed in new delhi was ajanta, which is located in paharganj, central delhi.  it was included in expedia’s insiders select, 2012.

it has also received some good reviews at tripadvisor site which was one reason i decided to stay at this hotel.

they offered free airport pickup when i booked through their website though i had to make a call at the hotel to follow up with the driver when i arrived from my flight from bahrain.  it was a 45 minute drive from indira gandhi international airport to hotel ajanta.

i was first given a room at the fourth floor of the building for i requested a room on the higher floor.  i encountered some issues in the room for the cable television wasn’t working and worse, there was no signal for wireless internet connection.  i called in the reception and was told that it will be checked but after an hour of waiting there was nothing so i decided to speak directly to the hotel personnel at the reception.  the lady receptionist again told me that the connections will be checked but i insisted for a new room.

i was then given a room at the second floor which honestly was way better than the first room they gave me.  everything was working fine.

the toilet and bath was old but clean and the tap with good water pressure.

the hallway looked newly renovated.

a buddha on display.

i had my lunch and dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, cafe vagabond.

the place has a nice, cozy interiors.

thali is a meal with portions of vegetable, chicken, and egg curry, rice, salad, raita, and sweet dish.

crispy papadum and plain naan.

chicken biryani.

a piece of naan, brushed with butter.

in india, most local restaurants will serve the guest dried anise seed and sugar crystals as an after meal mouth freshener.  it usually goes alongside with the check or bill.

cafe vagabond was awarded a certificate of excellence from tripadvisor.

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india chronicles: visa on arrival

i intentionally planned to visit the golden triangle in india using my company provided flight ticket to manila intended for my regular days off.  two weeks earlier, i e-mailed our hr supervisor and informed him about my travel plan and requested a change of flight from bahrain – manila into bahrain – delhi.  after waiting for a week and a few follow-ups with the travel agent, i received my e-ticket.

on the day of my flight i arrived early at bahrain international airport.   comfortably, i waited at the gulf air golden falcon lounge (where i only recently found out that i can avail access even if i’m only in a low tier frequent flyer status).  free wi-fi, drinks and sandwiches were not that bad at all!

majority of the passengers of the plane were locals on their way to return to their home country.  it took nearly four hours for the plane  to reach indira gandhi international airport in delhi.  as i was walking towards the immigration counters, what greeted me were these copper discs and gigantic hands sculpture jutting out on the wall.

i have seen pictures of them before on the sites of travel bloggers who have visited delhi.

the sculptures are actually inspired by “mudras” or hand gestures common on classical indian dance.  they are made of resin, a light-weight material and the discs out of aluminum.

tourist visa on arrival for filipinos was granted by the government of india last january 2011.  check this link for more information on VOA in india.

because i arrived in the wee hours of the morning, i noticed that there was no one in sight when i walked towards the VOA counter.  when i got nearer, i saw two immigration officers having a snooze as they sat slumped in their chairs – LOL!  they easily woke up from their dream-like state when i said .. HELLO!  the officer handed me a form for the visa which took me a few minutes to finish filling up.  i had all my documents ready – a return ticket to manila, hotel bookings in delhi, jaipur and agra, passport copy and two passport-size photographs.  i was not asked any questions except on how many days am i staying in the country – i told him 8 but can he write down 10 in the passport which was granted without a fuss.  i paid a $60.00 fee which is a charge for the visa and was given an official receipt.

i have pre-arranged a taxi to the hotel i am staying at in paharganj which was about 45 minutes from the airport.  a first glimpse of what they call as the backpackers hotel hub in delhi welcomed me.