With 3 years of anticipation I finally found myself in India. Prior to my trip I heard numerous things about India: it’s smelly, it’s hot, you’re going to get sick! I felt that I needed to see this country so that I could make a fair judgement on my own. I traveled with my co-worker Emily and we had the most amazing trip! We took a bus tour through the state of Rajasthan, Northwest India, and found ourselves in the Land of Kings.
We visited the cities of Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Jaisalmer was a memorable stop for Emily and I as we visited the largest live in fort, had a sunset camel ride in the Thar Desert and spent an evening with royalty! Pushkar is a small city and famous for the camel festival held there only 2 weeks of every year. Udaipur is known as the ‘Lake City’ and is often referred to as the Venice of the East. Jaipur is the city featured on the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Finally, Delhi is a combination of modern and traditional living. Here you can visit the Jama Mosque, pass by the India Gate, wander through the bazaars in Old Delhi and follow up the day of sightseeing with dinner at Silk Route, a famous restaurant that took 7 years to construct, located in the Imperial Hotel.
The architecture was one highlight for Emily and I as we visited numerous forts, mosques, temples, tombs, palaces and royal mansions called Havelis. We were even lucky enough to have a magical morning at the Taj Mahal with a backdrop of a rainbow. Seeing all these wonderful landmarks immediately sparked my interest to learn more about Indian history and religion.
Another highlight of India was the people. I felt so welcomed by all the wonderful smiles. Everywhere we went we were greeted with someone saying ‘Hello’ or ‘Namaste’ with a nod of the head. The traditional dress worn by the women is brightly coloured and adds to the beauty of the land. The food was delicious and gourmet. Being a vegetarian I was more than happy with the options. I ate copious amounts of lentil dal, fresh roti or naan bread, palak paneer (spinach and Indian cheese) and aloo matar (peas and potato curry). I stayed healthy all 21 days and managed to avoid the infamous ‘Delhi belly’.
I enjoyed my time so much in Rajasthan but I only saw a glimpse of what this incredible country has to offer. I am planning my next trips back to India where I can trek the Indian Himalayas, visit the tea fields in Darjeeling, lounge on the beaches of Goa, experience an Ayurvedic retreat in Kerala, take a pilgrimage up to Dharamshala to see the Dalai Lama and stay in a yoga ashram in Rishikesh.