What an amazing destination India is! I was pleasantly surprised at how clean the country was for the amount of people that live there. (India is tipped to overtake China soon having the worlds’ highest population!) The people of India are so vibrant and happy, despite how little most of them have. They are always so colourful, dressed in beautiful saris, offering many great photo opportunities.
I flew with Singapore Airlines out of Sydney which is the easiest and most convenient way to travel to India, the connections are easy, and Singapore Airlines are one of the best.
Delhi was our first stop and we stayed at the Taj Palace.
The next day we enjoyed a full day sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi, including visits to the imposing Red Fort, Jama Masjid which is the country’s largest mosque plus a rickshaw ride through the colourful bazaars and narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk (Silver Street) and Raj Ghat, which is the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi.
After lunch we visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib (Delhi's largest Sikh temple), this was an amazing experience where we got to see the work of the Sikh people who feed the needy lunch and dinner each day. After that we visit Humayun’s Tomb, a drive past India Gate and a stop outside Rashtrapati Bhawan the official residence of the President of India.
Day 3 was a long drive from Delhi to Agra where we stayed at the Taj Gateway Hotel.
That afternoon we toured Agra including a visit to the Taj Mahal which is just amazing. An absolute must see. It was built back mid 1600’s as a monument of love, by Shahjehan, in memory of his wife Mumtaz. We also visit the stunning Agra Fort, a massive red sandstone fort, set on the banks of the Yamuna River, built almost 500 years ago by the Mughal.
After breakfast we head to Ranthambore. It was a long bumpy drive, but we were rewarded during our afternoon Safari in Ranthambore National Park where we were lucky enough to see the tigers.
We stayed at Nahargarh Palace Hotel.
The next morning, those that did not see the tigers the day before were offered the opportunity to do another Safari into Ranthambore National Park- for me it was a morning for a relaxing breakfast and swim!
Later that afternoon we were driven to Jaipur where we stayed at Jai Mahal Palace.
We spent a full day sightseeing in Jaipur starting with a photo stop at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) with its façade of all pink windows and filigree screens, later visit to the Amber Fort, 11 kms away from the city. Amber was the ancient capital of Jaipur state. The fort is a superb example of Rajput architecture, stunningly situated on a hill side, overlooking a lake. The climb to the fort is by Elephant back!
After lunch more sightseeing, visiting the City Palace and Museum, the home of the former Royalty of Jaipur and now housing a Museum that has an extensive collection of art, carpets and old weapons. Ending by visiting the Jantar Mantar (observatory) built in 1728, with its striking instruments and construction for measuring the positions of stars, planets, altitudes and calculating eclipses.
Day 7 was an early morning departure for Udaipur, enroute visit to the Pushkar Lake. Hindu pilgrims converge for a holy dip in the sacred Pushkar Lake to "wash away the sins of a lifetime" and also visit ONLY Brahma temple in the world. Pushkar brings alive the rich tradition of Rajasthan enhancing the glory of the golden sand.
Our last day took in morning sightseeing tour of Udaipur visiting the City Palace which looms over the lake and is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum with a large and varied collection of glass, porcelain figures and miniature paintings. Next was the Jagdish Temple which enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe. Lastly a visit to beautiful Saheliyon Ki Bari, or Garden of the Maids of Honour, a delightful ornamental garden with fountains, stone elephants and a lotus pond.
That evening we were transferred to Udaipur airport to fly to Delhi and connect to our international flights home to Sydney.
India has some of the most amazing Palace hotels all varied and stunning, it’s a must to stay in some of these along your travels. From the Palaces to the Forts, the beautiful people in their colourful clothing and the amazing Taj Mahal- it is a sensory delight. India should be on everyone’s bucket list
The food in India was delicious and consist mainly of beautiful curries with chicken, fish and vegetables along with pappadums and of course rice. The main religion in India is Hinduism and many Hindus avoid eating meat, so meals will rarely include red meat. I had many meals included in my tour so we always ate at reputable restaurants and hotels, so we had no ugly ‘Delhi Belly’ experiences! You definitely have to be careful what you eat and where from, which is the advantage of travelling with a reputable tour company. I do have to be honest and say, if you are a meat eater you are looking forward to a steak when you get home!
It can be extremely hot in India, so it is important to travel at the right time of year to be able to fully enjoy this fascinating destination in comfort. My trip was a work trip with all Travel Agents, so was a quick overview. I would definitely have extra nights in some places after long drives, so you have time to rest and enjoy the surrounds. I would highly recommend adding India to your ‘places to go’ it is truly amazing!