A couple of years ago I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to travel around a bit of India. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d never ventured that far east on my travels before. I’d heard mixed things about India, but I shouldn’t have worried!! The trip was just a fabulous explosion of colour, noise, culture, and wonderful food, and I loved every minute.
First Stop – Mumbai
I only had a short amount of time in Mumbai, but this was my first experience of India. This is where the sensory overload began. I visited the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India. It was full of fascinating artefacts, housed in a spectacular building, a great introduction to India. Then it was time to mingle with the crowds as we headed off to the famous Gateway of India. This colossal structure overlooks the Mumbai harbour and was built in 1924. Well worth a visit, and great for people watching.
Next – The Pink City – Jaipur
Jaipur is the capital, and the largest city in the northern state of Rajasthan. There was a lot to fit in during our 3 days here, including the Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jaipur City Palace, and a wander around Jantar Mantar, and the fantastic astronomical ‘park’.
If you're heading to the Amer fort make sure you give yourself at least half a day to explore. It's a vast complex full of fascinating rooms and beautiful gardens, definitely a highlight of this part of the trip.
Hawa Mahal is a stunning structure originally built so that the women of the royal families could view the festivals and grand occasions that ventured through Jaipur. It’s said to contain 953 windows from which the festivities were observed (I took their word for it, there was no way I had time to count them).
The City Palace and Jantar Mantar can be done in one hit as they’re only a short distance apart. The former was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur and is a huge complex. A short walk away is the UNESCO world heritage site of Jantar Mantar, a mind-blowing collection of astronomical instruments that was completed in 1734. The accuracy of these instruments is amazing.
Where Next?? – Ranthambore, land of the TIGERS!!
What an amazing place. Ranthambore didn't hold back any punches. It was happy to show us all it had to offer. We arrived at our hotel and immediately headed off on safari to explore the fantastic landscape and search for the elusive tigers. Fortunately for me they decided to put on a show the afternoon we were there. Such a fantastic sight. I could have watched them for hours.
The next day we went from Ranthembore to Agra
This was one part of the trip I’d been looking forward to. We had a chilled afternoon once we’d arrive in Agra ready for an early start the next day.
It was finally time for sunrise at the Taj Mahal. Just WOW. Obviously, I’d seen pictures, heard the story, but nothing can quite compare to the real thing. I ended up staring at this gorgeous monument with no words to utter for at least the first 10 minutes. Certainly one of those iconic places that more than lives up to its name.
From the Taj to Delhi
We just had one night in Delhi so as soon as we arrived it was time for an explore. What better way to do this than a rickshaw ride around the old town! It’s definitely an experience, and not one for the faint-hearted. Take in the fantastic sites while mixing with the Delhi traffic.
Last stop on the trip… Amritsar
Amritsar wasn’t somewhere I knew a huge amount about, so I went into this section of the trip with eyes wide open.
Amritsar is in the heart of Punjab. The city holds significant meaning to the Sikh religion as their spiritual and cultural centre. Our first stop was the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in the heart of Amritsar. Another stunning piece of Indian architecture. The religious significance of this site really comes through as you wander around the central lake which surrounds the glistening temple. This is a must see for anyone travelling to India.
The final activity on the tour was to take a short drive from Amritsar to Wagah to witness the historic, and very theatrical, boarder closing ceremony between India and Pakistan. If you love high paced theatre of two countries flexing their military might this is a great ceremony to witness.
My trip was short, full to the brim, and I LOVED it. I can’t wait to explore more of India another time, and re-visit some of the same places again at a much more relaxed pace. If you're looking for somewhere to reinvigorate the senses, India is the place to go!