1. First stop, New Dehli
New Dehli, from the moment we got off the plane the sites were a feast for the eyes and mind. After living in China, I was ecstatic to finally have somewhere that gave me that culture shock feeling again. Firstly, we arrived on the night of Diwali, and what better way to start an adventure in India. We were so lucky to be hosted by a local family who gave us the taste of traditional with fun, the perfect night to remember. Next we met our Airbnb host who became more than that, he was our friend, driver & protector. He thought where we wanted to go was crazy but gave in and joined us. Our time in Dehli was short but we chose to see the raw, real part of the city. We wandered through the craziness of Chowdni Chawk, a mind-blowingly huge market filled with people, all kinds of smells and makings for an indescribable experience. Dehli was overwhelming but beautiful in its chaotic way.
2. The tourist must, Agra
The thing to see in Agra is of course the great Taj Mahal. We felt it only made sense that a trip to India must include this famous structure. The trip there and back was a grueling 4 hours there and 4 hours back. We chose to do it in a day due to our limited time and next destinations. I do not regret it. Yes, its typical & touristy and you have seen the photograph a million times, but I think thats also what makes it special. Its a feeling hard to describe when you have seen so many pictures of something, then you finally lay your own eyes on it. Once was enough for me but I am happy to see that I have seen this wonder of the world. If you haven’t, I do think its worth it.
3. The underrated Amritsar, Punjab
Just a little over a year ago I was marveling at the glorious structure in the middle of a sacred pond, known as the Gold Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab, India. The Golden Temple is also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, translated to abode of God. The beauty of this place may have been a beautiful vision for the eyes but what really left me awe was what take place here every single day. I did not know much about the Sikh religion before coming here, but I left with a special appreciation for these giving non-judgmental humans. Everyday a process called “langer” is given at all Sikh temples, this being the largest. It is a free meal that is given to anyone regardless of race, caste, gender, economic status, or ethnicity. This feeds 40,000 to even 100,00 people a free meal each day. The experience of that was priceless.
4. Feel the pride at the Wagah Border
From Amritsar, a short drive away, is the Wagah border. It is a border that divides India and Pakistan. The Wagah border ceremony is preformed each night a couple hours before sunset. It is a friendly ceremony where hundreds come on both sides to enjoy & show pride in their country while the military puts on an entertaining stomping performance. I loved this experience and I think it is well worth it though the ceremony itself is short. Seeing how far these two countries have come & also feeling the sense of pride was special.
5. Find Peace & Serenity in Alleppey, Kerala
We were pretty crazy & planned pretty much none of our trip before we got to India. This is what made it so amazing at the same time. The state of Kerala had not previously been on my radar but oh how glad I am that we chose to go there. After the chaos of the North, the smaller southern city of Allepay, Kerala provided us some much needed tranquility. The highlight was renting a houseboat to ourselves (which was ridiculously cheap) to spend the day and night moving through the backwaters. I can’t describe how beautiful, relaxing and incredible this was. We had our own chef that made the best food and even sang karaoke with us into the evening. An unforgettable tropical paradise I cannot wait to go back to. In Alleppey we also experienced an Ayurvedic spa. This was a very unique experience that I loved, it included Shirodhara (a treatment in which oil is poured onto the forehead in slow dripping) and Herbal Bolus Bag therapy (which is a cloth filled with dried herbs and massaged into the body).
6. Last but not least Bollywood aka Mumbai
By the time we got to Mumbai it was getting to the end of our two week adventure through India. I love Bollywood movies, so being in this city was so exciting. To be honest we did not go do a whole lot but we had a blast. We stayed near the “gateway to India,” wandered the near by market and visited the famous Dhobi Ghat. Dhabi Ghat is an open air laundry mat that was created in 1890 and cleans thousands of pieces of laundry from hotels & hospitals in Mumbai. We also met some lifelong friends that took us around and gave us a personal tour of their city.
I could go on and on about my experience in India, this is just a little taste. The food was incredible, the people so kind, the culture was fascinating, the sites were mesmerizing. It was not an easy trip but it was everything I wanted and more. It is a difficult place to put into words as it creates a feeling that you need to experience to understand. I can’t wait to go back. A few of these places we ended up were places a little underrated in my opinion. It is not easy to see the poverty and conditions that are lived in throughout the country without being able to do much, but the smiling faces & kindness we experienced in each city regardless gave me some reassurance that happiness does not come from what you have but how you feel within. The special thing about India is what it teaches you rather than just what you see.
Health, Love & Happiness,