Jetting to a destination that stirs the imagination with chaos and excitement. It is a place known for its complete assault of the senses, where contradiction and cacophony reside in every corner — the magical and majestic superpower, India.
The allure of South Asia has been persistently strong with me. I can chart my love of subcontinental Asia from my youthful obsession with adventuring and mysticism. I’ve fantasized about Hindustan ever since I watched Alfonso Cuaron’s film adaptation of “A Little Princess.” My favorite parts of the movie are when the main character, Sara, recites the Ramayana, the epic Hindu poem of the brave Rama’s attempts to rescue his beloved wife, Sita. Now and again, I replay the movie’s retelling of the story in my mind when I want to wander off somewhere else. The colors, the romanticism, the way everything seems surreal and familiar all at once. To me, India is an escape but as the quote below reveals, maybe this country does have a divine power over us, where its tales of the exotic are actually ways in which Mother India calls its lost-long children back home.
If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India. – Romain Rolland
MAPPING OUT THE COUNTRY
Every time I’ve told a fellow traveler I’ll be going to India for a month, they exclaim in absolute horror, “Oh! That’s such a short time! You won’t be able to see anything!” Should I be discouraged by the response? Honestly, I feel like this will be one of many visits to this country. Always an ambitious traveler, I’ve packed everything I can into a single itinerary. With a thirty-day visa costing $60 for American citizens, the trip is (unfortunately) time-sensitive as we have a wedding to get to! That being said, we are tackling the country with a coastline route. At least we’ve come to the right place known for its extensive and efficient railway system that will make traveling a breeze. Really looking forward to those first-class sleeper car trains!
- New Delhi/Delhi (4 days for the city hustle-and-bustle)
- Agra (2 days for the Taj Mahal)
- Jaipur (1 day of sightseeing)
- Udaipur (2 days for a romantic getaway)
- Mumbai (2 days to experience Bollywood)
- Goa (8 days of R&R and Diwali celebrations)
- Chennai (8 days for a wedding)
Read more about India here:
ON THE ITINERARY
Uncover the Other Side of India
I’ve been on some pretty cool walking tours in the past so while doing research on Delhi, finding the Delhi City Walk was a score. Guided by former street children, the walk takes you around the underbelly of New Delhi and shows you life through a set of eyes usually silenced by ignorance and neglect. This creative approach of providing a future for the destitute is made possible by the Salaam Balaak Trust, an NGO dedicated to bettering the lives of youth living in the margins of society.
Attend an Indian Wedding
THIS HAS BEEN ON MY BUCKET LIST FOR FOREEEEEEEVER. And on my trip, this dream will be fulfilled. It just so happens that on my latest trip to Kuala Lumpur, I unexpectedly bumped into an old college classmate (what a small world!) who happened to be attending an Indian wedding during the same time I’d be in India. Thank my lucky stars that my friend is the NICEEEEEEEEST girl in the world and extended the invitation to me and TIm. So that’s that ^_^ Only a few weeks away from getting to experience three days of breathtaking regalia, deep tradition, a beach cricket tourney, and wedding banquets galore. Its going to be an affair to remember!
Most guidebooks suggest that going vegetarian is the best route for staying healthy (a.k.a free of the Delhi Belly). Also, India boasts the most vegetarians in the world as a staggering 42% of the country’s population are purely veg. I figured with a sensitive stomach like mine, this is the safest and most sensible time to test-try an eating habit that according to Hindu teachings, may make me a calmer, less agitated human being. Which might be necessary when coping with the challenges India has in store for me.
Making it in time for another festival! This time, we’ll be around for India’s largest festival, Diwali. The heralded ‘Festival of Lights’ is a time to celebrate the victory of light over the darkness in life. Candles are lit, fireworks are set off, and households are overjoyed with new additions to the wardrobe and homes that are left spick-and-span. This year, we’ll be in Goa for the festivities. Wish us luck that we find some seats on trains!
Take a Bollywood Dance Class
For all the hours I’ve invested in watching Bollywood movies (note: the average Bollywood film clocks in at 4 hours, 30 minutes!!!), it is time that I learn the steps to these mega dance numbers. I must evolve from simply “petting the dog with one hand and screwing in a light bulb with the other” to something at least worthy of the ending credits of Slumdog Millionaire. For the love of Shah Rukh Khan.
Pay Respects to Gandhi
No doubt every person has a desire to be in the presence of greatness. In Delhi, I’ll have the chance to visit the final resting place of the India’s leading vigilante, Mahatma Gandhi. The Raj Ghat is a humble memorial to the late Gandhi consisting of black marble platform to mark the site where he was cremated. A torch has been set aflame to burn eternally, symbolizing India’s undying love for their founding father.
Something I’m missing out on? Let me know in the comments below! xoxo Izzy