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More colourful, stark, energetic, peaceful, beautiful and spiritual than I could ever have imagined; India stole my heart years ago and has never let it go.
It truly is what they say, India is an assault on your senses, but oh what a wonderful assault. Discovering India will take you well out of your comfort zone but isn’t that what the true essence of travel is all about?
James Michener once said, ‘If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.’
What makes India Special?
If you mention India to anyone, the majestic image of the Taj Mahal is sure to come to mind. You may have seen it on TV or in the movies, but nothing really prepares you for just how stunning and imposing this monument to love actually is.
Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, my first glimpse of its alabaster shimmer in the early morning light brought tears to my eyes. Yes, it really is that breathtaking.
Another moment that took my breath away and caused more watery eyes, for different reasons, was when I took my first mouthful of a traditional Indian curry. After the sensations came back to my tongue, I realised it was so much more flavoursome than its westernised versions.
Take me there: Taj Mahal trips
Bucket List Experiences in India
I don’t need to tell you that India is a vast country that would take many lifetimes over to experience it all. Rajasthan and its Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra are of course at the top of any traveller’s bucket list.
Our Highlights of Northern India trip is like a smorgasbord of sensory delights, that not only tick off these iconic locations but also include exhilarating game drives searching for the elusive Bengal tiger and visits to the mystical Varanasi – one of the oldest cities in the world.
This melting pot of experiences provides a great glimpse into this fascinating country as does the Colours of Rajasthan, a slightly longer journey, that extends to the palace city of Udaipur and the pilgrimage town of Pushkar.
Take me there: Trips to Rajasthan
The riotous colour palette of the north with its rust-red deserts, distinctive pink, blue and white cities contrasts beautifully with the softer southern palette of lush greens and gemstone blues.
Here lies the tranquil Kerala backwaters, the spectacular Western Ghats, cool hill stations, verdant tea plantations, colonial cities and atmospheric temples.
Our trip The Tropical South is one of a number that showcases this beautiful area of the country. Throughout India however, it’s the people, their culture and traditions that have gifted me the most precious memories.
Have you seen the movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’? There’s a scene where one of the characters Jean, for whom India is definitely not her cup of tea, asks a question of Graham who clearly loves it. ‘How can you bear this country? What do you see that I don’t?’ and Graham replies, ‘The light, colours, smiles, it teaches me something’.
Take me there: Trips to Kerala
Local Indian man on the street
This sums it up for me. I can’t exactly define what India teaches me. All I can say is that I’m learning a lifelong lesson every time I visit, and I don’t want it to end.
I have seen more riches in the warm smiles of a local vendor outside a dusty Indian railway station than I could ever see in the Tower of London.
If you’d like to experience this colourful country for yourself, take a look at our trips to India below.