Article by Kathrine Werling

In 2003 I had the pleasure of spending 4 months in Jaipur, India. From the first moment I was totally in love with this welcoming, beautiful, chaotic and overwhelming country.

India is such a contrasting country, which inspires, frustrates and thrills me. It is a home for more than one billion people with a blend of numerous cultures and languages. In India you will find incredible beauty, love and wealth, but also great poverty, where Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, homeless, businessmen, “Bollywood” stars and sacred cows lives side by side.

This incredible country offers everything to leave an impression on you and make your trip a memorable one. No matter where you go, every place in India has something very unique to offer.

I don’t know where to begin because Indian is for me an endless journey – a country with so many possibilities!

The Golden Triangle Tour

“The Golden Triangle tour” is a fantastic introduction to three of India’s very best destinations. You start in Delhi before hitting Agra and then Jaipur. Then head back to Delhi’s wonderful and colourful bazaars for a final shopping before going home.

DELHI

Delhi, the Capital of India, has many attractions like mosques, forts and other monuments that represent India’s great history. In Old Delhi you should visit the majestic Red Fort and in New Delhi you will find many government buildings and embassies.

Stay at: The Imperial Hotel – one of Delhi’s landmark hotels.

THE TAJ MAHAL

Agra’s Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world. It is the mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and one of the “New Seven Wonders of the world”. What a beautiful place – and remember to visit The Taj Mahal either by sunrise or sunset – because of the light on the building.

JAIPUR

Jaipur is ‘my city’ and known as the “Pink City” and is the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan. For me Rajasthan is “the India” many imagine: from women dressed in brightly glittering coloured saris, majestic palaces and forts and camels walking through the desert. Jaipur is a very famous tourist destination. Some of the world’s best hotels are located here.

Stay at: Samode Haveli. The hotel is beautiful and a lovely property well located in the heart of Jaipur.

INDIAN FOOD

India’s cuisine is as varied as its landscapes and languages – and I LOVE it – especially if it is spicy and vegetarian.

You can experience everything from butter chicken to samosa, yoghurt mango lassi, spicy chai tea, chapatti & naan bread, and spinach paneer and off course the fantastic Indian beer, Kingfisher!

REMEMBER!

Avoid “tap water” and any food that may have been washed in it. And please do not eat any ice, salads and fruit you have not peeled yourself. Many travellers “go veggie” while they are in India. It is not a bad idea, because many Indians are vegetarian, so you will find a fabulous choice of vegetarian food.

“Cutlery-free” is standard in many parts of India – but never use your left hand, which is the one you use in the toilet.

BODY & SOUL

Ayurvedic treatments are big in India. Book yourself a massage therapy/treatment at one of the many places throughout the country.

Go here: The Serai. The Serai is a luxury desert camp where you can find peace and relax. Placed in the Thar Desert just an hour from Jaisalmer.

ATTENDING A INDIAN WEDDING

Indian weddings are known all over the world for their customs and traditions. A few years ago, I was so lucky to be invited to a Hindu wedding in Gujaret by one of my Indian friends, Namrata.

Indian weddings are the biggest and most chaotic events with lots of happenings during the day, tons of food, lots of music, tears, laughs and VERY crazy dancing. The actual wedding ceremony is called “Anand Karaj” which means “happy and blissful ceremony”. It is a religious event held in the temple, followed by a big party. The whole wedding lasts for about 2 – 3 days. Attending a wedding in India is for me “a once in a lifetime experience”, which is a must for anyone who wants to experience the Indian culture.

TAKE THE TRAIN

You have not experienced India until you have hopped on a train. The incredible Indian railway system has 18 million daily passengers, 1.4 million employees and 17,000 trains operating on 64,000 kilometres of track. Indian railway stations are very hectic with big crowds, people yelling, lots of noise and young guys running around yelling “Chai, chai, garam chai tea”.

Find out more and hop on a train through India: Indian Rail Time Table at: www.indianrail.gov.in

GOA – BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

The famous idyllic “hippie party place” Goa should not be missed and it is still one of the most popular places to visit in India. If you decide to take a trip, I recommend not leaving the coastal areas. Goa is the smallest state in India and has the most beautiful beaches. Many refer to Goa as a tropical paradise and where you are enjoying the warm temperatures, clear turquoise water and palm trees and lovely South Indian food.

I have been to Goa two times and I love to go shopping at the popular Anjuna Beach Wednesday Flea market. The markets in India are so lively and colourful and you do not have to buy anything to enjoy them.

Stay at: Nilaya Hermitage

(Picture source – Kathrine Werling for Travel Habit)