Flight Centre’s Krista Matthews shares her experience exploring northern India and what top experiences she recommends for others travelling to this part of the country:
India for me personally was never a place I had intentions of travelling to, however I was given the opportunity to travel with work, and am very grateful to have visited such an amazing country! I travelled with G Adventures on their North India Highlights tour which visited 4 cities in 8 days. The tour was well planned, and I felt safe and at ease throughout my trip.
Although my time in India was fairly short, my senses were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and smells. I could go on and on about the culture and food I experienced in India, but I do not want to overwhelm you. Instead I have choosen to narrow down my top 5 travel experiences during my time spent in northern India.
On my first day in Delhi, I met up with the ladies from my group. We decided to take a journey to the local markets and see what shops Delhi had to offer. The shops were jam packed, and busier than I expected. There was everything from clothing, to fine jewelry, to coffee shops, and restaurants. I was presently surprised with the amount of options there were! Later in the evening the stores became even more busier (which I didn’t think was humanly possible). There were side vendors outside the main shops, who sold bracelets, and some did Henna.
This was one of the only places I found that did Henna, so I would highly recommend getting it done in the markets, as they were moderately priced, and very intricate!
The Taj Mahal
First and foremost, the best and most breathtaking monument for me was the Taj Mahal. The feeling of pure beauty overwhelmed me when the gates opened at 6:00am to the Taj Mahal. I was one of the first people in line, and was able to capture one of the 10 wonders of the world without a soul in the picture. When the sun rose on the Taj Mahal, it changed colors from yellow, to pink, then back to white. I had never seen something of this beauty, nor will I ever forget it.
I cannot stress enough that my experience visiting the Taj Mahal was made by being one of the first people to see it at sunrise. I would recommend to get there around 5:30am to allow walking time to the gates as no cars are allowed past a certain point. There are also photographers on site that I would recommend giving a few rupees to. The quality, and uniqueness of the photos they took were great, and they sold each photo for around 100 rupees.
The Hawa Mahal was something I had never seen before. It was built in 1799, and the name means “Palace of the Breeze”. The intention of this building was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the streets below them, as at this time the ladies had to cover their face due to a strict law. I found this structure to be very empowering as I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to not show your face in public. As you can see from the picture, the artwork was so detailed and intricate. I at one point actually put down my camera and just pictured myself on the other side of the wall looking down. Peering at the chaotic street, and taking in the sights and sounds.
A Textile Factory
This was an unexpected surprise in Jaipur. Our tour group was interested in getting Pashminas, so our leader brought us to a factory where they hand made scarves. We were greeted by the owner who brought us to a room where they hand stamped the scarves. I was astonished of how intricate the patterns were and how well the scarves were stamped! I was asked to assist with the stamping process at one point. I was given three stamps which when put together made this colorful elephant. All dyes were made from plants and vegetables and once boiled the colors were permanent and were machine washable! This was a highlight as I bought many scarves and Pashminas which were great quality and very authentic.
A Bollywood Movie
I would say this was my second favorite part of the entire trip! It was an unexpected surprise, as the movie was fully sold out and we were able to get last minute tickets. The film was based on the hit movie Knight and Day, and although there was no subtitles, it made the movie more interesting as you had to interpret what was happening through your own imagination. During the movie the actors would bust into a musical where the crowd hooted and hollered at the screen! The movie was so entertaining that when it ended I was actually sad, for I wished the same experience happened when you watched movies here in Canada.
My overall experience in India was amazing! I would highly recommend anyone to travel to India, and to take a tour with G Adventures. Next time I return, I hope to stay longer and experience the many more things that India has to offer.
For more information about travelling to India, or with G Adventures, contact Krista Matthews who is an International Travel Consultant at our Bankers Hall location in Calgary, Alberta and can be reached online or by calling 1-866-205-3341.