exploration · india · Travel

My heart swells for you, India

Nothing  can really prepare you for India. The best thing is to go with an open mind,  compassion  and loads of patience. My first impression was how  dirty  the  country was –  the amount of rubbish,  decaying infrastructure,  smog  and air  quality,  the amount of strays. I  thought I  made a  mistake coming to India  but it is crazy how fast and drastic my impression changed. I’m absolutely in love and already miss it  after being away for  just  weeks. 

I explored India via g adventure, an organized  group tour. This was my first time doing a  tour and it has definitely surpassed  my expectations. I had so many uncertainties travelling with a  group, let alone a group of people that I know nothing about. I learned on the first day that it was a group of  females, another red flag of uncertainty. There was actually nothing to fear. We all  got along just fine and bonded on more levels than expected. We travelled 20 days together over Rajasthan and a bit of Uttar Pradesh via 3 overnight trains, 4 local trains, numerous auto rickshaws and a multitude of other modes of transportation. 

After our  first day  orientation of Old Delhi, we  headed on  our first overnight  sleeper train to Bikaner. We had an eventful few days ahead in this desert town. A few hours of  trekking on  beautiful camels to be  followed by home cooked  meals and camping under the stars in Raiser Village was simplicity at it’s best. The locals even sang and danced with us around the bonfire. We  shared great food,  heartfelt stories  and many moments under the brightest blanket of stars I’ve  ever seen. It was so bright and close. I  wish I  stayed up later to watch the sky dance about above me. Its everything I dream of  when I  travel… I  felt so  blessed.

We  got  invited to the vila owner’s birthday party the night we arrived back in town. We were riding on such good  vibes, it was  unreal. The vila was stunning. It was  inherited from the owner’s great  grandfather, a Raj. He converted the  estate into a vila beautifully with  unique decor and his personal touch. The celebration and dinner was perfect, we felt like we were in a whimsical 1950’s India film. 

Next we headed to Jaisalmer, the golden city. The gold sandstone in the buildings glisten when the sun hits it. Jaisalmer was beautiful and romantic. A sunset boat ride on Gadsisar Lake was lovely, I took in all the pretty ghats and spotted my first Kingfischer bird. It looked like a fairy tale creature with it’s vibrant aqua wings. Jaisalmer has the only living fort in India, a UNESCO site. It had the most stunning intricate handcarved architecture. The painstaking work was evident. 

Then we  were off to Jodhpur, the  blue city. A city with buildings painted blue to repel mosquitoes. We  spent only a day here to explore the  massive Mehragarh fort  and enjoy Diwali. India was decorated in  lights and  flowers. The country had been  booming with firecrackers and  fireworks the days prior  and tonight, it was going down. The streets was booming with  noise and visual celebration of the holiday. We got a good handful of  sparklers,  firecrackers,  fireworks and bombs to  celebrate.  The  city was  setting off  fireworks until 6a. What an awesome time to be in India. 

Udaipur, the city of lakes, was  next. It was a  totally different city from the rest. European feels, artist cove,  the men carried themselves differently and the vibes were much chilled and relaxed. Picohla Lake  was  beautiful during sunrise and sunset. It was a perfect place to stroll and get lost in the  alleyways. There was  opportunities for  loads of other activities –  cooking class,  painting, henna, palm reading. It was a  nice  break from the  hustle and bustle of the other cities. The local cultural show was breathtakingly  amazing,  packed with  music,  different dances and entertainment. 

Pushkar, holy city, was  next. It held  the famous annual camel festival and is the only place in the  world to worship Brahma, the  creator god. Shortly  after arrival, our  group participated in a Pushkar Passport  ceremony. I  didn’t expect anything from it  but something emotional  washed over me. It is an offering to the holy Pushkar lake  and  the world. The  next day, I  went on a sunrise hike to Savitri Temple. It was  such a sweet  treat after doing minimal physical activity. The sunrise was  cloudy but still beautiful. I always love watching the sunrise while the sleepy town underneath slowly waking up.  It’s always magical.

Next, we were off to Tordi Gah, a  small village  where we  were totally off the grid. We took in the  rural life, visited an abandoned stepwell (stunning architecture), a farm, sand dunes and  explore the village. It was  great to  take in  the village life.

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan also known as the  pink city, was  next. It was a  bustling city full of  traditions. I love the tour of the  marketplace full of colors, flavors and  smells. It reminded me a lot of  the  marketplace in China full of  raw energy and local vibes. 

Heading to  neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, we  visited Agra for baby Taj and Taj Mahal as well as Benaras, the  oldest and a holy city

I was  most excited for Varanasi  because of the history and spiritual meaning behind it. Hindi elders come here to die. The dead get  cremated here at the  burning ghat  and  the ashes are spread into the Ganges River. A sunset boat ride was great to experience the  ceremony to the Ganges River  and send  wishes out on the water. A  sunrise boat showed the  river in a different  light, much more relaxed and  peaceful. The rest of the day  was spent exploring the  burning ghat  and the  city. We  witnessed a  bit of a  cremation where the  eldest son  would  begin the ceremony and burn their deceased father. It  was surprisingly a very calm experience. About an hour and half into the cremation, the skull is cracked to release the spirit. Hindi  celebrated death  differently  from my experience with westerners and Chinese.

At  the end of our stay at Beranas, we  found out that the prime minister announced  that 86% of the currency in circulation was declared illegal. All 500 and 1,000 rupees notes were  illegal and must be  exchanged  for the new 500 and 2,000 notes or deposited. The move was due to the massive amount of black market currency. It was a huge movement for change. Unfortunately  the follow  through plans wasn’t communicated and executed the best. There was a  large population that didn’t have bank accounts or even know the process to exchange or deposit monies. 

During my last week in India, I headed to south Goa to relax and reset. It was weird at first to be solo again but it was quite easy to get back into a groove. I loved the morning runs along Putnam beach and taking a yoga class seaside. The staff at Papaya’s were very friendly. It was the perfect ending to my first visit to India. 

I met so many different people and experienced so much blissful moments. I’ll never forget India -a place that has so much magic and wonder that it is impossible to capture. I cannot wait to visit again and see what else the country has to offer. 

Live, Learn, Love soulfully!

Angela in wonderland // Follow me on IG @jelloooh #jellooohexploration


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