Incredible India Tour – January 2010
India is certainly a feast for the senses. I recently returned from a wonderful two week women only India tour that I planned with my tour operator in Delhi. The entire trip was a success and everyone had a unique and unforgettable experience as we were cared for exceptionally well from our landing in Mumbai to our departure from Delhi. Our guides and drivers were knowledgeable and varied in personalities helping us enjoy each place we visited. We were always met by a local representative who helped us check into hotels and airports. We had so much fun and being all women, we had definitely supported the India economy. We had bottled water on the van and a second person who helped and was learning the roads. My tour companions were impressed with the relationship I have with my Delhi contacts who called me several times to ensure all was going well. I know from clients that I have sent to India that this was not a special service just for me. Whenever any of my clients go to India, the tour operator in Delhi always contacts them and then me to inform me of their well being.
We arrived in Mumbai and had a short city tour the next morning before flying to Aurangabad where we saw the Ellora and Ajanta caves. Ajanta caves were built between the 2nd century B.C. and the 6th century A.D. There are 29 Buddhist caves filled with paintings and sculpture. Ellora was built between the 6th and 11th century A.D. There are 34 Buddhist, Jain and Hindu caves with magnificent architecture and sculptures. What is so impressive is that these caves were all hand carved. It is unimaginable that people could actually do this! Then we flew to Delhi and did the Golden Triangle that included Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. I have seen the Taj Mahal a few times but every time I see it, I am awed. My memory and pictures do not do it justice. It is quite a magnificent site and depending upon the time of day, the refection of the light makes it even more beautiful. It is really a must see place to visit in one’s lifetime. After Agra, we drove to Jaipur, the pink city, the gateway to the Rajasthan tour part of our trip. The Mughal forts and palaces with their long and interesting histories are fascinating. We also visited Jaisalmer which I found so exotic, Jodhpur, the blue city, and Udaipur, a beautiful city on Lake Picchola. We spent a night in a tented luxury camp in the Thar Desert surrounded by sand dunes. I loved this place. It was so quiet and peaceful which is so unusual for India. We took a camel ride and saw the village houses nearby. Next time, I would spend more than one night. But of course, there is so much to see and do in India and like most things so little time.
I feel India is a country all westerners should visit. India always touches my soul and has a very special place in my heart. I keep revisiting in my mind what I saw and experienced. It is a country of such contrasts, so rich in many ways yet so poor in other ways. But what is constant is the warmth and hospitality of the Indian people. Visiting India will make you view life differently. If you decide to tour India, I am sure that Geringer Global Travel will provide you with an experience filled with all that is special and fascinating about this wonderful country with expertise and great care.
Incredible India!! It is true. I enjoyed my entire India trip but the tour of Rajasthan was so colorful and exotic. In the countryside, the men with their colorful turbans and unbelievable long and curled up mustaches and the women with their beautiful, colorful saris with large gold nose earrings and jewelry galore are such a picturesque sight against the contrast of the stark desert landscape. Rajasthan is home to the Rajputs, a warrior clan that has ruled this state for thousands of years. You can identify a Rajput man by the fact that he wears a diamond looking stud in each ear. They are extremely proud of their heritage. In the rural villages, children especially girls sometimes stop school in the 8th grade and girls are still brought up to marry young. I am always fascinated by people and their customs. But Rajasthan is not only about its people. It is also about history, culture and tradition. Rajasthan has majestic forts and palatial palaces that are still occupied by Maharajas and their families.
City Palace, Jaipur
The first place we visited in Rajasthan was Jaipur, the City of Pink. It is called the City of Pink because all the buildings in the old city are painted pink. It was founded in 1727. Jaipur has a population close to 3 million. The first thing we did was stop to admire the beautiful Wind Place or the Hawa Mahal. It is a five story sandstone facade with 953 windows. It has become a symbol of Jaipur. Then we drove outside the city to the Amber Fort. What a majestic fort and what a breathtaking approach to the fort! We rode an elephant up to the gate which was quite fun. The fort was incredible and was built with red sandstone and marble and is a combination of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture. Afterwards, we had lunch and continued on to see the City Palace. The Maharaja still lives here. The painted ceilings and the miniature paintings are exquisite. We saw the Jantar Mantar or the observatory which has big structures or instruments constructed to measure the position of the stars. Our guide showed us how some of the instruments show the time. I was quite impressed with how old this was but showed time to the second.
We had dinner with a Jaipur family at their home. Jaipur has a program where local families host tourists. They have to be approved for cleanliness and be acceptable to Westerners. This was a real treat. Not only was the food delicious but it was a fascinating evening. Our hosts were a young couple with an 8 year old and a one year old child. They lived in a huge house in the middle of Jaipur with several acres behind the house. Having so much land in the city of Jaipur was unusual. The husband was a Rajput or from the warrior clan and was very proud of his history. The house was an extended family house passed down from his grandfather. He also owned a farm outside the city and a small castle. It was, however, obvious that he was struggling to keep all he has. As the property was passed down the generations, the government took a lot in taxes. The wife was now living with her husband’s family which is customary in India. She was not from an extended family. She said it took time to become use to an extended family but now would not have it any other way. She sees her parents once a week but feels bad for them because they live alone. These few hours proved to be one of the highlights of the trip. I would recommend that everyone visiting Jaipur have dinner with a host family.
As we were leaving Jaipur, we stopped at a Bisnoi rural village. We met a family and saw how they lived. They all live in one room with no furniture. The floor and the walls were made of cow dung which actually does not smell and is quite durable. They had 2 children, 8 and 13, who we met for a short time because they were leaving for school. The boy showed me his reading book and proudly read to me. The girl will probably not go through school because she will marry young. Afterwards, we visited a school. There were no desks, chairs or windows in the classrooms. The children wore uniforms and sat close to one another on the floor. They were extremely polite and would stand as we entered a room. We brought pens as gifts.
These experiences are eye openers and very meaningful. I know not everyone lives like us in the US but to see how people live makes me see that there is a different world out there. Traveling to India will be an eye opener to you too and you will learn a lot about yourself and others by visiting India.