“India is not a holiday, but rather an experience. It is one we will not forget for a long time. …”
My wife and I did a small group tour of Rajasthan (18days). India is not a holiday, but rather an experience. It is one we will not forget for a long time.
We had two days in Delhi before the tour began, and met a wonderful tuk-tuk driver by the name of Dev who showed us the sights, took us to dinner places, and told us about his life and family. What a great introduction! Delhi is everything you expect- chaotic, polluted, confronting- fantastic. It has some remarkable monuments, great gardens. The only disappointment was not visiting the Red Fort- closed for the national holiday. Get in a tuk-tuk and go!
One hears about tourists being disappointed by iconic landmarks when they finally see them in the flesh. We walked up to the Taj at dawn, through security etc. and up to the entrance gate where you spy it for the first time. It took my breath away. It was simply the most beautiful building I have ever seen. Just go.
Rajasthan is synonymous with palaces and forts, and the splendour is on show in all the cities we visited. They are as good or better than castles in Europe and in very good shape. But for me, it was the contrasts that stood out- opulence on a staggering scale; poverty equally so. Don’t go to India if you don’t want to be confronted, but do go if you want to have all your senses enlivened and your faith in humanity lifted, as these people are resilient and remarkable.
Another fascinating aspect of the tour was seeing India in transition. Old ways and new; highways and laneways; cooking fires and wind turbines; camel carts and overloaded trucks, and motorbikes, millions of motorbikes. A highlight was the homestay, sitting in the courtyard of our hosts’ home sipping ginger tea, eating their food (delicious), and watching the kids get off to school. Talking about their lives and hopes for their children in this emerging country.
If you think you won’t put on weight in India, think again! My advice- you don’t need to sample everything in your first few meals! There is plenty of time. I do think I suffered from turmeric overload though, and now I’m addicted.
India confronts all your senses as well as your humanity. One thing Joji and his people do very well is, provide a variety of opportunities. Two such were a visit by the ladies to a cooperative for women victims of domestic assault, specifically acid attacks- confronting but also uplifting, and our visits to women’s textile cooperatives. Make sure you budget for way more than you expect to spend, as the quality of the merchandise is hard to resist!
All in all a fantastic experience. Joji and the team looked after us very well. Our driver (Raj) was brilliant, our guides informative, and our hosts wonderful. A gently paced tour, offering a variety of experiences and opportunities to see a part of fabulous India.
Our accommodation was as varied as our itinerary. We stayed in hotels, homestays, havelis and a desert camp. All had been carefully chosen by Joji to meet our comfort requirements. Our hosts in the homestays were charming, and we felt privileged to have insights into the everyday lives of Indian families.
For me, the trip was the realisation of a dream of a lifetime and I highly recommend it to anyone hankering for a real Indian experience.
This exotic tour of Rajasthan transports you to the regal era of Maharajas, opulent palaces, majestic forts and a kaleidoscope of colours set in the expansive Thar Desert.
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