India is a destination full of spiritualism and sweeping landscapes. For just one country, it’s undeniable that it fits a lot within it! From endless desert dunes to snowy peaks, tropical beaches and wild tigers in the jungle, it’s got something for everyone!
Our Rickshaw ramblers – Adrian & Christine, recently returned from their stunning trip to India and here are their most beautiful experiences…
This trip is all about leaving the tourist trails behind and have a real genuine experience in one of India’s most captivating and remote desert regions.
First off, a guided walk through the old town to get a glimpse of traditional Indian life and soak up the authentic atmosphere. ‘The guide’s knowledge of the area and the way he explained everything to us was quite amazing. I must admit that my attention span to this sort of thing is rather short. This guy, however, made everything so interesting – we really enjoyed it. We visited ancient merchant’s houses (Havelis) with equally ancient frescos adorning the walls.’
Next up, after a quick spot of lunch featuring Adrian’s ‘best naan bread’ he’s ever had, a camel ride through the nearby countryside! ‘The ride was seriously good fun and we were taken around a very small village where time had stood still, and everyone waved and practised their best ‘how are you’ greetings and laughed out our ‘we are fine thank you’ replies’.
The pink city of Jaipur, crammed with fairy-tale palaces, historic splendour and heaving markets. ‘First stop is the amazing Amber Fort & Palace. We were shown around many fine buildings with polished marble columns and highly decorated walls and ceilings. You had to be there to appreciate it, so I’ll stop here in case you nod off!’
‘In the afternoon, we visited the Maharaja’s Palace in the pink city. Next door was a huge stone and marble sun clocks measuring time, other devices calculating altitude and movement of the planets. It’s difficult to understand how they created these instruments with such accuracy and lack of technology.’
‘It’s 6:30 pm and we’re sat in the courtyard ready for the puppet show. A mother in her late 70’s sat crossed legged on the floor playing her drum and singing in the loudest commanding voice (without the need of a microphone), whilst her son operates the puppets with precision. It became a magical place at night, with tiny light strings threaded through shrubs and wound round gnarls, branches and tree trunks’.
This is the time to visit 2 breath-taking sites and the highlights of any India trip. No postcard can possibly do it justice, we’re sure the Taj Mahal is a place that will beat your expectations.
‘We get through the gate… and there it is! Majestic, surreal, peaceful and overwhelming. The views, the gardens, and the water features are magnificent. Back outside we go for a slow walk around the perimeter. The sun is up, a faint smell of wood smoke in the air and pair of playful myna birds tease each other overhead’.
After a visit to the Taj Mahal, it’s time for a trip to Agra Fort. In the golden light of the afternoon, you’ll see the sunshine slanting through the pillars and galleries.
The colonial city of Cochin is a must-see destination for your Indian holiday and the perfect place to start off your South India adventure. A melting pot of cultures and religions, it’s an intriguing mix of mosques, churches and Chinese fishing nets. Cochin is also the home of Keralan dancing and arts, which you’ll have the opportunity to experience first-hand.
‘We arrive and have a super wow moment – this place is totally fabulous. As soon as you breeze into the reception, you just know that it’s going to be a difficult place to leave. A waiter walks in with two coconuts and straws – I could get used to this.’
‘Quick trip to the spice market – expecting the same old pattern but no, this place is amazing. Run by a lady’s cooperative and what lovely ladies they all were. Everywhere we go, everyone is so kind.’
Our houseboat trip allows you to sleep aboard as you drift through tropical backwaters and spot wild elephants in the untamed jungle of exotic Kerala. The labyrinth of tiny canals in Alleppey is fringed by palms on all sides and along the way, you’ll pass villages, hidden temples, churches and traditional boats.
‘We start with a day and a night on a houseboat in the huge backwaters of Alleppey. I was a little anxious as to the type of houseboat we would be staying on. But like all our other accommodation, it is charming, with mod cons like a floating palace. The boat has so much character with its woven bamboo roof and side panels. We’re instantly excited like a couple of school kids and cannot believe that we are to be the only guests on board.’
‘We moor up at a tiny fish stall and buy a kilo of Tiger prawns which our onboard chef is going to whizz up a tasty meal with. There are 3 guys looking after us, captain, chef and cabin boy. Like everyone we have met in India, they are so friendly, attentive and genuinely want to please. Are we relaxed – YES WE ARE’.
Marari is the place for an authentic beach break in India. It’s a friendly fishing village, lined with palm trees and an idyllic and tranquil beach. It’s the perfect place to end your India trip, staying in a peaceful bungalow on the beach, set amongst tropical gardens.
‘So we undo our cases, change into something appropriate and venture out. This is what it’s all about – relaxing in the most beautiful surroundings, gorgeous weather and entertained only by tropical birdsong. A nice cold beer at this very moment will complete the moment.’
How to spend the last 4 days on a beautiful beach? : ‘Up early, showered and breakfast, a walk, cycle, badminton or massage, couple of hours in the beach, to the pool for a swim and relax, a light lunch, back to the beach for an hour, followed by a break to our house for a power siesta, refreshing shower, relax around a tropical bar making new friends and swapping tales of our Indian adventures and ending the day with retiring to bed for a well-deserved good night’s sleep.’
You can have a read of Adrian’s own blog post – here!