With its power to provoke emotion, passion and love, India has this incredible way of being everything and more all at once. It is a place that warms the heart and shocks the soul, a place full of history that both draws the bold and expels the weary. It also has a diverse and intricate culture with deep beliefs and fabulous traditions. A journey across the northern half of India – from Rajisthan to the foothills of the Himalayas, southward to New Delhi and onward to Agra and Varanasi – is a life-changing one you’ll remember the rest of your life.
Sheshnag Lake in India. Photo courtesy Nitin B.
Beginning in the far west we slowly make our way through the sand bank hills of the Rajasthani Desert – a surprising landscape for Asia, filled with intense history and friendly people. Once a part of major trade routes, camels are still used to show travellers a window into the past. Grab your camera and be sure to book a sunset ride because experiencing its glow over these hills is something magical.
From the countryside to the city – the metropolis of New Delhi has a staggering 16 million inhabitants. This city and Mumbai contain the majority of Indian big-business trade and economic movements. It is amazing, and if you like good food, parties, museums, and markets, New Delhi is worth a few days of your time. It is also almost always the best hub for international arrivals and departures. Welcome to chaos.
New Delhi has a staggering 16 million inhabitants. Photo courtesy Eric P.
Once you decide to leave the disorder of city life behind, jump a rural train and head almost directly east to the city of Agra to see the celebrated Taj Mahal. The world-famous palace built for the remains of a beloved princess took 22 years to construct and is an absolute marvel. It cannot be missed. It is such a beauty to see with your own eyes, to walk through and to admire the craftsmanship. The Taj Mahal is truly a wonder of architecture and the creative prowess of the human desire.
The Taj Mahal in Agra.
From Agra, move farther east to the ancient city of Varanasi. Situated on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi is one of the most important places for worshippers of Hinduism. This city is an absolute wonder to explore, especially down by the river where streets become paths and lanes become small spaces in between buildings. It is a labyrinth of sensual discovery, a wonderful place, and by far the best for gaining a deeper religious understanding. There is always something happening in Varanasi and it is the perfect place to be if you’re interested in the power of belief.
Varanasi and the Ganges river.
An expat told me once that after three years in India he realized he would need at least another seven to begin having an understanding of the cultural diversity. India is a country of mythical beauty and devastating poverty, where everything is felt firsthand and immediately. It is a wonderful discovery and I highly suggest you check it out. From the beaches and backwaters of the south to my quick overview of a journey through the north, go with open eyes and an open mind.
Group travel is a great way to experience a country that might overwhelm the senses. G Adventures runs a number of departures to India encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.