India - View from the Inside

"India is a melting pot of old traditions and even older religions."

March 2020 • Jules Verne

India - View from the Inside

Born in Mumbai but having lived in London for the majority of my life, I’m ashamed to admit that I knew very little about India before my recent visit. However, I soon came to realise that no matter how much you think you know and regardless of how far and wide you travel, there will always be an infinity of hidden gems yet to be uncovered and it is that which makes it all the more unforgettable. 

India is a melting pot of old traditions and even older religions, yet it has become a country where societies of the East are beginning to embrace lifestyles of the West. Arranged marriages are still a common occurrence and cows remain their most sacred icon but a dowry is much more preferable if it consists of a car instead! 

The thriving metropolis of Mumbai has some of the world’s most expensive real estate and, at the same time, the biggest slums on Earth. Victoria Terminus thrums with the eternal buzz of 3 million daily commuters and the arrival of Dabbawallas with their steaming lunch tiffins. Hidden gems of Gothic architecture are an unexpected discovery as you drive through the chaotic streets. 

Of the many man-made lakes that India boasts, none are lovelier than Lake Pichola in Udaipur. Palaces and temples stand majestically on floating islands, like gleaming beacons in the midday sun and nothing feels more mystical than boat rides at sunset when bats speckle the dusk like inky black stars. 
Anyone wanting to take a step off the beaten track, a certain highlight will be the charming village of Rohet. Visiting the delightfully hospitable Vishnu Bishnoi and Brahmin tribes of the area is an unmissable opportunity to witness a small part of India’s heritage, century’s old traditions and natural ways of life. 

Likewise, Bikaner is one of the less populated tourist areas of Rajasthan. The desert town is land of the camels and you’ll find the mighty beasts are used to transport almost everything. Ideally, Bikaner is only a short drive to Jodhpur, home to Mehrangaarh Fort, standing invincibly on the cliff top; while a sea of painted blue Brahmin houses stretches out into the old city, at its base. 

Step back onto the beaten track to Jaipur to what can only be described as the epitome of India: from the constant blaring of vehicle horns to the animals that wander the streets at their own leisurely pace. Its trademark is the vibrant red sandstone buildings: Palace of the Winds and City Palace are by far the perfect examples of this incredible design. 

Arriving in Agra, to see one of the world’s most iconic structures, is in one word – breathtaking! The love story, skill and precision behind the Taj Mahal’s construction, is simply unbelievable. Don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all the city has to offer though; once the heart of the Moghul Empire, the era’s wonderful architecture and artistic flare are prominent in the stunning Baby Taj, Agra Fort and abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. 

From lost empires to Delhi; a startling mix of old tradition and new generations. Modern British built New Delhi designed from European inspiration sits adjacent to Old Delhi, its dusty streets filled with crowded bazaars and ancient mosques. 

You will find, on this journey, and, as no doubt countless others have before you, that there is nowhere, where you won’t be met with a smile, sincere Namaste and the offer of thirst quenching masala chai. It is incredibly touching to find that you are and always will be welcomed as if you are one of their own. 

India is beautiful, astounding and, every so often, a little unpredictable. As it did with me, she may fill you with memories that last a lifetime, but that will only leave you wanting more. To say that you just might fall in love… Well, that would be an understatement!” 

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