Today we have a guest blogger: Rachel. French from birth, she enjoys discovering world traditions and studying human behavior. As an avid cavalier, she tries to take advantage of her passion wherever she can find horses. She currently lives in France and is studying International Humanitarian Law. This is her story...
50 shades of India by Rachel
I would like to share my experience of a touristic’ Indian journey, because I think India definitely deserves it.
Little reminder: the Hindustan land
The Republic of India is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the south-west, and the Bay of Bengal on the south-east, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh to the east.
India is member of BRICS, one of G-20 major economies, and it is a developing country with 6.6 % average growth rate from July 2012 until July 2015.
With an expectation for GDP increase of 7.8 % for April 2015 to march 2016 for the GDP.
The advantage of India is related to the fact that the country is the world’s largest food producer, has a wide variety of basic products while having a large pool of scientists and researchers and a well developed distribution network.
Hindustan was originally a Persian word that meant “Land of the Hindus”; prior to 1947, it referred to a region that encompassed northern India and Pakistan. It is occasionally used to solely denote India in its entirety.
The adventure starts: my journey
- 1 st of September – 3 a.m. – departure
After all day of travelling and passing by Brussels, I finally arrived at the airport at 10.30 p.m. What is the first impression, first feeling you get at the time you step out of the plane? The air is heavy and warm, I like it.
The airport is big and just looks the same as any European airport. Same brands, same structure all over the world. I will once more just go outside.
I pass by the Immigration Office, my E-visa is ready and available. Luckily, now I’m finally able to start my trip.
- Delhi – the representation of “Incredible India”
Capital of India, Delhi is one of the most crowded places in the world. It is divided in two places: New Delhi more “clean and tidy “and old Delhi with small streets full of people, traffics, rickshaws, shops, food places.
This place made me discover first taste of India, the folklore part.
I went in the evening to see the India gate, with the big Indian flag nearby. I went there by metro, let me say “crowded metro”. The good part is that you don’t need to step out of it because you don’t have any chance to not follow the flow… funny experience.
I passed by the Mosque Jama Masjid and I went to eat in a very good restaurant “Karim’s”, just amazing food with very nice meat.
Very interesting to see: a place where Muslim, Hindu, Catholic and tourists at the same time, working and living together with very nice understanding and, apparently, peace. Just the start to the representation of the eclectic India I will continue to discover. Regarding to places, people and tradition, India is very diversify, for example, it has 22 officials’ languages.
- Manali – Himalaya, the Spiritual land
After 3 days in New Delhi, I went to Manali. I took special Volvo bus, very comfortable by the way, for almost 15 hours. But this was worth it. You are travelling on a small road through Himalaya’s mountains, during night time, you try to accommodate a position to sleep and you feel like it will never end.
But then comes the sunrise, you can see the fog coming from nowhere, seems like a movie, with the Beas River flowing along the valley, the warm is coming step by step.
We almost reached 2000 meters high. There are a lot of trucks bringing food and supplies from downtown to the mountains. They are shops on the way where you can stop, take some rest and eat. By the way, you can also observe the workers constructing the road, because then you have to stop and wait a bit. Once the road is done you can pass by: so easy. You feel that you are going to make an ascent of the Everest. Indians use the expression “Switzerland Alps in India”.
- Hot Water Springs
Legend has it that Rishi Vashisht, upon hearing that his children had been killed by Vishvamitra, attempted suicide by jumping in the river. But the river carried him to Vashisht village. The river here was called Vipasha meaning freedom from burden. Today the river is known as the Beas.
I actually went to take warm bath there, you have to take out your shoes, and you go into the temple. There is a tap with warm water flowing continuously. Local people are taking bath there, with their children or friends. It is separate for male and female.
I actually really liked this place. Very peaceful, nice spirit, cool air. Someone told me it is even a place where a couple goes for HoneyMoon, so it was mine with India hopefully.
- Kasol – the far far away land
I took a local bus at 6 a.m. to go to Kasol city. This is deeper in the mountains. This time the bus was very crowed, people climbing on the roof, the driver had very fast driving: sensitive soul must refrain.
So once I arrived there, this is same kind of town like Manali but less romantic actually.
The reason is that in this place, there is a lot of Marijuana growing around, so let’s say that some of the tourists are taking advantage.
This matter apart, the town is beautiful.
You can cross bridge, take a nice walk along river side; eat some nice food almost in between Indian and Chinese traditional food, which is definitely tasting good.
You can find a lot of shop selling some hippie gifts and souvenirs, and tourist office where you can book some tours: hotel and transportation, rafting, climbing or even camping.
- Chandigarh – Indian fancy touch
I took the bus to Chandigarh; it is a beautiful recent town of northern India. Just built after the independence of India in 1947, it is the capital of Pendjab and Haryana state. Plan of the city has been made by the known Swiss/French architect “le Corbusier”.
The town represents the modern India, which kept less traditional; you can find their young generation, who does not wear the traditional clothes (jeans and shirt instead of Sari for example).
It is very beautiful and clean, you have big mole where you can eat, make shopping; hang out in bars or night club, and also a nice lake.
- Jaipur and Agra–King’s land, the beauty of traditional
I found this city very beautiful, with all spiritual and religious touch, a lot of temples.
I also visited the Zoo, where you can find tiger and a lot of other animals like antelopes, monkeys, fox, hyena, birds…etc
And this week was the traditional festival for Ganesh, which was in every town. People waited until 3 a.m. in the morning to reach the temple and be able to touch Ganesh’s feet, to get his benediction and respect.
The Taj Mahal ,” The palace of the crown” and the Agra fort.
When you arrive, you have to go to visit first the Red Fort, it is a UNESCO world heritage. It was constructed by Emperor Jahangir (1487-1517).
You can see the taj Mahal from the Red Fort.
Then I went to the mystic Taj Mahal, just one kilometer ahead. It was worth it to travel all the way to see one of the seven wonders of the world.
When you arrive in front of Taj Mahal, it seems like time stops: you can see the jewel of architecture all made by marble. It seems like a frame: there is no wind; it’s so sunny that the sky is almost looking unreal grayish and the black birds coming from nowhere are just flying around.
This place is so full of grace and with a perfection of proportion.
You can walk along the pathway, beside the reflecting pool with fountains, up to the mausoleum. Here you will find the tomb of the Queen and the King staying together, inside the Taj Mahal.
This place will give you a lot of good thoughts, with his romantic beautiful history. You can imagine that at this time, there was the huge Yamuna River flowing besides Taj Mahal, and the King was just watching from through the Agra Fort’s window ( his prison), the Taj that he constructed for his lover wife.
One of his sons, Aurangzeb, captured him on 8 June 1658, and had him jailed at the Agra Fort, from where the old emperor could look wistfully at the glorious Taj. Shah Jahan died in captivity.
- Chennai – Listen to the ocean through the shell, best goodbye ever.
The last place I went to, after 2.30 hours of plane from Jaipur.
Chennai, also known as Madras before, has a population of 6 million inhabitants, is the Capital of Tamil Nadu state. It is the cultural, economic and trade principal center.
It’s a very traditional and typical place, you can go there enjoy long walk along the beach, eat very tasty traditional food.
The time I was there, the ganesh festival was still on, so you could see thousand of trucks coming from the town to give offering to the ocean: Ganesh’s
In fact, the media is used to talk about this country unfortunately more concerning the bad sides, as poverty, crowded places, orphans, rapes …(for this last one, by the way looking at percentage there as less than in western countries) because this is of course what they like to take a look at usually.
My point is that we forget about the most important part: the expression “Incredible India” is very true!
Huge by two ways: the size and the heart, spicy like the people, beautiful like the culture and kind like the human being.
Good points on this journey outweigh 1000 times the few bad points.
I would like to thanks the person’s who welcomes me, with all kindness and attention.