Seven Reasons I Had An Unforgettable Trip To India

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Anyone who visits chaotic and colourful India will come away with a jumble of opinions, impressions and memories.  I, too, had an unforgettable trip to India a few years ago. Even now, the memories flicker in and out of my mind when I least expect it.  It’s the scent of jasmine, the intensity of bright colours in the sunshine, the rhythmic beating of Kathakali, and the taste of black dhal eaten on a candlelit terrace on a warm night.

Is my nostalgia because I doubt if I will ever return to India?  Possibly.  I’ve been living with an immune disorder on the back burner for many years. Unfortunately, my trip to India sent my health into a tailspin. I’ve promised my doctors I will never return to India because they had no idea what was wrong with me.  They took the usual approach of zapping me with every antibiotic known to mankind which eventually did the trick. It was a harrowing experience which none of us are keen to repeat.  Before you ask, I stayed in 5 star hotels and was very careful what I ate.

Reasons why India is unforgettable

Here are seven of my favourite memories from our 3 week trip to India:

Vanyavilas in Ranthambore

The Oberoi Vanyavilas Ranthambore was my absolute favourite of the hotels.  I know the Oberoi Udaivilas gets all the hype for being the number 1 hotel in the world, etc. but I preferred Vanyavilas.  A small hotel with tented villas and exceptional service, this hotel set the standard for me in terms of glamping.  My husband has pointed out that it was hardly what you would even consider glamping.  Exactly.

The Oberoi Vanyavilas Hotel
Image credit: Oberoi Hotels

The Ranthambore Tiger Preserve

During our three days in Ranthambore, our guides were finally able to find a couple of tigers for us to see in the wild. They were two young tigers who were left alone while their mother was probably out hunting. The youngsters were less than careful about staying hidden. After three days of riding around in an open top jeep, I was so glad that I had listened to the tips on taking an Indian safari and been ready for the dust with long loose clothing and hand sanitiser.

Tiger at Ranthambore Tiger Preserve
Image credit: TausP.

The Traffic and the Transportation

We survived Indian public transportation as well – the tuk tuk, taxis, trains and planes.  There was only one mishap when our flight from Mumbai to Cochin was cancelled. Our train travel was pretty uneventful because we had porters who helped us on and off the trains. I wish we had had time to take one of the luxury trains in India which I’m sure would have been a fabulous experience.

I found Indian traffic very much an adventure in itself.  Indian cars drive down the middle of the road play chicken with the car coming opposite until at the last minute one of them swerves.  In New Delhi, we got stuck in a traffic jam with an elephant standing in traffic right by my window.  I can’t get my kids to stand still in a queue never mind an elephant.

Indian Traffic
Image credit: Harini Calamur

The Houseboat Trip in the Kerala Backwaters

For my birthday (I won’t divulge which one!), we stayed in a houseboat in the Kerala backwaters.  The landscape was exceptionally beautiful and even worth being bitten by a zillion mosquitoes.  Our houseboat people made a special dinner for us which we got to eat on the deck of the boat under the stars. My husband was given some of the local moonshine which he had to drink manfully.  Mercifully, I got to avoid the stuff.

Kerala Backwaters India Memories

Shopaholics Rejoice!

I also did some serious shopping.  For my birthday, I got a sapphire eternity bracelet from Jaipur which wound up getting stolen at a wedding in Oxfordshire. Grrr.  I found lots of great stuff just in the stalls, the roadside vendors and the stores. One of my favourite bargains was a trio of vases (lassi cups).  I couldn’t resist buying way too many of these plastic bangles which my daughter has loved for playing dress-up.

Indian bangles
Image credit: Kamakshi Sachidanandam

The Amazing Architecture

Everyone knows about the Taj Mahal. In fact, the Taj Mahal is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Indian architecture.  As great as the Taj Mahal was, there was so much more to see though.  We wondered at the New Delhi buildings created by Edwin Lutyens for the British Empire.  Then there was Fatehpur Sikri the city created and abandoned on an Emperor’s whim for the Moghul Empire. Rajasthan seemed to be full of palaces everywhere you looked.

India Gate in New Delhi
India Gate in New Delhi

Delicious Indian Food

The food was exceptionally good from the vegetarian dhals of North India to the fried fish and chicken curry of Kerala.  I did not even miss the fact that I did not have any fruit or salad the whole trip.  My husband though was craving a salad. When we had our stopover in Frankfurt airport, he had a salad and promptly came down with food poisoning.  It was pretty ironic since he was not sick at all during the entire India trip.

Kerala chicken curry

Although I had an unforgettable trip to India I would love to return one day.  There are so many more fabulous places in India to discover that we did not have time to visit. For example, this India travel blog gives 10 different reasons the writer loves India. We overlap on some of our reasons (Kerala, Ranthambore) but she’s done some cool things I’d love to do (attend festivals, see the Himalayas).

Who knows?  I have been dumb enough to ignore doctors’ advice before. I may yet have another India trip left in me.  It will, however, take some extensive wearing down of my husband’s resistance.

An unforgettable Trip to India
The City Palace in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan

Is there anywhere that you have been that has been particularly memorable? I’d love to hear where and why it was so unforgettable.

 

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40 thoughts on “Seven Reasons I Had An Unforgettable Trip To India”

  1. I LOVE travelling in India, my husband and I used to do it often when we lived in bangladesh and I can’t wait to be back travelling here again 12 years later with two kids in tow! Your pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Indeed! It was the coolest birthday I have ever had (although to be fair I tend to ignore birthdays). It was just the way the vacation fell but so glad it did!

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sorry to hear that India had this affect on your health.

    Visiting India is a dream of mine. How many cities did you visit during your three weeks? It looks like you covered quite a bit of ground.

    1. We spent the first two weeks in the North (Delhi, Agra, Ranthanambore, Jaipur, Udaipur) flying into Mumbai for 2 days at the end. We spent the last week in Kerala (Cochin, Munnar, Backwaters). It was a great itinerary and we saw and did lots without being overwhelmed. Overall it was a little over 3 weeks but we couldn’t narrow down what we wanted to see. Of course, we only scratched the surface.

  3. Well, I can see why you trip to India was unforgettable! What an interesting array of experiences. I would love to experience the version of “glamping” you are showing here. Oh, and I would like to join a tiger safari..

    1. The tigers were amazing! There aren’t that many of them. And we only saw the two young ones over the 3 day trip. We were really lucky I think.

  4. Hi Shobha – I love your first pinnable image (and repinned it)! India has been taunting us by not making it easy. First, we had a visa fail (who knew a “visa on arrival” meant you needed to apply at least a week before and then allow 48 hours minimum processing time? Thanks, no extended layover, just an overnight in the Mumbai airport, not recommended) and then a press trip fell apart on the destination side. But now that I’ve read this post, I’m even more determined to replicate your adventures, particularly the glamping. Perhaps some day.

    1. Thank you Betsy! I agree the Indian visa issue can be difficult. I had to help my mother over the summer transfer a visa from her old American passport to a new American passport (she has multi-entry) and it was a complete palaver that took hours of my life to sort out. The ‘glamping’ was indeed fun – you get a slipper tub in the bathroom and the walls and ceiling are draped and tented but otherwise it’s a little villa. Definitely more on the hotel side of glamping 🙂

  5. India is a top destination on my bucket list. It looks like you made some fantastic memories. My mouth is watering over the Indian food photo you posted! I went to Patagonia and for me this was truly memorable. The natural beauty is unbelievable and the peace of being among the mountains, lakes, and glaciers completely settles the mind.

  6. What lovely photos. It seems like you really enjoyed India, so I do hope you’ll get to return again when your health is better. At least you’ve gone more times than I have since I’ve never been! I like that you did a range of activities from the busy cities to that heavenly photo of the Kerala Backwaters. Thanks for linking up with #WkendTravelInspiration.

  7. I don’t know if I ever get to see India, even though I would very much like that, so thank you for all those gorgeous photos. It looks like you had a great time, and looking at photos and writing about your travels is, in my experience, a somewhat bearable substitute to actually being there.

  8. Hi, Shobha! I really like your photos, and I’ll bet you got a lot of other wonderful ones as well.

    If that Oberoi is any indication, you stayed in some fabulous places along the way. Can’t fault you for taking care of yourself like that. I certainly understand why you would like to return … despite your health issues.

    Of all the places I’ve been so far, Israel is probably on the top of my “most memorable places” list. Not only is it nice being able to picture places I’ve been when I read the Bible, the people were very friendly and the food was incredibly fresh and flavorful.

    1. I’d love to go to Israel! It’s on my bucket list. Every time I make plans though something else blows up in the Middle East.

      1. You’ll love it! I hope you’ll reconsider letting the political situation dictate your travel plans in this case. We drove around Golan Heights and were within a mile of the Gaza strip and never saw any action … and believe me, Dan was looking for it!

        I think the media dramatizes everything for headlines; compare for example what they said about Greece to what boots-on-the-ground bloggers were experiencing.

        Just my two cents’ worth.

        1. That’s a good point. I was at TBEX Athens last year and it was fine. My kids were on half term break at the same time and I didn’t take them just in case there were issues. The weather and the country were fab and I regretted my decision.

  9. I am sorry India is not good for your health:( I think travel in general is not easy on our (over 20) bodies. Jet Leg, new water, air and food and physical exhaustion do numbers on even people without chronic diseases…I hope you can go back one day…

  10. You have a very nice blog. I just stumbled upon it and will read back posts immediately.

    I visited India a few years back doing the typical tourist itinerary: Golden Triangle! I was awestruck by the beautiful Mughal architecture and the sights, sounds and smells of India are memorable indeed.

  11. Awesome collection, I went to the Ranthambore and visit the national park that was one of the best safari parks in India. It was totally awesome to see the tiger.

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