India

When

  • April 2011 for three weeks

Places

Delhi

  • Connaught Place and the India Gate are both a ‘must see’;
    The Red Fort is a pretty impressive palace/fort;
  • Old Delhi (Chandi Chowk) is a must see and watch out for the loads of hawks flying above the mosque.

Agra

  • Taj Mahal (sunset on the Ganges behind the Taj);
  • Watching the sun set behind the Taj over the Ganges is an incredible experience;
  • Get to a roof-top restaurant for any meal of the day to simple eat and gaze at the majestic Taj in the background – I personally didn’t personally do this but wish I did.
The Taj Mahal and the River Ganges..
Standing between the Taj Mahal and the River Ganges..

Jaipur

  • Wind Palace sits just off a busy main road;
  • Amber Palace/Fort Amber was beautiful but please do not ride the elephants – if you watch them they treat them horribly and poke them in the back of their neck to move along and stop for tourists to take photos;
  • We watched a Bollywood film here which was highly entertaining – the crowd gets so involved and even though we didn’t know what was being said (no subtitles) we got the gist of what was happening by the involvement of the crowd.

Pushkar

  • The Holy Lake is the main centre of Pushkar, it contains 52 Ghats;
  • We were blessed on the edge of the Holy Lake which was a spiritual experience;
  • A camel ride into a desert for chai and biscuits was pretty fun and amusing especially when we got to race each other;
  • Beware of the touts that try to tie a piece of red string around your wrist and claim its ‘holy’ – you will then have to pay a silly amount for it.
Snake Charmers..
Snake Charmers..

Udaipur

  • Udaipur Lake (beautiful!!), just like the Taj, sit at a restaurant anywhere here that overlooks that lake and you will be immediately calmed by a view of total bliss;
  • Horse riding was fun here and have to say, not the tamest horses;
  • We did a cooking class in Udaipur and then got to eat it all afterwards!

Ahemdabad

  • The world’s second most polluted city and by golly you could tell. Think 40 degree temperatures and smog so thick you could hardly see 50metres in front of you;
  • Gandhi’s Ashram was a nice place to visit.

Mumbai

  • We went to the Taj Mahal Hotel for an afternoon of high tea which was delicious and had one of their signature cocktails which was very strong but yummy;
  • Leopold’s Bar (for Shantaram lovers) is a cool place for lunch and/or a drink, also good to check out if it’s what you imagined from the book (it was different to what I had expected);
  • The crowds at the Mumbai Gate are never ending but highly entertaining;
  • The world’s largest outdoor laundry, the Dhobi Ghat, is interesting – a job only for the men apparently;
    Be extra careful of your belongings in Mumbai even in your hotel rooms!
Dhobi Ghat laundry
Dhobi Ghat laundry in Mumbai

Goa

  • Calangute
        • visit a spice farm here – there are plenty;
        • ate at a restaurant on the beach with fresh seafood.
  • Palolem Bay
        • a beautiful bay with a great beach;
        • silent disco was very entertaining;
        • hire scooters and check out the rest of Goa – lots of hidden places to explore.

India

Accommodation

  • Can’t remember the names of the hotels we stayed in on the tour
  • Rose Bud beach huts in Palolem Bay

Language

  • Hindi but English is common and you shouldn’t have any issues (stick with the younger generation)
  • Hello: Helo / namastē
  • Thank you: dhanyavād/shukriya (Hindustani/Urdu)
  • Good bye: namaskār
  • Yes / No: haan / nahīn

Visa

  • You have to sort out my tourist visa before you arrive. I filled out a form from their website and went to the Indian visa info in Adelaide where they processed my visa application. I received it a week later with a full page visa in it.
  • $75 AUD for a ‘tourist’, ‘single-entry’ visa
  • The tourist visa for Australians last for six months

Money

  • Rupee (60 INR = $1 USD)
  • You can only obtain Rupees within India

Food

  • Of course had a lot of curry whilst here, I am a big meat eater but really enjoyed the paneer and especially palak panner;
  • No beef here of course and there are cows everywhere on the streets;
  • Tandoori chicken is big too and very yummy;
  • At times I ate a bit of Western food but everything you had (even spag bog) had a spice to it;
  • The mango lassis were delish;
  • Chai tea (full of spices).

Tips and tricks

  • Delhi Belly: Just like ‘Bali Belly’, Delhi Belly does get most people who go to India. The best cure to this is again the rehydration sachets in your water and I also got told by a local that plan yoghurt (lassis are perfect!) and bananas are your best option to help settle the stomach.
  • Cover up when you can – you get a lot of attention as a white person, especially as a blonde, white person! Everyone will stop and want to have a chat to you and they love the cricket!!!
  • The dancing snakes are not actually ‘hypnotised’ by the music – it’s when the men bang the baskets on the ground the snakes come out because of the vibrations. The men have also pulled the teeth out of the snakes so they do not poison them.
Even the cows love Pololem Bay in Goa..
Even the cows love Pololem Bay in Goa..

 

 India blog posts

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