A first-time visit to India and what an amazing place, in fact amazing isn’t enough of a word to truly encompass the wonder of this country. Old Delhi is as hectic as they say and New Delhi still retains a ‘sense of British Raj’ with wide avenues and neatly clipped lawns. An eye-opening and jaw-dropping journey towards Agra was our first taste of driving or being driven in India. So very British of me to keep saying ‘but why do they let the camels walk the wrong way up the road’ but you soon become familiar with and grow to love this ad hoc approach to the Highway Code!
With the Taj Mahal at sunset and then again at sunrise this was our first of our many remarkable experiences. No, I didn’t have my photo taken on the bench made famous by Princess Diana – but just stared in awe at this creamy, dreamlike building. No postcard can do it justice. From here the places we went to and the things we saw just got better. Ranthambore National Park was a treat. The majestic fort watching down from the hill at the Sambar Deer and migrating birds. We did see a tiger, albeit on the road out of the park, looking quite relaxed and not bothered about us at all. We were lucky enough to celebrate Diwali at Bundi, a charming town off the beaten track. Home to intricate and beautiful stepwells and quite the most stunning palace we saw on our trip. Only six other visitors so we had it pretty much to ourselves. Bundi’s night sky lit up with fireworks, families celebrating the festival of light – these two days were most definitely a highlight of the trip.
Moving round to peaceful Shapura and Udaipur with its Lake Palace looking like a wedding cake and plenty of shopping to do, then onto Jaipur for the Amber Fort and colourful elephants. With a relaxing few days at the end at Amanbagh to reflect and digest on all we’d seen and done, I was left feeling that it was the people who make India so special. We visited many rural villages and were welcomed into their homes, into their temples and surrounded by bright-eyed children all wanting to have a photo taken. It was in these villages that we really fell in love with this country. It was the genuine warmth that we had experienced throughout the trip that has got us already planning to go back. The colourful images you see of women in beautiful, bright saris are not done for effect, it is exactly how it is. India is bright, cheerful, chaotic and mesmerizing and I cannot wait to return.