Traveler: Nick Iverson
Length of Trip: 10
India abounds with spirit, wonder, and endless curiosities. Many travelers you may meet there will likely tell you it is not their first time in the country. Its essence is suffused with some of the most incredible examples of human history, culture, experiences, cuisine, landscapes and startling contrasts.
Stepping out into New Delhi for the first time can be a bit of a shock – Tuk Tuks sputtering and beeping along the roads, peddlers with their carts selling wares, the thickness of the street life and flavors in the atmosphere.
Find your first cup of Masala Chai for 7 to 10 rupees. Sit down to sip and watch the street life, find something to eat or have a Thali plate, find out where you want to go and grab a ride in a Tuk Tuk to begin exploring the city.
The historic seven cities of Delhi mark it with amazing sights. Visit the beautiful and peaceful Humayun’s Tomb and the Akshardam Mandir. Go to Old Delhi near to the Jama Masjid Mosque to experience the bazaars at Chandni Chowk where you will find all varieties of goods being sold, foods, and popular Indian sweets. In south Delhi if possible visit the Qtub Minar and the Lotus Temple before sunset.
Agra is less than a day’s reach away. We hired a driver to Agra and along the way watched city melt away into brick kilns and fields of yellow mustard flowers. Take your time at the Taj Mahal then go on to visit Agra Fort. More views of the Taj can be enjoyed from across the Yamuna River at the Mehtab Bagh gardens. In Agra you may encounter handicrafts that use the same delicate marble inlay technique as seen on the Taj. The marble inlay is called Pietra Dura.
Rajasthan, Land of the Kings, is known for its Rajput forts and palaces. Some have been converted into heritage hotels. The city of Jaipur is famous for its “Pink City.” We arrived in Jaipur during the Kite Festival in January. Thousands of colored kites were being flown over the rooftops as we explored the Pink City.
While in Jaipur, walk through the Pink City, see the Hawa Mahal and take an opportunity to appreciate the massive 18th century astronomical instruments at Jantar Mantar. On the way from Jaipur to Amer Fort, stop to look across at the Jal Mahal in Man Sagar Lake, and in the late afternoon visit Nahargarh Fort to walk along the old fortifications overlooking Jaipur.
Journey by train into Jodhpur. Enjoy the time watching the land rush past from an open train car door. Vendors peddling hot chai will pass through the train cars chiming the words “Chai Garam! Chai, Chai Garam!”
Jodhpur, known as the Blue City, is painted in a striking blue coloring. While in Jodhpur visit the towering Mehrangarh Fort, which rests above the city, explore the life on the side streets, visit the markets around the Ghanta Gar clock tower, and have a romantic evening dinner on the rooftop of Indique Restaurant.
We had an extended stay near Jodhpur at Chanwa Fort in Luni village. We visited an Ashram where we made offerings of Prasad and were fed by its caretakers. The Ashram’s guru pulled us aside into conversation while we watched shepherds lead their lambs along the road.
In Jaisalmer, the Golden City, we traversed the sandstone walls of the city fort. We walked the side streets and encountered stone workers carving elaborate motifs into slabs of sandstone, then went on to see the famous Patwan‐Ki‐Haveli. The next two days we ventured into the desert by camel.
We enjoyed the secret flowers among the desert scrub, the chapati bread made fresh over a wood fire, and witnessing extraordinary sky at dusk and dawn.
While in Jaisalmer explore the intricately carved havelis, including the Patwan‐Ki‐Haveli, and plan an overnight camel safari into the Thar Desert. Witness the quiet of nature and colors of the sky.