“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” -Anthony Bourdain
I’ve written posts about England and posted many photos on Instagram about England, but this is essentially the first blog post on my two weeks in India. I had been struggling, honestly, to find the words to describe those two weeks, to try to explain India properly. It’s a place that is very different from many other countries, and I experienced it in a very local way.
Yes- I did the tourist-y things, but I stayed in homestays in the slums and spent a week volunteering in the slums. It was a very different experience, and I have finally found the words. Bustling, bold, and bewitching.
1. Amber Fort, Jaipur
My favorite spot in India was not the Taj Mahal- shocking, I know. I had wanted to see it for years, and yet… the view at the Amber Fort trumped the Taj Mahal. The view, coupled with the elephant ride, made this an unforgettable moment on my trip. There are a few ways of getting to Jaipur from Delhi, but my friend and I chose to go through a tour company and it was probably one of the best decisions. We had our own tour guides, someone to drive us to and from Delhi, and our hotel was included in the package!
One more photo, just because the view was so amazing!
2. Galta ji, Jaipur
Galta ji, affectionately known as the Monkey Temple, was my second favorite experience out of the two weeks I spent in India. It is about ten kilometers outside of Jaipur, but well worth the trip! Bring your own bananas, or purchase candies and peanuts at the top of the hill, and feed the monkeys- soon, you will be swarmed with monkeys wanted to be near you. This was another thing included in my tour package.
One of my favorite photos from Galta ji!
3. Taj Mahal, Agra
Finally, the Taj Mahal! As stated above, there are many different ways to get to Agra from Delhi to see the Taj Mahal, but I chose to book with my volunteer company. The Taj Mahal, with its imposing beauty, was packed with people and getting a good photo is (quite literally) a fight. Head to the back of the Taj Mahal for a lovely view of the Yamuna River, then left from there to crowd watch. Careful, though, many of the Indian people there will ask for photos with you, and you’ll be swarmed with a large crowd all wanting photos!
And while the Taj was not my number one favorite in India, the details and the building itself were still amazing!
4. Red Fort, Delhi
Delhi, where I spent the majority of my two weeks, was incredibly insane. Bustling with people and filled with history. While the first three of my top five were from Jaipur and Agra, Delhi had to be recognized. The Red Fort, however, was my favorite in Delhi. It was utterly beautiful with incredible detail and a long history. This was the first place where people really swarmed me and my volunteer group for photos!
Despite how busy and crazy it is on the outside, inside of the fort is rather tranquil.
5. Spice Market, Delhi
While I failed to get the name of the name of the spice market, it is the biggest market in Delhi (in India?) and was literally the definition of ‘busy’. We took auto-rickshaws into the heart of the market to find vendors laden with spices, nuts, dried fruits, etc. The auto-rickshaw ride in itself was an experience and I highly recommend you nab a ride on one (as well as a ride on a tuk tuk)!
India was an experience of a lifetime– very eye-opening, very beautiful, and very worth it. It is a trip that I believe everybody in their 20s (and older!) should take, especially if you take the time to volunteer while you’re there! And while the country itself was amazing, I met a few pretty awesome people through the International Volunteer Headquarters, and I have them to thank, as well, for giving me such a great experience!