Namaste! An Indian word largely used as a “Hi” or “Bye” but a more literal translation can be “I see the light in you”. Well, Heidi Adams has seen the light that is the magic of India on a journey with On The Go Tours, here she tells us why its now one of her favourite destinations…
My India trip was a tailor-made holiday. Tailor-made means you share your idea of where you’d like to go, for how long and your preferred standard of accommodation with a team of experts who then design your dream holiday. My tour took me to four fascinating cities in ten days. The travel arrangements were seamless and extremely comfortable and the whole trip flowed easily and with no hassle whatsoever. This was thanks, largely, to the expertise of Satendra, our local guide, who was a mine of information and genuinely committed to making our holiday the very best it could be.
As well as streamlining the travel and presenting the cultural aspects of the tour he knew just where to stop for the best experience of the local cuisine! He also knew where all the best shopping spots were to be found for those bargain buys we all love to bring back from our holidays. Top this off with staying in fantastic 4 and 5-star Taj Hotels and Palaces, renowned for their style and comfort, excellent facilities and high service standards, and you have a holiday of a lifetime!
It was in the surprisingly green capital of Delhi that we first encountered the Indian peoples quirk of wanting their photo taken with western tourists. It slows you down a little but is a simple and fun way to interact with the locals and seems churlish to refuse since so many of us like to take our own snaps of them in their vibrantly coloured saris and dhotis. Invariably they ask where you’re from and their response to the answer “Australia” is either “from Sydney?” or “we love Ricky Ponting!”. After posing for several photos, I found that running with a ‘Yes’ to Sydney was the simplest response since Cairns, for the most part, isn’t on their radar. As for the cricket fans, a vote for Tendulkar goes a long way towards great Indian-Australian relations and you part ways with happy smiles all round.
After Delhi came Agra and the inimitable Taj Mahal, a structure so splendid and awe inspiring it quite takes your breath away! In its sublimely shimmering symmetry, this majestic marble mausoleum is well worth the visit and deserves a place high on any travellers “must-see” list of world wonders.
Next Jaipur, where we visited the spectacular City Palace. Noted for its exquisite peacock gates, this vast and stunning complex of buildings, courtyards and gardens still houses the Indian royal family today. Then a short drive and we switched to a very different mode of transport as, seated atop padded saddles, we were carried by colourfully decorated elephants to the Amber Fort. This superb structure, comprising of several palaces, halls and temples with elaborate mirror mosaics on its walls and ceilings, is set high on top of a hill overlooking the Maota Lake and is simply spectacular!
In Udaipur we stayed in the magical Lake Palace Hotel situated in the middle of Lake Pichola as if floating on surface of the water. A flag ship property of the Taj group, this former actual palace features in several scenes of the Bond movie “Octopussy” chosen because it is just so magnificent and unique. A stay at the Lake Palace is one of India’s truly sublime experiences and I really can, and do, recommend it. Udaipur has plenty on offer but the City Palace, high on the hill overlooking the Lake, is particularly worthy of note. It is a single facade formed from many different palaces which are decorated with inlaid glass mosaics, intricate stone carvings and charming blue and white ceramics. This grandeur along with it’s museums and art collections, make it a charming and fascinating experience!
Finally back to Delhi for a last spot of shopping before having to say a sad farewell to my new favourite country. Want to see it for yourself? For your own awesome experience of “Incredible India” a really excellent way to go is with On The Go Tours!
Happy Travels and Namaste!
Heidi Adams is a consultant at Travel Associates in Australia.