Last year, for my golden birthday, we traveled all the way to Cambodia and celebrated it in the wee hours of the morning (sunrise, to be exact) in the ruins of Angkor Wat. This year, the plan was to go to India and celebrate my birthday in Taj Mahal. But it was not meant to be. When I made the on-line booking for our flight to New Delhi, I didn’t notice that I booked our tickets for “Jun” and not “Jul” … so, we ended up in India in the dead heat of the Indian summer.
So armed with a borrowed Fodor’s India Guidebook (loaned by a good friend who raved about India), we planned our one week adventure in India. The highlight, of course, would be a trip to Agra to photograph the greatest monument dedicated to LOVE – the Taj Mahal. But we realized that there is more to (Northern) India than just this iconic symbol of undying love. For one thing, it’s the people.
Here is a nation of 1.2 billion people, steeped in tradition and culture, who managed to keep their identity despite the decades of British intrusion. Maybe it is because of their strong faith in Hinduism that made them survive. For whatever reason, you go to India not just because of the sights (they have 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!) but also to experience their culture. The best way to explore India is to travel by train … you meet ordinary people, complete strangers eager to help you. AND unfortunately, you also meet the touts and scammers in the train station (we almost fell for their tricks!).
And then there is the magnificent architecture all over the place – so much elegance and so much beauty. With stories to match each peculiar monument, tomb or building. After a week in India, we realized that we have but scratched only the surface. There is more to discover … in INCREDIBLE India. And we were up to task.
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