Oh my gosh I’m finally writing about my trip to India. I’ve been trying to write this post (and all the others to come) almost since I got back at the end of 2012, but there’s so much to share that I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. But I’m really excited to tell you all about this trip! I was there for 24 days, took 3,249 photos, visited 9 cities and witnessed 2 friends get married in 5 ceremonies over 4 days. Seriously, Indians know how to throw a party. Anyway, because there’s going to be so much information coming your way (and so many pictures!), I want to give you something a little more high level so you know what to expect in the coming days. This is the briefest overview I can give (I’m sorry, it’s loooooong).

I’ve known Maggie for many years now, and back in 2010/11, she moved to Spain to get her MBA. When one of her roommates Nitish, who I met when I visited, decided to get married, I managed to wrangle myself an invitation as her plus one. Our first day in New Delhi was spent getting mani/pedi’s and shopping for our traditional wedding attire.

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There are SO many things to see in New Delhi and we can really only manage one historical site per day, so the next day Maggie and I head over to the Qutub Minar for some site seeing. There’s some seriously amazing architecture here.

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Then we had to head back to meet more people coming in for the wedding and do some shopping for our sari’s!

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The first ceremony that night was really lovely.

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I knew that if anything happened to me, I wanted to die having seen the Taj Mahal, so early day 3, Nithish’s friend Abishek drove us to Agra, with a quick stop at the Lotus Temple on the way.

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About half way there, we got a flat tire! Abishek takes this time to explain to us the meaning of jugaad, the Indian version of “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I was so worried we were going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, but Abishek saves the day!

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The Taj Mahal was amazing and everything I hoped it would be. Definitely worthy of being one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

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The next few days were spent in Amritsar where we visited the Golden Temple, did some serious shoe shopping, and checked out the Wagah border closing ceremony on the Pakistani border.

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Then we flew down to Bangalore to catch a 7 hour shuttle to Coorg, the town where Kamala, the bride is from, for 3 more ceremonies! We were only here for enough time to attend the wedding so I didn’t get a chance to see much of the city. I would have loved to do a spice tour as this area is known for its plantations, but I guess this just means I have to go back!

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These ceremonies were so amazing and beautiful, I am so grateful to have been invited. We left Coorg early in the morning, some of us to fly down to Kerala and some to the beaches of Goa. Maggie, Goli, Goli’s parents, Sierra, Manuel and I all headed to Kerala to spend 24 hours relaxing on a houseboat. It’s absolutely glorious.

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All too soon our 24 hours was up and we flew back to Delhi to see Humayan’s Tomb and attend the last ceremony for Nitish and Kamala.

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I miss these girls and wish they didn’t live so far away!

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This was our last day as a large group. For the last week of our trip, it’s just Maggie, Meike and I touring Rajasthan. I have mixed feelings about this tour. I really enjoyed everything we saw, but it also reminded me why I’m not a big guided tour person. I like having control over my itinerary and transportation. That being said, it was still a lot of fun. Up first, we flew to Udaipur to be blessed in a temple.

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My first and only attempt at the jumping photo didn’t turn out well. Meike, the cheerleader, was the only one who managed to make it look good!

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And then we saw baby cows!! They were so cute, if a bit smelly.

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Next we drove up to Pushkar, a very holy city in India, where we went through another blessing ceremony. If it weren’t for them pushing us for money, it would have been a really neat experience, but that kind of tarnished it.

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Our final stop on our Rajasthan tour was Jaipur. We saw the Hawa Mahal, where the women of the harem could watch the parades and processions without being seen, so many elephants (more on them in a minute) and the Amber Palace.

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I debated posting these pictures. At the time, we were assured that the elephants were treated humanely. The government had passed laws that ensured the elephants don’t work more than a few hours a day. I’ve since learned that regardless, they are more likely than not, not well taken care of. They are my absolute favorite animals and it pains me to think that I may have contributed to their cruelty, but I’m sharing the photos and this information now in the hopes that if anyone is looking to spend time with these animals anywhere in the world, please, please read this first. It mainly focuses on SE Asia, but I’m sure it’s applicable here, too.

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I hope that by sharing this, I can do even the smallest part in helping end the practices of elephant cruelty. And no matter what, please don’t ride them.

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The rest of this palace reminded me of the movie Jodha Akbar. It’s long, but if you haven’t watched it, it’s really good.

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We also visited the City Palace, where the royal family currently lives (but not in the part accessible by tourists) and the Jantar Mantar, an astrological playground.

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At this point, Maggie had to fly home, so it was just Meike and I left to experience the tiger safari in Ranthambhore National Park. Unlike a zoo or conservation center, this is a park where the animals live wild so there’s no guarantee that we’ll see anything. Unfortunately we didn’t see any tigers, but we saw some other cool animals.

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Finally, it’s back to Delhi for one more day of sightseeing and shopping. We tour the Red Fort and walk around Chowdni Chowk.

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Did you make it to the end? I’m seriously impressed! I covered so much in this post and shared so many pictures that I wouldn’t blame you if you took a break. India was an amazing country with so much to offer and possibly one of the most colorful places I’ve ever been. I hope you found this post interesting because there’s a lot more India in-depth coming your way over the next few weeks!

Delhi and the Qutub Minar
Lexington, Concord, Gloucester and Rockport