Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch of India

Categorie ENGLISH, NEL MONDO

At the beginning of the year I realized a dream. I travelled to India and tastes its colors, flavors, smells and sounds.

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Itinerary

Delhi – Capital of India, the world´s largest democracy, Delhi in many ways is the essence of modern India, with its starting paradox of old and new, foreign and familiar. It remains the best starting point for exploration North India, not because of its excellent transport connections but because its history as one of the oldest citieAs in the world, is essentially the history of India. Spend three nights at Le Meridien Hotel.

The Qutub Minar – one of the finest Islamic structures ever raised in India,  is the tallest minar in the country. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Humayun´s Tomb – the first garden-tomb in the Indian subcontinent and the inspiration for several monuments including Taj Mahal

The Jama Masjid  – located in the centre of old city, this congregational mosque was built in 1423. Enjoy a rickshaw or bike ride.

The India Gate is the national monument of India, It was a gift of the British in memory of Indian soldiers killed in wars.

My impression of the city: Delhi is flowery, without pollution, friendly people.

6 hours to Jaipur by bus. Present Jaipur foundation was laid in 1727 and took 8 years for its completion. The city was built with high walls for protection with wide, straight avenues that divide it into nine sectors. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City, because of the terra-cotta-colored lime plaster that coats the old part of the city´s walls, buildings, and temples. The reasons for painting the town pink are unknown, some say it is because Maharaja Jai Singh II´s being a devotee of Lord Shiva and as pink was his favourite. The  most popular reason is that the old part of the city was freshly painted with pink gravel to warmly welcome Edward VII for his visit here in 1876. Spend two nights at Ramada Hotel.

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Ambar Fort – this is the one of the most fascinating of the Indian forts comprising the Palace of Mirrors, Hall of Public Audience and beautiful gardens, all of wich give a glimpse into the majesty of days gone by.

City Palace – whose several courtyards and gardens provide wonderful contrast to its many palatial structures. The huge silver water vessels recorded in the Guinness Book as the largest in the world.

If you want to watch a Bollywood movie, go to the Cinema RajMandir.

My impression of the city: Jaipur is polluted, chaotic, good trade.

3 hours to Pushkar by bus. Pushkar is one of the oldest existing cities of India. It lies on the shore of Pushkar Lake. The city is famous for its fairs and festivals and for Brahma Temple (one of the unique of India). It is said that in a battle Lord Brahma killed the demon Vajra Nabh with a lótus flower whose petals floated down to Earth and landed in three places in Pushkar where lakes sprang up the bath at Pushkar is thought to be more important than at any other place.Pushkar is very dear to Lord Brahma.Spend two nights at Ananta Spa & Resort.

My impression of the city: It is a sacred place, I want to stay here forever!

7 hours to Udaipur by bus. The most romantic city of Rajasthan, Udaipur´s beauty lies in its rolling hills, serene lakes and palatial splendour. Spend two nights at Sheraton Palace & Resort.

City Palace – the largest in Rajasthan. In size and outline the City Palace and its subsidiary palaces bear a resemble to the Windsor castle in England.

You will love medieval Jagdish Temple  and Sahelion-Ki-Bari or the “Gardens of the Maids of Honor”.

Eklingji – a lovely marble complex made up of 108 temples, the first of which was built in A.D. 734. The entire complex most of it rebuilt in the 15th century.

Ranakpur – 4 hours by bus, Ranakpur temple was built in th 15th century. The temple complex are certainly creditable for their splendid architecture. There are more than 1400 exquisitely carved pillars that support the temple.

3 hours to Jodhpur by bus. Every building is painted the same light blue hue, earning Jodhpur the nickname “blue city”. Spend two nights at The Gateway Umeid.

Towering above are impenetrable walls of the Mehrangarh Fort, that rise like sheer cliffs from the rocky outcrop on which is built. Enjoy postcard views of the ancient blue city below. This is the one of the most impressive and formidable structures in Rajasthan. Rest of the day free for shopping.

3 hours to Manvar by car. Set in the heart of Great Indian Thar Desert, Manvar lies between the cities of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner. It is an unprecedent tourist destination offering a rare opportunity to enjoy Rajasthan´s desert life, culture wildlife and beauty. This is a place for anyone who loves nature.  A jeep safari experiencing local village life, visiting  the homes of the inhabitants living in the desert (bishnois, rajputs and meghwals). Also see homes of the desert craftsmen (carpenters, metal smiths, cobblers). You may also enjoy a camel trek to see the splendour of the Thar Desert from the back of its famous and iconic inhabitant. Spend one night at Manvar Camp.

My impression of the city: It is impossible to not like a blue city.

3 hours to Jodhpur airport to board for Delhi. Spend  two nights at Le Meridien Hotel.

In the early morning, board the train to Agra (about 2 hours). Agra is globally renowned as the city of the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan as an eternal symbol of his love for his favorite wife, whom he called Mumtaz Mahal (“Jewel of the Palace”), it has immortalized him forever as one of the great arquitectural patrons of the world. The structure took 20,000 laborers and 22 years to complete. The Taj changes color depending on the time of day.

Later proceed for the visit of Agra Fort which was built by Emperor Akbar. Built with red sandstone, it is a mixture of the Islamic and Hindu styles of arquitecture.

My impression of the city: There are no words that can describe the Taj Mahal.

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India´s official language is Hindi. English is the second.

The unit currency in India is the Rupee. Bank notes are in denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000.

The common form of greeting is the Namastey. It envolves the joining of your palms as during prayer in church, raising them towards the face and bowing the head slightly.

The feet are considered to be the lowliest part of the body and shoes are treated as unclean. People usually take their shoes off before entering a house and putting feet on the furniture is considered bad manners.

If eating Indian style, with hands, remember that it is considered impolite to use the left hand for eating.

Avoid discussing religion in public as it may cause offence.

You must cover your head before entering Sikh temples. Shoes are not allowed inside Muslim, Sikh, Hindu or Jain places of worship, and in some cases, leather articles are not allowed.

Please do not encourage beggars by giving them money.

Beef and pork is not served in many parts of India. Good quality vegetarian food is easily available throughout the country. Never buy food from roadside stalls. Not that they are necessarily bad, but one´s system may not be accustomed to such delicacies which may result in an upset stomach.

Always drink bottled water and ensure that the seal is broken in front of you.

For the first few days it might be advisable to clean your teeth in bottled water.

Foreign tourists should be in possession of a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, if originating or transiting through yellow fever endemic countries. Anti-Malaria prophylactics are recommended for travel to India.

In hotels and restaurants, tips are not normally included in the bill, in which case the standard tip is 10%.

I recommend taking every opportunity you can to use a clean toilet in hotels and restaurants and that you carry tissues/wet wipes with you.

India is a country that requires a lot of all your senses. Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch are always stimulated. Enjoy!

“There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t  go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colours, smells, tastes and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor” Keith Bellows, Editor in chief of National Geographic.    Flàvia Bellò  BR / Photo ©

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