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 ~ Incredible India ! The Golden Triangle and Ganges river cruise with Avalon Waterways  ~     

 

Taj Mahal Agra India

"Why India?"

      I was asked that question from half the people that I told I was heading there on my next adventure.
My answer was simple, I find different cultures and religions fascinating and enjoy learning about them. 
As an artist myself I was very excited to see all of the beautiful monuments and I find the various religions of the world fascinating. 
   
     My journey began in Delhi, I went in several days early so I could adjust to the time change and have a chance to do some exploring on my own.
Although I had visited many countries where the majority of the population were either Muslim or Buddhist, this would be my first experience visiting Hindu and Sihka temples.
I hired a private guide and driver who educated me for two days about Hinduism. 

     It was my living classroom.
The stories about the various Gods and Goddesses are very entertaining, there are 330 million deities if one wants to get technical.                                
It was quite fascinating visiting the different places of worship and learning about their beliefs.  
One temple, the lotus temple looked like a giant lotus flower, it reminded me of the opera house in Sydney Australia.
The Akshardham temple is stunning with intricate carvings on the walls made from Italian marble.
We stayed to watch a light show, even though we could not understand what was being said it was very entertaining.
   
     When the group arrived we set off for a quick overview of Delhi, including the India Gate and presidential palace followed by a crazy rickshaw ride through the local market Chandni Chowk.
The electrical wires were like giant spider webs hanging down, sometimes right over our buggies.
It was a unique experience!

     We visited Qutub Minar which is the tallest brick minaret in the world, it dates back to the 11th century.
The complex had many interesting structures, I was really enthralled with watching the people though as there was an eclectic assortment of worshippers.
Muslims stood next to nuns and a Sikh was chatting with some school children.
Everyone got along and appeared to respect each other's beliefs.

     The next stop was Humayun’s Tomb which was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.
We also visited the Sikh Gurudwara Bangla Sahib where I learned how the rich sit side by side on the floor eating with the poor.
Sikh's never cut their hair, that is why they wear turbans.
A gentleman I was speaking with told me that his hair reaches about to his hips when he removes it from the turban.

     We departed Delhi and headed to Agra where the highlight of the trip was the Taj Mahal.
It is hard to put into words the beauty and detailing of all of the temples I visited especially the Taj.
I visited the it at both sunrise and sunset and ventured over to a park across the river to catch it from another angle.
The colors of the building change with the position of the sun going from a rose color to bright white to grey.
The detailing really gives you a sense of awe, I could have stayed there all day looking at it.  

     The third stop in the golden triangle was the pink city of Jaipur.
Did you know that there is a Great Wall of India? There is! 
You can see it from the Amber fort in Jaipur, it looks just like the one in China but it is just not as long.  
Jaipur is also where I saw a pair of real snake charmer's, it was amazing they sat on the ground playing their pungis and cobras came out of the baskets like in the cartoons. 

     As our land portion concluded we headed to Kolkata to board our ship for the second half of our adventure. 
The ship was much different than other river cruise ships that I have been on.
The cabins had dark hardwood floors and details like hand painted stenciling on the walls.
It felt very English colonial which made sense as they did rule the area at one time.

    The Ganges river ( Lord Ganga) is worshiped by Hindu's, it gives life and is where reincarnation begins. 
I witnessed many ceremonies along the way from people bathing and praying, to a cremation.
When we reached the area of the ISKCON temple we saw a large celebration of at least 100 people dancing and bathing in the river.
The ISKCON temple is the worldwide headquarters of the Hare Krishna movement.
It was interesting to see how they lived and to hear their philosophy.

     There were so many unique excursions, we ventured into small villages and saw how brass is made.
We visited ancient terra cotta temples, saw how Hindu idols are created, and went to the largest flower market in India.
The time just flew by!

     One thing I love about river cruises is that the excursions are included.
I don't have to budget extra money as once I have paid for my trip I am all set.
On this itinerary all beverages (alcohol and non) were included as well so there was no need to worry about a bill.

     The food on the ship was very good, I am not an adventurous eater like my husband.
He will try anything, and will actually seek out exotic items- he ate a worm in Vietnam for example.
The ship had Indian food for all meals but also had western options as well.
I did find myself trying a lot of things that I normally would not because I knew if I didn't like it I could have something else instead.
The one thing you will have hard time getting in India though is beef, load up on steak before you go as it is next to impossible to get there.
(Cows are sacred)
    
     I was astonished as to how happy and friendly all the Indian people I met were. 
This was not just one or two people but a consistent welcome. 
Everyone was delighted to see us. 
They also wanted photos with me as my red hair is a rarity in their area. 
It was a great ice breaker for my being able to take photos of them.
Even if we couldn't speak to each other a smile and the gesture of a camera worked and we knew what each other wanted.   
  
     Yes, in India there is poverty, and chaos, and noise at times.
You will see cows walking down the road and monkeys jumping around on buildings but it didn’t bother me.
The positives far outweighed any negatives, I certainly wasn’t going to be able to see a snake charmer walking down the main street of my own town! 
That is an experience I won’t soon forget!  


   If you are looking for a unique adventure where you will feel like you are staring in your own travel show, this trip fits the bill!
 

   Changing colors of the Taj Mahal ~ Video 

    

 

Take a wild rickshaw ride through the market in Delhi ~Video 

 

A day in Matiari  ~ Video

                                                                                           

(185 Reviews)
99% Recommended

Ann Castagna Morin

Southampton, MA
Luxury River Cruise & European travel specialist

I have had a sense of wanderlust since I was a child, always yearning to go off and explore the world.

I will take my own personal passion for travel and use it to craft an extraordinary luxury experience for you.

Europe is my specia...
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