After our relaxing visit to Sri Lanka, Phyless and I decided to see as much of the amazing country of India as we could. We plotted out 9 world-class attractions to visit and made a big loop up the west coast, across the north and over to the eastern border with China. Our first stop in India was Kerala, one of the most scenic states in India and is typically referred to by locals as “God’s own country”.
It’s located on the coast in southwest India and is filled with backwaters, lush scenery, and hilly regions. We used some “manpower” to do a houseboat cruise through the famous backwaters.
From there we moved on to one of the smallest states of India, Goa, is also called the ‘beach paradise’. There we lounged around on Palolem Beach, one of the world’s top beaches. It was featured as the Indian residence of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in the film The Bourne Supremacy (2004). The beach is about 1 mile long and largely unspoiled and is inhabited by both local fishermen and by foreign tourists who live in shacks along the shore.
From Goa we traveled on to Bollywood in Bombay! The lights! The stars! It was a real gas! We watched a live Bollywood film shooting and visited the fascinating film sets at Balaji Telefilms. Phyless got an autograph and picture with Hrithik Roshan, one of Bollywood’s most famous actors. Phyless was a bit flustered and acted like she was running on fumes, so I got her out of there quick and we headed off to the most romantic city in Rajasthan, Udaipur. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, and is famed for its breathtaking Lake Palace Hotel as well as being a key filming location for the James Bond film, Octopussy.
From there we visited one of the seven wonders of the world: the Taj Mahal, in Agra. A white marble monument, the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. More than 20,000 laborers worked day and night for 20 years to bring his dream to life.
Our next stop was Varanasi, regarded as the holiest city in India and which lies next to River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh state. It’s also one of the world’s oldest cities, so you just know it’s filled with historical sites and places of worship that are several centuries old.
Afterwards, we traveled east to Darjeeling and I tried my hand at picking tea leaves on a plantation so Phyless and I could “refuel”, so to speak.
We then found ourselves among the fascinating and friendly population of Sikkim, where the indigenous peoples consist of the Lepcha, migrating from Tibet, Bhutias, descendants of Buddhists who arrived from Tibet in 15th century, who migrated from the Kham district of Tibet in the 14th century, and Nepali, descendants of Hindus who arrived from Nepal in the 19th century. We had a real gas with those folks!
Our trip to India finally wrapped up in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, the most eastern point of our Indian travels. This world heritage site hosts two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned Rhinoceroses and boasts the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world. The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer, too, as well as being recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International.
Phyless and I were honored to have a chance to ride one of the park elephants and much like those amazing animals, will remember our incredible trip to India forever!