While a majority of culture and daily local life takes place around the Ganges River in Varanasi, we left the river side and explored the city on bicycle rickshaws for the afternoon. We spent several hours exploring tiny lanes, local cafes, and over- crowded streets in the back of the rickshaw. Our eyes were opened to new sights, smells and the craziness that filled the streets of Varanasi!
Our last destination while visiting India was the holy city of Varanasi. After multiple tuk-tuk rides and one long overnight train - we arrived to Varanasi, known as the spiritual capital of India.
The city is filled with color, music, and all kinds of smells filtering through the air. The first activity we did while visiting Varanasi was to head out onto the Ganges River to view the city from the holy River. Our eyes were opened to a whole new world - authentic India!
The Taj Mahal is simply magical. Upon entering the Taj complex you are faced with a simple and small glimpse of the Taj Mahal and as you move closer and closer the Taj becomes bigger and brighter. Our visit to the Taj Mahal was a highlight of my time in India as I stared in disbelief and wonder at the architectural delight.
Most people travel to Agra to visit the famous Taj Mahal, however just 2.5 km away lies the Agra Fort. Before our visit to the Taj Mahal we took time to explore the Agra Fort. Getting lost in the numerous rooms, many of which have beautiful views over to the Taj, was a highlight of our time in Agra.
The fort was constructed with double ramparts and 4 gates one of which opened onto the river. Due to current activity by the Indian Army tourists are only permitted to enter through one of the main gates.
We loved strolling around, snapping photos, and admiring the traditional Indian architecture at the Agra Fort.
While we were visiting Jaipur my friend Emma and I decided to take a morning trip to Amber, just outside of the city to wander through the Amber Fort. We grabbed an early morning tuk tuk and arrived to the village of Amber just in time for a warm India breakfast in a locals spot - no sign on the door, just the scent of spices cooking and bread being turned.
We opted to walk to the top of the fort, however many tourists jump aboard a heavily painted elephant and process to the top of the hill. While we walked our way up we were passed by many colorful animals and excited tourists traveling through India.
We walked around for the fort for several hours, turning this way and that way until we made it to the top of the fort structure which allowed up stunning views of Jaipur and the surrounds!
Jaipur is the largest city and capital of the Rajasthan region in India. While we stayed on the outskirts of the city center we could still feel a sense of the hustle and bustle in Jaipur. Motorbikes, tuk tuks and bicycles zoomed around us as we explored the Old Quarter and chatted with locals selling their goods on the sidewalks. Jaipur is known as the 'Pink City' - many of the buildings in the Old Quarter were painted a shade of Pink to welcome guests visiting Jaipur!
Hindu's travel far and wide to visit Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan India and upon arrival you can feel a sense of holiness and peace on the lakefront. Visitors spend their time amongst the 52 bathing ghats where pilgrims come to the lake to take dips and bathe in the holy water for they believe this cleanses them of their sins. We spend the afternoon strolling along the lakefront meeting locals, visitors and taking in all the sights to see during our time in Pushkar.
After an early morning train ride from Udaipur we arrived into the Hindu Holy town of Pushkar. We dropped our bags and had an enormous lunch of mixed curries and nan bread before heading off on a walk into the town of Pushkar. Pushkar boarders the Thar Desert in the state of Rajasthan and the town is set against Pushkar Lake, a very holy space where Hindus travel to bathe and worship. The town is filled with color, unique scents, and Indians from all across India who come to visit the holy lake.
During our time in Udaipur my mom and I arranged a cooking class and meal through a great company, Traveling Spoon. We took a tuk tuk over the bridge, out of the Old City and into a more residential neighborhood 10 min away from our homestay and were greeted by a lovely Indian couple living in Udaipur.
Together we learned about mixing spices for several curry dishes as well as preparing roti from scratch. We had a lovely time chatting about local culture and cuisine and spending the afternoon in a local kitchen.
We had a few days to put our backpacks down and really get to know the old city of Udaipur. We spent our time relaxing on rooftop patios, eating the local cuisine, and getting lost in the old city. We even found ourselves sitting amongst a handful of locals in their temple listening to chants and song one evening. Udaipur is full of beauty at every turn.