Back to blog listing

Culture vultures

Our team's tour of Rajasthan, India

Etta Smylie January 3, 2014

In September 2013, eight of us from the Hayes and Jarvis team embarked on an adventure to India. Not only did we learn a lot from this trip, but it also turned out to be the experience of a lifetime for each of us! Here are some of the highlights from our trip…

The trip began in style

As we were about to board our Jet Airways flight, we were delighted to receive an upgrade to business class, and weren’t we in for a real treat! This was my first experience of business class and I don’t think I could ever have imagined how luxurious it would be. As soon as we were in the sky, I put my feet up and turned on the seat massager and fully relaxed. Our flight was a night flight, so once we had finished our delicious three course meal, it was time for bed. I went to brush my teeth and by the time I returned, one of the cabin crew had made my lie flat bed. I had a fantastic sleep and arrived in Delhi feeling fully refreshed and ready to explore.

There’s never a dull moment in India!

Despite having many hours of bus journeys on our tour, there was never a dull moment as there is always something interesting to look at on the roads of India. Whether it is a monkey relaxing on a fence, children joyfully playing on a roof top or beautiful saris fluttering in the air, India always seems to be calling for your attention. India often moves faster than you can think and with so much to see, I often found myself longing for a pause button just to allow my mind time to take it all in!

Food, glorious food

I have always loved Indian food, so sampling the curries was one of the aspects of the trip I was most looking forward to, and the dishes we were served certainly did not disappoint! Two of my fellow travel companions had not been looking forward to the food quite so much, and they had actually brought many snacks from home to avoid eating the curries. But thankfully none of their snacks from home had to be opened, as everyone enjoyed the food a lot! There was so much variety in the food, that there was something for everyone. The Naan bread was particularly popular with the group; it was much thinner and fresher than any we have tried in the UK - simply delicious! 

A festival for each day of the year! 

It seems like every day there is a different festival to be celebrated in India. On our drive to Jaisalmer we passed many thousands of people walking to Ramdeora temple for a Hindu celebration. We drove through the crowds for what seemed liked hours and along the way we passed many food stops set up by local communities serving curry from pots large enough to serve over 100 people! The atmosphere on the roads was electric as loud music blasted from Lorries and people were dancing on the road behind them. This was just one of the many festivals we came across in India and in each of these we experienced a sense of freedom that is not seen in the U.K.

Each day brought me a new ‘favourite’

On Day 7, we arrived in Jodphur and travelled up the large ascent to Mehrangarh Fort which overlooks the city. Here, I declared this to be my favourite place so far, which was met with laughter from the rest of our group as I had said this about every place on our travels! The unique charm of India is that you never know what will be waiting for you tomorrow and with each stop offering something new to experience, I found my expectations were exceed every day. I finally discovered my ultimate favourite place in India when we arrived in Udaipur.

As soon as we entered this seductive city of romance I fell head over heels in love. Udaipur has everything – it is bustling like you would imagine an Indian city to be, but with the setting of a fairytale land. The Lake Palace, floating in the middle of Lake Pichola, was so spectacular it almost didn’t look real. We took a boat across the lake, just as James Bond would have done to film the movie, Octopussy. The inside of the Lake Palace, which has now been beautifully converted into a hotel, was magical. Open air courtyards, a marble swimming pool and magnificent white marble terraces, all made us feel like true royalty as we walk around. I’ll definitely be coming back here to stay some day!

Being welcomed by the local people

A real highlight of our trip was visiting a local village near Bijaynagar, where we were greeted by many kids with excited calls of ‘Hello, Hello!’ They were full of energy and jumping up and down as though they were about to burst with the excitement of our arrival. Seeing the freedom of these children was one of the highlights of the whole trip. It was these experiences that made this trip very different to a normal holiday. By meeting the people and learning about their lifestyle I feel like we really got under the skin of India’s culture.

Final thoughts

It is a cliché to say that a holiday can change you, but something about India really does. Whether it’s the generosity of the people, the vibrancy of the festivals or what seems to be the chaotic nature of everyday life, India has the power to change your perspective on the rest of the world. Our memories of India will remain with us long after this trip. India is still the next place on my travel wish list, as I feel there is still so much of this fascinating country waiting for me to discover.

To find out more about of trip to India, visit our India Tours pages.