Fall in love with incredible India
India can be daunting for travellers. With visas to organise, fear of “Delhi belly” and constant crowds.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Product Coordinator Louise Shuhin spent one week in India in June on a MyDiscoveries tour.
The first step was to organise a visa and Ms Shuhin says it was surprisingly easy. Tourists are allowed a visa for India for up to 60 days.
“We applied for our Indian visa online,” Ms Shuhin says.
“You will need to include a small photo and upload an image of your passport, but it is a simple and easy process that can be done at home with access to a printer.”
The tour offered premium hotels and transport, so all Ms Shuhin had to worry about was soaking up the Indian atmosphere.
The Taj Mahal in Agra was the highlight for everyone on the tour, she says. The famous white building was designed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife. He planned to build a black version of the Taj Mahal across the river, a mirror image of the stunning white version we all know, but he died before it could be completed.
“The Taj Mahal should be a place that every person visit before they die,” Ms Shuhin says.
“As you approach the Taj Mahal you get the feeling that the building is coming towards you and it becomes bigger and bigger.
“Once up close you gain an appreciation for Emperor Shah Jahan’s attention to detail – honouring his 22 years of marriage by spending 22 years to complete the mausoleum. You are able to walk up the 22 steps and enter the mausoleum to view Mumtaz Mahal’s grave and pay respects.”
The mausoleum is decorated in marble and stunning frescos. Even the gates are a work of love and art. Visitors can also tour the “guest house” and view the foundations of the Back Taj which was intended as Shah Jahan’s Mausoleum.
Ms Shuhin’s tour also took her to the Amber Fort in Jaipur. The magnificent fort comprises an extensive palace complex, built from pale yellow and pink sandstone, and white marble.
“Once inside we were able to explore the palace, which has key features such as Ganesh Gate, and Mirror Palace displaying the most stunning, fresco and mirror mosaics and coloured glasses,” Ms Shuhin says.
Tourists are given the option of taking an elephant ride or a Jeep tour. Ms Shuhin says the Amber Fort was swarming with street vendors selling everything from pens to bags and umbrellas. The tour guide made her feel comfortable to navigate through the crowd and make her way to the fort.
Shopping tours offered the chance to learn how precious gems such as ruby and emerald are polished and to learn how marble is crafted, carved and created.
India, Ms Shuhin says, is somewhere everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. It’s much less daunting on an organised tour.
Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of MyDiscoveries.