India With All Its Wonders Is Our Seventh Country To Explore In 2016
by Heather Cassell
India is always on our list and not because it’s Super G’s heritage. I must admit Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books (Penguin Classics), Gloria Steinem’s trip following graduating from Smith College (which I’m reading about right now, My Life on the Road), and E.M. Forster’s “Passage to India a [Blu-ray]” inspired me to begin dreaming of India. Stories from friends and Super G’s dad have continued to fuel my imagination until we travel to this wonderful, but complicated country.
Where To Go:
India is slightly larger than Brazil in size and incredibly diverse, so here are our suggestions for where to go in India.
Goa and Kerala are both known for their stunning beaches along the Arabian Sea in south India. They also boast of outdoor adventures, such as seeing the Dughsagar Waterfalls near the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary/Molem National Park, or visiting any one of the wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts. Goa and Kerala are also filled with many fishing villages complete with local markets to explore.
Kerala is home to Mattancherry Palace, which was a gift to the Raja of Kochi, Veera Kerela Varma in the 1500s by the Portuguese as a gift of good will. Today, the palace, locally known as the Dutch Palace, is a museum and the home of Hindu murals that that intricately depict the stories of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranic legends which have been preserved.
India is filled with amazing cities, not just Mumbai (formerly Bombay), best known for Bollywood. That in itself is reason to visit Mumbai, but there are other reasons, for instance it’s a foodie’s paradise packed with the best street foods to high-end restaurants; shop-a-holics will enjoy the markets; history buffs will love the architecture, culture, and legends, like the Elephant Caves; and party animals will love Mumbai’s nightlife with its stylish bars and nightclubs.
Two hours and 22 minutes inland from Mumbai is Pune, a sprawling metropolis, which is not only where Super G’s father’s side of the family resides, but it is the nest of India’s academia, capitalism, and spiritualism. It’s the home of the Aga Khan Palace built in 1892 and was the place where Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned. Pune is also the location of the 8th century Pataleshwar Cave Temple that is dedicated to Shiva, the god of destruction, and the famous Osho ashram.
In the northern part of India is Jaipur, the capital of the Rajasthan state bordering Pakistan. The primary tourist attraction is the 18th century City Palace, which is also connected to the Hawa Mahal, a palace for the royal women that was built to allow them to enjoy the city festivals in comfort and unseen. Below on a nearby hilltop is the Amber Fort that was built by a Rajput prince in the 1600s.
An hour flight from Jaipur is Delhi, where Super G’s mother grew up. This bustling city is ancient and modern. If time travel is possible in Delhi where centuries of buildings and ruins rise alongside modern marvels. The city is home to a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi Smriti, where he was assassinated in 1948. Indira Gandhi’s former home is now a memorial museum to India’s first woman Prime Minister who was also assassinated in 1984. Indira’s father’s memorial, the Nehru Memorial Museum, to honor India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is also located in Delhi. Several years ago the airport and public transit system was upgraded providing fast new ways to get around and in and out of Delhi.
A little more than three hours south of Delhi by car is the great Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, in Agra. The UNESCO World Heritage site was built in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb. Talk about love and devotion!
Who to Travel With: The Wander Girls headed up by Hetal Doshi, the founder, and Priyanka Betrabet, are US and UK educated Indian girls who prefer to be traveling and showing other women around India and the world rather than being stuck behind a desk. You will get a personal experience and taste of India from these ladies.
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