A Different Side of India
When people think of India they tend to imagine the chaotic cities in the North. Yes, in some places you will find crowded and noisy streets, reckless rickshaw drivers weaving in and out of traffic, and cows wandering into the road in front of you – but this perception is far from being true of everywhere in India!
I have to admit, India wasn’t always high up on my list of ‘must see’ destinations, but when the opportunity arose to travel there I couldn’t say no!
I began with temples, traditions and landmarks
I flew into Delhi and spent my first three days exploring the rich history and temples on offer and was also lucky enough to visit a local school that had been built by volunteers from around the world. Immediately I was invited to sit down while a young woman draped a flower garland around my neck and sprinkled petals over my head. A 9-year-old girl also wrote with henna on my arm. This was a traditional welcome blessing and a very touching start to my travels in India.
The food in Delhi was delicious and, as you would expect, curry was the main dish to be served. We even ate curry for breakfast!
I left the north thinking I’d seen all the big things that I really wanted to see, however I soon learnt how wrong I was! There is so much more to India than I originally thought.
Southern India may not be as well-known or as frequently visited but it is by no means lacking culture and history, which I soon discovered as I spent the next seven days travelling around Kerala:
Fort Kochi was my first stop
An area steeped in tradition, I was amazed by the sight of an endless waterfront lined with fisherman using Chinese-style fishing nets, waiting patiently to bring in the catch of the day. Fish is a real delicacy in the south and I managed to visit a market selling everything from red snapper to sharks and a sting-ray! Here, you’ll also find colonial churches and traditional dance performances, as well as small cafes where you can actually find a decent cup of coffee!
As my mum is really into her cooking, I knew she wouldn’t be happy if I left this area without picking up some spices from the local spice market. What I didn’t realise was that I would be in there for over an hour, in which time I’d tried on my very first Sari, got a beautiful henna on my foot, sampled a delicious chai tea and binged on tasty cashews!
Alleppey was a real highlight of my trip – from the beautiful sunsets over the rice paddies, to the night time boat ride along the lagoon, and if you’re lucky, you may even be treated to a harmonious song from the guides.
As a sun worshipper the eight hour boat cruise along the stunning backwaters from Alleppey to Kollam was my idea of heaven, especially after leaving the grey November skies in England!
It’s here that you really experience a slower pace of life. We drifted down the network of rivers and canals past men fishing and families swimming, contrasting with the large and luxurious house boats floating past. We stopped halfway for lunch where a delicious vegetarian dhal was served on a banana leaf. Who needs plates?
On to Varkala and my final stop
Varkala is a great destination for backpackers. Bars and restaurants line the coast with lots of delicious seafood on offer. It was some of the best I ever tasted and a particular favorite was the Monkfish cooked in coriander, garlic and chili wrapped in a banana leaf!
It’s hard to miss the signs offering Ayurvedic massages, so after a few hours of sunbathing I headed up to experience one. Anticipating a relaxing hour of oil massage, I was first asked to sit in a chair whilst the woman gently banged her knuckles against my head. Bizarre – but a massage did follow!
So will I ever go back?
Delicious spices, utterly fascinating culture, breathtaking scenery, a modern wonder of the world – no question really…
Fancy travelling around India? Check out the best of north and south on our Discover India tour!