We arrived in Delhi, a city with a population around three times that of Virginia, at around 5:30 in the morning and our day started immediately.
The pace of our 10 days in India was intense, but it was mirrored by the immense and endless beauty and culture to soak in. Every place we explored was rich in beauty, history, and detail that exceeded any expectations that I had for the entire trip. With shift of my eyes, there was something new and amazing to see, making it impossible to be tired or bored, a level of stimulation that was absolutely necessary for a trip that demanded so much energy.
It is absolutely insane to try to describe the entire trip in anything less than a book, but choosing only highlights has proven a difficult task as well. Here is my absolute best attempt at a highlight reel of our ten days, but I cannot impress upon you how inadequate my descriptions are in comparison to the experience.
Delhi was steeped in beauty and history, and was the most densely populated place I have ever been. One of the most overwhelming aspects of such a huge city is the way people navigate it. While we visited several religious centers, each of which were beautiful and impactful, as well as the National Museum and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, what sticks out in my memory from Delhi is the traffic.
On our second day, we started at the Red Fort, which was roughly the size of Wise (not including Norton). After we left the Red Fort, we made our way to a Mosque, and decided that the best way to spend the day was a quick tour of Old Delhi on board rickshaws – carts with a bench that are attached to bicycles. They were royal blue and were big enough for two people to sit comfortably. The rickshaw drivers navigated the crowded streets artfully and the entire time, we were within arms’ reach of some other driver, be it a car, a bus or another rickshaw. We drove through a market, the spice market, to several temples, and back to the mosque.
In Agra, what struck me most wasn’t the most fun. On our first day in Agra, we visited a Catholic orphanage that is a tribute to Mother Theresa. There were a handful of toddlers, around ten infants, and a dozen older children. They also care for mentally disabled persons of India so that they don’t live a life of homelessness and hunger. The orphanage is run entirely by volunteers, and they care for what looked like around 50 individuals who ranged from newborn to around 80 years of age. We were all struck by the children and how loving each of them were. I am forever changed for having witnessed the altruism there.
The last full day we spent in Jaipur and in India, we spent playing Holi. Holi is the Indian festival of colors. We celebrated by attending what looked like the most amazing music festival you’ve ever seen. Centered around a stage with traditional Indian dancers and music that was modern and sometimes even American, there was a crowd of people dancing framed by booths handing out “Free Color.” We unloaded from our rickshaws and were surrounded by people who christened us with colors. They shouted “Happy Holi!” and smeared the blue, purple, and pink powder on our faces and in our hair. The entire time we spent playing Holi involved this type of color being smeared on us, and morphed into us searching for people who had little to no color on them, so that we could be the ones to ruin their white garb.
While I do not have the liberty to write a book on the incredible India I was so privileged to witness, I hope that these experiences may inspire those who are able to explore areas of the world that seem foreign to you. We saw one of the new seven wonders of the world when we visited the Taj Mahal, we visited temples and made naan in a Sikh mosque, we biked through a bird sanctuary and took a Safari in Rothambore, and with each site, we learned more about the wonders of ancient cultures.
India truly is incredible.