Monday, February 18, 2013

My First 48 Hours In India

India has always been a dream destination on my Bucket List. Ever since I was a little girl I've had an innate fascination with the Taj Mahal and its shimmery white facade. (The Sultan's Palace in Disney's Aladdin may have had something to do with that. Love that movie.) So last year, when Steven and I were making plans for 2013, I jumped at the suggestion of India. It was the chance to fulfill my childhood dream and see that mystifying palace in real life. So we booked the tickets, applied for the travel visa and took precautionary vaccinations. I was thrilled. But really, I had no idea what was really in store.

India is intoxicating, delicious, spiritual and utterly chaotic at the same time. It would be impossible to cover everything, so here is the first post of the great, the good and the downright bad of our trip - starting with Delhi!

We spent the first weekend of our trip in the country's capital. One of Steven's best friends is living and working at the European Union there, so we had the opportunity to experience the city like a true local with him!

To See:
Delhi is huge, so we started with the weekend at the Old Delhi Bazaar. This place is out of control and unlike any market that you will probably ever see. The smells and colors are overwhelming and the amount of shops are stifling! The offerings are random; everything from English MBA textbooks to silk saris to kitchen sink bolts to steaming Indian plates being dished out right alongside passing cars. Don't expect to actually buy something here, but moreso just take in the sights! It's also one of the poorest districts of the city, so beware the poverty is the most confronting here.

I was prepared to face poverty, but being in Old Delhi really put a whole new spin on life. It was a heartbreaking sight to see: disheveled children begging, starving animals and entire families living in a ramshackle cardboard box. I didn't take any pictures of this, mainly out of respect but also because I was almost scared as we passed them.

We continued the day by exploring temples and mosques of the three most prominent religions: Hinduism, Islamic and Sikh. Each was different in its own way, but all were surprisingly grandiose. For the number of people living on top of each other on the streets, the religious monuments were sprawling over several acres. A true indication of how big a role religion plays in this country.

If you follow me on Instagram, I mentioned that my favorite religious experience was at the Gurdwara Sikh Temple. I found this temple to be the most serene and beautiful. Next to the white and gold temple was a big pool of water surrounded by marble, warmed by the strong Indian sun. Here people were praying, meditating or others just simply laying out enjoying the day. I loved that part. You have to enter without shoes and with a bright scarf over your hair.

It was also the most hospitable meaning everyone working there is a volunteer, down to the people who guard your shoes upon removal at the entrance or serve the free meals after the prayers.

To Eat:
We ate at several restaurants but our favorite bars and cafes were at the Hauz Kahz Village which is filled with boutiques and lively restaurants. It is a startling combination of new and old because the restaurants surround an ancient village dating back to Medieval times. We went to Out Of The Box for dinner and had drinks on the rooftop of Boheme.

To Stay:
We were in Delhi twice, so stayed at two different hotels but I would absolutely recommend The Ashtan in South Delhi.

Next up, Jaipur!

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It would be impossible to cover everything, but if you have any questions please shoot me an email and I would be happy to elaborate!


  1. wow i am in love already! i cant wait to keep reading more india posts!

  2. so glad you got to go to India! It really is a place that makes you put everything in the West in perspective!

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  4. Sounds like you had the adventure of a lifetime, Jeanelle! I'm living vicariously through you, can't wait to hear about Jaipur!

  5. I started my 1st trip to India in Delhi too! What awesome pics!!!