Fascinating India -The Land of a Thousand Surprises
|October 13, 2012||Posted by under Places|
If there is a country that defines cultural heritage in its magnificent diversity, awe-inspiring and magical beauty – it would have to be India. A popular destination for travellers from the times of Hieun T’sang , Fa-hien and Herodotus, its richness of culture is part of the annals of History. Let me take you through some of the astounding and varied things that you could see in incredible India.
Landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport would mean that you are open to a road circuit called as the Golden Triangle which shall make access to the magnificent sites in Delhi,Agra and Jaipur quite easy. However taking you away from the obvious and off the beaten track is a visit to the Hauz Khas Village in the heart of Delhi. Well, not a village anymore, it does have a restored pond (which belongs to the times of the Sultans) and an array of some of the most fascinating ranges of Indian handicrafts that are housed within the old town buildings. Gone are the camel carts and the palanquins but as you gaze at the tamarind trees that cast a cool shade all over the village, time rewinds. Perhaps one of those places that have been aesthetically preserved to give you a taste of medieval Indian culture.
Never failing to surprise you are the tales of yore and legends ,which one hears about the land of the great Rajputs. In the state of Rajasthan, that can be accessed by one of the smoothest highways, is Jaisalmer. The Golden Fortress, as it is called, is one of the only forts in the world that is inhabited. Chartered accountants to doctors,you’ll find them living in quaint little houses inside this relic from the past.
Not far from Jaisalmer is the famous abandoned village named ‘Kudhara.” It was cursed by the priest of the community that vacated it almost 500 years back because of a cruel ruler’s threat . The houses stand in complete silence as the desert wind passes by. Trees and bushes grow here and there but one can’t see a single bird !! It is said that no one returns alive from there if you stay beyond sunset.We beat a hasty retreat when our car tyre suddenly got stuck in the sand . Just about managing to get out of there as the sun dipped below the sand dune,we were almost sure that Kudhara was indeed a sentinel from our past.
High up above the plains of India is the abode of snow. The Himalayas fascinate climbers with some of the trickiest climbs anywhere in the world. But you could get to see it a lot easier. Take a flight to Srinagar from New Delhi,from where take a drive up the mountains to reach Ladakh,also referred to as ‘the rooftop of the world’ . Part of the Tibetan plateau ,its rugged terrain is nothing that you see in the lower reaches of the hills. As you drive up ,see LamaYuru-or Moonland . This stretch of land is exactly what one would see on the surface of the moon. Go on wear a helmet and pretend to do the moonwalk! No ,one would be able to guess!
Ladakh’s popularity with the western tourist also arises from the fact that it is one of the most important seats of Buddhism and if you want to get up and close, do visit a monastery and a gompha. Morning hours are a fine time to go as you catch the monks deep in prayer and study. Don’t miss out on some trout fishing in the Indus and do taste the local tea made with yak milk.
India’s latitudinal depth can be better appreciated when we move down south to what is called -God’s own Country-Kerala. It’s a state in the south of India where there is so much to do and see that it would need encyclopaedic space . But ,here are some awesomely amazing things to try out. Do visit the Jew Town in Cochin with its synagogue where you could meet the priest and his wife who’ll show you manuscripts and travellogues ,hundreds of years old. Cochin’s catamarans along the shore is also the place for you to pick up your dinner.Surprised! Well,just buy the fish and take it to any of the umpteen seaside restauranta and they will cook it to your specification(dirt cheap too!)A visit to Kerala is not complete unless you go on a spice adventure. Yes, the hills of Munnar play host to tourists who wish to spend time at the lush tea and coffee estates or the spice gardens.Spend an evening cruising the back waters in a the famous house boats at Kumarakom.Dine like a king on local delicacies,watch your favourite DVD,or even go for a leisurely swim! The backwaters of Kerala are a choicest retreat that have people coming back for more.
India is a land of beauteous bounties and it begins unravelling once you arrive on its shores!
Image by GSZ