Almost a year ago I went to visit India, a place I have wanted to go see for the longest time. I have always been fascinated by this country. Its got such a rich history and culture and not to mention some of the best food in the world.
I joined a “love” retreat hosted by Brett Shuttleworth and embarked on a fascinating journey. The morning after my arrival in India we left on a train to go to the Taj Mahal. One of the 7 wonders of the world and obviously a true spectacle. I learnt so much more about the history of the Taj Mahal and the reason the emperor built this masterpiece for his favourite wife. He illustrates the love for his wife and hence the reason for the inspiration of the Taj Mahal.
Obviously one of my highlights of the trip was the food and we got to eat a lot of it. The various regions in India specialize in the different varieties of the food. In Delhi for example they are known for the Biryani and in Goa, they are known for the vindaloo. I also learnt that in Goa they have a large Portuguese influence in their food as they were colonized by the Portuguese for more than 4 centuries.
After Delhi, we went to Rishikesh, which is high up in the Himilayas and on the banks of the Ganges River. I fell in love with the peace and calming nature of Rishikesh. It is somewhat still untouched, is a vegan town and serves no alcohol. It is home to many Ashrams and where the birth of yoga began. Many people, especially Hindus, try to ascend to Rishikesh at lease once in their lifetime; as it is said that bathing in the Ganges River will cleanse you of all your sins. I was so fortunate to not only swim in the Ganges, but I got to river raft down the Ganges, one of my highlights of my whole India trip. I also went up a peak of the Himilayas for sunrise where I got to witness the layers of the Himilayas and why its embolic of its name. Rishikesh was indeed a spiritual awakening for me, and holds a special place in my heart and is where I decided I want to do my yoga teacher training, which I will be completing this March. During our retreat, it also happened to be the International Yoga Festival, and I got to attend two classes as well as attend the Ganga Arti in the evening. I have never witnessed such powerful energy in one place, and I made a peace offering down the river.
The next stop was Goa, we stayed north of Goa in Vagatar Beach. I had 4 days here of “letting go” and swimming in the Arabian Sea. This is a place to unwind and to party if you like or self reflect as I did. They also have many amazing market’s, Anjuna Flea Market is a must visit where you can basically find anything. I particularly enjoyed the food in Goa having the Portuguese cultural background.
Our final stop in India and a real high note to end the trip was Mumbai (Bombay). We saw the Gateway of India, went to the famous Taj Mahal hotel where I got to catch a glimpse of Hilary Clinton and did a day tour of the Dharavi slum – the 2nd largest slum in Asia. It was an overwhelmingly powerful experience and I admire these people so much. I could talk about Dharavi in a whole separate post, which will maybe happen after my next trip to India. For those of you that have read Shantaram, you will know about Leopolds Café. I was fortunate to have lunch there and to shop at the markets on the streets outside, which again I highly recommend if you want to shop in India.
As you can see, I hold India in high regard. It has touched me in so many ways and I cannot wait to return. I feel it is symbolic that I am returning exactly a year after I last went there, this time for a more soulful purpose.