One of my favourite features on the blog is the travel section, it gives me the chance to look through an amazing collection of travel photography, which takes me all around the world. Todays Travel feature on India is just breathtaking! Clare Richards from Photography by Clare sent in these wonderful photos and I have enjoyed every minute of looking through them, as well as reading her travel report on her two-week trip around this amazing India country.
India – Mumbai, Goa, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar and Jodhpur
India had always been on my list of places to go – but it wasn’t at the top. However, when I was given the opportunity to go with a friend, I jumped at the chance, we didn’t have long – only two weeks and some of this was dedicated to a wedding we were to be guests at.
It’s rare that the first place you go to on your travels is your favourite, but Mumbai was a mesmerising place for me. Whether it was because it was our first stop and real touch of India I don’t know but I still remain captivated by the place.
Mumbai can be accurately described as the world’s largest and fastest bumper car ride, just minus the bumps. Tuc Tuc’s fill the city streets whizzing along in a strange hectic unison, so you only think you’re going to die. We made a long journey down to the Gateway of India passing through the crazy city, seeing the beautifully dilapidated and peeling buildings. We navigated our way to our first Indian meal, all food places in India are labelled as either ‘veg’ or ‘non veg’ – we chose veg and feasted on beautiful Indian flavours and multiple piles of Puris.
One of the best experiences of not only Mumbai but the entire trip was the train ride. There’s something oddly freeing about standing on the edge of a tin can carriage with no doors, the ground rushing by beneath you. It’s a great way to see more of the oddities of the city and I got the feeling not many tourists do this. The train took us to the Dhabi Ghat, which is essentially a 140 year old laundrette on a huge scale. Thousands and thousands of items hung from washing lines, row after row of blue jeans were hung out to dry. How they knew whose were whose I’ll never know.
Goa had been built up in our minds as paradise. Paradise it was not, perhaps we were in the wrong area, perhaps we had built this up too much in our heads. Although it was great to settle back into more of a relaxed pace for our stay here for the wedding. The wedding was breath-taking, such a different experience from the weddings back in England, a massive explosion of colour, music, laughter and sun. Every Indian seems to embrace music and dancing so enthusiastically like nothing I’ve ever seen in the UK – where there’s always someone hiding from the dance floor.
Our last day in Goa was spent in Panjim, an old Portuguese- Indian town. The guidebook says there’s a lot to see and do here, we found the opposite however luckily I am easily entertained by dishevelled, brightly coloured doors so found plenty to photograph.
For the remainder of our travels we organised a driver to take us from city to city, which is generally the most common and safest way to get around India.
Arriving in bustling, vibrant Delhi in the evening we headed straight out into the night street markets of the Main Bazaar to explore and haggle our way through the city. The stalls are full of everything you could imagine from kitchen ware, to jewellery, to food to printing blocks, it’s so hard to not stop and look at everything.
In the day we stopped at the hidden gem of Humayum’s Temple, a large beautiful tomb in a lovely state of restoration making the character of the architecture really stand out. With bright blue tiles, intricate carvings and peaceful surroundings meant this was a fantastic site.
Agra was a five hour journey from Delhi, and of course had to be on list purely for… the Taj Mahal. We had an early start at 5:15am to see the sun rise over the Taj, heading out in complete darkness and heading in the general direction was a scary experience and one I wouldn’t advise doing alone. Luckily we were at the front of the queue for the gates to open and first to see the Taj Mahal without a boat load of tourists in way.
The Taj Mahal is virtually indescribable, it’s serene, majestic, and surreal or at least it was until the late comer tourists came in too. Well worth the early start, but cold as the sun tried to break through the clouds. The colours that can come from the sunrise hitting a white building are remarkable, pinks, oranges, blues it was incredible.
Another five hour car journey saw us in Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’ and capital of Rajasthan – another bustling, character filled city, however slightly more modern and cleaner that Delhi with more actual stores rather than just shacks.
The Amber Palace is a beauty, and gives you some fantastic views if you can bear the climb. The palace is high on the hilltops with huge walls across the terrain akin to the Great Wall of China. You could get lost for hours in the nooks and crannies of this glorious palace with stunning natural colours, it’s a great place to just wander about and take in by yourself.
A quick-ish stop at a rather questionable back street textile factory was actually really interesting, crammed into tiny rooms we saw some speedy woodblock printing, embroidery and carpet weaving – all done incredibly by hand, a process that takes months. It did make us really appreciate the work that goes into the pieces and the cost attached to the larger pieces.
Pushkar is a smaller, slightly more organised and quieter city with a cool hippy vibe, the main draw of Pushkar for us was the markets and shopping and we spent most of time meandering around the streets picking up little gifts. The jewellery here was incredible, so much variety and intricate work that it made it hard to pick out just a few pieces. With the help of a guide book we found a quirky restaurant called Seventh Heaven. An absolutely stunning four storey white building built around a court yard with vines growing bottom to top, with our little restaurant on the roof top giving us amazing views as the sun set over the temples and ruins of the city.
Jodhpur was yet again, another five hour journey along a very broken road, most of it a bumpy track – much to my bladders disappointment. Jodhpur was my addition to the travel list, as the famous blue city.
Climbing a steep hill to the Jodphur gives a stunning view over the city, but reveals it’s not quite as blue as the pictures in the books would have you believe. We decided to sacrifice going into the fort to go and explore the city and hunt out those blue buildings I’d had my heart on. We delved back into the city and into its quirky colourfulness and winding alleys. Being a Saturday, children lined the street playing in full force, all of them delighted to see us, waving and smiling as fi they barely get any visitors there, which made it all the more special to me. One of the best moments of the trip occurred when I started to take a photo of a young boy trying to ride a bike, the next thing I knew a small group of boys were running at me, smiling, laughing and throwing their arms around me to see their photo I’d just taken. We were so right to not go into the fort and to deviate from the guide book, we had an amazing time roaming those streets and we’d never have had that amazing experience.
All Photography by Clare Richards