3rd December 2018
Our client support manager, Sarah, reflects on her favourite moments exploring India with our Rajasthan: Taj, Temples & Tigers tour.
The Pichola lake, Udaipur at sunset. The lake itself is surrounded by glorious buildings and monuments so something new is always catching your eye. It is the most peaceful way of viewing the City Palace, Jag Mandir and the stunning city of Udaipur; you cannot hear one car horn.
It is hard to go wrong with Indian food; each dish tickles a new taste bud. However, my absolute favourite dishes were the ones we cooked ourselves. Taking part in an Indian cooking class opened my eyes to the processes behind the dishes that we had taken for granted for 16 days. We made a range of dishes including Bhindi Masala, Tarka Dal, Raita and of course Chapatis. Simple steps added together with local culinary knowhow meant that we created the best meal we had had all trip.
The heritage property, Ravla Bhenswara, located in the small town of Bhenswara, two hours outside of Jodhpur. The Ravla was built 240 years ago and was transformed into a heritage hotel in 1993 by Kunwar Shi Pratap Singh and Uma Kumari. The rooms are basic but each one is uniquely decorated in an individual style by local artists, so you can never compare them. It is a tranquil property that allowed everyone to relax in the grounds but also explore rural Indian life. It is still run by the same family and all staff are employed from the local area, giving it a lovely community feel about it.
The best activity would have to be the tiger safari in Ranthambhore. We were incredibly lucky in spotting three tigers! The first two were cubs aged 20 months, wandering around in the trees. Although the naked eye could see them, photos did not do the sighting justice. The best sighting happened upon leaving the park, when the mother tentatively walked straight in front of our jeep and then leapt up onto a rock to the left of us. The fact that I was in such proximity to these beauties just made my whole trip.
Walking around Pushkar Camel Festival. I was excited to have this as part of my group tour as I had read about it before the trip. Nothing can prepare you for the sheer number of camels; everywhere you look there would be another herd of 50 or so! Whether the camels were highly decorated or just resting with their owners, it was definitely something worth seeing and will be a memory to last a lifetime. It was also great learning about the people at the festival. Many of the farmers told about their journey to the fair and that they had been the ‘chosen’ farmers to herd the villages’ camels to the festival.
My Masala Chai spices. I would indulge in this amazing tea every day and without these spices I would be having withdrawal symptoms right now - coffee shops in the UK just cannot get the taste quite right!
Not experiencing the Pushkar Camel Festival at night. Due to the tour logistics we experienced the festival during the day, however I would have loved to have seen the different activities at night.
‘Don’t be afraid’; a very simple statement but one to live by in India. At the beginning of my tour I had a slight apprehension of walking around on my own. However, by the end of the tour I was singing in train carriages with local women and exploring the cities and towns on my own with just my camera as a friend. Don’t be afraid to learn some Hindi as a little goes a long way, especially “how are you?” and “what is your name?”. You may not fully understand everything that is said back to you, but the effort is highly appreciated.