There is only one way to describe India: Incredible. Delhi is a big busy city full of contrasts, noise, colorful sights and sweet smells of incense in the air.

Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Our adventure begins with a drive through the Imperial city which was built by the British in the 1600's. There are wide avenues, large complexes with homes for the government employees and spacious parks where there are monkeys roaming freely. Here you will find the parliament buildings and a large road leading to a structure which resembles the Arc de Triomphe. Every January 26th there is a parade along this route to celebrate India's independence.


Day 2: Drive to Agra
There is so much to see along the way. We move out of the busy traffic and into the countryside. Women, children, cows, pigs, motorcycles, buses, donkeys and more share the road. There appear to be very little driving rules here in India.



Day 3: The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
The Taj Mahal is more beautiful than we could have imagined. The majestic structures stands on acres of land along the river side. Water pools, the smell of sweet blossoms and colorful gardens...Pinch me, I'm dreaming! The white marble glistens in the sun. Colorful designs adorn the Taj walls inside and out. The tomb of Mumtaz Mahal is decorative with intricate, ornate designs. The energy here calm and peaceful. The tomb of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan lies beside his wife; Forever together in eternity.

The ladies are touched by this wonderful place, some have tears in their eyes and others stare in wonder at this incredible structure. 


This afternoon we are off to visit the giant, impressive Agra Fort dating back to the 1600's. Thick stone walls surround the inner beauty. We see private palaces built for Shan Jehan's many wives, concubines and children. The intricate marble work and wall decoration is beautiful. It's hard to imagine this structure was built so long ago. As you stand in the courtyard and admire the magnificence of this fort you can imagine the beautiful women roaming about in their colourful saris.

 
Day 4: Drive to Jaipur
Along the way we stopped to visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Fatehpur Sikri which was once the capital of the Mughal Empire.
 
In Jaipur, the markets have carts filled with fruits, vegetables and there are mounds of marigolds and garlands of marigolds hang everywhere. This flower is placed in all homes for good luck. You can feel the excitement in the air!

We stop for a demonstration of block printing on fine cotton and silk fabrics. The showroom is open today just for us. The ladies enjoyed shopping here and some have ordered custom tailored outfits and shirts.


Day 5: Amber Fort
The Amber fort is a beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples. We approach the fort on elephants just like the Maharajahs did.

Day 6: Colourful drive to Nimaj
The excitement on the bus builds as we approach the busy village of Nimaj. The locals are delighted to see us and the children all greet us with smiles and cheerful hellos.  We enter through the large arched gateway into the courtyard of the Nimaj Palace Hotel. The Royal family still lives here and tonight we are going to be treated to a private cooking class with the daughter in law of his royal highness.


Day 7: Nimaj unfolds

 
Day 8: Jodhpur
This morning we are off to visit the "Blue City" of Jodhpur. This city has 1.5 million people and is situated on the Thar Desert, the 2nd largest in the world. Stone mining is one of the top industries, red and pink sandstone and green emeralds. They are also one of the top furtniture makers in the world.

 
Day 9: Osian, a village oasis in the Thar Desert


 
Day 10: Narlai
Our drive through the countryside is amusing and entertaining. The highway, or so they call it, is one narrow strip of pavement meant for traffic in both directions. Needless to say, our skilled driver must pull off onto the dirt side often to make way for oncoming traffic, shepherds crossing with their flock and cows and buffalo meandering down the road.  The women are busy cutting hay and wheat in the fields, sickles in hand and dressed in their brightly coloured saris. It's quite a sight!



This evening our guide Ashish has treated us to a taste of Indian Whiskey and afterward a turban tying competition.


Day 11: Narlai elementary school visit
The children at the school are delighted to see us. The teacher arrives and instructs a young boy to ring the bell to call everyone to class. The last straggles rush in and the children form a line from oldest to youngest then take their place seated on the floor in front of the teacher. Time for morning prayer and they add in a few songs for our benefit. Pencils are passed out to those in attendance and bags of goodies and school supplies are presented to the teacher on behalf of the ladies from Canada. He is grateful for the gifts and we know they are going to be put to good use.


Day 12: Udaipur
On our last full tour day we explored Udaipur: Venice of the East. This morning we enjoyed breakfast outdoors on the terrace overlooking the lake and enjoying the majestic views.  We've discovered that the lake is a common bath area for the locals. There are bath houses located around the lake and each is designated for men or women. Across from our hotel restaurant there happens to be a bath house for men. It was quite interesting watching the men come and go, dipping into the lake to bath and washing their clothes at the same time.  Life in India is quite different from life in Canada.


Day 13: Depart Delhi, homeward bound
The flight home was smooth and quiet. Most of us slept all the way to Brussels where we stop for a short layover, then on to Toronto.  Our trip to India was Incredible and I look forward to returning some time in the near future.