I spent many months planning an itinerary, booking trains and hotels, and generally trying to perfect my three-week trip to North India. I wanted to fit in as much as I could, without losing any quality time in the cities and towns I would visit. India, being so huge, inspiring and diverse, is not a place where one can do everything in three weeks. With this in mind, I decided to focus my time mainly in Rajasthan, a region full of old forts and palaces, teaming with colorful arts and crafts, delicious food and stunning views.
My plan was simple: I was going to travel, mainly by train, from city to city. The trains in India are such an experience in themselves, full of life, where you befriend the many people sat around you, or relax and watch the ever-changing landscape slowly pass you by. Shouts of ‘Chai, Chai!‘ or ‘Pani, Pani‘ are repeatedly heard as men selling snacks, tea and water, will walk up and down the aisle trying to tempt you.
I began my trip in Jodhpur, the blue city, with its many small and winding alleyways asking to be explored. I enjoyed the buzzing market at the clock tower, where I picked up what was probably the tastiest Jalebi (a popular Indian dessert) of my entire trip. Sit with the famous Omelette man and relax, watching the life at the heart of this city, and haggle, barter, buy and sell.
Next, I moved onto the Golden City of Jaisalmer, which is the most magical little city in Rajasthan. This is the perfect place to purchase some of the stunning handcrafts you can find in India, from rugs and leather bags to beautiful letter sets and patterned printing blocks. The fort is magical and the people charming. I took a one night camel trek into the Thar Desert and watched the sun set over the sand dunes while enjoying a basic (but wonderful!) meal cooked over the fire.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and the famous Pink City, was my next destination. The city has so much to explore, from the palaces with their enchanting stories of a royal past, to amazing food and rides by elephant back. From Jaipur I was even able to make a short visit to the busy and intense city of Agra to visit the incredibly stunning Taj Mahal. It takes your breath away to see it in person, and to sit and watch as the sun sets behind it.
Ending my time in Rajasthan, I went to try and spot tigers in the vast national park, Ranthambore. Ranthambore was an absolute highlight of my trip and not an excursion for the impatient! The game drives were thrilling and intense, as you venture out into the park to witness India’s impressive wildlife – the tiger being the ultimate animal to spot. Ranthambore is a brilliant place to relax too. I did morning and evening drives in the park and spent the rest of the day relaxing by the hotel pool, drinking refreshing Limca and getting used to a slower pace! And if you do spot a tiger, which I was lucky enough to do; it feels like an honour.
Before heading back to London I took a short internal flight to Amritsar, a destination that has been on my ‘to do’ list, solely to visit the incredible Golden Temple. Upon arriving, I covered my head, took off my shoes, and washed my feet, and spent a good part of the day awestruck and fascinated at the rituals, the people, and the atmosphere within the temple. I adored my time there so much that I returned the next day to do it all over again!
To round off my North India trip I took an early morning train to Haridwar to witness the Aarti evening ceremony on the Ganges. Hundreds come, at dusk, to sit along the river, watching and praying, lighting candles and sending them down the river. It was a beautiful and sacred ceremony to watch and was the perfect end to my Indian adventure. I departed home, back to the UK, full of many humble and happy memories.
- No trip to India is complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal. While the city of Agra can be a bit overwhelming, sunset at the mausoleum is absolutely stunning.
- Ranthambore National Park was a highlight of my trip! The game drives were thrilling and intense, and the ideal way to witness India’s impressive wildlife. If one does spot a tiger, as I was lucky enough to do, it feels like an honor to see the magnificent creature in its natural habitat.
- The Golden Temple in Amritsar is a fascinating experience.
- The evening Aarti Ceremony on the Ganges River in Haridwar is not to be missed.
Fiona Caroline is a fine art film photographer based in London, England. She loves to travel, especially throughout the Indian Subcontinent, and is a collector of old film cameras. She also loves to capture weddings, portraits and the city of London through her lens.