As full-time travelers, people often ask us, “Where is your favorite place you’ve been?” It’s always a difficult question to answer. How do you narrow down 30+ countries and countless cities across the globe to one single favorite? Sometimes I opt to answer, “Where I am at the moment.” But if I’m being honest, I’m not as good at living in the present as I claim to be. When I really assess the many different places I’ve been, my mind—and my heart—always return to India. When I do state India to be my favorite place in the world, I’m met with hesitation and disbelief. What about the rapes that are all over the news? The poverty? The pollution? India is not perfect, and I do hope the country will see an improvement in the way they treat women, the poor, and the environment. But those things do not encompass all that is India. Actually, it does not even begin to describe the country.
India is colorful—In the beautiful sarongs the women wear, the spices markets that line the alleys, and the religious festivals the people celebrate.
India is noisy—In the Bollywood music that reverberates through the city, the honking of horns that never ceases, and the conversations that fill the market airs.
India is flavorful—In the rich and thick curries of the north and the light and fresh vegetarian cuisine of the south.
India is its own world, a place like no other, with temples and elephants and cows that rule the roads. If you’re after a unique travel experience, a place that will linger in your heart for the rest of your life, India is the place for you.
Many Americans view India as inaccessible due to flight prices, but this really isn’t the case. You can find excellent flights to India here.
India is a huge country, and the travel opportunities are endless. I spent two months in India, passing my time entirely in New Delhi. But with so much to do and experience, I never once found myself itching to leave the city. However, my next trip I do plan on experiencing more of the vibrant country, especially the southern cities.
If arriving in New Delhi, there are a few must-see attractions:
The Red Fort
A sandstone palace built by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan, the very same man behind the more famous Taj Mahal.
Mughal architecture and stunning gardens are the main features of this UNESCO World Heritage sight.
A bustling and chaotic market located across from the New Delhi Railway Station. Bring your bargaining skills and beware of pickpockets to have a fabulous time perusing the Indian handicrafts.
The Street Food
Don’t follow your doctors’ orders if he says to avoid the street food. Yes, there is a chance of ‘Delhi Belly’, but in my opinion the street food not only tastes phenomenal, it also provides a fantastic glimpse into Indian culture. A fairly safe introduction to the street food scene is a samosa.
A Rickshaw Ride
Rickshaws are the primary mode of transportation for many Indians, and a very affordable way to get around the city. These three-wheeled vehicles also serve as an excellent way to take in your surroundings.
The Taj Mahal
Okay, so it’s not in New Delhi, but it’s not that far away, either. Located in Agra, the Taj Mahal is certainly worth the drive, and doable in a long day trip. Some travelers will claim the Taj Mahal isn’t worth all the attention it receives, but I disagree. It’s truly phenomenal.
I can only hope I will have the opportunity to return to India again one day. Luckily my sister, only eighteen, is already making her second trip to the country (actually postponing college to do so). Perhaps that means 2015 will see us saying ‘Namaste!’