My travel diary to India

I thought I had prepared myself for my first trip to India by anticipating a riotous cocktail of masses of  brightly dressed pedestrians, a ceaseless din of hooting traffic, exotic curry bouquets mingling with diesel fumes, languid cows and curious monkeys and the not infrequent sweet smell of marijuana. Ofcourse, you cannot really prepare yourself for the  magical cultural otherness of it all. What I had not anticipated was the breathtaking panoramic  natural beauty of  Uttarakhand in northern India.


April’s spring arrives with suffocating temperatures upto 45 degrees in the south of India, so we chose to holiday in the elevated altitudes of  the northern State of  Uttarakhand.

We began our trip in  Rishikesh, the town made  famous in the West after the Beatle‘s long stay and their famous “White Album”. Mountains covered with dense vegetation cradle this holy town which straddles the Ganga, with its  2 iconic steel rope pedestrian bridges. Midst narrow streets crowded with permanently hooting motorbikes, jeeps and cows, tea-shops with backpackers from all over the world and shops offering great ayurverdic massage, one finds rows of Ashrams offering a an array of yoga and mediation courses.  Rishikesh highlights the overwhelming, almost ironic  contradictions that are India. At every corner,  picturesque views a midst brutal poverty and decrepit buildings suggesting a long past serene glory .

cow shopping

Lakshman Julla is the main bridge in Rishikesh and also the center of activity. Around the bridge are most of the Ashrams, restaurants, massage parlors, book and music shops . Once acclimatized to the  conditions (shocking by an any Western urban standard ) we fell in love with Rishikesh and were happy to take part in  the yoga and meditation classes – breathing deeply to relax. And like the many spiritual seekers and backpackers, just sit on a veranda at sunset, savoring Chai Massala  and observing humanity in all its myriad forms.

Lackshman Gula

From Rishikesh we took a public bus to Haridwar (mercifully, the driver only took up his marijuana joint as we pulled in to the final station). This is another major holy city where the  Hindu  daily religious ritual of Aarti takes place by  Ghats, auspicious communal bathing points, by the Ganges river. We were lucky to arrive on a special annual pilgrimage holiday at the Har-Ki-Pauri ghat .

women with woven baskets waiting for the ceremony to begin

women with woven baskets waiting for the ceremony to begin

As the sun set, scores of thousands  from all over the country, shuffled barefoot down to the holy Ganga, to perform the sacred purification & devotional ceremony of puga Aarti, invoking Maa Ganga, the mother of all Hindus, to purify them from their sins. As darkness  fell, the crowds were chanting, and clanging bells while lighting their  Aartis – woven flower baskets with lit candles- soon to be released to float down the Ganga, carrying their sins and worries away.

Peapl slowly gathering in Har-Ki-Piri

People gathering slowly in Har-Ki-Piri

You are welcome to view the video we took of this amazing ceremony in Youtube.

Harki piri3

We drove on and up to explore 3 ‘hill stations’, small towns, located high in the Himalayan foothills, established by the British as a place to escape from the  summer heat of the southern panes. We visited the hill stations  of Massuri, Nainital  and Almora. Similar in their layout- they each have a main road called the bazaar, a library (each over 100 years old), a boat and club house, and some very typical old British colonial buildings.  I could not avoid imagining the British ladies daily routine from gathering in the library in the morning to sipping tea at the club house in the afternoon.

view from hill station

The old library in Massuri

The old library in Massuri

Our cottage in Massuri

Our cottage in Massuri

hotel reception area Massuri

We  spent only 3 weeks in India and only saw Uttarakand, a very small part of this sub-continent. Nevertheless, it was the experience of a life time .The Hindus call Uttarakand ” Dev Bhoomi” the land of Gods of holy mountains, lakes and rivers. Winding up high altitude roads to  the pilgrimage sites of Hindu mythology, our visit was a passage inwards as much as outwards.

Not to be forgotten.

I wish you a peaceful and happy week,



12 responses to “My travel diary to India

  1. Looks fabulous! I palm to go there later this year. Thanks for sharing your experience:)

  2. Judy Carpenter

    Fabulous. And in the pics I saw lots of wonderful fabrics I’d love to get my hands on. Thanks.

  3. Love the colourful saris. Traveling enriches our life experiences and it’s great meeting people in other countries. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    We just came back from a weekend up north (Ontario). I enjoy traveling: nearby or far away places.

    ♥ carmen

  4. I have only visited India once and I agree it is an amazing place. You can’t describe the culture and energy you have to experience it first hand. There is such vibrancy of colour and buzz.

  5. Peace and blessings be upon you and yours. This is an awesome share. Was that a cow or goat – anywho, love it as it appears as though he’s there for a cup of coffee – lol. Beauty surrounds us everyday and am appreciative to those who can capture it and then share with other.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Sara. It must have been an impressive trip. I have been to the Far East many times but I have never been to India – very different.

    Annette | Lady of Style

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