A day before the flight of a lifetime (to date, at least), it occurred to me that some of you playing along at home might not have gotten the memo on my full plans while I’m in India. Care for a quick glimpse?
I’m in country for a total of 22 days, 24 if you count the first two days when I’ll be in flight – given the time changes, it takes me a full 36 hours to get to New Delhi. Several of the days I’ll be in transit between cities, usually flying but sometimes via train (I had to take the train at least once!). Since India is basically the size of the East Coast, I’m relying on the grace of India Air to get me around while I’m there, and to do so relatively on time.
My general route can be seen here – I somehow manage to fit in about 75% of the country in a scant three weeks. I’m exhausted/exhilarated just looking at it. Here’s the breakdown:
I start in New Delhi, the bustling city that truly never sleeps. I’ve been warned to never expect quiet, even as I try to sleep, and to most definitely haggle at the bazaar, as they’ll be offended if you don’t.
From Delhi I jump on a train to Agra, where the majestic Taj Mahal is located. This is the vision, cliched as it may be, I’ve had in my head this whole time. I am beyond excited to stand before the Taj Mahal, to see it with my own eyes. Beyond.
I complete the “Golden Triangle” by heading from Agra to Jaipur, the Pink City. On the way, we’ll detour to Fatehpur Sikri, a city that dates back to 1500.
After a quick detour back to Delhi, I attempt my first in-country flight out to Varanasi, the holy city on the Ganges river. I have a room booked at a hotel on the river – not just a room, a room with a private balcony looking over the washing and worshipping happening in the mighty water below.
Varanasi concludes my time in the northern half of the country, traditionally the more conservative area. Next I head to Pondicherry via Chennai (sleepy French-Indian town that Pondicherry is, there is no airport). I plan on renting a bike and riding around the provincial downtown at my leisure (yes, as seen in Life of Pi).
From the east coast of India, I fly over to the west, to the province of Goa – specifically, I’ll be staying at Palolem Beach, voted one of the most beautiful in the world (and also where Jason Bourne lives, apparently). I’ve rented a private hut on the water, and I intend to work on nothing but my tan.
Goa signals the nearing of the end of my journey, as my next stop is Mumbai where the plane waiting to take me back to the states will be. I’ve got a few days to experience the home of Bollywood, the city that happens to be the fourth most populous city in the world (thanks, Wikipedia!).
My trip home has taken on a bit of a detour that I would love to tell you more about but am going to keep close to the vest for the moment (can’t jinx it!), but if all goes according to plan I’ll be back in SLC just a few days after St. Patrick’s day. And if everything goes even more according to plan, I’ll return with a suitcase full of souvenirs, a journal full of musings, a camera full of photos and a heart and mind forever changed.