Take a trip to India
All the travelers who come back from there will tell you that India is another planet, even if the feelings towards it can be diametrically opposed: one can fall in love with this country as well as be disoriented. Indeed, everything is too much: too gigantic, too slow, too many people, too much misery, too much change of scenery. And yet, on the other hand, you can also find so much humanity, smiles and beauty.
It is difficult to summarize this territory in a few words, and you will have to stay there many times before you get an idea of its innumerable facets: the South, more quiet and soothing, with its shores of Kerala, the North, harsher, with its deserts, especially Rajasthan, and its Maharajas’ palaces, the sprawling megacities that swarm with an innumerable population, like New Delhi, Calcutta, or even Bombay. Experience Varanasi with a stop in Benares, the holiest city in Uttar Pradesh, where people come to bathe on the ghats in the Ganges and where the bodies of the dead are burned. In short, adapt to the rhythm of its inhabitants and mingle with them in fantastic train rides. Take the opportunity to admire the panorama through the window: a real cinemascope show is offered to you.
Tour guides in Kerala
Tour guides in Rajasthan
Tour guides in Agra
Tour guides in Madurai
Tour guides in New Delhi
Tour guides in Varanasi
Other guides in India
Five ideas for guided tours in India
To come to Pondicherry is to feel a small air of France on the coasts of the Bay of Bengal. Indeed, this city was for 300 years a colonial trading post, which was only returned in 1954. We find there street names, statues, urban styles and a real French cultural influence. This is especially evident in the waterfront district, which has wide cobblestone boulevards, sidewalks and colorful 18th-century buildings lined with bougainvillea. Take a stroll down Goubert Avenue, nicknamed “the seaside promenade”: it’s closed to traffic after 5 p.m. and residents flock to it for evening strolls. You can also walk along Rock Beach, which is made up entirely of rocks. Do not hesitate to go to the Muslim and Tamil district where the Manakula Vinayaga Temple is located: an elephant welcomes you at the entrance. Pondi remains a city apart, where tourists will enjoy wandering peacefully, far from the sometimes oppressive stress of some Indian megacities.
The city of Madurai is located in the southern part of the state of Tamil Nadu. It is estimated that its origins date back more than 2,500 years. This lively megapolis sees a considerable number of pilgrims, who come especially to worship at the Sri Meenakshi Temple. Built around 1620, it is dedicated to the goddess of the same name, one of the reincarnations of Parvati, wife of the god Shiva. The immense complex, with an area of 6 hectares, includes 14 towers richly decorated with colorful sculptures. These are the famous gopuras, typical of Hindu religious architecture. In the middle of the Portamaraikulam temple, there is a golden lotus pool, and around it, under arcades, 110 finely sculpted pillars. Madurai is an obligatory stopover and in addition to its religious worship activities, it is an adventure to follow the banks of the Vigai river and to immerse oneself in the workshops of blacksmiths and the numerous washerwomen, to meet the inhabitants, very dignified in spite of their great poverty.
The Ganges at Varanasi
Stop in Varanasi, the ancient Benares, the sacred city of Hinduism, bordering the Ganges. Here you will experience one of the most incredible emotions of all your travels and even of your entire life. Pilgrims from all over the country come to descend these stairs, called ghats, which run along the banks, to immerse themselves in the water, unfortunately very dirty in places. In the evening, rituals and dancers come to honor the place during offering ceremonies called pujas. The most spectacular of these takes place at the Dashashwamedh Ghat. Experience a boat ride and see the contours of Benares from the river from a distance. Some ghats are dedicated to cremations, for example the Manikarnika Ghat: avoid photographing them to respect the mourning of the inhabitants. Varanasi is worth a stop of three or four days, or even more. Put your western brain on hold and wander randomly through its streets. In fact, all the excitement of India is concentrated in Varanasi: children running around, beggars, women washing clothes, cows and men bathing are a fascinating sight. If you have time, don’t hesitate to visit Sarnath, a Buddhist Mecca, only 10 kilometers away.
Capital of the West Bengal region, not far from the border that separates the country from Bangladesh, Calcutta is a firework of energy, noise and color. The megalopolis is truly gigantic, so here is a small overview of the must-see sites:
– The old city, located in the north, is the pulsating heart of the one also called the City of Joy. Here, countless crowds come and go on the avenues in an incessant ballet. No wonder Mother Teresa chose this place to dedicate her life to the orphaned children of Calcutta.
– The Maidan borders the Hooghly River, and it is in this part of the city that you will find parks and gardens, as well as vestiges of the British Empire, such as Fort Williams, built in the early 1700s, or the Victoria Memorial, built in white marble in honor of the Queen, which is now a museum of paintings and old photographs.
– The Center and especially its New Market: this colossal red brick building dates from the late nineteenth century, offering a multitude of stalls from jewelry to clothing through fruit and vegetables. Right next to it stands the oldest art museum in the world, called Jadu Ghar (Indian Museum). You will then reach the Howrah Bridge which spans the river for nearly 700 meters. At the southern end of the bridge, you can see the flower market of Mullick Ghat.
To get closer to the gates of the Thar Desert, head east to Jaisalmer, nicknamed the Golden City. It offers multiple attractions as well as the relaxing charm of clean streets and often without motorized traffic. Of course, the citadel dominates the city, with its ramparts running along 99 bastions. The building, built in the 12th century, was often destroyed but is now perfectly renovated. There is a fort, 7 Jain temples with marble sculptures and countless haveli, these princely residences whose stones are finely chiseled like lace. The most majestic are those of Patwon Ki Haveli and Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, but you will come across many others worth the detour as you lose yourself in the old city. Not far from the citadel is the Gadi Sagar Lake, surrounded by several temples and now a refuge for many birds and a watering hole for herds of cows. The must-see attraction before leaving Jaisalmer is a safari, either by jeep for the day, or by camel for a night under the stars in the middle of the grandiose dunes of the desert.