Travel With Me - India
India is like a pearl among stones. You don't go looking for it on purpose, but once you find it there is a part of you that wants to keep it close forever.
More than once have I heard India being referred to as dirty, corrupt, and dangerous. Although it's understandable why this may be the general definition, it isn't a solid reason to overlook all the marvels this country has to offer (and I'm not only talking about the Taj Mahal), let alone the benignness and selflessness of the people. Let's look at it from a different perspective.
Bayerová, Lucie. Little Taj Mahal. 2020
From what I've experienced, Indians are some of the most friendly and hospitable people in the world. Many of them obviously love tourists' wallets and seize every opportunity to sell them souvenirs or trips at a discount price. However, some just genuinely want to talk to people of other nationalities, often offering strangers tea or lassi - a traditional yogurt-based drink whose flavours reach far beyond the human imagination. As well as the common fruit combinations, you can often find meat or spicy flavours on the menu, for example roasted beef or cardamon. Can you imagine drinking salty milk? No? Neither can I, but surprisingly, savoury lassi tastes much better than it sounds.
Bayerová, Lucie. Pistachio Lassi. 2020
In terms of entertainment, there are plenty of things to do. You can climb one of the Himalayas’ highest mountains, spend a tropical vacation beneath palm trees in the south, wander around the famous capital, New Delhi, go to the movies in metropolitan Mumbai, or just ride a rickshaw and feed cattle in the streets of Jaipur, also referred to as the “Pink City” for its coral-colored buildings and temples. In other words, there will always be something to entertain you.
Bayerová, Lucie. Jaipur. 2020
Bayerová, Lucie. Goa. 2020
If any place is definitely worth visiting, it is Varanasi, a city which lies on the shore of the sacred Ganges river and consists of so-called “ghats” - divided areas with steps that lead down to a water body. You might have heard about Hindu cremations that take place in India. In fact, this city is the very center of such happenings. This is because, for Hindus, Varanasi is something like Mekka is for Muslims. They set off on a pilgrimage to have their remains burned and thrown into the holy river in order to end the reincarnation cycle and reach Nirvana. (Atlas Obscura)
Foto: Bayerová, Lucie. Varanasi. 2020
The world-renowned spicy cuisine is an indispensable part of Indian culture. I highly recommend eating at restaurants in which the locals eat, since the dishes are half the price and you get extra portions with every empty plate. In the end, you buy one meal but receive extras that would be enough to feed five people, and that really pays off!* Most Indian meals are served with naan (leavened flatbread) to complement the otherwise bright and intense flavors. Samosa (deep-fried pastry filled with veggies or meat), butter chicken, and paneer (cheese, predominantly served with spinach or tomato sauce) are among the most popular dishes that originate from this country.
Bayerová, Lucie. Spices. 2020
Overall, India is one of the most diverse, extraordinary, and culturally vivid countries. There is delicious (and cheap) food on every corner, amazing places to travel to, astonishing nature, and people that are always ready to help. If you are hesitant over whether to pay India a visit or not, remember that no matter what people say, you should always go and see things for yourself to create your own perception!
*A friendly reminder: Be careful with your chilli intake.
Written by Lucie
Owen, Staci. “Cremation Ghats of Varanasi.” Atlas Obscura, https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/cremation-ghats-of-varanasi
Blueosa. “Top 10 Indian Dishes And Recipes.” https://www.blueosa.com/the-top-10-indian-dishes/