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India - Full of Life - Day 1: 14 Magical Days in India: #1

Updated: Apr 25

When I said I was planning a trip to India, my non-Indian friends asked me why. I said that I heard it was colorful, picturesque and that the real Taj Mahal was something special to see. Many replied that with so many beautiful photos of the Taj Mahal available, why would I want to travel 14 hours by a plane to a country that has a 9.5, yes , 9 and a half, hour time difference, away from the New York area? AND Why would I go in the summer when temperatures hover around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), and the summer monsoons? How was I going to deal with the heat and the rain??

The mantra my husband constantly repeats when we travel is “pack light” That is often followed by “you pack it, you carry it.”. On this trip, we restricted ourselves to pilot-sized bags, a carry-on and a personal bag and still managed to bring ALMOST everything we needed to prepare for the monsoons.

  • A light-weight breathable poncho

  • A pair of lightweight waterproof boots

  • Lightweight rain covers for each camera

  • A waterproof cover for the camera bag

What I did not bring but should have:

  • A lightweight down vest (It was summer. In India. I mean c’mon)

  • A pair of lightweight rain pants (“monsoon” means “when we said rain, we meant it)

Some other things that I brought that proved quite useful:

  • Toilet paper

  • Sun screen

  • Alcohol wipes

  • hand-sanitizer

  • A portable clothes line

  • A small bottle of detergent

Be aware that when you go into any temple, mosque, or church, you will have to leave your shoes at the entrance. Sometimes the entrance means not just the structure but the grounds around the structure. Make sure the shoes you bring are comfortable to walk in and easy to remove. Additionally, the walkways get quite hot with the afternoon sun, so, a pair of socks is not a bad idea.

Going back to our trip. Our 14 hour direct flight was cancelled a few weeks before our trip. We were placed on a connecting flight with a 3 hour layover in Munich, which was one chaotic airport.

When we finally landed in New Delhi, at midnight, my friend Manisha and her brother Mohit managed to find us amongst the masses. They brought us to their parent’s home, where we were immediately fed an amazing meal.

While in India, you can rent a car, take public transportation, take a taxi, or hire a car with a driver for a specific length of time. I highly recommend the latter because it is not crazy expensive. The Indian drivers are excellent and the roads have many more lanes then tourists are accustomed to. If you come from the US, driving on the left side of the road is challenging given all the motorbikes, “tuk-tuks”, pedestrians and cattle one encounters in the travel lanes.

New Delhi and surrounding area (7/30)

Having hired a car, we started our sightseeing with a trip to the Kahn market. This is a posh retail location that was established in 1951 and named after freedom fighter Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan.

In addition to great shopping I saw what I thought was a chipmunk but was actually

This cute little four-legged creature is more diminutive than the squirrel of North America, has three stripes and looks a lot like a chipmunk but is actually a squirrel.

The Common Myna bird is commonly found in open woodlands but has adapted quite well to urban environments such as this one in the Kahn Market area in New Delhi, India. They tend to be popular cage birds owing to their singing or “speaking” ability. City dwellers are less enamored by their presence as they contribute to building water damage with nests that block gutters and drain pipes. This photo appears to be of a proud and not terribly shy female who clearly is not bothered by what her neighbor’s may think. But to be honest, the obvious physical differences between the males and females is quite slim.

After the Khan Market we took a ride to the Gautambuddha Nagar Botanical Garden in Noida where we saw..

The Red-wattled Lapwing with its long yellow legs, black breast,black crown, red wattles on its face, contrasted by a white patch that runs from its face to its underparts, is truly a beautiful creature.

This Egret sports a straight, bright yellow-orange dagger-like bill, is about 20” tall (50 cm) has burnt umber plumage on the top of his head, front of his neck and his back, which contrasts to the stark white plumage on the rest of his body. This bird can be found throughout the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate zones of the Indian Subcontinent and Asia.

And this very appropriate Prayer for the Forest

I am the warmth of your home in the cold winter night and the protective shade when summer’s sun is strong. (Click on the photo for a larger image and to read the entire poem)

The Architecture of India’s houses of worship, with careful attention to detail. is absolutely magnificent. The Iskoon Krishna temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha, is one such place. Beautiful.

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