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Top surprises when visiting India

Our very own HR manager Claire recently stepped out of her comfort zone and travelled to India for the first time on our Rajasthan - Land of the Maharajahs trip. How did her first experience live up to expectations?

“As is tradition before leaving for an Explore training trip I was given plenty of advice for mine and my daughter’s first Asia/India trip. ‘An assault on the senses’ sums up perfectly what I was told about and I was feeling nervous about how I would react, as well as how I would fare as part of a group.

What everyone had said before I arrived was completely true. The tuks tuks, rubbish and throngs of people that greet you in Old Delhi is a shock. But then watching the sunrise over the Taj Mahal was breath-taking, the mirroring mosques and the shimmering marble left us all agog.

A complete and surprising contrast was Udaipur, the last stop of the trip. It had a totally different feel from the rest of our visits – if it weren’t for the cows wandering around you’d think you were in Venice. Beautiful arched bridges crossed the lakes and restaurants were perched right at the water’s edge. It was a great place to soak up the atmosphere and stroll around the local craft markets.

Another highlight for me was the people. From the family run hotel in Udaipur with each family member working in a different part of the hotel and their family photos hanging on the walls to the school trip at Fatehpur Sikri who simply couldn’t wait to bound over to us and say hello, we were welcomed everywhere with warmth and smiles. This went for our Explore Leader too, Hari, who was knowledgeable, friendly and brought the group together effortlessly.

Before I visited, most people said you simply can’t describe India, and I don’t think you can. It’s incomparable to the West, so don’t try to! One outing perfectly sums up how off the wall India can be. We were on our way to Ghaneroa when Hari mentioned a nearby modern temple. After seeing plenty throughout the trip we were definitely intrigued. Before we got off the coach he explained that the man from the local village had tragically died in a motorcycle crash. Following his death his motorbike would mysteriously turn itself on, on his birthday and anniversary of his death. The villagers we so amazed by this, they built a temple in his honour along with his beat up motorbike encased in a Perspex box and draped with flowers!

After feeling nervous before my first India visit I now can’t wait to get back and explore more – and hopefully experience all the beautiful and bonkers stuff India has to offer.

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