Its been a while!!!
Unfortunately, life got in the way and we were unable to keep up to speed with posting. We have some amazing experiences we want to share with you as we’ve still been travelling. So, this blog is all about our experience in India! As an Indian you’d expect that India was no big deal for us and that it was just a routine trip down to visit the family. Well let me tell you it was far from it!
It was my first time in India and my husband had been several times, before he met me. Even though my husband knew what it was like to travel to India, I don’t think anyone can tell you what its like until your there and each time is different. India is so fast paced and is always changing and growing. After a long 13-hour flight (Qater Airways) from the UK we had finally landed in India. I remember being so tired, I just wanted to get to a nice cool place where I could relax. Well was I in for a ride!
As we had gone with my mother-in-law, she had family there which made it easier to get a pick up from the airport to their home. Getting our luggage was a breeze there were no complications there at the airport, we did however find that they do try and stop you to check your luggage for no reason, however we just skipped past them in the mad rush and luckily managed to escape the extra luggage check. I thought to my self ‘oh that was easy’ touché to my mother-in-law for helping us dodge that one! Anyway, my mother-in-law had arranged for her family members to pick us from the airport. We must have searched for so long as I didn’t know who I was looking for and my mother-in-law hadn’t seen her family in a very long time. As well as adjusting to the weather which was like a warm blanket wrapped around you, we were pacing up and down outside the airport trying to look for these family members. Every now and then I would be like ‘oh they are looking at us, is that them’? Not forgetting there was a crowd of people all staring at us and taxi drivers trying to ask us if we needed a lift. Eventually we found them, and we did the obligatory traditional greetings as you do, my mother-in-law introducing me as the daughter in law. Happy that we finally met them we made our way into the cars and off we went.
So, I felt like I had been placed in the middle of a crowd of people on a Black Friday Sale trying to find a bargain and go, the traffic was made, all I could hear was horns everywhere, and oh wait, COWS!
We drove from Mumbai airport to my mother-in-laws home town in Surat, it was a long drive (about 4 hours) we had a few stop overs at restaurants but then we carried on. Finally, we arrived.
Instead of staying at a hotel we wanted to experience the simple life living how the locals do. We were greeted by my husband’s grandma and my husband’s aunty, they looked very happy to see us, and straight away we felt so welcomed. It felt like a relief seeing the family and being able to relax. The home was in a quiet village type area, sandy, dusty and small alley way type streets.
After settling in and spending a few days in Surat, we had planned an itinerary for travelling to different parts of India. As we had family in India the locals had arranged everything for us, however I would advise you to always book your own travel and make sure you plan your own itinerary, you will probably understand why, later on in the blog.
We wanted to make the whole experience epic and unforgettable. The first leg of our trip started off making our way from Surat to Amritsar. We trusted the locals and took the train all the way up to Amritsar station. In my opinion the train was a tough way to travel, you have to be prepared to be put out of your comfort zone but then again, we got to experience the real India life. Imagine your self being stripped of all your material belongings and being at your most simplest. This was absolutely unexpected as travelling in trains in the UK is usually kept in order, even at the busiest times.
The trains in India are like being on the busiest trains in London, but people are hanging on to the sides after the doors have closed! I soon realised that this is probably going to be the theme of the journey – rushing, pushing and chaos.
Unexpectedly, it took us a while to get to Amritsar as at the time the weather was dangerous and turns out the trains couldn’t move fast enough as there was thick grey smog that had come down. This was due to a combination of pollution and cold weather the train slowed down for 6-7 hours of our journey. Normally the train journey is half the time. We still made the most of this delay and on the way we saw the most incredible views and people.
As we arrived late morning in Amritsar we were so hungry, there was food offered on the train but as we were not acclimatised yet we didn’t really eat their food. I would recommend taking ‘safe foods’ such as biscuits, crisps and plenty of bottled water with you before boarding your journey if you chose to travel by train. We were greeted by another family friend who took us to a local food place that made the freshest food. We had something called Kulcha, this is like a hot crispy layered pancake, spread with loads of butter served with lentils, it was so moreish and I could have eaten 10 of these at the time.
Now that our bellies were full, we had enough energy for what we were about to experience.
We made our way to the Wagah Border, this is where the ceremony of lowering the flags happens. The ceremony takes place on the border between Wagah, Paksitan and Attari, India. The ceremony takes place every evening before sunset so be quick to watch and experience one of the world’s most famous military ceremonies. The experience was something out of this world, it had us standing, feeling energised and proud. The entire stadium was chanting and roaring which truly takes over your soul and naturally makes you want to join in. Keep this as a number 1 on your things to do whilst in Amritsar.
As the sun had set the most beautiful and spiritual way of ending this leg of our journey was to view and visit the Golden Temple (Sri Harmandir Sahib). We took a cycle tuk-tuk which stopped off at the Wagah Border car park. We then travelled by car for 1 hour to the temple. Once we arrived at the temple we were walking for a few minutes when my husband was approached by a man who offered an orange handkerchief type cloth to cover his hair, this is mandatory before entering the temple. The women should also have a scarf covering their hair, they won’t let you in if the scarf or cloth hasn’t been worn, this is done for respect, in a place of worship. To avoid delays its handed to already have a scarf or cloth with you before you start your journey to the Golden Temple. We carried on walking through a bazar where you can shop for souvenirs or clothes.
After the bazaar there it was, exactly how I had seen in pictures the most astonishing view of the temple was there, in front of a pool of calming waters with a reflection of the Golden Temple.
This view took over my soul as I gasped in amazement, putting my hands together and saying a prayer made me feel at peace.
As we walked up to the temple you see a shallow ring of water around the entrance which you step in to wash your feet before entering. As we walked in, I saw prayers taking place around the most unimaginable amount of gold, it was a moment that almost gives you no other words apart from ‘wow’.
And finally, at the end you are offered a religious sweet which is placed into your hand and you eat it straight away.