Goodbye Nepal, Hello India!

 

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The group at the Taj Mahal

We started off our last day in Nepal with the news of a flight delay, which gifted us with a few more precious hours in our dear Kathmandu. Despite our woes, we were granted one last opportunity at our favorite café, Himalayan Java, where we feasted on cappuccinos and eggs. With both great excitement and anxiety, we then proceeded to the airport. Upon arrival however, we began to experience some setbacks.

We were hit with our first few cases of violent Delhi belly. The poor timing of this was uncanny, as we were standing in long, monotonous lines in a busy airport. Dread soon began to set in, even on our healthy company members, and though the airplane provided gorgeous views of high, misty mountains poking their heads through the clouds, we were sadly yanked from our high and forced headfirst into the crowded streets of Delhi. Exhilarating as it was, the company retired straight to its rooms upon arrival at lodging.

The next few days were spent exploring the crowded streets of Delhi. The city’s congestion was only mirrored by that of our own nasal passages, a result of the extreme smog, no doubt.

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Elliott, Meghan, Hayden, Mia and Annie at the Jama Masjid.
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Taking in the view from the top of the minaret at Jama Masjid.
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View of Red Fort from Tower at Jama Masjid.
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Jules, Marco and Charlotte on the minaret at Jama Masjid.
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Exploring the crowded streets in old Delhi.

The group made visits to the Red Fort, Jama Mashid (the largest Mosque in India), Jantar Mantar, (a historical astrological observatory), the national history museum, and more.

Days were rounded out with glorious feasts of masala and naan, and with full bellies we managed to get some much needed rest.

The following step in the group’s journey was to visit Agra for a chance to see the Taj Mahal. By noon of our travel day we were stuffed into our first sleeper car on an Indian train, an event the group had been anticipating for quite some time. Though crowded and stuffy we made it to Agra with ease, and after a sunset visit to Agra Fort, we set off to bed in preparation for a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal.

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Our first train ride in India, on the way from Delhi to Agra.

We spent hours contemplating the capacity of Shah Jahan’s love for his deceased wife. His passion was undoubtedly immense, as he spent more than 15 years and his entire family’s fortune on the construction to her tomb: a perfectly symmetrical masterpiece of Indo-Islamic architecture.

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The Taj Mahal
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Meghan at the Taj
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William at the Taj
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Elliott at the Taj

After a quick breakfast, the group then boarded a bus for Jaipur to meet our new host families and to commence the next leg of the journey.

After a 5 hour ride in a nicer-than-expected tour bus, we arrived in Jaipur to meet our new home stay families. Their air-conditioned homes and marble floors were greatly appreciated after standing in the hot sun. It was great to meet the home stay families, and everyone was very excited for the events of the coming days.

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Happy 21st Birthday, Simon!
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Marco, Hugh, and Augie dressed up by an enthusiastic server at a restaurant in Jaipur 

We started each morning with a rooftop yoga practice, followed by a survival Hindi language lesson.

Each evening, we spent time with our host families, either hanging out at home or going on adventures around town into the late evening.

To occupy ourselves for the daytime, we took numerous excursions to explore all that Jaipur had to offer.

Our first day was jam-packed to say the least! We visited the Amber fort, a massive fortress built up the side of a hill overlooking Jaipur.  Among the thousands of other foreigners, we toured the fort with a guide who shared a bit of the history with us. That afternoon, we toured a paper-making factory, a pottery workshop, and a block printing factory to see these artistic processes firsthand.

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Mia gives a try at block print art.
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Hayden with India leader Kiran
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The team at Amber Fort
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Visiting Hawa Mahal, in Jaipur.
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Watching pottery being made.
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Meghan and Hayden find their reflection in the Fort.

On our second day in Jaipur, our group went to maa mansa sakti, an astronomy park. The instruments were amazing, scattered around the concrete courtyard like pieces of a broken labrynth. It must have been amazing when the instruments were in use hundreds of years ago.

Later that day, we paid a visit to the theater and saw the latest Bollywood flick, Namaste England. What a show!

We had more opportunities to explore on our third and fourth days. I’m sure the tuk-tuk drivers are living in luxury with all the money we’ve spent ferrying ourselves to cafes, bazaars, hotels, etc.  Lunch was spent with the host families, followed by an impromptu excursion to a rooftop pool at a 5-star hotel.

We completed our night with a fantastic rooftop sitar concert with one of Rajasthan’s most well-known prodigal families.  It was a beautiful way to end the day.

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Enjoying a private rooftop sitar and tabla concert.
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The team with the musicians.

Our adventure on the fourth day was a visit to an artisan colony in a less affluent part of town.

After being greeted by an entourage of loud drums, colorfully dressed men, and a swarm of village children, we took part in demonstrations of various artisanal practices in the village. Although we felt slightly uncomfortable and out of place at times, it was an experience we won’t forget anytime soon.

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Hanging with the local musicians and dancers.
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Will joins in with the performances at the artist colony.
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Practicing our fine motor skills with the artisans.
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Brendan makes some new friends before saying goodbye at the artist colony.
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What fantastic performances!

 

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Meghan with one of the dancers.
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Elliott tries out puppetry.
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Entering the artist colony to the beat of a drum!

A small group visited another hillside Fort for the evening with fantastic views across all of Jaipur.

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Watching the sunset over Jaipur at a hilltop fort above Jaipur.

On our final day, we spent the morning at the art museum in Jaipur, followed by a nice lunch at the cafe.

A free afternoon left us some time to prepare for the 8 hour overnight train ride into Udaipur.

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Waiting for our train.
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Mike and Rishi (our India director) waiting with team for train to Udaipur.

Saying goodbye to the host families was difficult of course, but by 10:00 pm we were squished into the buses on our way to the train station.

Goodbye Jaipur, we’ll miss you!

Charlotte and Simon

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At Jama Masjid
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Mia tries out the horse dance.
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Elliott learns to embroider!
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The labyrinth-like stairways of the water works in the old city, near Amber Fort.
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Jantar Mantar Observatory
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India leadership team:  Rishi, Kiran, Mike, and Hayley

 

And more photos from our first ten days in India………………..

 

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Pointing to the Taj Mahal, from Agra Fort.

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2 thoughts on “Goodbye Nepal, Hello India!

Add yours

  1. OMG… something told me that I was doing something wrong. I have been looking at orientation pictures for a while now when I clicked the link from the email. Thank god I clicked BLOG and it opened me up to a whole new world! Holy crap Mia!!! Whoever the hell is taking these pictures …. they are AMAZING!!!!!! Straight out of a magazine. Love you and can’t wait to hear all about your adventures! Auntie Carllie

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