Places we visited: Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Kochi (Ft. Cochin and
Ernakulam), Alleppey, Mumbai

Length of stay: 25 days

High point: Sunrise boat ride on the Ganges River in Varanasi, laying eyes on the Taj
Mahal for the first time as we peeked through the bars of our train window,
Rajasthani cuisine--especially the food at Ganesh Restaurant in Jaipur, rooftop yoga in
Pushkar, surviving overnight bus rides in India, enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere
prevalent in southern India, catching up with our close friend, Brent Jaye, for two days
on Vypeen Island, cruising the Kerala backwaters on an overnight houseboat,
enjoying numerous conversations with Indian families on long train rides

Low Point: Erin receiving unwanted attention from men in Jaipur, seeing one woman
bludgeon another woman with a stick on our bus from Udaipur to Delhi, Jarrod getting
sick from squid in Cochin, sleeping in a disgusting hotel near the Delhi Airport, sum of
all our dealings with dishonest auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, seeing the mass
poverty in Mumbai

Local food/flavor: Indian Cuisine..quite possibly our favorite cuisine in the world:  
chana masala, gobi masala, vegetable koftas, paneer butter masala, coconut curry
(Kerala specialty),  aloo masala, lassis, masala chai, vegetable biryani, samosas,
chapati, puri, naan, parathas, pakoras.  We can go on and on!

Language: Many...Hindi, English, and numerous state languages.

Currency: Indian Rupee

Unique Sights: It's India, everything is unique! Varanasi's burning ghats (where
Hindus are cremated), witnessing the Hindu pilgrims at the Ganges River performing
puja (prayers) to the rising sun, watching the ganga aarti ceremony (ceremony to the
sun) at sunset on the Ganges River, seeing Erin get mobbed by a crowd of women at
the Taj Mahal-each one wanting to have her picture taken individually with Erin,  
watching the locals in Udaipur celebrate the Diwali festival with elaborate street
decorations, lights and fireworks, the visual rainbow of colors on each and every
street in India created by the beautiful saris that Indian women wear

Purchases: Clothing, Ayurvedic products, leather journals

Things we did:
  • Witnessed some of the most sacred Hindu religious activities taking place in
    Varanasi along the Ganges River, including cleansing one's self from sin by
    bathing in the river and also the cremation of corpses and the scattering of the
    ashes in the river.
  • Took two sunrise boat trips on the Ganges River to get a firsthand glimpse of
    the multitude of everyday activities that take place in or along the banks of the
    river, including washing laundry, brushing teeth, practicing yoga, washing
    buffaloes, playing cricket, meditating, begging and selling everything from
    flowers to paan to peanuts.
  • Experienced the graceful beauty of the ganga aarti ceremony that takes place
    every evening in Varanasi on the Ganges river. This is a ceremony to pay
    respects to the sun.
  • Watched the elaborate cremation ceremony at the burning ghats in Varanasi,
    including the final cleansing of the body in the Ganges River and the burning of
    the body on the banks of the river.
  • Traveled by second class train from Varanasi to Agra and experienced all the
    craziness that this entails including the extremely crowded train station
    resembling a refugee camp with people sprawled and sleeping on every inch of
    ground, the mad rush and crush of people trying to be the first to board the
    train, being startled by the loud and hypnotic voice of a singing child as he
    literally somersaulted his way down the aisle of our train sporting heavy make-
    up and adorned with bells as his mother followed beating a drum and soliciting
    tips for his performance, staring in disbelief and sadness as a young boy meekly
    crawled along the dirty floor of the train cleaning under the seats and feet of
    travelers with a rag and a brush.
  • Enjoyed the serenity and beauty of the Taj Mahal and surrounding grounds
  • Got mobbed at the Taj Mahal by groups of Indians from small villages who do
    not see Westerners very often
  • Visited the Amber Fort outside of Jaipur
  • Enjoyed the great food and conversation with the owners of Ganesh
    Restaurant located atop the old city walls of Jaipur
  • Reveled in the more relaxed small town of Pushkar, enjoying shopping, yoga,
    and cooking classes
  • Spent a full night without sleep on a sleeper bus from Pushkar to Udaipur due
    to the crazy driver and rough roads
  • Visited Udaipur's famous sights, including the city palace and the floating Lake
    Palace Hotel
  • Saw a performance of traditional Rajasthani dance at an ancient haveli in
  • Enjoyed the annual Diwali celebration as Udaipur came alive with bright lights,
    traditional decorations painted on the sidewalks, and happy families strolling
    the streets and visiting the temple
  • Survived one incredibly noisy night in Delhi, as locals continued to celebrate
    Diwali by setting off firecrackers. If we didn't know what was going on there is a
    good chance we would have thought the city was under attack as the
    explosions were so frequent and so close to our room that the walls shook.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the slower pace of life and the laid-back personalities of the
    people in southern India in Fort Cochin as we waited for a close friend to meet
    us there
  • Spent two days living the good life on Vypeen Island with our friend Brent Jaye.  
    Enjoyed non-stop conversation on every topic imaginable as we cruised through
    the canals on a boat, strolled along the beach and lazed the day away in a tree
  • Were entertained and a bit frightened by a traditional Kathakali performance in
    Ernakulam which included the most bizarre facial contortions we've ever seen
  • Enjoyed an authentic Ayurvedic massage which the state of Kerala is well
    known for
  • Hired a houseboat for a two day cruise into the Kerala backwaters. In addition
    to pretty luxurious accommodations for a boat, we also had a personal chef
    who made some of the best food we had in all of India.  This boat trip was one
    of our favorite experiences in India.
  • Took in the beautiful scenery of Kerala and Karnataka during our 27 hour train
    ride to Mumbai
  • Had an action packed day touring Mumbai which included seeing Chowpatty
    beach, visiting the Crawford and Colaba markets, touring the Gandhi museum,
    and doing a little shopping
India Overview
Taj Mahal
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