India is quite possibly one of the most jaw-dropping, heart-warming, senses-heightening trips you can ever take in your life. Here’s our take.
Visiting India for the first time while traveling onboard the luxurious train Deccan Odyssey, along the Maharashtra and Goa states, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And a trip to India is not complete if you don’t visit the Taj Mahal — one of the seven new wonders of the world. Found on the south bank of the Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal is truly a magical place to see.
This ivory-white marble mausoleum inlaid with semi-precious stones (including jade, crystal, lapis lazuli, amethyst, and turquoise) is known as a symbol of love. Built in honor of the third wife of the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, it is one of the most outstanding examples of Mughal architecture, which combines Indian, Persian and Islamic influences.
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, it remains one of the world’s most celebrated edifications and a stunning symbol of India’s rich history and culture. Inside the Taj Mahal, it adorns an octagonal marble chamber with carvings and semi-precious stones, housing the memorial of Mumtaz Mahal.
India also houses the most visited place in the world. While many people may think is the Taj Mahal, in fact, the title is held, according to The World Book of Records (WBR), by The Golden Temple in India.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, is a sacred site that holds a lot of historical and interesting facts, plus the largest free community kitchen in the world. Built with pure gold, this holy Sikh temple is one of the most significant symbols of Mughal and Indian architectural containing hand-painted mosaics and patterns that will captivate and take your breath away. As a symbol of love and acceptance, regardless of religion, gender, economic status, or ethnicity everyone is welcome in The Golden Temple. During your visit, you can enjoy a man-made lake around the temple, known as “Amrit Sarovar” or “Pool of Holy Nectar.” Here, females and males can bathe inside the holy waters of the pool and even drink from it.
Like in most temples in India, you need to dress modestly. Women need to avoid revealing outfits and skirts should be below the knees. As a symbol of respect, to enter the temple, all visitors must cover their hair regardless of their gender; therefore, tourists have available on-site complimentary wrap scarf to cover it that can be handed back on the way out. As a non-negotiable requirement, shoes are not permitted inside and visitors store them in a secure and dedicated place around the area.
The Golden Temple operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many locals and tourists visit around 4.30 a.m., when the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is carried from the Akal Takht to the main shrine. The first order of the day is around 5 a.m., while the last one is at 9.45 p.m.
The temple also has the largest Langar (kitchen) in the world. Here a free meal is served to over 100,000 daily visitors and on special holidays such as Diwali, even doubles up to 200,000 visitors. The ingredients are donations from the congregation and freshly prepared by volunteers with a high amount of love, care, and hygiene. Each volunteer helps each other in their assigned tasks.
If you visit India, this unique and blissful experience will surely change your life forever.