2024 India

 

 

It’s been a long long time…

 

Completing some unfinished business, a revisit to the Country of Kings and adding some new experiences

Introduction

One of the oldest civilisations in the world, India is a mosaic of multicultural experiences. It’s the 7th largest country in the world, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south.

As you travel the expanse of the country, you are greeted by diverse nuances of cuisines, faiths, arts, craft, music, nature, lands, tribes and history. As the bustling old bazaars rub shoulders with swanky shopping malls, and majestic monuments, the traveller gets it all…

These are not my words but they come from the Ministry of Tourism website, however I could not agree more.

 

I still vividly remember that day in February 2020 when I returned from a day of sightseeing around Bhubaneswar in Odisha. Things started to unfold around the world, an outbreak of a new virus, called Covid-19. Not much was known yet but governments started to take precautions. India had already closed it’s borders for new incoming tourists but as I was already in the country I was not affected yet. But that was to change soon…

 

Once back in my hotel I checked my mail, only to find out there was a message from the next place where I would be staying for the next four days which stated that they cancelled my booking as there was a state directive tourists were no longer allowed to travel freely in Odisha… 

Minutes later I received another mail where the next resort cancelled my booking for the same reason.

Also I noticed that at a rapidly increasing rate flights were being cancelled so it seemed there was no other option than to abort my adventure and return home. So I booked a flight to Mumbai, changed my return flight and 2 days later I was home in a relative safe state waiting for the pandemic to unfold and hold the world in it’s grip….

For years it was impossible to return but finally in 2023 things slowly seemed to return to normal. Vladi and I discussed my desires and he encouraged me to return to India for yet another two month journey.

It did not take me long to decide my adventure had to start where the last one ended, in Odisha, where I wanted to complete my aborted tour and finally visit places I had missed out in 2019.

With Kolkata only a 7 hour train ride away I choose that chaotic city as my next destination to embrace the chaos for a couple of days. I had been there before in 2018 but there was too much I did not had the chance to see and experience yet. Time to delve in…

That experience will complete my tour of East India, time to fly to Delhi and visit my good friend Neha and her husband Anmol.

What next… Rhajastan is the neighbouring state. Having visited this mind-blowing destination in 2009, then together with Paul, we used a private taxi driver for the whole experience. At that time (It was our first India visit after all) we were still too insecure and shy to travel through this overwhelming country on our own. But things change and by now I do not longer hesitate to board a third class train or a local bus (However I still do prefer to travel the best class available).

Rajasthan with it’s abundance of forts, palaces and Haveli’s, Rajasthan, the country of kings… The more I thought about it the more I wanted to revisit this state, but this time the way the Indians do… By train and bus…

Sometimes the journey is the destination, an experience by itself, so instead of flying from Udaipur at the end of my Rajasthan tour to my next destination, Mumbai, I decided to take the night train for the 16 hour journey to the fourth state of this visit, Maharashtra

On my first visit in 2009 I absolutely hated Mumbai but after a repeated attempt I started to apprecciate the biggest city of India, a good excuse to enjoy it once again for a couple of days before I would travel on to the new Little Cove resort in Nashik for a couple of days of rest and relaxation.

 

The final leg of the tour will bring my to Goa with a stopover in Pune. Pune is considered the cultural capital of Maharashtra, and it was also the residence of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, better known as Osho, a guru and the founder and inspirer of a large spiritual movement in India, the US, Australia and Europe

Obviously I can not leave India without visiting my friend Pardeshi at my beloved Little Cove Yoga Resort. A final week of yoga and meditation before I will embark on the long journey home. A tradition restored that was so rudely abrupted in 2020. But now, like so many times already, this time my India adventure will finish at Little Cove. The perfect ending of an overwhelming adventure.

 

So here’s the blueprint of my upcoming trip. I still have to check out a lot of details but the framework for my journey is completed. Once I have returned the long process of editing the photo’s will start. During the progress I will publish chapter after chapter, but don’t be impatient…

 

 

The Odisha experience – Completing unfinished business

The Kolkata experience – Embracing the chaos

The Delhi experience – Meeting good friends

The Rajasthan experience A revisit to the country of kings

The Maharashtra experience – Old and new discoveries

The Goa experience – Time for yoga and meditation