Our adventure started on the first day of this trip to India to visit the Himashel Pradesh region which is situated at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. We travelled first by taxi and then by coach to Heathrow Airport to catch our flight to Delhi. This was not our first visit to India, as some years previously we had been on the “Golden Triangle” which started at Delhi.
We were delighted when our leader, Annie, introduced herself to us whilst we were waiting to board our plane (Our Rambler Luggage Labels identified us).
On arrival in Delhi Airport we were soon at our hotel and were pleased to go to bed to prepare ourselves for what was to be one of the most unforgettable experiences of our life.
We were introduced to New Delhi in a small comfortable bus there meeting Arjun, our handsome Indian Guide, who delighted in showing us Temples, Monuments and the Ghandi Museum.
Following a pleasant train ride to Amritsar the next day, with the opportunity to begin to get to know the nine other members, of the group we arrived at our hotel.
The following day we were driven in what was to be our transport for most of the tour, very comfortable Toyota SUV’s. There were two other similar vehicles and we were allocated to always ride in the number three car with Annie our leader and Ken, with our driver being Naresh, and were introduced to Amit, who would be our Indian guide until we returned to Delhi. Our drivers proved to be extremely skilled in negotiating their way through the congested traffic, which was interspersed with cows wandering freely along the roads. We soon got used to the use of the horns, which the drivers appear to use as a language to inform and agree with other drivers whose turn it is to move into the traffic flow.
The next day we started by visiting “The Golden Temple” the holiest of the Sikh Temples, which was to be one of the highlights of our trip. We had to take off our shoes and socks and walk barefoot, also covering our heads throughout this visit.
The temple was indeed golden and glowed in the bright sun as we first viewed it across the holy waters. We were privileged to be able to visit both the kitchens and the dining areas to see the food being prepared, eaten and cleared away. This daily ritual is carried out by volunteers who feed all hungry pilgrims/visitors to the temple.
Our next stop was at Dharamshala where we would be introduced to the concept of Buddhism and meet some of the many Tibetans in exile who now live in the area. We first saw their colourful “Prayer Flags” in a forest on our way to walk through villages and visit temples. Subsequently we visited the Tibetan Children’s Village and Craft Centre where the Tibetan National Identity is maintained for future generations.
We were soon able to appreciate the broad knowledge and experience of Amit, our Indian guide who delighted us with his explanations of all we saw before us. We learnt that his religion is Hindu when he talked about his Gods and his beliefs when we visited Hindu Temples. He was also able to tell us about the customs and beliefs of all the religions in India and how it affects the daily lives of the Indian people we were to meet. Annie, our Leader, was also very knowledgeable about India as she also leads tours in Southern India, which we delighted in hearing about, as well as about her other experiences learnt in a lifetime spent in travelling.
We continued on our travels across Himashel Pradesh by both the SUV’s and train, including mountain routes – first staying at Manali, then Shimlar the capital of the region before returning to Delhi.
On our walks, we enjoyed amazing scenery and took particular pleasure in walking through the many villages and having the opportunity of observing the people living their lives before our eyes. Without exception they allowed us to take photographs and showed delight in looking at pictures of themselves and especially their children.
Wherever we walked, our Indian guide would be in the front, with Annie, our leader, bringing up the rear to ensure that no one was left behind. At all times throughout our holiday we felt extremely well looked after, with our individual welfare being of prime importance. The Indian people welcomed us at all times and seemed pleased that we were visiting their country of which they were justifiably proud.
This holiday to the Indian sub-continent more than met our expectations. We were given the opportunity of learning about the different Indian religions and ways of life. At all times we were able to marvel at the magnificent views surrounding us.