Checking India off my Bucket-list
This summer, I traveled to India to visit two of my closest friends. The country was always one of the top destinations on my bucket list. Not only did its culture intrigue me, but so did its ancient architecture and beautiful landscapes. Visiting India was an amazing experience, here were some of my favorite moments.
Driving Through Karnataka State
When traveling to a new country, driving can be a perfect way to get a lay of the land and understand your surroundings. When I arrived in India, I first flew to Bangalore, which is the capital of the Southern Karnataka State. In Bangalore, I stayed at my friend's house and together we explored one of the most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities in the country. Although navigating the streets by foot was a lot of fun (especially when trying to cross through traffic), I also found that driving gave me a better idea of how the city functioned. Whether it was in an Uber or in an Auto Rickshaw, driving through Bangalore was loads of fun.
During my stay in Southern India, we also booked a bus tour to some of the most ancient temples and palaces of Karnataka State. Driving outside the city opened my eyes to the vast landscapes and rugged hills of the region. As we made our way towards the city of Mysore, I gained a deeper understanding of the way of living in Southern India. We dined at local restaurants and ventured through little alley ways in search of the famous essential oils of Mysore city. During our bus trip, I also observed the respect that was payed to animals crossing the streets. When we arrived at an old temple outside Mysore, I watched as the bus driver switched road lanes in order to give space and priority to a crossing cow. It was quite beautiful to observe this appreciation towards the animal.
If you visit India, I highly recommend you to either book a tour or rent a car and explore your surroundings. Taking a drive outside the big cities gave me a deeper glimpse into the Karnataka State.
Visiting Hindu Temples
One of my most memorable experiences in Southern India, was visiting a Hindu temple. Since I had never been inside one before, this was a completely new discovery for me. While on our trip through Karnataka State, we stopped to visit several old temples. Before entering, we were each instructed to take off our shoes and set them aside. Since it was monsoon season at the time, we had to walk barefoot through streams of rushing rainwater. When we stepped into the temple, it felt nice to dry our feet on the smooth stoned floors. It was a special feeling walking around the sacred temple with my feet directly touching the stone. In a way, it brought me closer to my natural surroundings.
As we walked through the temple, I marveled at the statues of the different Hindu gods. Each god was adorned with beautiful carvings and colors. It was very beautiful to witness as people prayed and cherished the different gods. With the sound of light drumming echoing through the stone walls, I found myself relaxing to the serenity of the temple.
Eating Chaat: an Indian sort of Tapas
When you travel to India, one of the best parts of the trip will of course be the food. Since Indian food is one of my favorites, this trip really was a culinary treat. I have had quite a few chicken curries and masala dishes over the years, but never did they taste as good as in India. The fresh spices and fabulous blend of flavors in the dishes, had my mouth watering with every bite. The thought and creativity that went into these dishes amazed me.
After staying in Bangalore, we flew over to Delhi to meet our other friend. As soon as we arrived, we were brought to a Chaat restaurant for an afternoon snack. Generally served as an hors d'oeuvre at roadside vendors, Chaat consists of famous South Asian snacks that can be eaten between meals. To get a better idea, I compare Chaat to something like Spanish Tapas which also come in small portions. In India, eating Chaat is the perfect way to gather friends and enjoy a tasty happy hour treat.
An Unforgettable Experience
These were just a few of my favorite memories in India, but there are many, many more! Because I stayed a little less than two weeks in the country, it was enough to gain a general impression. However, there is so much more to discover in this beautiful country. I cannot wait for my next adventure to India.