Agra Fort

India: Sacred and Golden

23 May 2018

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The promise of ancient palaces, poignant tradition and an incredibly foreign culture has lured visitors to India for centuries. Her dazzling array of humanity is as astounding as her immense fortresses, and down every dusty street there is an experience waiting to wow you.

Travel Associates advisers share their unforgettable experiences exploring India’s Golden Triangle and sacred River Ganges with Uniworld.

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Mother and child in India smile for camera
India is the second most populated country in the world, with over a billion inhabitants

Local Life

The locals in India will be the most memorable part of your trip. Everywhere you go, you will met by the local children who will follow you around, always with a cheeky grin and a gratifying willingness to pose for photos.

Even in the most rural parts of the country, people take great pride in their appearance and cleanliness. The colours are amazing - fresh, vibrant hues against a dusty backdrop. Wander through rustic villages, and spot people cleaning their teeth outside their homes, or sweeping their stoop, no matter how humble the dwelling.

On our way into Jaipur we were held up in traffic by a couple of elephants, which were delaying the stream of tuk tuks and cars! Then on the road from Dehli to Agra we overtook a few camels. These are the types of authentic moments that inspire me to travel.. 

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Agra Fort, India
On a clear day you can see the Taj Mahal through the slits in the wall of Jodha Bai's palace in Agra Fort

Agra Fort

As you walk through the gates of this mighty, red stone fortress you are infused with a sense of history – its gigantic walls just ooze with the memory of events that have unfolded within. Inside it’s an Arabian Nights fairy tale of scalloped archways, delicate marble inlay and stately columns.

You could have walked the entire structure within ten minutes, but we spent hours gazing upon its beauty as we soaked up the tales told by our guide, whose passion for his home made the stories spring to life in my mind.

Jaipur - The Pink City

You can’t blame the world for being charmed by the pink city - its dusk-hued buildings and lively street scenes are a feast for the eyes. The longer you gaze at the Palace of the Wind, the more exquisite details you will fall in love with, especially when you realise this building is both functional and beautiful.

The architects designed an ingenious airflow through the lacy windows so that Indian ladies could watch the streets below while escaping the heat of the day.

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Palace of the Wind, Jaipur
The Palace of the Wind is shaped like the crown that adorns Lord Krishna's head

Inside the City Palace in Jaipur you will be enchanted by the gorgeous designs that enveloped the doors, resplendent with vibrant colours and incredible detail. Another surprising highlight for me was a museum that housed a huge assortment of historical weapons – hearing about their traditional uses gave us a spine-tingling sense of how different things were in times gone by.

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Taj Mahal
The name Taj Mahal means 'Crown of Palaces'

Taj Mahal

No matter how many photos you’ve seen, the Taj Mahal will steal your breath when you behold it for the first time.

The mausoleums out the front of the Taj Mahal are enchanting, with their spectacular architecture and white-trimmed pink stone, and when you see the view from the Great Gate, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away. This colossal entranceway frames a postcard scene over a seemingly endless pool, which leads to the magnificence of the Taj Mahal.

Cruising the Ganges

What was most memorable about the Uniworld cruise was sailing past the villages and seeing the locals bathing from the ghats in their bright saris or going about their daily lives.

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Ganges Village
The Ganges Basin is home to over 400 million people, the highest population of any river basin in the world

The entertainment and activities on board the ship further enhanced our experience of India. One night, a local troupe performed a traditional dance to their national anthem, which moved me to tears with its haunting beauty. Another night we enjoyed a Bollywood dance, and on one occasion we learned how to dress in saris, and paraded around the deck in our colourful ensembles.

At every single meal aboard the ship we had the chance to eat authentic Indian cuisine, and even had a cooking class in the galley. The chef was genuinely lovely and very attentive.


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Varanasi

Varanasi
Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world

Varanasi

Uniworld offers the option of extending your cruise to include Varanasi, a city in the northern state which is considered the spiritual centre of India. A Varanasi pilgrimage is a journey that every Indian seeks to make at least once in a lifetime, and we saw a constant stream of people bathing, drinking from, and relaxing in the water.

We witnessed several traditional ceremonies, including a few cremations, all of which were based around the waters of the Mother Ganges. You quickly realise that this river is the lifeblood and spiritual anchor for millions of people.


Travel Associates hosted a group of clients on this adventure through India with Uniworld, and our advisers have plenty more tales to tell! Get in touch with your adviser today.