We’ve heard all kinds of things about India long before deciding to explore it by ourselves. We listened to the stories of our Indian friends during the time that we spent on cruise ships and we spoke to travelers who visited India and who felt in love with it after traveling in the country long enough to understand it well. But we met also people that left India with negative impressions, people that could not adapt to the local habits and who described their visit as a “cultural shock”.
India is obviously not just another country in Asia, it has so many particularities that clearly separate it from any other country on the continent.
We can say now that India felt different while walking on its crowded streets than what we imagined before we arrived in Bangalore. And, with every new place that we traveled to, it seemed like there were more traffic, more garbage and more people trying to scam tourists. The picture that a traveler leaves with after a journey through India is definitely different than the one described by any travel agent or shown in any travel magazine.
But perhaps “different” is not the right word to be used and “incomplete” is the one describing better the expectations of a first-time traveler in the country. People might tell you about the garbage and the smell, about the heavy traffic and the usually dirty surroundings. India is far from being a perfect country but it is for sure a beautiful destination. The diversity of landscapes that change dramatically while traveling from one side of the country to another, the mixed and strong traditions that survived for millenniums, the fascinating history and its rich culture make India a unique place to be.
Unfortunately, beauty comes many times together with ugliness. We felt in love with India at the beginning but happily planned our escape at the end of our stay. When traveling in such a big country, one’s perception can vary very much from another’s, depending on where and how someone wants to experience India. We slept in luxurious rooms but we had also very simple accommodations… even spent a night out in the desert, with no roof above our heads, just the stars.
We ate in top-rated restaurants but always happily tried the street food whenever we got the chance to taste something new. We met amazing people that made our trip unforgettable but got in contact with many more that wanted to scam us.
We left India with a confusing mix of emotions, with the need to disconnect from it but also with regrets and the promise to return in the future.
We enjoyed some of its traditions that we took part in, the natural beauty, the energy of its people, the diversity of experiences, the amazing food and we’ve been surprised by the apparently chaotic but still functional social system.
India will probably break your heart if you have eyes to see the poverty around you, might disgust you and, eventually, convince you to leave with the wish to never return. But it might also steal your heart and make you fall in love with the things that define it as a truly incredible place.
More incredible pictures of India you will find in our Gallery.