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Why do I love India? I fell in love with India a long time ago. I think it had something to do with visiting a neighbour’s house as a child, seeing her Ganesh shrine set up in the front room and hearing sitar music as she wafted about the house barefoot, jingling and dazzling in ankle bracelets and saris, in our small, grey, Welsh town.
Later in my life I discovered Indian food, eating and cooking it, and started reading voraciously about all things Indian. I HAD to go there, to see and experience India with all of my senses.
India is my favourite travel destination. We’ve visited many times with kids and without. We’ve been tourists and travellers visiting India, exploring, seeking the great sites and the incredible diversity.
India is my favourite destination, but it’s not an easy destination.
India Can be Challenging
Even for me, an Indiaphile, travelling in India can be challenging. Sometimes I have moments when I hate the place, the scrums of queues, the filth and squalor of some train stations, the mistreatment of human beings, the craziness that is all around you.
Most travellers in India swear they will never return at least once during their trips, it’s normal. You sometimes get the feeling that many see you, the foreigner, as a money-making opportunity, someone to be ripped off.
I can’t put my finger on exactly why I love India, colour always springs to mind, but it’s also the history, splendour, spirituality and diversity of the place, from the beaches of the south to the incredible Himalayas.
I think it’s just so different to a British norm in every way, climate, wildlife, people, traditions. I think that’s why I travel, to find the different.
The positives of travel in India far outweigh the negatives and keep me wanting to go back for more, often within hours of leaving. I know some people just won’t go there. I wish they would, to see for themselves what it’s really like and challenge their preconceptions.
India is a huge country of enormous regional variation, you should be able to find what you’re after somewhere.
I Love India so Much I’m Taking My Children
Next year I’m taking my young children travelling around India, it makes me a little nervous, but I know India well enough to feel fairly comfortable with our decision.
We’ll have to scale it down, not take on the whole country as we have done before, maybe upgrade from 2nd class non AC to an AC sleeper carriage.
We’ll pick a few highlights, certainly Kochin, Goa and the Kerala beaches, they would be easy with children. Maybe Rajasthan and most certainly the Taj Mahal. I’ve been to India several times and never seen it.
If the going gets tough weary travellers can retreat to Goa, possibly my favourite part of India. Certainly the easiest part for us delicate Westerners to take on. It’s a beautiful place to chill out and just soak it all up for a week or two. I’m a sucker for Anjuna Market.
This is what I love about India, summed up in photos by a brilliant and gifted photographer, Gaurav Kataria. This is some of what you see as you make your way around the country, things that were weird to you become normal, beauty is everywhere. I hope you enjoy Gaurav’s photos as much as I do.
My Mum says I should have been born Indian. She thinks I’m weird to love India so much. What do you think? Love it or hate it? If any of you have travelled India with your children I’d love to hear any ideas, favourite places for children, tips on making India easier on us. I need all the help I can get to plan our first family India trip.
UPDATE: We have now spent our first month travelling around India with children. It was an amazing experience, but as expected, we had a couple of rough patches. We’ll be back for more Indian explorations later. If you’d like to read our India travel blog, start here with Arriving and Adjusting or maybe read about stunning Fort Kochi or relaxing in Beautiful Kovalam.
If you would like to see more of Gaurav Kataria’s work, click the link for his Facebook Page.