My first real steps outside of the United States landed on the dusty street outside of the Chattrapathi Shivaji International Airport located in the bustling city of India’s capital, Mumbai. I had just spent over 12 exhausting hours flying from Singapore to Mumbai. But as the unique scent of India filled my nostrils, I found myself instantly wide awake. We arrived in the dead of night, but there were still hundreds of miles to drive until our final destination in Pune would be reached. While the rest of my rather eclectic party – which included my friend Emalie, her father Prakash, who was born and raised in India, her mother Karen, and her sister Jessica – slept, I stared in awe out of the van windows as my first sights of India streaked into view. I was instantly struck by the undeniable poverty; sleeping people littered the streets, stray animals wandered aimlessly, and crumpled cardboard shelters formed shantytowns along the roadside. I had never seen such desolation before.
Our trip began with a week-long stay in a third story flat owned by Prakash’s family friend right in the heart of jam-packed Pune. I had barely recovered from my jetlag and swollen ankles before we began exploring the streets surrounding our modest apartment. Pune can be best summarized as chaotic beauty. The roads were alive with the dangerously erratic surge of rickshaw and pedestrian traffic and I was overwhelmed with the colorful excitement that was
We took advantage of the affordable PMT City Bus tour that not only transported us around the city, but also stopped at popular locations such as the Shaniwarwada mansion (http://www.virtualpune.com/html/localguide/attractions/html/shaniwar_wada.shtml). It was exciting to learn about Indian culture and religion through visits to temples, and equally interesting to gain knowledge of Mahatma Ghandi’s peaceful protest through presentations at the
As the first week of our trip concluded, I prepared myself for the whirlwind of travel to come. Our second leg of the trip was a 7 day journey stretching from northern New Delhi to southern Chennai and touching everywhere in between. No temple was left unvisited and no fort unexplored as we rampaged across
Highlights included the amazing stone architecture featured in the
We often strayed from the beaten path of tourist
For all those seeking to follow my footsteps, be prepared for an exhilarating journey that will forever change your life.
My visit to
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