Travel Photo Diary: The Mist & Magic of India
From visiting Sikh kitchens and the bustling hub of Asia’s largest spice markets in Delhi to seeing tigers in the wild in Ranthambhore or pulling back the curtain on Mumbai and lazing about in Goa, your time spent in India is guaranteed to be full of variety. Distinct cultures side-by-side, think Hindu temples, mosques and churches coexisting on the same city block. Travel only a very short distance and you will see some eclectic terrain from chaotic epicentres to national parks, lakeside cities and beachside states.
Join us on our latest blog post which is a photo diary of travels through India. Find out more about highlights from a private journey through this land of mist and magic, Crooked Compass style...
As anyone who has seen The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel knows, Indian weddings are not just any ordinary celebration. A traditional wedding in India usually lasts an average of three days and is a colourful, music-filled affair that spares no expense when it comes to food or drink.
For travellers, attending an Indian wedding when simply visiting the country is not something you should expect. However, now thanks to a new Indian start-up, you can purchase admission to a traditional Indian wedding and enjoy the revelry like a local. The idea is to help Indian couples that may need a bit of cash for the event and help travellers experience something very unique.
Taking a dip in the 23 theerthams (holy water bodies) in and around Ramanathaswamy Temple is an integral part of washing away sins. All are inside the temple premises except for Agnitheertham, which is located at the sea a short walk, just before the temple's east gate. It's customary to bathe in all the theerthams before worshipping the deity and bathing must be done in a set order, as directed by signs, starting at Agnitheertham first.
It's believed that Sita bathed in the sea at that spot and offered prayers to Lord Shiva. Lord Agni (the fire god) also appeared there to convince Ram that Sita had been faithful to him while held captive by Ravan. You will be required to change out of your wet clothes after bathing in the theerthams at the temple in order to enter the inner sanctum where the deity is, so make sure to pack some dry clothes.
Spice markets are a window onto the history and culture of a place. Home to the largest wholesale spice market in Asia, Khari Baoli sits near the Red Fort in Old Delhi. Dating back to the 16th century, the stalls here sell spices, nuts and dried fruits from across northern India and Afghanistan. You’ll find everything from dried mulberries to khoya, a milk solid used in cakes and desserts, as well as classics like turmeric and allspice. The alleyways here are narrow and the pace frenetic, so be sure not to dawdle.
Khari Baoli is essential for foodies, market lovers, and photographers visiting Old Delhi. Some tips to make your visit more enjoyable: Wear comfortable footwear as Old Delhi visits require a fair bit of walking. Be sure to dress appropriately and avoid exposed shoulders, mid-riffs, or legs. Most importantly, be prepared for a culture shock, especially if you are visiting India for the first time.
Every day, Shri Harmandir Sahib, known worldwide as the Golden Temple, serves upwards of 50,000 free meals to whoever shows up. This beautiful gold-coated gurudwara (temple) in Amritsar is the most sacred place for Sikhs. It’s both the spiritual and temporal centre of the religion, and thousands of pilgrims, tourists, and followers arrive daily to worship, pray, volunteer and soak up the peaceful vibes.
The Sikh religion rests on several important values, including equality and community service. To that end, every gurudwara offers langar, a free communal kitchen. The langar at Golden Temple follows this tradition on a big scale, in keeping with the size of the gurudwara and the number of visitors it gets. You have to see the communal kitchen to believe it. The huge size of the rooms, cooking vats, mounds of food, plus the numbers of people prepping, cooking, and cleaning is a sight to behold. It’s virtually a small army at work, and many of them are volunteers.
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