Northern Outlook : April 9th 2014
NORTHERN OUTLOOK, APRIL 9, 2014 •what•when•where you'll fi nd it here! Advertising Promotion 6017668AB Indian tour highlights unforgettable North Canterbury’s Tom and Bronwyn Bayliss have returned from a 28-day tour of India and were delighted to share their diverse experiences. India is a land of extremes, physically, socially, culturally and historically. And, despite being a part of a tour group – a very sensible way to travel there, Bronwyn says – they were able to cover a lot of ground. The trip was efficiently organised through Harvey World Travel by Wendy Wu Tours and the couple could not praise the company enough. ‘‘They were just the best and the initial preparation was so thorough. Everything went without a hitch, organisation was precise, and the escorts provided were articulate and knowledgeable.’’ They flew Christchurch - Singapore - Delhi then bussed or flew between destinations such as Agra, Jaipur, Jodphur and Mumbai. Accommodation ranged from hotels to mansions and even a houseboat. There were many highlights, they say, but the following were memorable for different reasons: ‘‘On our visit to Bikaner, in North India, I was intrigued by the Rat Temple,’’ Tom says. This temple is home to about 20,000 rats. Out of all of these there are a few white rats which are considered to be especially holy. They are believed to be the manifestations of the goddess Karni Mata and her four sons. Followers believe that once they die, they too will be reincarnated as a rat and subsequently, when a rat dies, it will be reincarnated as a human again. Eating food that has been nibbled on by the rats is considered to be a high honour and it is regarded as auspicious if a rat runs across your feet. Even a glimpse of a white rat is considered promising and fruitful – and yes, Tom and Bronwyn did spot one. ‘‘I felt humbled by our visit to the ‘ghats’ in Varanasi,’’ Bronwyn says. ‘‘We felt we had a privileged glimpse into culturally significant events, in quite an amazing setting.’’ Here, on the banks of the Ganges, the Indians burn their dead, do their laundry, bathe, and carry out rituals and offerings, all next to each other. Being a part of a wedding was another interesting experience. ‘‘While here in New Zealand we generally have strictly adhered to guest lists, in India we were expected to be a part of the celebrations and it was considered a great honour by the bride if we contributed just a small item to the celebrations.’’ The couple say that Agra and the Taj Mahal, while famous as tourist destinations and impressive to see, were not quite as wonderful as expected. ‘‘We went early to avoid the crowds, but they were there in their numbers all the same.’’ There was somuch else to take in, in the 28 days – the famous Red Fort, Rathambar National Park, the Maharaja’s palace at Jaipur – and experiences to be remembered, including hair-raising rides in rickshaws and tuk tuks. Both Tom and Bronwyn commented on the enormous differences in material wealth, with secure gated communities next to basic villages; and in technology, with advanced IT facilities close to bamboo huts. ‘‘We were well-received and the people were inquisitive but friendly,’’ Tom says. ‘‘Cricket is played everywhere, at all levels and as a cricket-playing nation, New Zealanders are welcomed. ‘‘The trip was well worth it and we would go back to see more. Travelling in style: A houseboat on a canal in the Indian state of Kerala. 37 Popular attraction:TomandBronwyn Bayliss in front of the Taj Mahal.
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