Laura, a long-standing member of our Long-Haul Product team, recently joined the southern part of our Grand Tour of India, before travelling on solo to look for new and exciting sights, sounds, cities and regions for future Newmarket Holidays customers to visit. And now she’s home she’s shared some of her highlights with us.
Without further ado then, here’s Laura to tell us all about her time in one of the world’s most vibrant countries…
In March I was lucky enough to travel to India, where I joined the Southern part of our Grand Tour. I flew into Kochi – known to the Raj as Cochin -, the gateway to Kerala’s waterways, where I joined a small group for a tour of the City. The tour included visits to the Dutch Palace, the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the Commonwealth and the enchanting Fort Cochin. We also saw one of India’s most photographed sights – the mantis-like Chinese fishing nets that sit poised along the banks throughout the area.
The group and I spent our third night together on a traditional thatched Keralan houseboat; we cruised along the canals and waterways and watched life playing out on their banks. This was an amazing experience with beautiful scenery and freshly prepared authentic Southern Indian food. a holiday-within-a-holiday that I shall never forget.
Our next stop was a visit to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, where we joined a guided trek of the park as well as a cruise on the beautiful Periyar Lake. We didn’t spot any tigers but we did see wild boar, bison, deer, several different species of tropical birds and, the highlight for me, a herd of elephants.
Next we headed east into the southern province of Tamil Nadu and spent two nights in the Ancient City of Madurai, a city dominated by the ornately carved Meenakshi Temple. The highlight here was a evening rickshaw ride through the busy city streets, definitely an experience I won’t forget.
After leaving our passengers in Madurai I travelled on to the French Colonial city of Pondicherry. The city’s French legacy is preserved in its French Quarter, where tree lined streets front mustard coloured colonial villas and chic boutiques – a real contrast to the typical Indian city.
My last stop was to Mahabalipuram which is famous for its World Heritage listed temples and stone carvings. The town is located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, making it the perfect setting to end my Indian adventure – cocktail in hand.
Laura’s top tips
- Remember to pack hand-sanitiser, a great way to ensure you don’t suffer any illness while you’re away.
- Hotels will serve a small selection of Western style food but it will mainly be authentic Indian cuisine that can be spicy, albeit incredibly tasty. If you’d like something milder, just ask.
- Summer in India starts in the latter part of March with temperatures quickly exceeding 30°c. Loose fitting lightweight clothing is recommended – as is the carrying of a sun-umbrella which is great for keeping cool.
- Ladies may feel more comfortable covering upper arms and legs – especially when visiting temples. A handy hint is to keep a light shawl with you, to enable you to dress appropriately for any venue.