I went to India in April with some of my best friends and here are the pictures to prove it.
The group was, from left to right, Abby, Jessa, Andrew, and myself. Andrew and Jessa are a couple of my best friends and I’m sure Abby would be too if we ever lived within 1,000 miles of each other, which I’m pretty sure has never been the case in the quarter century we’ve both been around. So needless to say, it was bound to be a super fun trip and MAN was it great.
First stop: tea. This was taken from a cable car that leads from the north end of Darjeeling down to the tiny village of Tukvar. For a negligible amount of rupees, this was an awesome 15 minute ride above the foggy valley where some of the world’s finest teas are grown. We also had no idea the cable car existed until our driver just dropped us off and was like, “Ride. Tea. You like.”
Abby and Jessa, henceforth known as “the babes,” enjoying a nice milk tea in Tukvar at the bottom of the cable car route. Andrew and I started calling them the babes after multiple creepy Indian men asked to take pictures with them or of them. Behind Abby was a sweet poster of Avril Lavigne, who we continued to see posters of throughout the trip. Who knew that Indians loved Avril so much?
They were laying out the tea immediately after it had been plucked that morning.
All of us outside the tea processing building, with our “tour guide” there on the left. I put him in quotes because he was just some guy who walked up to us as we were having tea and asked if we wanted to tour a tea estate (Um, let me think about it… YES). We bought some tea from this place and it was super good. You can actually read about the exact estate we visited on their website.
On top of Observatory Hill in Darjeeling, which I think is actually a site for both Buddhists as well as Hindus. The colorful flags are prayer flags, a common sight in the Himalayas, but there is a big Hindu temple on top of the hill as well. Oh, and tons of monkeys. I hate ‘em. By the way, I think the prayer flags are pretty cool. From Wikipedia: “The Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.” I can get on board with that.
On our second day in Darjeeling it decided to rain a lot, so we headed back to our hostel – which really was more like a cabin – and had some tea, warmed ourselves by the fireplace, listened to Bon Iver, and had a nice chat.
Back in New Delhi we endeavored to make the 200 km journey to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. We were told it was a three hour drive (which would make a totally reasonable average of 70 km/hour) so we headed out at 7 a.m. with our driver, a friendly Sikh from Punjab. It turned out to take 5 full hours to get there due to the insane traffic and road conditions in India so we basically just got out and saw the Taj, had lunch, and drove back to New Delhi, but it was a fun day nonetheless.
The Taj needs little explanation. It’s a huge mausoleum that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built for his wife way back in the 1600s. It’s pretty impressive.
I feel like we’ll look at this picture in 30 years and laugh.
Back in New Delhi Andrew, Jessa, and I went to visit the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. You’re not allowed in if you’re wearing shorts or a tank top, so we had to borrow some fabric to drape over our vanilla skin. When the call to worship started we were kindly asked to leave.
So we left the mosque and wandered the back alleys of Central New Delhi until we stumbled upon a guy making some Masala chai on the street. We stopped and enjoyed a cup of the brown stuff despite the sweltering heat.
So that was India. We were only there for a little under a week, which – I know, I know – is much too short. But it was a lot of fun and absolutely worth it, even if it was short. The babes left and headed back home while Andrew and I got on a plane and made for the mountains of Nepal. Next post will be our adventures through Kathmandu and the surrounding Himalayan foothills.