Travel: A passage to India
Note- travel to India with caution- homosexual sex is not legal in the country, although arrests of tourists are unusual
If lying on a beach is not your thing and you yearn for a bit of adventure set against an exotic backdrop, have you thought about the possibilities the vast sub-content of India has to offer?
The country offers a wealth of ancient temples and monuments for lovers of culture and heritage and many travel companies now offer fantastic sight-seeing trips.
For example, a Golden Triangle with Tiger tour traces the rugged landscape of northern India beginning in Delhi, where you will find the best food and markets, apart from the significant monuments, before tasting the spirits of adventure at Sariska.
As the landscape unfolds the magical city of red sandstone, the excitement flows to Jaipur, the pink city. Then you may just spot a tiger at Ranthambore and later experience the romance and magic of magic of the Taj.
In southern India witness magically carved temples, walk through markets dazzling with silks and sandalwood items and open your eyes to a landscape embroidered with banana leaf, paddy fields and coconut groves.
This may not be a land of forts and palaces but it is dominated by temples and natural beauty. Whether its Chennai, Bangalore or Mysore, whether the beautiful Cochin or the wild Periyar, you can fill your visit with memorable events such as an elephant ride, kath kali dance performance or enchanting boat cruise at Alleppey.
Desert camel safaris in India are now one of Asia’s fastest selling adventure holidays. These include camel treks ranging from short rides around Jaisalmer to extensive trips that remind you of Lawrence of Arabia on his epic journey across the Sahara or Marco Polo on the historic silk route.
They are a great way to see the desert and to enjoy a novel and adventurous holiday.
The Great Indian Desert may not have great expanses of sand dunes and incredible spaces of wilderness as large as those of the Sahara and Namibia, but it offers some glorious citadels and extremely colourful and unspoilt villages.
The Camel Safari Circuit in India covers Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Bikaner, all in Rajasthan.
They were the princely kingdoms in the desert belt of India, each comparable in size to many modern nations of Europe.
All the former capitals prospered from trade with the camel caravans that travelled from west Asia and Europe to Mongolia and were impressively fortified to protect these riches.
The result was a wealth of palaces built for royalty, havelis or courtyard mansions built for merchants and nobility and intricately carved temples for the subjects.
A camel safari is a great way to see the desert, visiting the villages, seeing wildlife and riding across the open desert sands.
Typical camel safaris organised around Jaisalmer take in the architectural ruins of Lodurva, which was the former capital of the Bhatti Rajput desert kingdom before the founding of Jaisalmer, the Anasagar oasis, the sand dunes of Samm and the water source of Moolsagar where village women gather with pitchers at dusk.
Night halts on basic safaris are at villages on the way or temporary bivouac camps in the desert scrub, where camels are hobbled and let out to graze.
Packing the right clothing is important on one of these holidays as the climate is extreme. In the desert afternoons may seem much hotter than the actual 26-30 degree temperature may suggest and night temperatures may drop below zero on the dunes.
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It is essential to take both woollen and cotton clothing. Shorts and skirts are comfortable for camel safaris, but remember, some of the off beat routes visit villages that have not have seen many tourists and locals may look askance at ladies who do not wear ankle length clothing and men in shorts.
Sun hats with large rims or cotton caps that can be dipped in water when it gets too hot around midday are essential, preferably with a balaclava or scarf for covering the neck and forehead.
If prone to sickness you should carry suitable medication against the swaying gait of the camel. Finally patience is an important piece of baggage on a camel safari as it takes time to get to grips with camel travel.
There’s a huge variety of other special interests that can be catered for in India, including angling and fishing, gliding, mountaineering and rock climbing, skiing and winter sports plus white water rafting and, of course, elephant safaris.
Trout fishing in the rivers and ice-fed mountain streams is a great sport. You may pit your wits against the wily trout – both brown and rainbow – while those who enjoy solitude can spend hours in quiet contemplation of the beauty around.
The fast flowing clear water streams and high altitude lakes of the upper Himalayas are excellent for trout fishing. The challenge and thrill of an encounter with the powerful mahseer, the hardest fighting fish on the planet, attracts anglers from all over the world. It offers a holiday with a fish, which not only rules the Indian waters like the tiger does the jungle, but also battles the way, no other can.