After years of travelling in India I still feel I haven’t seen half of the country, but here are some of my most memorable India travel experiences with Dream World Travel, from standing on top of the world in the Himalayas to swimming with a dolphin in Kerala.
Standing on Top of Khardung La in Ladakh
Khardung La in Ladakh, in the northernmost part of India, is (almost) the world’s highest motorable mountain pass. I say almost, since the official height is 18 380 ft but individuals with their own GPS claim to have measured much less. It might be that Khardung La, also known as K-Top, is only the second or the third highest motorable mountain pass in the world – but as you stand on top of the mountain in the middle of the Himalayas, looking at some of the highest mountaintops in the world, do you really care? Located approximately 26 miles outside Leh, the capital of Ladakh, Khardung La is the highest I’ve ever been.
Standing 30 ft from a Wild Elephant in Nagarahole
We are driving through the Nagarahole National Park in South India’s Karnataka on a Royal Enfield motorbike (and when I say driving, I mean my boyfriend was driving one of his Enfields and I was sitting in the back, admiring the lush scenery) when we see a giant wild Asian elephant in the middle of the road. He’s standing barely 30 feet from us and we know that if he decides to charge, he’s going to be a lot faster than us. The road we’re driving on has never seen tarmac, and instead consists mainly of potholes and sand. The maximum speed we have managed on this road so far has been around 12 miles an hour and wild Asian elephants can, apparently, run a lot faster. Ahead of us, on the other side of the elephant, four Indian bikers have stopped and are frantically waving their arms above their heads and shouting at us to not to move. We are lucky in the end: the elephant looks at us, but decides to move on to the jungle.
Swimming in the Ocean with a Dolphin in Kerala
We are swimming in the warm ocean off a white sandy beach in North Kerala, India’s tropical holiday heaven, when we notice silvery flash in the waves just a few feet from us. It is a dolphin on its own early morning swim. It jumps around in the waves around us, and the magic of the moment is only spoilt when my boyfriend starts to wonder if the fin we see disappearing in the waves really belongs to a dolphin, or is if it is a shark.
Watching Bodies Burn by the River Ganges in Varanasi
Sitting by the stone steps that lead to the holy river Ganges, watching bodies burn at the cremation ghat as crowds of people bathe in the river to wash away their sins, is a cliche yet it is an experience that has stayed with me from the very first time I travelled to India in 1999 on one of those typical India backpacker trips that consisted mainly of getting repeatedly sick from dodgy street food and spending a lot of time in the toilet. I was sick in Varanasi, too, but I managed to drag myself to the holy river to watch thousands of pilgrims dip into the filthy water that is believed to have the ability to purify one’s sins. The smell of the burning bodies, sweat, dirt and cow dung has somehow, in my memories, been replaced by a romantic image of sunset over the Ganges and the scent of sandalwood incense.