January 23, 2018

An unforgettable experience in India

By Indrawattie Natram

Growing up, I had travel to many places in the Caribbean and North America, but one country that has always been captivating to me is India. Colourful and diverse, India is definitely a must-see destination – one I was fortunate enough to cross off on my bucket list.

Pouring water from the Krishna River

With a population of approximately 1.3 billion people, this country needs to be experienced with all the senses. The spice-filled air when entering the markets, tasting the myriads of flavours of Indian cuisines or admiring the neat tea-leaves filled hillsides, my time in India was truly a magnificent experience.
I was given one of the most golden and prestigious opportunity through the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India 44th Know India Programme. The programme’s main objective is to familiarise the Indian Diaspora youth, age group 18-30 who have contributed positively to the development of their country, with the land of their ancestors. The programme provides a unique forum for students and young professionals of Indian origin to visit India, share their views, expectations, experiences and to bond with contemporary India.
The 44th Know India Programme saw 40 participants from nine countries, namely Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Mauritius, Myanmar, Guyana, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa and Suriname.
The first and last phase began with participants exploring the capital city, Delhi, by visiting historical monuments, religious locations, universities, NGOs, industrial sites, cultural training institutions, and learning the art of Yoga.
Delhi, which is considered the soul of India, can be easily differentiated from other states due to its usual hustle and bustle. On arriving in India, the lights of the city were enthralling. My tours included visiting the Jama Mosque – which was built in the 17th century and is known to be one of the largest and well-known mosques in India. The mosque is flanked by Red Fort on one side and the old city of Chandni Chowk on the other.
Other interesting places visited were Red Fort, Raj Ghat (which lies on the banks of the River Yamuna), Humayun’s tomb, Qutub Minar, India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan (The President House), Akashardham Temple, National Museum, Laxminaryan Temple and the Lotus Temple.

The India Gate

One of the locations I felt more privileged to be at is the Akshardham temple. The architectural design is indescribable. The Hindu temple complex displayed millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality and architecture. The Akshardham experience was truly an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values and contributions to the progress, happiness and harmony of mankind.

Taj Mahal
I then visited Agra, a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Agra was truly inspirational. It is home of one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal symbolizes the love of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal is adorned with white marble cladded with the finest example of the Mughal architect, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Indian architectural styles.

Andhra Pradesh
The second phase of the trip was a visit to Andhra Pradesh, one of the 29 states of India. There I was able to experience the different cultures in Viyayawada, Rajahmundry and Visakhapatnam.
Visiting this state was monumental for me because it is where my ancestors came from and resided. Andhra Pradesh has major cultural landmarks including Triumala Venkateswara Temple, an ornate hilltop shrine to Hindu Vishu. Its beaches are pristine and the people were hospitable. The team on arrival were greeted to tassa drumming and draped with fresh rose garlands.
My visits also included Telegana, one of the largest states in south India known for its hospitality and multicultural and pluralistic society; Hyderabad, the capital city and the fifth largest city in India; and some wonders such as Char Minar, Faluknama Palace, Chowmahalla Palace, Qutub Shahi Tomb, Golcoda Fort, Warangal Fort and Thousand pillar temple.
With its phenomenal, ancient buildings, history, delectable cuisines, India was an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. Blessed with natural beauty and biological diversity, India has much to offer tourists, students and those who are seeking to connect with their ancestry. (Guyana Times Sunday Magazine)