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Somak India Fam trip: Binny’s Experience

We recently hosted a fabulous group on an educational trip to experience the wonders of India’s iconic “Golden Triangle”, visiting the cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, as well as India’s spiritual city of Varanasi, as an extension.

Binny Shah-Patel, who runs the Food and Travel Blog Binny’s Food and Travel Diaries was a participant on the trip on behalf of Somak Holidays and shared her experience with us. 

Was this your first time visiting India? 

I have visited Mumbai, Bhuj and Bangalore before, but this was my first time visiting Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Varanasi and so I was excited to experience these cities, especially Varanasi, having heard so much about it and having seen documentaries about it.

What was your itinerary?

We flew into Delhi where we spent two nights, followed by one night in Agra, two nights in Jaipur and we ended our trip after spending one night in Varanasi.

In Delhi we visited the Jama Mosque in the morning, had a rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi, visited Chandi Chowk, where we saw the spice markets and stopped by India Gate.

Young lady at Jama Mosque

Jama Mosque

Cycle rickshaw ride in Old Delhi

Cycle rickshaw ride in Old Delhi

Spice markets in Chandni Chowk

Spice markets in Chandni Chowk

In Agra we visited The Taj Mahal as well as The Red Fort. Seeing The Taj Mahal was just amazing and I highly recommend going there at around 4pm and staying until sunset as the views are just magical. Alternatively, going at sunrise is also meant to be superb.

Young lady in front of The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

Once in Jaipur we were wowed by The Amber Fort and also did some shopping in Bapu Bazaar. I ended up buying some lovely handbags and some shoes. It was such a colourful display of various goods and great fun haggling with the vendors.

Amber Fort in Jaipur

Amber Fort in Jaipur

In Varanasi we visited a silk weaving factory, which I highly recommend, and we had a boat ride on the holy River Ganges and witnessed the evening Arti Ceremony, as well as some Hindu rituals being carried out.

Silk weavers in Varanasi

Silk weavers in Varanasi

Where did you stay whilst on your trip and what was your favourite property?

Whilst on our trip we stayed at Vivantas by Taj Dwarka, The Radisson in Agra, The Trident in Jaipur and The Rivatas in Varanasi. For location I loved The Trident but overall my favourite hotel was Vivantas by Taj.

What were your highlights from your trip?

There were so many highlights as it was such a fascinating and enriching trip. I loved seeing the silk weavers hand weaving silk saris in Varanasi, an industry which is dying, which makes me really sad. Having grown up hearing about silk from “Benares” or “Varanasi,’ it was so nice to see how it was made with such passion and skill.

Silk weavers in Varanasi

Silk weavers in Varanasi

I also loved my boat ride on the River Ganges and seeing the evening Arti Ceremony. It was very emotional and words just can’t do it justice. It is something I think everyone should do at least once and Varanasi is so easily accessible – just over an hour’s flight from Delhi.

Boat ride on Holy River Ganges

Boat ride on Holy River Ganges

Finally seeing The Taj Mahal in all its grandeur was a memorable experience and it is just mind boggling how it was built in such symmetry all those hundreds of years ago, without the use of technology!

There were also some comical moments like these monkeys monkeying around as well as this cow waiting to be served at a restaurant!

Monkeys at Red Fort

Monkeys at Red Fort

Cow on the street in Varanasi

Cow in Varanasi

Which was your favourite city?

Jaipur was definitely one of my favourites and I really want to return to see some more of its forts and immerse myself inside ‘The Pink City.” I also managed to buy some gemstones, which Jaipur is known for. If you happen to have free time during your visit, I would highly recommend a visit to a gemstone shop. 

Amber Fort, Jaipur

Amber Fort, Jaipur

Visiting Amber Fort was an amazing experience and the grounds of the fort are stunning. The murals on the walls as well as the design are seriously impressive and so grand!

Do you have any advice or tips for anyone thinking of going to India?

Definitely visit India with an open mind and be prepared to fall in love with the culture, hospitality, food and cities. 

 Would you recommend India and Somak?

Absolutely! The trip was so well organised and from start to finish, we had an enjoyable time and a fabulous itinerary.

Inspired to visit Incredible India after reading Binny’s experience? For the perfect introduction to the wonders of north India, our ‘Golden Triangle’ itinerary covers the three cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and gives a fantastic snapshot of the colours and spectacles of this land of wonders.

The Golden Triangle

Alternatively, our 11-night Classical India tour takes you on a journey to see all the highlights of northern India, as featured in The Golden Triangle tour, as well as to the fabulous Ranthambore National Park in search of tigers.

You will also visit Khajuraho, famous for groups of Hindu and Jain temples. These temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for their beautiful and erotic rock carvings.

Your last port of call is Varanasi, regarded as the spiritual capital of India. The city draws pilgrims who bathe in the River Ganges’ sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along its winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the ‘Golden Temple,’ dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.

Classical India Tour

For more details on our itineraries or to discuss a bespoke itinerary, call Simply India Holidays by Somak on 0208 423 3000 or email india@somak.co.uk and we will be delighted to help you plan your trip to Incredible India.

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