More than 1.4 billion people live in India, making it ones of the most populated countries in the world. The capital is New Delhi. The official languages are Hindi and English, though there are over 22 commonly-spoken languages and over 1,000 languages in total when including regional dialects and other languages with few speakers. The dominant religions are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, followed by Buddhism and Jainism.
Because India is so large, it is impossible to see all of the best sites unless you’re intent on staying there for an extended period of time. With only 10 days, my son Kenan and I headed out to see the Taj Mahal, a spectacular palace built to house the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of the former Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
Next up was the absolute must-do touristy thing to-do in India the Elefantastic tour in Jaipur. Before embarking on this tour, we were assured these elephants were well-taken care of and treated humanely! Our guide shared lots of information about his elephants, where they raised and trained them. We got feed the elephants, painted artwork on them, and rode them.
As we wanted to visit somewhere off the beaten path, and to make an effort to learn more about Hinduism, we visited Varanasi which is situated on the Ganges River. This is where people come to be spiritually cleansed, and/or come to die. Note: Travelers should not touch or swim in this water, as the Ganges is ironically one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
We ended our trek in Delhi, visiting one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages.
Such a humbling place to visit; I’m eager to return.