Bhārat Gaṇarājya is the Hindi term for the Republic of India. India is a true adventure for all senses. We go on an exciting journey through its north as we travel from Delhi to the Nepalese border.

A blaze of color.

We are in India, one of Asia’s most fascinating countries. With its 1.324 billion people, it is the second most populous nation on our planet. Our journey shows us a vivid, friendly country. It is lively and exuberant in some parts, quietly colorful in others. Exotic fragrances fill the air. The sprawling market offers a cornucopia of extraordinary goods. Life takes place outdoors. We dive right in.

The culture of India is colorful and diverse, shaped by the
four major religions that emerged here: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. Arab and Western traders and conquerors also spread Islam and Christianity throughout the country. All these religions have had a lasting influence on its cultural richness and social development; they coexist peacefully. India’s immense linguistic and ethnic diversity have brought about countless regional differences. They include clothing and jewelry as well as architecture and literature. Music and dance play an important part in the cultural fabric of this country. They are invoked to express mythological scenes and prayer alike. Today, movies are among the most important cultural exports of India. Its national film industry is one of the largest in the world. Indian cuisine, which is as diverse as the people who prepare it, has produced a plethora of regional specialties. Yoga, cricket and hockey have shaped the country as much as its vital lines of road and rail traffic, both hopelessly congested. We hit the road.

Our journey starts in Delhi. We set out to discover the market of Old Delhi, where we float through a culinary wonderland sampling exotic fruits and street food, spicy curries and tasty chutney. A green and yellow rickshaw carries us through narrow, crowded streets. The vehicle runs on CNG: compressed natural gas. It zips past bicycles stacked with meters of goods, colorfully painted trucks and women in vivid, silken saris. Before hopping on a bus towards Jaipur, we get to marvel at some truly impressive sights: Jamia Masjid, India’s largest mosque, Raj Ghat, a park complex built in honor of Mahatma Gandhi, and the astronomical observatory Jantar Mantar. The 300-kilometer route to Jaipur was supposed to take us around five hours; in reality, it is closer to nine. Traffic is dense; plenty of obstacles, such as bullock carts, hopelessly overloaded rickshaws and other adventurous means of transport, share the road with us. We pass through many small towns on our way through India. Every street is crowded with people, and our journey is slow. But we never get bored: the street scenery is ever changing and our trip feels like a movie. It is genuinely exciting.
In Jaipur, we visit Hawa Mahal, the famous “Palace of Winds”, elephants carry us up the mountain to Amer Fort, and we soak up the lively atmosphere of the Johari Bazar. Again, we are seduced by the spicy fragrances of the street food on offer. Today’s menu: chapati (unleavened flatbread) and tandoori chicken straight from a clay oven.

Chapati, the traditional whole-wheat flatbreads, are baked on a hot iron plate called Tawa.

As we continue towards Agra, we decide to stop over in Fatehpur Sikri, an awe-inspiring complex of mosques, palaces and tombs. In Agra, one of the highlights of our journey around the north of India awaits us. The legendary Taj Mahal is a symbol of undying love. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built this mausoleum for his favorite wife: Arjumand Banu Begum, also known as Mumtaz Mahal – “the Exalted One of the Palace”. It is made from marble and colorful gemstones and well worth a visit.
And, of course, a photo. We make sure to take a few pictures of India’s most-snapped cultural treasure before we continue to our next destination:
Khajuraho. Here stand the remnants of 85 temples from the Chandella Rajput dynasty, overgrown by dense rainforest foliage for centuries. A truly unique sight. Some of the temples are extremely well preserved, and we get to admire artful sculptures from the 9th–13th century, which adorn each of the monuments.

Markets are the backbone of the Indian food supply. They ensure that the Indian people have access to fresh fruit on vegetable every day. Small snacks are available, too.

Varanasi, the holiest site in Hinduism, is our last stop in India before we start the long journey to Sonauli on the Nepalese border. We explore the alleys of one of the world’s oldest cities.
In Varanasi, like everywhere, sacred cows block our path as we venture towards the ghats, the kilometer-long flights of steps leading down to the banks of the holy Ganges. The first pilgrims arrive at the ghats before sunrise to perform their religious purification ceremony. At night, oil lamps dispel the darkness and the air is heavy with incense. Priests offer prayers, adorned with flower chains. Varanasi is constantly shrouded in a unique atmosphere. Spending a day here and soaking up the hustle and bustle of the town is a worthwhile experience. We bid farewell to India, a country that has blessed us with many lasting impressions and captivated us with its hospitality, culture and lifestyle. India is worth a trip. Not just the north: its southern and coastal regions also enchant visitors with fascinating contrasts.
In Sonauli, we cross the Nepalese border on foot and continue our journey towards the Himalayas, where we immerse ourselves in an unfamiliar culture once again.

Varanasi, the center of traditional Hindu culture and science, was established in 1200 v. Chr. It is the holiest site of Hinduism and dedicated to the god Lord Shiva Vishwanath. Every day, faithful pilgrims come here to cleanse themselves in the Ganges.