It’s been exactly one year since I quit my job in Corporate America and headed to India for the first time in 8 years. I spent 9 weeks visiting family, friends, and traveling solo to parts of India that I had never been to.
The trip opened my eyes, mind, and heart to a place I thought I already knew. India is a beautiful country with so many different sides that I had never noticed as a child. These are 27 of my favorite snapshots of adventures in India from north to south:
The hills of Darjeeling captivated me at first sight. Although I had visited India many times, I’d never been to a cold part of the country. Witnessing this other side of India firsthand was especially exciting for me. Aside from visiting family members, the first stop for me on my next India trip is most definitely visiting the other cold and mountainous regions.
I was thrown for a loop in Varanasi. For the first time, I didn’t feel 100% comfortable in my skin while walking in the streets. Being of Indian origin, no one was more surprised about this than me. Still, Varanasi taught me not to let a rough experience taint my view of a destination as a whole.
My home base in India is always Mumbai, the city where my mom grew up and my grandparents still live. Visiting places I’ve seen many times as a child brought new perspectives and views. I spent my time visiting with family and friends, helping my grandmother in her day-to-day routine such as shopping at the fish market, and drinking sugarcane juice.
Heading to Vizag along the Bay of Bengal for the first time to visit my cousins was an awesome dose of family time. The only thing I did not love was the blistering heat in this part of the country!
My first taste of solo backpacking in India was my visit to Goa. It felt so different to be among other backpackers in my parents’ native country, a place I’d always visited with my family. Being able to experience India from so many angles was really incredible.
I didn’t expect to find peace of mind while visiting family friends in Bangalore, but I ended up exploring my inner self at a meditation center, sipping on coconuts, and spending some time surrounded my monkeys in the hills.
Backpacking in Kerala, where Ft. Kochi and Varkala are located, also fell under the category of “new views of familiar places” for me. After all, it is the south Indian blood from my dad’s side that gives me this year-round tan! South India is tropical, quiet, and has a completely different vibe from the north. I relished in relaxation on the empty beaches in Varkala and encountered some of the nicest locals while bicycling around Ft. Kochi. I’m lucky that I will always return to beautiful places like Kerala.
India was and always will be a different experience for me than my travels to other countries. It’s not only about exploring the unknown. It’s about getting to know my family tree. It’s about meeting family and loved ones, even if only just for tea and sweets so we can see each other’s faces after years apart. It’s about understanding the life that would have been mine if my parents didn’t move to the US. It took me 26 years to fully appreciate where I come from and now that I have a grasp on my roots, I never want to let them go.