If I could describe India in one word, it would be incredible. Normally a Trip Leader, I recently had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience our India Multi-Adventure Tour as a guest.
Journeying through the northern state of Rajasthan in Backroads fashion is more than just an active vacation—it's an experience. India truly is a place to live and to learn. The trip offers the perfect balance in both activity and terrain. Beginning in the "Blue City" of Jodhpur, you make your way on bike and foot through the Manvar Desert, the friendly township of Narlai and the colorful countryside surrounding Devi Garh Palace, ending in romantic Udaipur.
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Backroads lives up to its namesake here with off-the-beaten-path biking routes, which is comforting since India is largely void of what we call "rules of the road." Whether you're cycling past fields of bright yellow mustard flowers or climbing Monkey Hill (feeling oddly outnumbered by the primates guarding your path), each and every ride is an adventure in itself. Though it's hard to say there was a favorite, I'll never forget our rural sunset ride to the dhurrie carpet cooperative, where we were served homemade masala chai with Roopraj, a master craftsman and an unforgettable character. His hand-woven, naturally dyed carpets are as unique as he is—a beautiful display of passion and patience.
Passion is more than prevalent in India, it is overpowering. Cruising past women balancing bundles of straw taller than they are on their heads is an inspiring display of strength and persistence. Of course, I was always eager and excited to cross bike paths with my favorite of Indian citizens, the holy cow.
Walking your way through India allows for a deeper perspective and understanding of your surroundings. Our sunrise hike to the top of Elephant Hill (above the town of Narlai) was a highlight of the trip for me. Meditating next to a centuries-old stone elephant overlooking the tops of temples through the morning fog was more than spiritual—it was one of the most amazing moments of my life. Equally as life-changing were our village walks and our interactions with the local people, who were always welcoming and warmhearted. Adorned in every color imaginable, the women in their traditional dress made photographing all too easy. Though it's utterly impossible to capture its true essence, India is indeed a photographer's paradise! EVERYTHING is extravagant...which is most appreciated while wandering through the countless lavish and meticulously designed temples, palaces, and forts sprinkled throughout Rajasthan.
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Mahatma Gandhi
As expected, a day of Backroads activities is always concluded with flavorful food and a luxurious place to call home. You are literally showered with rose petals upon your arrival! Daily meals and local cuisine are beyond what words can describe. The food is intensely rich, yet flawlessly simple.
No words can express my gratitude for our amazing Backroads family in India. It is an honor and privilege to work with such an incredible team! A commonly found sign simply defines the great pride and respect the Indians have for their history and culture: "Sustain your heritage and feel glorious." Thank you, India. I feel more than glorious.