The Taj Mahal. Gandhi Smriti. Humayun’s Tomb. Parliament. These are some of India’s most treasured monuments, building, and architectures. These are all places that I saw as a tourist, not a born and brought up Indian living in America.

I traveled in India for a college trip right before starting my sophomore year of college. While I was born and lived in India for five years and have visited my family there, I hadn’t had the experience of visiting the popular sights of India or experiencing Indian life as a tourist.

My trip started off a little off balance, but what do I expect at this point (whenever I travel, things usually go a little array). I received my boarding passes from the Chicago O’Hare Airport, but the tickets were under my friends name, not mine. Since 31 of us students and professors were traveling as a group to India, it was expected that there would be some slight problems. After unsuccessfully completing security due to my incorrect passes, I returned to the ticket counter, received new passes and went through security once again.

After that hassle, I ate lunch with the group and we boarded the plan to Zurich, Switzerland, and from there flew to our destination: New Delhi, India. From receiving five meals on the airplanes to chilling at the rooftop observatory at the Switzerland airport, it was quite a trip. We reached at midnight on Friday, so early morning Saturday. We took a bus to the hotel, in which we received garlands and a commemorative bracelet. Upon reaching the hotel, we drank juice and hit the bed for a couple hours before waking up for the day’s adventure.

We woke up at 9am to an extensive breakfast buffet. After eating too much food, because we might not have lunch, we began our sightseeing adventure. We saw the President’s House, Q’tar, the tomb, and Gandhi Smriti, which were all so unique and different Indian monuments. It was a very hot and humid day, but so so fun. From talking with everybody to seeing more of India to having a dinner table discussion with the dean of the undergraduate Kelley program, it was a great way to start the trip. And a midday nap might have helped as well. Also, each room only has two people staying in it, so my roommate and I spent the night watching Say Yes to the Dress and talking about the day. We set our alarms for 3:45am because the next day would involve a train to one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal.

From eight meals on the train to chatting for two hours straight, we finally reached Agra.

After a quick drive, we finally laid our eyes upon the Taj Mahal. It was simply beautiful. It was so amazing to see it in person and take picture of it so it could last a lifetime in my memories.

Side note: Many of the people there would ask to take pictures with the students on this trip. It was interesting to see how Indians wanted their pictures taken with white people.

We then drove to Agra fort and toured the city the rest of the day.

We visited Parliament the next day and were able to meet two Parliamentarians and get our pictures taken with them.

The next few days involved touring Indian businesses and going to universities. It was really interesting to see the differing educational systems, as well as business practices at some of the top firms in the nation.

While in Pune, I was able to visit my cousins and go to my favorite bake, Love Sugar Dough. It was great catching up with them in addition to the school trip.

We then headed to Bombay to do more business visits and sightseeing. We saw the Gateway of India, the Taj Palace Hotel, Marine Drive, and shopped around on the street markets. It was POURING but we powered through for the sake of shopping.

I was able to spend the night at my cousins house, which was super fun. We ate great dessert, played board games and caught up.

Our last night in India, we went to Global Fusion for a ‘gala’ dinner. We ate amazing food, watched several dance performances, and dances the night away.

I loved being able to explore India as a tourist with some amazing people. If you ever have the chance, definitely visit India to see the sights and smells for yourself.

xo, Ritika


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