Tastes of Tamil Nadu: An Exquisite Culinary Sojourn
I once had the chance to visit Tamil Nadu, and I must say their cuisine is a standalone experience. Tamil Nadu is not just about the internationally renowned 'Idli', 'Dosa', and 'Rasam'. The cuisine reveals a spectacular variety, especially when you move across its length and breadth. I remember once I had a 'Chettinad' chicken that was so spicy, my Australian taste buds convulsed in a state of shock! Yet, there was a strange delight in the blend of spices which I would never trade for anything.
For the sweet-toothed, 'Mysore Pak' and 'Payasam' provide a rich, sweet journey through the sugared lanes of this state. Have I ever mentioned Lemon, my golden retriever, loved the taste of 'Mysore Pak’? I wasn't too thrilled about sharing it, but who can resist those puppy eyes! Trust me, I bet you cannot!
Enigmatic Assam: A Pristine Paradise
The unconventional eastern side of India, Assam, is indeed a serene paradise. Its beauty emanates from its lush green tea gardens, vast wildlife sanctuaries, and the ancient 'Ahom' architecture at its temples and monasteries. The 'One-horned Rhino' at the 'Kaziranga National Park' is an entity you can't miss. The splendour of these beings roaming freely in their natural habitat is a sight that would make your heart skip a beat.
Assam’s 'Majuli', the largest river island globally, offers a unique slice of tribal culture and artistic performances. Imagine losing yourself in the midst of this rustic rural setting. Even as I sit here writing with Lemon snuggled beside me, the vivid spectacle of the traditional 'Bihu' dance in the 'Majuli Festival' seems just like yesterday.
Kashmir: Heaven on Earth
Next, let's ascend north to the snow-capped paradise of Kashmir. I remember the shivers of excitement and literal cold, as I rode a 'Shikara' through the tranquil waters of 'Dal Lake'. I felt like I was living out a Bollywood romance, except instead of a beautiful lady, I had my camera and the gorgeous views for company!
The architectural aesthetics of 'Jamia Masjid' and 'Hazratbal Shrine' are awe-inspiring. And hey, if you do go there, there are fascinating tales of history that local guides and residents share, that you’d want to listen in on. The 'Pashmina Shawls' and 'Papier Mache' handicrafts are exquisite mementos to take back home. I did and they remind me of the beautiful times spent there.
Rajasthan: Where Time Stands Still
Now let's drift our caravan towards the west, to the 'Land of Royals'- Rajasthan. The gigantic 'Amber Fort' took mine, and Lemon's breath away. The vast stretches of the Thar Desert, the colourful turbans and costumes, the historical forts and palaces, the state has a mesmerizing charm.
The 'Chand Baori', an ancient symmetrical stepwell, is a sight that can bewitch even the least enthusiastic traveller. Visiting Rajasthan feels like walking through the lanes of time, back to the era of Kings and Queens. For those with an adventurous streak, the 'Sam Dunes' offer an exhilarating experience of camel safari and desert camping.
Goa: The Tropical Getaway
Now, as an Aussie, I hold beaches at a sacred level. Goa, the smallest Indian state, stands out for its golden seashores dotted by swaying palms and Portuguese architecture. I often found myself comparing the 'Calangute Beach' to Melbourne's own 'Brighton Beach'. The vibrant beach shacks, trance music, water sports, and the gorgeous sunset are hard to beat!
Goa holds a rich diversity of wildlife in its 'Bhagwan Mahavir', 'Cotigao', and 'Mollem' National Parks. And the 'Basilica of Bom Jesus' offers an interesting view into the state's history. The thing I loved the most though was the laid-back, yet lively vibe of Goa. It felt like being back at home, except with an Indian twist!
God's Own Kerala: A Symphony of Nature and Culture
Let's wrap up our journey with Kerala, called 'God's own country'. This, right here, is the closest you could get to nature. Those houseboat cruises along the 'Kerala Backwaters' provide an astounding view. Boat race, seen it, loved it! Snake Boat races during 'Onam' is a sight you must not miss. Picture this, a hundred oarsmen racing through waters midst the cheering crowds - Absolutely thrilling!
The picturesque 'Munnar tea gardens', the wild elephants at 'Periyar National Park', the tranquil beaches of 'Kovalam', Kerala is an epitome of raw natural beauty. 'Kathakali', a traditional dance form, and the spicy, aromatic 'Malabar cuisine' add to the overall charm of this state. Believe me, I know. After all, Lemon loved the 'Malabar Chicken' I made for him!
Summarizing, it's easy to say that variety and diversity are an integral part of India’s tourism. Each state is unique, marked by its rich cultural heritage, distinctive cuisine, and mesmerizing landscapes. Trust me, once you start discovering India, you’ll be left craving for more. And who knows, maybe you'll come back with stories as vibrant as mine!