1. February 2017 – 12:50
I met Louise in a yoga ashram in Rajasthan, where she lived with her small family for a few months as a karma yogi.
I was curious and asked Louise to share her experience about being in India with her three-year-old Matilda and to give us some hints about travelling with a child in India. Chalo! Travels created a India-Family trip with suitable travel destinations, fun activities and safe travelling.
Here you can read her beautiful article:
Actually, I never wanted to go to India again! When I was in this crazy country in 2009 – professionally – I was rushing through seven cities in three weeks. What an adventure! I had been looking forward to the trip in advance and had already heard a lot. I was looking forward to the colourful colours, fabrics and spices, to the women with bindis and saris, the colorful chaos, the smells, the food, the landscapes, everything. I was repeatedly told not to be alone, to take good care of myself, etc. All in all, this journey was ultimately wonderful. I was there with an orchestra and saw wonderful places. One of them I would like to recommend to you: Hampi.
Hampi is still regarded as a small insider tip, even among Indian travellers. Not everyone knows this place and those who know it rave about it. Once between 200,000 and 500,000 inhabitants as part of a royal oak, it is now only a village with a little more than 2000 inhabitants. Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. paddy fields, rocks, banana plantations, the Tungabhadra River with nut shell-like basket boats, the temple complex, Bazaar Road, granite rock landscape and macaques, but also hippiresorts and drop-out boarding houses characterize the picture.
After this trip, however, I became very ill, and was not the only one. I felt so bad that in retrospect I couldn’t get anything nice from India and decided never to go there again.
The Root of Yoga – India Calls You
Daniel, my boy friend, has never been to India. And was confronted with it again and again during his training as a yoga teacher. Everyone who teaches yoga seriously has probably been to this country and many of them go there every year. It is always interesting what people tell about their trips to India – how they have experienced it, what impressions they got. And it is striking that there are two groups: either you love this country or you hate it. I was part of the last group.
We have thought for a long time whether we really should travel to India with a child. Matilda is three-and-a-half years old, unvaccinated and has never been seriously ill. I know people who have come back with serious illnesses. And I definitely didn’t want to get involved in such adventures. As much as I love travelling, my decision not to accompany Daniel was clear.
An Ashram in Rajasthan
For Daniel, India was a mystery. After a variety of opinions, tips and advice, he finally wanted to get a picture of this country himself and called us a few days after his arrival in Rajasthan: “You absolutely must come, you will love it, Matilda will love it!” Ok.
More about the Ashram you can read here.
It was a wonderful time and I can recommend all of you to live in an Ashram once. You don’t need any special prerequisites for this and there are many different types of ashrams in which you can also find a place as a family with children – not only in India, but also in other countries, even in Germany.
The Blue Pearl on the Edge of the Desert – Jodhpur
Jodhpur is also called a blue city. Many houses have a light blue paint (as a defense against mosquitoes and colour of the the Brahman cast), which gives the panorama of the place a special touch.
The city is famous for its rooftops! Everywhere here you can sit wonderfully on beautiful roofs and have a bite to eat or drink, while always having a beautiful view of Mehrangarh Fort, a large fortress that sits on a 125 m high hill and can be climbed on foot in a short time. Yes, even with a child! The paths are winding and everywhere there are small shops or guest houses that offer their own fresh cuisine or chai.
Jodhpur is loud! This city is indeed very chaotic and longer than a weekend (in our case two) you can’t stand it here either. But there are many beautiful corners, such as the Painting Studio, the markets.
Our beautiful hostel I can highly recommend: the Gopal Guest House. Here you get absolutely cheap and clean rooms in a nice ambience, there is of course also here a roof terrace (with an indescribably good Mango Lassi, which is recommended everywhere), internet and family flair. Especially suitable for alternatively travelling families who are looking for something cozy with charm!
In Jodhpur there is also a small telephone shop (the so-called Vodafone shop). After several attempts of this kind to get to working sim cards, we were helped here so much! The operator of the small business has German ancestors and is particularly proud of its globally satisfied customers and the long-standing tradition.
An absolute highlight was the small pilgrimage town of Pushkar. Those who travel here wikl enjoy the miraculous energies, cosmic encounters and moving processes. On our way to this beautiful place I didn’t know anything about its meaning and could immediately feel the attraction. That, by the way, has happened to many of those I have spoken to.
Pushkar is a sacred pilgrim town with a lake and over 1000 temples in the foothills of the Thar Desert. My absolute tip for your stay in this city: the Dr. Alone’s Lake View Hotel. Here you just get everything you need and have the Most beautiful View of the lake and the surrounding temples. Dr. Alone, the owner, has Caribbean-Italian roots and is also a man whose wisdom and advice I will continue to have for my whole life. I have never met someone like him and if you have ever wanted to know what it is like to talk to Jesus or Buddha, I strongly recommend that you visit this place.
India with child – my tips for you
Even before I arrived in Rajasthan, I kept hearing, “Oh, Rajasthan! It’s beautyful!”. And in fact, I really fell in love with this area. India has many facets and one of them is really very chaotic, noisy and dirty. For this reason, and after getting to know the country life in Rajasthan, I avoid Indian cities. Of course it is interesting and maybe you have to have seen them, but in this case it is enough for me and for children it can certainly be much more of a challenge.
In Rajasthan, the feeling of India is completely different. The climate was very hot and dry from February to April, but pleasant. The landscape is very rural and dry, there is desert and a lot of grassland, in between camels and also the people here are warm, very open and not as intrusive and exuberant as in the big cities. The food in Rajasthan deviates from the typical Indian dishes as we know them, rice, for example, is very rare here.
What I paid special attention to as a mum
– No excessive hygiene! On my first visit to India, I did exactly the opposite and was constantly running around with disinfectants, obviously less successful.
– A non-Indian child stands out and everyone wants to cuddle it, pinch it in the cheeks or at least tap briefly. You are approached anyway, but so that the child does not get too much, we have taken great care to offer it some protection.
– Clean drinking water. In the ashram there was the best monsoon water fresh from a well. In all other places we drank it from bottles.
– Sufficient fruit, vegetables, coconut, nuts and dried fruits. The change to the rather spicy food took some time for our child, which is why we always had extra food with us. Fresh food can be bought here without hesitation, they come from the country, are unprocessed in contrast to Germany and always taste good. (Don’t forget to wash, of course.)
– Buy and eat local. Where many Indians eat, it must be good, at least we always found this a good sign and were never wrong. There are well-known Western chains in India. the average Indian does not normally eat there, which is why we absolutely avoid this – not only in India by the way.
– Hindus live vegetarian. There are no animal products on our menu anyway and I would avoid them in India.
– Rikshas, buses, taxis or trains – we tried almost all means of transport once. The buses often come as they want and are bumpy. But they are super cheap and depending on the time of day even not very crowded. And we also imagined the train journey to be worse. In the end, all the rides were very pleasant and not nearly as horrible, as you read again and again everywhere.
The disadvantages of India as a country of travel are poverty, dirt, lack of human dignity, etc. On the streets there is just everything around, faeces, latrine, waste – where again the city life is completely different from rural life. Nevertheless, I felt the people of Rajasthan very special and in general there is an incredible spirit, a wealth, a wealth that cannot be found in any of our Western countries! India is the land of contrasts. The nice thing is: people smile, they sometimes seem even happier to me than the people of Europe. And I also know why. In India there is still a connection, the connection to the cosmos. Only the many temples and the real devotion to something, the service of a superior whole, can be felt and experienced here everywhere. India is a challenge in any case, and anyone who tries to get involved can experience miracles here.