Photo of the week 2014 – Week three

2009 was one of the best years of my life, purely because I travelled.

Armed with a one-way ticket to New Delhi, India, I was quick to immerse myself back into the world of backpacking and travelling once again.

For those of you who have been to India, you’ll know what a shock to the system it can be. For those of you who haven’t, let me try and paint a picture for you.

As soon as you leave immigration, pick up your bag, and walk outside the airport for the first time, you’ll be hit by three things, all one after the other.

First, you’ll be hit by the heat. Oppressive and overpowering, it’ll close in around you, leaving you short of breath.

Then, as sweat starts to bead on your brow, you’ll notice two things in conjunction; the noise, and the source of the noise. As soon as your foot hits concrete, you’ll be jostled here and there, with hawkers, porters, taxi drivers, and a whole host of other people vying for your attention, shouting to be heard over the chaos.

With a desperate attempt not to get overwhelmed by the situation, you quickly look around you to see what’s going on and to see which is the best route out of the airport. However, as you do this you notice the dirt and the dust everywhere, which somehow inevitably ends up in your eye, rendering you blind for a minute.

Eventually, you manage to wade over to the taxi stand, exasperated despite only being in the country for four minutes, and mutter the name of the hotel you’re staying at, grateful for the peace and quiet, even if you know it’ll be short lived.

That’s what it’s like at Delhi Airport, which is about 45 minutes from the tourist district of Paharganj, so it’s no wonder that people want to get out of Delhi as soon as is humanly possible.

Things were no different for me, and I left the city two days after I arrived in the hope of some respite.

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After travelling around Rajasthan for a month, I made it up to Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple.

The Golden Temple, officially known as Harmandir Sahib, is the largest pilgrimage site for Sikh’s in the world. Built in 1604, countless people have made it their life’s ambition to look upon the Golden Temple with their own eyes, and over 100,000 people visit the shrine to worship a day, so it’s no wonder that it’s extremely popular amongst backpackers and travellers as well.

Whilst I was in India, I was lucky enough to have seen the alien landscape of Hampi, experience Holi festival down by the ghats of the Ganges in Varanasi, drink tea while overlooking the plantations in Darjeeling, and of course, stand in the shadows of both the Himalayas and the Taj Mahal, but nothing will ever compare to seeing the Golden Temple for the first time.

When you see something truly as magnificent and glorious as the Golden Temple, it makes you appreciate India all the more, because you know in your heart of hearts that you wouldn’t appreciate it half as much if it wasn’t for moments like those when you first arrived. It’s what makes India India; its what makes India irresistible, and sometimes you’ve got to experience the lows to truly appreciate the highs.

In my opinion, the Golden Temple is the real jewel of India’s crown. And the great thing is there are many more jewels to discover…