India is a country unlike any other. Wondrous sights rich in romance and intrigue come alive in the “Golden Triangle”—Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Delhi’s immense red sandstone marble tomb, commissioned by Emperor Humayun’s grief-stricken wife, will capture your heart, while Raj Ghat, a black granite memorial to the “Father of the Nation,” Mahatma Gandhi, will stir your soul. Jaipur’s Pink City and Agra’s Taj Mahal, a grand tribute to love, will leave you forever mesmerized.
Anyone who has seen the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” will know that to experience India is to bring all your senses to the fore and let the magic that is India just wash over you. Just like its namesake the marigold flower is a very powerful symbol in India that is used as ornamentation for festivals, celebrations and pujas. The marigold flower has been used as love charms and is known as the “herb of the sun” symbolizing passion and creativity.
Early Christians named the flower, “Mary’s Gold” and placed the flower at the foot of the Blessed Mary’s statue in lieu of money. The Portuguese introduced marigolds to India (along with their cuisine) and while the flower is offered to the Hindu gods for festivals and celebrations it is also used for colouring materials. The marigold flower is woven into garland necklaces and offered in welcome as a mark of respect and honour.
Mother Teresa, also known as the Saint of Calcutta, is another icon that you will come into close contact with when visiting incredible India. She was born in 1920 in what is now known as modern Macedonia. After joining the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland at the age of 18 she took the name Sister Mary Teresa and moved to India to teach at a Catholic school for girls.
After 17 years of teaching she answered a ‘call within a call’ and abandoned her teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta, looking after the city’s poorest and most downtrodden. In 1950, with the Vatican’s approval, she started the Missionaries of Charity, a group of sisters who took vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and service to the poorest of the poor.
World renowned for her work dedicated to caring for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone”, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and is a legend to this day.
There are many tours to India. One of them is Uniworld that offers a 13-day adventure by land and river along the sacred river Ganges. This journey will touch all of your senses, from Kolkata, where Mother Teresa’s humble home and tomb provide a place of pilgrimage, to the Rajbari Temples devoted to the Hindu god Shiva. The Ganges voyage delves deeply into India’s fascinating historical and religious heritage, working its charm in myriad ways and leaving you with memories that will forever endure.