After the wedding, we had a whole new love for India which made exploring it even more fun.
We spent a whole day site seeing in Aurangabad with Maddy’s assistant, Rahul. First, the Ellora Caves with rock sculptures and Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments/artwork dating back to 600-1000 AD. These carvings were created on hills, so they started building from the top down. Next was the Daulatabad Fort. Essentially this fort was a death trap for intruders in the medieval times. It was intense to say the least. The base of the ‘castle’ , or where the king used to live , was at one point surrounded by water filled with hundreds of crocodiles, and shafts to throw invaders to those crocodiles. There are lots of nooks and crannys strategically placed throughout the fort to confuse their enemies (and lots of mice and spiders to freak me out ?). We walked to the very top which was about a two hour hike and were we tiiiired! The last stop of the day was the Bibi Ka Maqbara. The replica looks like a copy and paste of the Taj Mahal with some minor differences. It is incredibly stunning.
I mostly loved to see all the children, and they seemed to love to see me back 🙂 We took hundreds of selfies with random strangers. I think it brought joy to both parties.
From Aurangabad we flew to New Delhi where another graduate school friend, Piyush picked us up and drove us to his northern city of Chandigarh, just a few hours drive from Pakistan. Piyush and I studied for almost every single exam together in school (and Liz!). If it weren’t for him, I likely would not have finished my masters degree. He was the best tutor. While at ASU, Piyush spent holidays in my home town and attended my brothers wedding a year and a half ago. Let’s just say he is as much my family’s friend as he is mine. It was wonderful to reverse it and now be in his home in India. His mother, Chander Kanta is an amazing cook. We ate so much for breakfast lunch and dinner because we simply could not stop! They gave us the grand tour of the beautiful Chandigarh (the first planned city of India), including the temple where Piyush and his father pray every morning. I think I eventually won over his shy nephew and niece, Kanav and Saanvi. His sister-in-law, Suklam bought me the most beautiful earrings, and his kind-hearted, loving, father, Ashwani (The Indian version of Tom Selleck, no joke!) sent us home with blessings. I wish our visit with the Sharmas could have been longer, but we are so grateful for their generosity and love.
All in all our first trip to India was overwhelming in the best way possible. So much happened in just one week. I know I will look back at this post for years to come and my heart will smile.