India and Sri Lanka
From the most photographed palace on the planet to images of isolated landscapes, Indian Subcontinent expert Sarah Birch shares her views of two extraordinary countries.
Home to one of the most famous buildings in the world, Agra is a must-do for most travellers to India. I had been to Agra before, but only visited the main landmarks, the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. This time I also had a tour of Kachhpura, a small village on the banks of the Yamuna River on the opposite bank to the Taj Mahal. My guide was a local who was keen to show me around his village. I found the buildings of the village just as fascinating as the more imposing traditional sights, especially the local gym — one of my guide’s favourite places to meet his friends.
The Taj Mahal
One of the most photographed buildings of all time, even if you haven’t visited the Taj, you will be well acquainted with the iconic front view. One of most fascinating things about visiting the Taj is exploring it from every angle and seeing unexpected elements. Glimpsing the Taj’s hidden nooks and crannies really makes you feel lucky to see this monument in person.
The ever-changing scenery of Sri Lanka never ceases to amaze me, from being in dense jungle one minute to having panoramic mountain views the next. During my visit to the tea country area I got up very early in the morning to take a walk through Horton Plains, one of Sri Lanka’s most unique national parks. Before we had even arrived in the park, the soft light of the early dawn started to peek through the mist creating this amazing view. It definitely made my very early start worthwhile.
On my trip through Sri Lanka, I stopped in Kandy city in the heart of the country. While walking through the bustling streets, I could hear loud music and cheering coming from a local sports field. My guide encouraged me to explore further and we poked our heads over the barrier. The field was alive with school children enthusiastically performing a dance recital for friends and family. We were spotted by a local family who were there to watch their daughter. The father nipped out of the stands and suggested to myself and my guide that we should come and watch with them. I sat and saw the rest of the recital, being offered many homemade snacks in the process!
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