Overlanding through India with Dragoman

Rob Paget, has been part of Dragoman's crew for many years but here he tells of his first experiences of India, this ‘oh-so-colourful’ country.

“You hear all the time about how India will be a culture shock. You hear that it will be crazy. You hear about the infamous 'Delhi belly.' What you don't hear about are the other things that make it a place you just fall in love with."

"After being in India for a month and a half, the thing I have been most surprised about is the warm, welcoming and inquisitive nature of the Indian people. They have been intrigued about everything to do with myself, the passengers and the truck. They are helpful, generous and kind."

"The architecture is incredible. Having always been fascinated by this subject, I was surprised how it wasn’t only the wondrous sights of the Taj Mahal and Jaisalmer that captivated me, but the locals’ homes, street temples and unexpected archways and bridges. A real photographer’s paradise."

"The food is amazing. Best to order the things off the menu that you have absolutely no idea about. The food is nothing like back in the UK. Here the food is spicy for flavour, not for heat. The range of food available is great and street food is some of the best. My favourite meal was a potato and bean 'mash' that was served in a leaf bowl with hot sauce. Filling and wonderful and a bargain at 20 Rupees (about 20 pence!)."

"Of course the driving is an experience. Apart from dodging pot-holes, unmarked speed bumps, over-crowded tuk-tuks and suffering the occasional blanket fog, there are also the buses, bikes and other vehicles that you are sharing the road with. Then you have the 'holy cows', the monkeys, the camels, the dogs and goats…"

"We did have an incredible 'afternoon tea' English style in Darjeeling at the Windermere Hotel. The weather was pouring with rain and very cold so we booked for the afternoon. Cucumber sandwiches, shortbread, tea (served properly in china cups!) - all in an authentic Victorian lounge with a roaring log fire. We stayed until late in to the evening drinking expensive brandies and whiskies. The waiters even clicked their heels when leaving the room. Truly fab!"

"The other mad experience was the festival of Holi which was epic. Everyone throws bright red paint powder all over themselves - but the powder just doesn't wash out! I bought a new white T-shirt to wear as one of the locals said that they do this and keep them hung up in their houses for good luck afterwards. It’s destroyed! It was excellent fun – the chanting, the crowds cheering and also the completely terrified looks on the faces of people who didn't want to get coloured up or water-bombed and those who had just arrived in town and had no idea what was going on! Have had enough of red paint for a while though…."

"I have to say that my favourite part of the trip (unexpectedly) was from Chennai to Calcutta. It was incredible getting out into the countryside, visiting tribal villages completely off the tourist trail and partaking in wedding ceremonies! Absolutely unforgettable memories."

"Wonderful times and a truly remarkable place that I cannot wait to continue to explore more.”

Find out more about Dragoman's overland tours in India, as well as Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan.