With two months between the end of my Diploma in Legal Practice and commencing my traineeship with Gilson Gray, I decided to take advantage of potentially the last time I would have the opportunity to take such a considerable amount of time off at one time.
With two fellow law graduates, we headed to Delhi from Edinburgh, via Abu Dhabi. Staying in bunk beds in a twelve-man dorm, we explored the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Delhi. A food tour, a trip to the Red Fort, and a trip to India Gate and the Municipal Centre later, we hopped on a train to India’s pink city: Jaipur.
As soon as we arrived in Jaipur we were lucky enough to meet a tuk-tuk driver and tour guide that truly made our stay. We spent three days visiting the stunning Amber Fort, Jal Mahal, Monkey Temple, and an Elephant Sanctuary. Jaipur was also home to the greatest curry I have ever tasted: traditional Rajasthani Aloo Pyaz. We returned to the restaurant the next day for a cooking class, which was a wonderful learning experience that I am looking forward to demonstrating to friends and family back in Scotland.
Our next stop was a thirteen-hour bus journey away in the deserts of Jaisalmer. Here we spent two days on camels, touring the golden sands of the Western Pakistan border in Rajasthan. Cooking over an open fire in the desert and sleeping under the stars, it was a truly unique experience and one of the highlights of the holiday.
From Jaisalmer, we made our way to Amritsar. One of the most religious cities in India, we visited the holiest Gurdwara of Sikhism: the Golden Temple. As well as the spiritual beauty of the Temple, volunteers cook for up to one hundred thousand people per day, regardless of faith or background. We also attended the border ceremony in Wagah, with the Indian and Pakistani military performing aggressive dance-like manoeuvres on the border between the country. A symbol of the rivalry between the partitioned nations, it also demonstrates the respect and co-operation between the countries and the atmosphere was truly electric.
Leaving the state of Punjab, we travelled North through Himachal Pradesh and to Jammu/Kashmir, visiting Dharamshala and Leh. Dharamshala is the off-season home of the Dalai Lama and, located in the mountains, feels a lot more like Tibet than India, with Buddhist monks from all over the world making the pilgrimage regularly and in great numbers. Leh is set within the backdrop of the Himalayas and we took advantage of this, doing a two-day trek to Stok Kangri pass. We reached an altitude of 4850 metres, giving myself and one of my trekking mates altitude sickness towards the summit. Despite the discomfort, the views were breath-taking and I will never forget the experience
From Leh, we left India, taking a flight to the capital of Nepal: Kathmandu. Another cooking class and a few days sightseeing took up a lot of our time in Kathmandu before we headed to Nepal’s second city, Pokhara. A few days enjoying the weather and renting boats gave us a chance to recover from a considerable amount of travelling and spend a little time relaxing. In truth, Nepal did not quite have the appeal of India. Kathmandu, in particular, is clearly still recovering from the 2015 earthquake and the dust in the air did make it uncomfortable at points. Nonetheless, the food, the culture, and the people of Nepal made it an excellent country to visit.
Leaving Kathmandu, we made our way to Goa. India’s party capital, Goa was full of bars and clubs and was a wonderful place to spend our last week. A week of beers by the beach, drinking games at our hostel, and bar crawls on the Baga strip gave us a great end to our holiday but guaranteed that I would arrive back in Edinburgh needing a few days to recover from the excesses of the end of my holiday.
Six weeks, two countries, six states 18,272 miles of travel, and an unquantifiable number of curries later, I could not have asked for a better holiday. I am delighted that I got the opportunity to travel India and Nepal and would recommend it to anyone who has the chance. A perfect break following graduation and prior to commencing my traineeship with Scotland’s most exciting full-service law firm: Gilson Gray.