Once one of the world’s greatest exporters, when the British ruled India from Calcutta during the 18th and 19th centuries, East India remains a place of great historical and cultural riches that retains a strong flavor of its past.
Our November Temples & Tea tour was a particular treasure since it was Toto’s first foray into East India, despite numerous trips to other Indian regions. We explored the states of West Bengal, Odisha and Sikkim, spending a couple of days in the renamed modern metropolis of Kolkata, the “Temple City” of Bhubaneswar, the once-great port of Puri, the tea center of Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas, and in the Himalayas themselves.
We also saw plenty of exotic sights, including temples and holy men and centuries-old folk dance performances (and body-building practices), but were most struck by the willingness of everyday people to invite us into their lives—even making us part of two weddings and a cremation. We won’t soon forget them.