The Taj Mahal, and the love story behind it, stood out as the highlight of a recent famil trip to India – but on the same day, by chance, agents were treated to an impromptu spectacular, a joyous and exuberant wedding procession in Jaipur.
You can’t upstage the Taj Mahal. It’s the most beautiful manmade structure I’ve seen and many others over the centuries have felt the same way. But the street wedding procession, complete with brass band, fireworks, dancers, and groom on horseback, came close.
We encountered the wedding parade as we arrived in Jaipur, “The Pink City” of the north, in the early evening after a drive from Agra.
Our bus was suddenly flanked by a wedding party, carrying brightly lit multi-tier electric lanterns with long cables to provide the power. The cables were connected to a truck at the back with a mobile generator, making much noise.
A flamboyantly uniformed brass band played loudly, with much pounding of drums, along with cheers, fireworks and whoops of spectators, and dancing by Indian girls in traditional dress. We got out and joined in, danced and walked.
Group in Indian dress. Tour leader Anita Thomas of Total Holiday Options second from right, front.
The groom followed at the back of the wedding parade, in a pale grey and pink suit, riding a white horse, his head covered by a headdress with a veil of beads at the front so you couldn’t see his face. Behind him on the horse, holding on tightly to the groom, was a little boy aged about eight years old, who looked ecstatic to be there in such a position.
That’s how the bridegroom traditionally arrives at the house of the bride in Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan in northern India. The bride’s family is waiting to welcome him. Total Holiday Options tour manager Anita Thomas explained to us later that the little boy is the youngest male member of the groom’s family, who traditionally always rides on the same horse with the groom.
The famil was taking a group of top-performing travel agents from Australasia around India’s golden triangle – the tourist circuit that connects national capital, Delhi, with Agra and Jaipur. See: Agents love contrasts and sparkle of India’s Golden Triangle
TravelManagers’ team outside Taj Mahal. From left, Karen Farley, Tanya Barker, Cheryl John, Theresa Geok Yin Kwong
As well as the highlights of Agra and Jaipur, our group visited lesser-known gems like the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, location of the 2011 comedy film starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and other luminaries, playing a group of British pensioners moving to a retirement hotel in India.
Total Holiday Options offers tours incorporating all these places, as well as a new high-end option, The Royal Experience, which the company defines as “the uppermost tier of travel experiences, perfected with a superlative blend of ingredients that matter most”.
Wedding procession in Jaipur
Grand and boutique royal palaces, luxurious jungle lodges, villas and spa resorts – all are included. As always in India, sometimes the unplanned events, like the wedding procession, stand out just as vividly as the great palaces.
Written by Peter Needham