Lottie Duncan
In the last edition of Travelsphere World, we launched a writing competition and asked you to put pen to paper and tell us about your travels. Our judges enjoyed reading all your entries and we are pleased to crown Hetti Burke as our winner. Her evocative memoir of a trip to India captures everything we love about this wonderful country.

Well done Hetti! Your prize, a Moleskine travel journal
and £50 Travelsphere voucher, will be winging its way to you very soon.

" A visit to India is more than a bustling experience or an intricate maze of memories to take home.
It is a treasure that you grasp only once and find yourself not being able to let go "

This realm captured I and my mother’s hearts last September following our trip with Travelsphere. It could have been the fresh chain of harvested marigolds that were placed around our necks, or a friendly "Namaste" accompanied by the Pranamasana gesture before we entered our hotels. I remember retiring to our room, opening the curtains, and seeing a splash of vivid colour dancing on the industrial walls in the distance... a street parade? I had the urge to want to go and join in!

The trip from Delhi to Jaipur was long, but how often do you see a water buffalo minding his own business in the streets, young kids making fun out of nothing, the sleepy skeleton of ancient remains or elephants passing by your coach window in the UK? These people’s everyday life is mesmerising. The drive left us exhilarated.

We reached Bharatpur Sanctuary by rickshaw and I'd never ‘heard’ silence like it. Time stood still, and each creature moved elegantly and dignified through the trees and across the waters. In this case, our eyes were our cameras because we didn't want to miss a thing! The best part... torrential rain started to fall and there was absolutely nothing we could do but laugh and intoxicate ourselves in our more than natural surroundings.

We then got the opportunity to enjoy a cooking demonstration in a local home. As we were walking to the front door, flower petals were being sprinkled above us by a young man through an upstairs opening. Just when I thought this place couldn't get any more magical, a lovely lady greeted us, her gold rings complemented her skin tone and her pink sari cascaded behind. The lady’s little boy stood on his tiptoes and peeped his head up from the table in curiosity... I remember smiling to myself wondering what he might be thinking of the five strangers staring back at him.

You are in completely new territory, thousands of miles away from familiarity, and encircled in intriguing company... but yet you feel so very much at home. Being young and inquisitive, there were so many questions I wanted to ask. I don't think I'd ever learnt so much at the dinner table!

A full tummy sent us to sleep that night but rising at 4.30am the following morning had never seemed so easy. The Taj Mahal awaits!

‘The Dream in Marble’ sure lives up to its name. It really is the most satisfying building to look at not to mention the most beautiful. This masterpiece was owning the sky around it. The clouds had formed a spiral pattern around the top of the dome and the sunrise hit the stone. I could feel my pupils tingle as this extraordinary colour was taking place. I put my trust into an old man who was fascinated with the colour of my eyes. He took a photo of the reflection of the tomb as I glanced up at it ... and I will cherish it forever. The best things really do come to you when you least expect it.

If you accept the chaos and immerse yourself in the culture, your experiences here will flourish.