A high school teacher who relied on statistics over story telling ensured I always lagged behind in history.
My geography teacher – a catholic nun, who seemed to be uncannily familiar with every squiggly indentation of every coastline on the globe – however, instilled in me a true awareness of the wonderful world I lived in. Even when none of my meticulously hand drawn maps ever seemed to stand up to her exacting scrutiny. Or perhaps it was because of it.
It was the revelatory power of literature that first ignited my passion for history. The sizeable collection of books that I inherited from R’s dad, and all the time in the world to immerse myself in gripping stories. Of giddying power and political intrigue. Of devastating destruction and undying romance. Of the successes and misfortunes of individuals and kingdoms long lost and long dead.
Then travel brought those stories alive in a way no school curriculum ever could even with the most inspired of teachers. And my choice of destinations reflected my passion.
Our road trip across the Northern Indian state of UP, including stops at Delhi*, Agra and Lucknow, rekindled my interest in the considerable external influences on Indian history. While most invading armies arrived here from central Asia, it is Persia that has left a fascinating and long lasting imprint.
The largest number of Zoroastrians (or Parsis), who trace their origins to ancient Persia, live in India today. Persian, was the official state language of the Mughul court and has influenced Urdu language and Sufi poetry enormously. And some of our iconic architectural gems are associated with two most influential Mughal empresses of Persian ancestry: Noor Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal.
It was also a Persian – Nadir Shah – who dealt the crippling blow to the Mughal empire and carted away its most precious treasures. The Peacock Throne and the Kohinoor diamond among them. Get my fascination already?
Now club my abiding fascination with this country, with my long held desire to experience an iconic train journey before I die, and in comes the exclusive rail itinerary – ‘Heart of Persia‘ – from Golden Eagle Luxury Trains. A once in a lifetime exploration through the monumental remains of Persian empire, to its cultural evolution into Islamic Iran.
The stuff of dreams? YES!
But you, my dear readers, could help make that dream come true.
If every one of you were to vote for my entry for the ‘Journeys Of A Lifetime‘ contest over at Conde Nast Traveller before, April 10.
Would you? Please?
Much gratitude in advance 🙂
And while you are at it, why not write your own Journey Of A Lifetime story?
Thumbnail image courtesy the Golden Eagle Luxury Trains website