Feature

Incredible India ticks all boxes for travel buffs Graham and Julia Reid

Indian hockey men’s team coach Graham Reid and wife Julia have visited the Taj Mahal, the beaches at Goa and been on jungle safaris during their time in the country.

By Rahul Venkat ·

For Indian hockey men’s team coach Graham Reid, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdown didn’t just halt training. It also thwarted the tourist in him.

The Australian coach and his wife Julia are big travel enthusiasts and it is their go-to activity whenever they get the downtime.

In fact, in just over a year and a half of being in India, Graham and Julia Reid have already visited the beaches of Goa and been on tiger safaris. 

The Australians have also undertaken a couple of shorter trips within Karnataka, where they currently stay at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru.

“It is a shame that the virus cut short our exploration of the country because we were in love with the hustle and bustle of it,” Julia Reid told the Olympic Channel. “It's been five months now that we last stepped out of the SAI campus.”

The Reids are clearly fascinated by India. And it began with their first trip to the country in 2014.

“We had come down to Jaipur for a short visit and then decided to extend it a little bit to go to the Ranthambore National Park. It was a majestic experience to see the tigers in the wild there,” recalled Graham.

Located in the state of Rajasthan, some 130kms from the state capital Jaipur, the Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest national parks in India. The tiger reserve, which also offers safaris, is a wildlife tourist attraction and is a big draw for bird watchers and photographers as well. 

And as his Instagram feed attests, Graham Reid is an avid photographer.

“I think India is a different flavour for us,” Julia explained. “The people here are so friendly and helpful to foreigners, which makes it a delightful experience to be a tourist here.”

However, of the numerous places they have travelled to, one particular trip has stayed with them. 

Taj Mahal captures the imagination

The Taj Mahal in Agra is one of the popular tourist destinations in India, especially among foreigners.

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is seen as one of the foremost displays of love, having been built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan for his late wife Mumtaz.

NBA superstar Kevin Durant was a high-profile visitor a few years back while former South African cricketer AB de Villiers proposed to his wife, Danielle at the Taj Mahal.

And Graham and Julia Reid were similarly enthralled by it.

“I think the Taj Mahal is something incredible, both of us loved it,” Julia said. “It is a beautiful monument and just a gorgeous structure to look at.

Graham Reid, on the other hand, sums up the experience with an interesting comparison.

“It seems like we may have travelled to a few places but that’s not quite accurate is it? India is such a huge country,” laughs Graham Reid.

“You know, we had backpacked across Africa for a few months when we were younger and they say that the place gets in your blood,” noted Graham.

“I think that also holds true for India – it just stays with you. It is great that we get to do that in two different continents. I don’t think people quite realise how special it is.”

What’s next on the bucket list?

While Graham Reid may be occupied with running the national camp of the Indian hockey men’s team currently, he and Julia have identified their next travel destination, whenever the time permits.

“We would really love to get up to northern India this time,” said Julia. “One of the first places we want to go to is Amritsar and visit the famous Golden Temple.”

If the trip does materialise soon enough, the south Indian food-loving Reids would be treated to a whole new cuisine in northern India.