Why Travel To India

India almost needs no introduction, as the glorious history and cultures of this enormous country have been fascinating explorers and researchers for centuries. The monuments built as evidence of this spectacular civilisation are simply breathtaking. Of course there is the Taj Mahal, one of the world’s most photographed buildings, but this great white beauty overshadows the magnificence of equally as spectacular sites, such as the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb.

Beyond the grand forts and exquisite tombs there is a country of fabulous natural beauty as well – try the endless beaches of Goa, the snaking rivers of Kerala, and the Himalayan mountains of Kashmir. The cities are the places to go to get to grips with modern India, from the frenetic energy of Mumbai to the vibrant markets of Delhi. It is also in the cities that you’ll find many of India’s fascinating temples and mosques, and you can begin to understand how religion and spirituality are so intrinsically linked with people’s everyday lives.

World’s great cuisines

Home to one of the world’s great cuisines. And yes, the curry

Architecture and history

History spanning thousands of years. The architecture hints at the vast history of India

Religion and spiritualty 

Religion and spiritualty in everyday life. There are plenty of places to practice, meditate

Inspiring Trip Ideas

Recommended Places & Senses

Map

India Travel Guide

AT A GLANCE
Capital city: Delhi
Population: 1.14 billion
Language: Hindi, English
Currency: INR
Time zone: GMT+05:30
Electricity: 220V
Dialing code: +91
A country by name, but a continent in scale, India in one word is diversity. Its north is banded by the peaks of the Himalayas. Moving south, you pass through Rajasthan, a microcosm of India with its forts, palaces and temples, and the Taj Mahal, but also its bustling markets and opportunities to spot tiger. In India’s northeast corner, Calcutta still exudes its colonial heritage in a landscape clothed with tea plantations.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
  • Cold nights in Rajasthan and the north clear for warm, dry days, making January a great option for sightseeing; although fog can linger in the mornings
  • February to May: The best months for seeing wildlife in the central parks. Water is limited, so sightings at watering holes are frequent. As daytime temperatures are very high, we'd recommend excursions in the morning and evenings only.
  • The stunning region of Ladakh is accessible from June to August and offers a complete contrast to the rest of the country. Days are sunny and clear, but you will need layers for warmth.
  • September and October can offer fantastic value in Rajasthan as it marks the end of the monsoon, although weather is still mixed in the surrounding regions.
  • One of the best months to travel anywhere in India, November to December offers wonderful weather as well as multiple festivals
PEOPLE, HISTORY AND CULTURE
As one of the oldest living civilisations in the world, India's customs are based on an ancient cultural heritage. As contemporary India changes at a rapid pace, it stills clings to time worn traditions that have been in existence for centuries. Modern India is made up of a fascinating blend of ethnicities and religions, and as the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, any visit to India will undoubtedly be steeped in spirituality as it permeates most aspects of society. Although there are significant populations of Muslims and Christians, most Indians belong to one of the four main religions mentioned above.
GEOGRAPHY
India shares land borders with Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and Bhutan, and also has wide stretches of coastline along the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. As the seventh largest country in the world, India is home to a variety of terrains - the Himalayas of the north, the deserts and plains of the west, the fertile waterways of the south and the hills and forests of the east. Development is occurring at a rapid pace, with India's large, sprawling cities consisting of everything from five star hotels to shanty towns, and with modern malls and cinemas sitting comfortably alongside bazaars and street food vendors. A trip through India will reveal a diverse range of landscapes, villages, cities and environments.
TRANSPORTATIONS
  1. By train Travelling by train is one of india’s classic experiences. The national rail network covers almost the entire country; only a few places (such as the mountainous regions of sikkim, ladakh, uttarakhand and most of himachal pradesh) are inaccessible by train. Although the railway system might look like chaos, it does work, and generally better than you might expect.
  2. By motorbike Motorbike rental is available in many tourist towns and can be fun for local journeys, but the condition of the bike can be hit and miss. However, unless you know your stuff, this is a better strategy than diving in and buying a machine. Unlike with sales, it’s in a rental outfit’s interest to rent you a bike that works.
  3. City transport That most indian of vehicles, the auto-rickshaw – commonly referred to as just an “auto” – is the front half of a motor scooter with a couple of seats mounted on the back. Cheaper than taxis, better at nipping in and out of traffic, and usually metered (although, again, very few drivers are willing to use theirs and you should agree a fare before setting off), auto-rickshaws are a little unstable and their drivers often rather reckless but that’s all part of the fun.
  4. By plane Considering the huge distances involved in getting around the country, and the time it takes to get from a to b, flying is an attractive option, despite the cost – the journey from delhi to chennai, for example, takes a mere 2 hours 30 minutes by plane compared to 36 hours on the train.
  5. Domestic airlines - Air india w airindia.com. - Air india express w airindiaexpress.in. - Go air w goair.in. - Indigo airlines w book.goindigo.in. - Jet airways/jetkonnect w jetairways.com. - Kingfisher airlines w flykingfisher.com. - Spicejet w spicejet.com.
 
ACCOMMODATIONS
  1. Mid-range hotels
Even if you value your creature comforts, you don’t need to pay through the nose for them. A large clean room, freshly made bed, your own spotless bathroom and hot and cold running water can still cost as little as rs500 (£5.70/us$9) in cheaper areas. Extras that bump up the price include local taxes, a tv, mosquito nets, a balcony and, above all, air-conditioning..
  1. Upmarket hotels
The boom of the past decade has seen a proliferation in the number of luxury hotels throughout india. Roughly speaking they fall into two categories. Pitched primarily at visiting businessmen, smart, western-style hotels with air-conditioning and swanky interiors are to be found predominantly in towns and city centres. Because competition among them is rife, tariffs tend to represent good value for money, especially in the upper-mid-range bracket.
  1. Other options
In one or two places, it’s possible to rent rooms in people’s homes. In rajasthan, mumbai and kerala the local tourist offices run “paying guest” or “homestay” schemes to place tourists with families offering lodging. Camping is generally restricted to wildlife reserves, where the forest department lay on low-impact accommodation under canvas for visitors, and to beach resorts in which building is restricted by local coastal protection laws.
EATING AND DRINKING
  1. Goa
The tropical climate and coastal location ensures the seafood is fresh and tasty here. Pungent seafood curries bubbling in coconut milk, as well as fresh crab, lobster, squid and prawns are all great picks in this region. A Kingfisher beer also goes down well with a Goan sunset.
  1. Rajasthan
With little access to water, Rajasthani cuisine relies on milk or ghee as a base, making it quite rich. Legumes, pulses and breads feature heavily as access to fresh vegetables is scarce.
  1. Kerala
A great producer of many spices so expect hot and spicy dishes when eating here. Rice is abundant, as is coconut, so expect coconut-based curries laced with chilli, ginger, cardamom and pepper. Having access to many waterways, seafood also features on the menu here. Dosa (pancake-like crepes) are popular breakfast items in Kerala.
  1. Assam
The cuisine of this north-eastern hills region is characterised by a reliance on rice and preserved produce. There is a distinct lack of spice used but despite this, the cuisine still possesses a strong flavour due to the dried herbs and flavoursome vegetables and fruits that most dishes are based on. Pickles, salads, garnishes and condiments like mustard oil, lemon and mangosteen add a distinct flavour to Assamese dishes.
  1. Gujarat
Cuisine from western India is predominantly vegetarian. Daal, rice and roti (flat bread) are the main dishes, which are sometimes supplemented with stir fried vegetables.          
SENSES'S PICKED DESTINATION
  1. Fiery Flavours Treat your tastebuds to the spicy flavours of India with a traditional aromatic curry. Indulge in the heady mix of coconut milk, chilli, ginger, ghee and spices, then cool down by sipping on a refreshing Lassi - the prefect antidote to the unrelenting heat of an Indian curry.
  2. Colourful Chaos Experience the urban cacophony of Delhi - a unique collision of cultures, cattle and people. Hear the rumble of cars, truck and buses, the frantic calls of street vendors and hawkers, the sizzle of food and the rustic ring of a cow bell in this unforgettable and irrepressible city.
  3. Rat Race Walk barefoot through the Karni Mata Temple as thousands of rats scamper across the marble floor. Just felt a furry rodent scurry over your feet? Fear not - it's a sign of good luck in this unique rat-worshipping temple.
  4. Gorgeous Goa Sit beachside in Goa and gaze into the sublime beauty of the ocean. Take a moment to kick back and soak up the clear skies and deep blue sea of this exotic island. Watch the sun's rays shimmer on the horizon and bask in the golden glow of this balmy retreat.
  5. Silky Sophistication For a slice of extravagance, feel the soft, luxurious touch of traditional Indian silk. Made in a variety of vibrant colours and perfect for making everything from saris to prayer mats and decorative hangings to upholstery, the inimitable feel of finely crafted silk is a simple pleasure in life.
  6. Answered Prayers Hear the flutter of prayer flags as they flap in the wind near the isolated monasteries of Dharamsala. In a stark environment of rugged, mountainous landscapes, quietness permeates the air, except for the unique sound of prayer flags collecting prayers and sending them to the heavens above.
 
HEALTH and SAFETY
  1. Avoid wearing expensive jewellry, carrying large amounts of cash, looking flashy, or causing a scene. Doing any of these is asking for trouble.
  2. Pickpockets thrive in crowded areas such as markets as well as bus and train stations. Women should keep purses or bags close to their sides and men should store wallets in front instead of rear pockets.
  3. Avoid traveling alone at night. This is a general recommendation for any unfamiliar area, but should be followed in New Delhi as well.
  4. Demonstrations, protests and mass gatherings occur in major public areas. Avoid these situations as they can be dangerous.
  5. Food poisoning is common for travellers to India. Some recommend avoiding eating meat altogether. These and many other issues are discussed at India Food Safety .
FESTIVAL CALENDAR
  1. Holi
Travellers get a chance to revel in a tangible rainbow at this festival, which occurs throughout different regions of India. While northern India has the largest celebrations, Goa and some other areas also participate in this festival with Hindu origins. Colourful powders fly through the air onto crowds of people; water balloons explode in the street, food and drink flow and devotees slip into trances - all culminating into a wonderful festival of vibrancy.
  1. Diwali
See firecrackers, lanterns, gift giving and gift receiving during this Hindu festival of lights. While many shops and businesses close during this period of spiritual significance, it's still a special time to visit, with moving pujas (offerings) and rituals to witness.
  1. Pushkar Camel Fair
Thousands of camels (and their owners dressed in their finest garb) descend upon Rajasthan's Pushkar for the annual camel fair. Camels are traded and raced, acrobats and performers entertain crowds at a nearby fair, while finely dressed males and bejewelled females take the chance to let their hair down.  
DOS & DON'TS
DOs
  1. Do not offer to shake the hand of a person of the opposite sex unless they offer first.
  2. Do not walking over books and paper, even newspaper or even touching them with your feet.
  3. Do not use the same hand for eating and also for taking food from a common dish on the dining table.
  4. Do not breaking temple rules while on a visit to a temple.
  5. Do not touch anyone or receive/give anything with one's left hand.
  6. Do not drink any alcohol or smoke in public. It‘s offensive.
  7. Do not hunt as killing wildlife can get you in serious trouble. Do not hurt a cow
  8. Do not discuss religion, especially with Muslims who form 11% of India's population.
  9. Do not buy food from roadside stalls or mobile canteens. Do not drink local tap water, drink bottled water only. Do not eat fresh fruit and vegetables that you cannot peel.
DON’Ts
  1. Do dress modestly if you are female. No sleeveless blouses, no short skirts, no shorts, no low, loose collars. And men do not wear shorts.
  2. Do prepare yourself at the earliest Indian traffic and roads are hapless.
  3. Do greet people with big smile. Handshake with ladies especially in rural areas should be avoided.
  4. If possible do cover yourself with travel insurance for thefts, loss and medi-claim. Do exchange money only through authorize banks or money changers.
  5. Do bargain with half price when you buy things from roadside stalls or hawkers, but do not bargain in proper shops especially where display “fixed price' signs.
  6. Do make sure to remove your foot wear when visiting a place of worship or mausoleum.
  7. As customary, do bring some small gifts as hostess gifts and as presentations to one's students, it can be as small as a postcard from your home region.
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