India is the second most populous country in the world. Here you can find more English-speaking people than any other country except for the USA. Explore a diverse culture and geographical variety from the Himalayan Mountains to the Indian Ocean, to being transported by elephants. Be amazed by the application of henna (Mehndi), a beautiful form of skin tattoo.
Here you can buy authentic Chikankari Fabrics (a traditional form of embroidery), handcrafted juttis, and Pashmina Shawls, which we consider the finest cashmere wool. In fact, Pashmina is translated as soft gold. As the world’s second largest tea producer, India has much to offer starting with a warm cup of Masala Chai and other varieties including white and oolong teas with minimum oxidation, and exclusive teas from Darjeeling and Assam. If you thought Arabica coffee was sharp and pungent, then wait until you taste Manjarabad (double the caffeine!).
Take your taste buds for a spin by sampling some of the most authentic Indian dishes with real herbs and spices from the local markets. You might have heard of the principles of Ayurveda, which represents the most significant science of Hindu health and medicine combining herbs, diet, and yogic breathing to achieve a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Why Travel to India
India is a country with fascinating landscapes and diverse traditions. This is the country where you can experience every form of adventure from climbing the Himalaya Mountains to catching a tan on majestic, sun-drenched beaches.
Dive into a fascinating, fragrant and delicious world of Indian dishes. Indian cuisine is a fine art of combining simmered, fried, roasted and kneaded foods and ingredients in fascinating combinations that will awaken your senses. Sample delicious regional creations like pork vindaloo, chicken tikka masala with freshly ground spices, juicy mutton pieces, Chole Bhature, and delicious leavened flat bread (Naan). Indian chefs have an exceptional culinary talent for marrying flavours that you won’t find in any other cuisine.
India has over 25 cultural and 7 natural attractions on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
UNESCO: India’s cultural attractions
- Agra Fort – impressive imperial city of the Mughal rulers (1526-1827)
- Ajanta Cave – the first richly decorated Buddhist cave (2nd century B.C.)
- Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi – the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence including temples, palaces and pillars
- Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park – the only Islamic pre-Mughal times city, preserved in its original, unchanged condition
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – a beautiful blend of Victorian Gothic architecture combined with Indian structural design
- Churches and Convents of Goa – some of the oldest Catholic Churches in the World
- Elephanta Caves – a collection of sculpted rock art and an impressive reflection of ancient temple architecture
- Ellora Caves – a two-kilometre stretch of 34 monasteries and temples built between 600 to 1000 A.D.
- Fatehpur Sikri – also known as the City of Victory, where you will find one of the largest mosques in India (the Jama Masjid)
- Great Living Chola Temples – built by kings during the Chola period with impressive paintings, bronze castings, and sculptures
- Group of Monuments at Hampi – the last capital city of Vijayanagar (the last great Hindu Kingdom; built between 1336-1570 A.D.)
- Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram – sanctuaries are known for their chariot-like temples built by the Pallava kings during the 7th-8th century
- Group of Monuments at Pattadakal – eclectic art and architectural forms from Chalukya dynasty period
- Hill Forts of Rajasthan – located in the state of Rajasthan, temples, and sacred buildings are testimony to the Rajput princely states
- Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi – the first garden tomb in India, built in 1570
- Khajuraho Group of Monuments – the temples at Khajuraho (Chandella dynasty) perhaps the greatest masterpieces of Indian architecture
- Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya – one of the first Buddhist brick-built temples
- Mountain Railways of India – a 46-km single-track railway with parts reaching an elevation of 2,203m (over 2km!)
- Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi – Qutb Minar is a 120m red sandstone tower (the tallest brick mosque in the world)
- Rani-ki-Vav at Patan, Gujarat – an impressive 7-level sandstone structure with beautiful gardens and landscapes built in the 11th century A.D.
- Red Fort Complex – the abode of the Mughal emperor until 1857
- Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka – here you will find the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent
- Sun Temple, Konârak – one of India’s most famous Brahman sanctuaries (built in the 13th century)
- Taj Mahal – a breathtaking white marble structure, built in Agra between 1631-1648
- The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur – best-preserved example of India’s historic observatories of astronomic positions
UNESCO: India’s natural attractions
- Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area – one of India’s national parks spread over an area of 1,171 km² with elevations reaching 6000m
- Kaziranga National Park – inhabited by tigers, panthers, elephants, and the world’s biggest population of one-horned rhinoceroses
- Keoladeo National Park – over 364 species of birds have been noted here
- Manas Wildlife Sanctuary – home to the pygmy hog, Indian rhinoceros, Indian elephant, and tiger
- Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks – beautiful Himalayan region, home to many endangered animals like blue sheep, brown bears, Asiatic black bears, and snow leopards
- Sundarbans National Park – the world’s largest area of mangrove forests; over 10,000 km2 of land and water
- Western Ghats – recognized as one of the world’s 8th best spots of biological diversity; home to over 325 globally-threatened fauna, flora and animal species
Quick Facts about India
- Officially known as the Republic of India
- New Delhi is the Capital City
- You need a travel visa–valid from the date of issue, not the date of arrival
- Excerpt From: Lonely Planet. “Lonely Planet South India & Kerala (Travel Guide).” iBooks.
- The second largest population in the world (over 1.2 billion people)
- The currency is the Indian rupee
- Time Zone: India Time (UTC+05:30)
- Major airports in India include Indira Gandhi International Airport, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Kempegowda International Airport, Chennai International Airport, and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
- About 80% of Indians are Hindu
- The highest mountain in India is Kanchenjunga (8,598m)
- India gained its independence in 1947; Mahatma Gandhi played an important part
- Cricket is the most popular sport in India (the Chail Cricket Ground in Chail, Himachal Pradesh, is at 2444m the highest cricket ground in the world)
- The 2010 Commonwealth Games was hosted in Delhi, India
- Shampoo comes from India – champu meaning to massage
- Using a Moon Mineralogy Mapper, India discovered water on the moon
- Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury was of Indian descent
- Cows freely wander the streets of India’s cities
- The most common name is Sneha (female) and Raj (male)
- McLeod Ganj is home of the Dalai Lama
The challenges of travelling to India
As the second most populous country in the world, India makes solo travelling challenging and at times unsafe due to large traffic on the streets. You are also likely to experience a lack of privacy and females, in particular, are likely to get lots of stares. Harmless in most instances, gawking is what Indian people do when they see strangers, especially female strangers. People are generally nice, so overreacting is not recommended.
Hygiene may also present challenges to most Western travellers. You’re unlikely to find clean, shiny, porcelain toilets here. Most Westerners need to adjust to a completely new culture and those who adapt quickly tend to experience less stress and more enjoyment of their travel. The other option is to travel with a group and a guide where your trips are organised by someone who has plenty of tour experience. That way, you should enjoy your travel more. It’s also recommended to carry toilet paper with you as it is often not supplied, especially in public toilets. Having a good hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes can often save the day and make your travel less stressful.
Solo travellers, in particular, are faced with many, and sometimes unpleasant, social issues including political instability, poverty, unemployment, and corruption. While most people are nice and polite, many do take advantage of tourists, so you need to plan your tour carefully.
Other challenges include hardly any proper accommodation, messy and crowded public transport, many unclean restaurants, and street beggars. If chatty young men try to engage you–don’t stop, smile and keep walking.
Before you set out for the journey, we recommend that you visit your family GP to discuss necessary vaccinations and health issues that you might have.
The benefits of travelling to India
Properly planned and organised, India travel can be an enjoyable and memorable adventure. Here you will experience one of the world’s oldest cultures, historic sites, lost empires, incredible architecture, and delicious lip-smacking flavours of Punjab guaranteed to tantalise your senses. India rewards those travellers who are open to experiencing the unexpected. It offers a soul-stirring, beautiful journey across the epochs as you explore its mysterious relics, monuments, and artifacts. It’s a must-visit destination for history buffs and adventurous travellers looking to immerse themselves in an intoxicating culture.
Start planning your itinerary–India awaits you!