India

Local Time: 17:35

If you’re planning your next adventure, India has to be at the top of your list, right? A country that’s baffling, yet beautiful, chaotic, yet charismatic, ridiculous, yet rational, extraordinary, yet…well, just down right extraordinary.

If you do visit arguably the most diverse country in the world, prepare to have your senses violated (in a good way), your perceptions radically changed, your memories cemented and your breath well and truly taken. This is indeed India!

Highlights

Hi my name’s Sunil and I’m the local ambassador for India. India’s landscape is as vast as its culture, there’s urban jungles, actual jungles, mountains and beaches, all serving up more attractions than you can shake a very large stick at. Which makes talking about India’s highlights definitely not the easiest job, but having lived and breathed most corners of India, I think I can give it a good go, here’s my top highlights…

Agra

Home to the world famous, jewel of India, the Taj Mahal. Now, it really is as good as the pictures make out and it’s something definitely not to be missed. But just a stones throw away from the Taj Mahal you’ll find the local ancient village of Kachhpura. Here you get the chance to go beyond the Taj Mahal by interacting with the locals and learning about their lives, a truly life changing experience.

Delhi

The city of Delhi offers up many attractions for the historian in you. With some of the most preserved ancient relics in the country, including the Red Fort. But across the way is the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, usually overlooked by the usual groups of tourists and features some very Instagrammable old age tombs and ruins.

Varanasi

The oldest city in India. This sacred city is incredibly important in Hindu culture as it is dedicated to one of the Hindu deity, Shiva. Here you’ll find the India you imagine, one of the most fascinating places on earth. But the top highlight has to be the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a major pilgrimage destination, admittedly it does get busy, but definitely worth the visit.

Food

Wherever you go in India, whilst the landscape might change, one thing’s for certain, the food remains incredible! Punjabi and Rajasthani (both North Indian) delicacies are absolutely delightful, deserts from Jodhpur & Bikaner are just unbelievable; street food options from the state of Uttar Pradesh (Agra, Allahabad & Varanasi) stand out as well. South Indian cuisine is a different world altogether. If you get the chance, eat with a local family, the food eaten at home, in our daily lives is very different to the food you find in the tourist filled restaurants. Indian home-cooked food is much simpler, much healthier & utterly delectable (and much more than just butter chicken.)

 

When is the best time to go?

High Season (Dec–Mar)

  • Lovely weather – warm days, cool nights. Peak tourists.
  • In the north in December and January nights are a little chillier
  • Temperatures start to increase from February.

 

Shoulder Season (Jul–Nov)

  • Passes to Ladakh and the high Himalaya open from July to September.
  • Monsoon rain-showers through to September.

 

Low Season (Apr–Jun)

  • April is hot; May and June even hotter. Competitive hotel prices.
  • Humidity is high from June, as the monsoon season sweeps from south to north.
  • Beat the heat (but not the crowds) in the cool hills.

NotintheGuideBooks Tips

  • Bring your camera – apart from your passport, your camera will be the most important thing you bring. You’ll see some truly breathtaking sites that you’ll want to take some snaps
  • Eat local – the food in India really is on another planet, so try and steer clear of the tikka masalas and the butter chickens. If you can, try street food at one of the local bazaars, or eat with a local family.
  • Prepare well for your visit to India – the fear factor is hyped, but by and large, it is safe to travel in India. Be alert and be confident!
  • Consult your doctor before visiting to make sure you have all the up to date vaccinations.
  • Go beyond the mainstream – whilst the main sites are spectacular, do some research and spend some time at some of the lesser known places.
  • Go outside your comfort zone – India isn’t a holiday it is a cultural adventure. Have plenty of patience and a good sense of humour, and it will be a life changing experience.
  • Here’s some local phrases that will help you on your travels throughout
    • Chalo – Let’s go
    • Ruko – Stop
    • Paani – Water
    • Mehenga – Expensive
    • Paise – Money
    • Dhanyavaad/shukriya – Thank you
    • Namaste – Greetings/hello