INDIA TRAVEL GUIDE
India is an extremely diverse country, with vast differences in geography, climate, culture, language and ethnicity across its expanse, and prides itself on being the largest democracy on Earth and a hub of trade in Southeast Asia. India provides a vast canvass for touring whether it may be cultural, adventure, religious, history, beach or wildlife.
India offers a myriad of flavours mingling in the steam of a country coming of age. Teeming with over a billion people who voice over a million concerns in fifteen hundred different languages, India is where people live with variety, thrive on diversity and are too familiar with largeness to let it boggle them.
Travellers and tourists to India may, however, find it daunting. Mud huts and mansions face off across city streets and luxury and limp are inhabitants of the same lane. Just like in the masala box in every Indian kitchen, measures of Calm and Kaam (work) craft the people of India. In this beautiful and bountiful land that is India, events, experiences and sensations heap themselves on the tourist at every step. India will be one of the most stimulating places you’ll ever visit.
INDIA QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Delhi
- Currency: Indian Rupee (₹, INR)
- Area: total: 3,287,263 km²
- Population: 1,353 billion (2018)
- Language: Hindi, English and 21 other official languages
- Religion:79.8% Hindu, 14.2 Islam, 2.3 Christianity, 1.7% Sikhism, 0.7% Buddhist, 0.7% Other religions, 0.4% Jain
- Electricity: 230V/50Hz, Indian (Old British) and European plugs
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INDIA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 26 January, Republic Day
- 15 August, Independence Day
- 2 October, Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday
Also, business openings and work schedules may be significantly affected by Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, and Sikh holidays and festivals.
FESTIVALS IN INDIA
BEST TIME TO VISIT INDIA
India has four main seasons:
- Winter (December to February) - This is the coldest season in most parts of India, with temperatures ranging from cool to very cold in the northern regions.
- Summer (March to June) - This is the hottest season in India, with temperatures ranging from hot to very hot. This season is characterized by high humidity, especially in the coastal regions.
- Monsoon (July to September) - This season is characterized by heavy rainfall and strong winds. Many parts of India receive the majority of their annual rainfall during the monsoon season.
- Post-monsoon (October to November) - This season marks the end of the monsoon and is characterized by clear skies and mild temperatures. The weather is pleasant and comfortable during this time.
It's worth noting that the seasons can vary depending on the region of the country you are visiting. Some areas might have a more extended monsoon season, while others might have a shorter winter season.
The best time to visit India depends on the specific regions you plan to visit and the type of weather you prefer. Generally, the best time to visit is between October and March, when the weather is cooler and more comfortable. However, if you plan to visit the southern parts of India, it is best to visit between November and February, when it is less humid. On the other hand, if you plan to visit the northern parts of India, it is best to visit between April and June, when the weather is warmer.
INDIA WEATHER SYNOPSIS
India’s climate is influenced by the presence of the Himalayas in the northern part of the country and the Thar Desert in the west. The Himalayan Mountains act as a barrier to winds from Central Asia and China, enabling India’s climate to be warmer than other countries at similar latitudes. The northern part of the country is characterised as a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The coastal regions of the country, however, experience warmer temperatures with little variation throughout the year and frequent rainfall.
INDIA TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN INDIA
HIKING & CYCLING IN INDIA
The best time for outdoor activities in India is from October to May when the weather is dry. June and September can also be fine in some regions, but many areas are off limits during July and August due to the wet monsoons.
BEACH OPTIONS IN INDIA
The best time for a beach holiday in India is from October / November to March. These are some great beach destinations: Gokarna in Karnataka, Calangute beach in Goa, Tiny Ganpatipule in Maharashtra, Kovalam in Kerala, Marari Beach in Kerala and Mandarmani beach in East Midnapore.
SURFING IN INDIA
India has surfable waves all year round, with the season for big waves from May to September and excellent conditions for beginners from December to March.
KITESURF IN INDIA
India can have around 250 days of suitable wind per year! The stronger Southwest wind blows from April to September while the North wind blows from December to March. Check out these great kitesurfing spots: Rameswaram Island (Tamil Nadu) Swami's Bay, Manapad Lagoon (Tamil Nadu), Blue Bell Beach Dwarka (Gujarat), and Morjem Beach (Goa).
For more details on kite surfing in India expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN INDIA
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
INDIA TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to India can vary greatly depending on your travel style, the time of year, and the specific regions you plan to visit. Some expenses to consider include transportation, accommodation, food, and activities.
- Transportation: Internal flights and trains are relatively inexpensive in India, but prices can vary depending on the time of year and how far in advance you book. Bus rides can be even cheaper but can be quite uncomfortable.
- Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in India can also vary greatly, depending on the type of accommodation you choose. Budget options like hostels and guesthouses can cost as little as $5-$10 per night, while mid-range options like hotels can cost $20-$50 per night. Luxury options like resorts can cost $100 or more per night.
- Food: Indian cuisine is known for its rich flavors and spices, and it is relatively inexpensive. You can find a variety of street food and local restaurants that offer delicious meals for as little as $2-$5.
- Activities: The cost of activities in India can vary widely, depending on what you choose to do. Entrance fees to popular tourist sites can range from $1-$5, while more adventurous activities like trekking or safaris can cost $20-$50 per day.
Overall, it is possible to travel to India on a budget of $25 to $50 per day, but you could spend more or less depending on your travel style.
Here are some sample costs for traveling to India, based on different travel styles:
- Budget: On a budget of $25-$30 per day, you can find budget accommodation, eat street food and local restaurants and use local transport (buses and trains) to get around. This will allow you to experience the culture and see many of the major sights, but you might have to sacrifice some comfort.
- Mid-range: On a budget of $50-$75 per day, you can stay in mid-range hotels, eat at a mix of local restaurants and more upscale places, and use local and internal flights to get around. This will give you a comfortable and enjoyable experience while still allowing you to see many of the major sights.
- Luxury: On a budget of $100 or more per day, you can stay in luxury hotels and resorts, eat at high-end restaurants, and hire a private driver or guide to get around. This will give you a very comfortable and luxurious experience, but it will be more expensive.
It's worth noting that these are just estimates, and the actual cost of traveling to India will depend on a variety of factors such as the time of year, the specific regions you plan to visit, and the type of accommodation, transportation, and activities you choose.
Also, you should consider the cost of tourist visa, travel insurance and any other travel-related costs.
INDIA TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips to keep in mind when planning a trip to India:
- Be prepared for the heat and humidity. India can be quite hot and humid, especially during the summer months, so make sure to stay hydrated and bring loose, lightweight clothing.
- Be aware of the cultural differences. India is a diverse country with many different cultures and customs, so it's important to be respectful of the local people and their way of life.
- Plan ahead. India can be quite chaotic and disorganized, so it's a good idea to plan your itinerary in advance and make sure you have all the necessary information and documents before you arrive.
- Be flexible. India can be unpredictable, so it's important to be flexible and go with the flow. Expect delays and unexpected events, and try not to let them spoil your trip.
- Be careful with your valuables. India is a relatively safe country, but it's still a good idea to keep an eye on your valuables, especially in crowded areas.
- Learn some basic Hindi or local language. Knowing some basic Hindi or local language can make communication easier and help you navigate the country more easily.
- Try local food. India is famous for its delicious and diverse cuisine, so make sure to try as many local dishes as possible.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. India can be quite intense, so it's important to be aware of your surroundings and take care of yourself.
- Be prepared for the traffic. India's traffic can be quite chaotic, so it's important to be prepared for the traffic and take the necessary precautions.
- Research the place you are planning to visit. Make sure you know about the customs, culture, and any taboo or rules in the place you are planning to visit, this will help you navigate and respect the local community.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF INDIA
India is a large and diverse country with many different regions, each with its own unique culture, history, and attractions. Here are some of the main regions of India and the highlights of each:
- North India: This region includes the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi. The highlights of this region include the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, the forts and palaces of Rajasthan, the Himalayan mountain range, and the sacred Ganges River in Varanasi.
- West India: This region includes the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa. The highlights of this region include the ancient cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora, the beaches of Goa, and the city of Mumbai, known for its historical sites and vibrant nightlife.
- South India: This region includes the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh. The highlights of this region include the ancient temples of South India, the backwaters of Kerala, and the hill stations of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
- East India: This region includes the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and the Seven Sister States. The highlights of this region include the Buddhist monasteries of Bodh Gaya, the temples of Odisha, the tea gardens of Darjeeling, and the wildlife sanctuaries of the Seven Sister States.
- Central India: This region includes the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The highlights of this region include the ancient cave temples of Bhimbetka, the Khajuraho temples, and the tiger reserves of Kanha and Bandhavgarh.
It's worth noting that these are just a few examples of the many regions and attractions that India has to offer. Each region has its unique culture and history, and offers different experiences, therefore it's important to do your research and plan your trip accordingly.
India is a vast and diverse country with many things to see and do. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting India:
- Visit the Taj Mahal: The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous and iconic landmarks in India, and it is a must-see for any visitor to the country. The white marble mausoleum is located in Agra and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Explore the forts and palaces of Rajasthan: Rajasthan is known for its rich history and culture, and it is home to many beautiful forts and palaces, such as the Amber Fort, Jaisalmer Fort and City Palace in Jaipur.
- Take a cruise on the backwaters of Kerala: Kerala is home to a network of interconnected canals, lagoons, and lakes that are known as the backwaters. Taking a cruise on these waterways is a great way to explore the local culture and see the beautiful scenery.
- Visit the temples of South India: South India is home to many ancient temples, such as the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai and the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam. These temples are famous for their intricate architecture and beautiful sculptures.
- Visit the wildlife sanctuaries: India is home to many wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, such as the Kanha National Park and the Ranthambore National Park, where you can see a variety of animals such as tigers, leopards, and elephants in their natural habitat.
- Experience the culture of Varanasi: Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, located on the banks of the Ganges River. It is considered one of the most sacred cities in India and is a must-visit for those interested in Hindu culture and history.
- Explore the Himalayas: The Himalayas are a mountain range that runs through northern India, and it offers some of the most beautiful and majestic landscapes in the world. You can go trekking, mountaineering or just enjoy the stunning views.
- Visit the Golden Temple: The Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is a beautiful Sikh temple located in Amritsar. It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Sikhs and is known for its stunning architecture and tranquil atmosphere.
- Take a cooking class: Indian cuisine is famous all around the world, take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Indian dishes, this will give you a deeper understanding of the culture and cuisine.
- Shop at local markets: India is known for its vibrant and colorful markets, such as the bazaars of Jaipur and the Chandni Chowk market in Delhi. You can find a wide variety of goods, including textiles, jewelry, and spices.
WHAT TO EAT IN INDIA
India is famous for its delicious and diverse cuisine, and there are many different dishes to try when visiting the country. Here are some popular and traditional Indian dishes that you should try:
- Curry: Curry is a staple dish in India and it comes in many different varieties. From the creamy butter chicken, to spicy vindaloo, and the flavorful biryani, there's a curry dish to suit every taste.
- Tandoori dishes: Tandoori dishes are cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor. Some popular tandoori dishes include tandoori chicken, tandoori prawns, and tandoori lamb.
- Dosa: Dosa is a thin and crispy crepe made from fermented rice and lentils. It is often filled with a variety of different fillings, such as spiced potatoes, and served with chutney and sambar.
- Biryani: Biryani is a flavorful rice dish that is usually made with meat or vegetables and a variety of spices. It is often served with raita, a yoghurt-based side dish.
- Chole bhature: Chole bhature is a popular Punjabi dish made of chole (chickpeas) and bhature (deep-fried bread). It is usually served with pickles and chutneys.
- Samosas: Samosas are triangular-shaped fried or baked pastries filled with a variety of savory fillings, such as potatoes, peas, and meat. They are often served as a snack or as an appetizer.
- Chaat: Chaat is a popular street food that is made up of a variety of different snacks and dishes, such as pani puri, bhel puri, and dahi puri. They are usually served with tangy and spicy chutneys.
- Lassi: Lassi is a popular yogurt-based drink that is often flavored with fruit or spices such as mango, rose or cardamom. It is a great way to cool down in the hot weather.
- Kulfi: Kulfi is a traditional Indian ice cream that is denser and creamier than Western-style ice cream. It is often flavored with cardamom, saffron, or pistachios.
- Chai: Chai is the most popular drink in India, it is a tea made with black tea, milk, and spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. It is commonly served with or without sugar and it is a great way to start the day or refresh during the afternoon.
It's worth noting that Indian cuisine is quite diverse, and it can vary greatly depending on the region you are visiting. Make sure to try as many different dishes as possible, and be sure to inform your waiter if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies.
LGBTQ IN INDIA
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in India may face legal and social difficulties not experienced by non-LGBT persons. India does not recognise same-sex marriage or civil unions.
Despite recent political movements in favour of LGBT rights, there remains a significant amount of homophobia present among the Indian population, with more than half the population still objecting to same-sex relationships in a 2019 opinion poll.
WHERE TO STAY IN INDIA
When visiting India for the first time, it's a good idea to choose a place that is safe, comfortable, and easily accessible. Here are some recommended places to stay when visiting India for the first time:
- New Delhi: The capital of India, New Delhi is a great place to start your journey. It's a cosmopolitan city with a rich history, and it offers easy access to many of the major tourist sites, such as the Red Fort, Qutub Minar, and Jama Masjid.
- Agra: Agra is home to the famous Taj Mahal, which is one of the most iconic landmarks in India. It's a great place to stay if you want to visit the Taj Mahal and explore the nearby forts and palaces.
- Jaipur: Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is famous for its rich history, colorful bazaars and beautiful palaces and forts. It is also a great place to experience the culture and tradition of Rajasthan.
- Varanasi: Varanasi is considered one of the most sacred cities in India, and it is a great place to experience the culture and history of India. It is also a great place to stay if you want to take a cruise on the Ganges River.
- Mumbai: Mumbai is the financial capital of India and it's known for its vibrant nightlife, historical sites and its famous film industry. It's a great place to stay if you want to explore the culture and history of India.
- Goa: Goa is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches and its Portuguese colonial architecture. It is a great place to stay if you want to relax and enjoy the sun and sea.
- Kerala: Kerala is known for its beautiful backwaters, lush green landscapes and tranquil atmosphere. It's a great place to stay if you want to experience the natural beauty of India.
It's worth noting that these are just a few examples of the many places to stay in India. Each place has its own unique culture, history, and attractions, so it's important to do your research and choose a place that suits your interests and preferences.
Also, it's important to consider the location and accessibility to public transportation, as well as the safety of the area before you book your accommodation, and check reviews and ratings to get a sense of the quality of the accommodation you are considering.
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