India is one of the most fascinating and majestic countries you can visit. It is said that you can explore India for several years and still only see a fraction of what she has to offer.
If you visit India in the spirit of acceptance and the willingness to learn and soak in a culture that may be vastly different to your own, you will be richly rewarded.
Observing the 5 recommendations below, will help to ensure that your voyage across India will be an enjoyable and unforgettable one.
Take your time
India is a vast and diverse country that serves up many different types of experiences. No words or phrases can do it justice. A rookie mistake that some travellers make when visiting this magnificent country is that they try to cram too much of it into one trip.
The beauty of travelling in India is the unique connections you will make while you are there and the incredible people you will meet along the way.
India is the kind of place where the experience you have walking along one street will be worlds apart from the experience you will have when you turn a corner and walk down another.
Travelling India and understanding her beauty and mystique takes time and patience.
Therefore, if you only have limited time or money then focus on seeing one state or region and really take your time to explore that and soak in the sights, sounds and culture that the city presents you with.
Respect the local traditions and customs
India has a very modest culture and dressing conservatively is a must. Keeping the arms and legs covered is highly recommended, especially for female travellers.
It is also custom to take your shoes off before entering a house and particularly important if you are entering a religious building such as a temple.
Another thing to be aware of is that feet are considered to be unclean in India. So pointing your feet at someone is a big no-no and avoid touching anything with your feet.
India is unlike any other place on earth. You may see and hear things that you are simply not used to. When you travel this beautiful country, you may see extreme poverty, chaotic roads and experience some of the best – and worst – smells in existence.
The key to enjoying your trip to India and accepting all the wonderful gifts and surprises that you will encounter as you explore her is to be open-minded and accepting.
India is very different from what you may encounter in the West or in other parts of the world. But that is the beauty of travelling – you’ll get priceless experiences that you may not get at home.
Like many places in the world, some things may come as a culture shock. For example, the concept of personal space is often eradicated on crowded trains, small lifts and claustrophobic spaces. Sometimes people may ask questions that seem a little personal or intrusive. But what I always keep in mind is that this is a very different culture where people are as interested and curious about us foreign travellers as we are about them.
Go beyond the tourist traps and metropolitan cities
India is what you make of her. While there are many interesting cities packed full of temples, archeological ruins and cultural markets, the sacred mountains, ashrams and smaller little-known villages will show you a very different side of India.
Sitla Estate is one such place. It is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors. The estate is surrounded by apricot trees, popular hiking trails and pear trees.
Kangra Valley is another magical hotspot in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It has an upper and lower town and is the hometown of the exiled Dalai Lama and the ousted Tibetan government. You’ll need at least 7 days to explore this angelic part of the world. It is made of hill towns such as Mandi, famous natural scenery such as Prashar Lake and landmarks such as the Chokling Monastery and the Kailash view ground, which gives you a birdseye view of the Kailash mountain ranges.
The above places are just a small selection of the little gems you can discover away from the big cities and tourist attractions.
Watch what you eat – but sample local cuisine
This advice may seem like a contradiction in terms. After all, tales of the infamous Delhi Belly and other food poisoning mishaps are world-famous.
However, this does not mean that you have to side-step all the mouthwatering local delicacies that India has to offer.
While you may not be able to completely avoid tummy problems, there are certainly things you can do to reduce your chances of succumbing to it.
Try to stick to peeled fruit and vegetables, and food that has either been boiled or fried. Avoid eating salads and drinking untreated local water or ice.
Street food can be among the best cuisine you can find in India. The advantage of street food is that you can see how the food is being cooked. If the stand looks clean and well maintained, you are less likely to encounter problems with it. Some of the most delicious delights include Lakhanpur de Bhalle, a fried snack made from pulses, which is served with shredded radish and green chutney. You also have the world famous samosas and aloo tikki, a crunchy roadside snack made from potatoes and vegetables. A top tip is to eat at the places that are popular with the locals. Make sure your food is piping hot before you eat it.
By observing these 5 top tips you are certain to have the trip of a lifetime and India will leave an impression on you that will last for many years to come.