Experiencing India

The Taj Mahal By TIX (Creative Commons)

The Taj Mahal By TIX (Creative Commons)

With its compelling combination of exotic destinations, fascinating heritage, and world famous cuisine, India has established itself beyond doubt as one of the top vacation spots in the world. Many individual locations in India are now on the world’s list of the most popular places to visit, the Taj Mahal being one. As well as such major tourist attractions this very large country does feature many impressive lesser-known sights.  It also provides unique experiences that visitors to this fascinating part of the world will in turn be shocked and delighted by.  Poverty is a part of life in India and first time visitors from the West should be prepared for the culture shock that this can create.

Three destinations to visit

The Taj Mahal, which is situated in the city of Agra, has become an iconic symbol of India and Indian tourism. This enchanting place it is well worth a visit for artistic and cultural reasons. The masterful symmetry of the architecture and the beauty of the white marble make it an almost unbeatable photo opportunity.

The golden city of Jaisalmer, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, is much more remote than Agra, but it is frequently visited by travelers. The experience of a visit to a desert walled city is much sought after by many travelers, and the view of the city at sunset is a visual treat.

Jaisalmer (creative commons)

Jaisalmer (creative commons)

Visitors to India are frequently surprised at how busy the towns and cities can be, and the sacred site of Varanasi on the River Ganges is one of the busiest as well as one of the holiest.  For a flavor of the pilgrim trails in India, the city is almost unrivaled.

The best ways to travel around India 

India is a big country, and to get around a number of different regions in a short time it may be necessary to fly.  International airports in Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), and Chennai (Madras) make it possible to cover much of the country quite quickly, however, for a full flavor of India, it is probably better to travel by land when such a choice is sensible, and is reasonable to undertake.

Many travelers opt to get around by using India’s famous railway network.  It is an economical way for visitors to see the country and experience its culture. Festival times are worth avoiding due to the amount of passengers, but there are many choices for booking routes and destinations. It is worth looking for an English-speaking member of staff, as the ticketing system can be confusing first time round.

Getting around by car is also an economical alternative.  An itinerary with a hired driver need not be prohibitively expensive, and can frequently be arranged before departure from home. 

General advice for travelling in India

Hygiene is one of the main concerns for visitors to India. It is important to be up to date on vaccinations and always to carry bottled drinking water, as the tap water is unsafe for consumption.  Regularly using wet wipes and sticking to freshly cooked food should help to keep many potential health threats under control.

Otherwise, it is advisable to dress for the heat, but modestly according to local custom. This usually means long, light clothing. In crowded areas, as anywhere else in the world, visitors should take measures for personal security and to safeguard any valuable items.