“If we were to look over the whole world to fine out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow-in some parts a very paradise on earth-I should point to India”. ~ Max Mueller
What Max Mueller said is indeed true. Crowned by the Himalayas on top and vast seas surrounding its peninsula, India is quite distinct on the world map. With such astonishing diversity, fromsnow dusted mountains to sun-washed beaches, tranquil temples to frenetic bazaars, lantern-lit villages to software-supreme cities – it’s hardly surprising that this country has been dubbed the world’s most multidimensional.
India bristles with an eclectic mélange of ethnic groups, an intoxicating cultural cocktail for the traveler. It has its platter full and offers a plethora of options for everyone. For those seeking spiritual sustenance, India has oodles of sacrosanct sites and thought-provoking philosophies, while history buffs will stumble upon gems from the past almost everywhere – grand vestiges of former empires serenely peer over swarming streets and crumbling fortresses loom high above plunging ravines. Meanwhile, aficionados of the great outdoors can paddle in the shimmering watersof one of many beautiful beaches, scout for big jungle cats on blood-pumping wildlife safaris, or simply inhale pine-scented air on meditative forest walks.
So a trip to India is a must-do for every traveler torevel with the crowds on the beaches of Goa, learnt the Golden Triangle route, photograph the terrain of Leh, experience royalty in Rajasthan, sail the backwaters of Kerala, and played with snow in Manali and discover a different side of India.
When to Go:-
India is so vast that climatic conditions in the far north have little relation to those of the extreme south. Generally speaking, the country has a three-season year – the hot, the wet and the cool.
Climate plays a key factor in deciding when to visit India. Travelers should keep in mind that climatic conditions in the far north are distinctly different to those of the extreme south. Generally speaking, India’s climate is defined by three seasons – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool, each of which can vary in duration from north to south. The most pleasant time to visit most of the country is during the cooler period between Octobersto around mid-February, although there are marked regional variations.
Getting to India :
By Air :-
India has four main gateways for international flights, and international flights also land inBengaluru (Bangalore), Guwahati and Amritsar. The major international airports in India, which serve traffic from all over the world, are in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Airports tend to be on the outskirts of cities. Pre-paid taxi services and auto-rickshaws are stationed outside the terminus to get you into the city.
Railways do not cut across international borders in this part of the world except the Samjhauta (i.e. "understanding"!) Express that runs between Amritsar (India) and Lahore (Pakistan). But for traveling within India rail travel is just about the best way to experience the real India because the railways are a real part of India. From hopping on to the toy train in Darjeeling to taking locals traveling can become quite an experience.The train network in India is extensive and almost all major cities are connected via rail, and the prices are also quite reasonable. Trains are far better than buses for long-distance and overnight trips. Some cities also have sub-urban train networks, though these can get very crowded during peak hours.
Except the Lahore-Delhi bus, which used to run 4 times a week, but is now erratic, there are no cross border coach services. It is possible to drive into India with the requisite paperwork in order. Even driving in from Nepal now requires a permit. Permits may be arranged through the Indian embassy in your country.
What to see and experience:-
India being a multi-cultural society, the list of things to do in India is bound to be pretty exhaustive as the country offers something for everyone!
All over India makeshift markets line streets. Paan-sellers dot market corners, villages have busy market-days, deserted mountain trails boast lone tea-stalls that count as a whole settlement, and city roads all lead to snazzy malls! While shopping has always been big for Indians, as current trends go, ‘Indian’ are now big when it comes to shopping. Ethnic chic, glitz and kitsch, whether it’s clothes, carpets or clutter, if it’s Indian, it’s in! To name a little that could fill your bags: Kashmiri carpets that rival Persian rugs or rugged durries of natural fibre in vibrant colours and rural motifs. Perfumes extracted from the sweetest of flowers, opulent silks and block-printed cotton. Beads and trinkets, silver and gold, mirror-work Rajasthani skirts, tie-and-dye,inexpensive leather ware, and statues in metal or stone.
Sightseeing in India:-
Nature & Wildlife:-
The wildlife parks in India are quite interesting to visit as one can actually spot tigers roaming freely within the sanctuary premises. India’s jungles, rivers and streams are simply bursting with wildlife; much of it protected in her 80 National Parks and 441 Sanctuaries. Popular ones are Corbett, Rajaji and Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh), Kanha, Pench (Madhya Pradesh) and Sasan Gir (Gujarat). Sariska and Ranthambore (Rajasthan), Kaziranga, Manas (Assam), Mudumalai, Bandipore and Wyanad (Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve-Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala) are the other well known game sanctuaries. Keoladeo Ghana, Bharatpur (Rajasthan) is a famous bird sanctuary.
Religion & Spirituality:-
If you are looking for some spiritual upliftment and are more curious about Indian temples than you can go for temple trails that will take you on a wondrous spiritual journey, there are plenty of options all over this mesmerizing country. The gilded gurudwaras in Amritsar, ancient weather-beaten cathedrals in Goa, ‘dargahs’ (mausoleums) of Muslim saints and grand temples to the innumerable Hindu deities; these houses of worship are as precious as works of art. The legacy of spiritual succour lives on in the land of exotica.
Ruins of forts, palaces, picturesque ‘havelis’ (large private houses) and mausoleums pepper the landscape. In and around Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan, all over the country actually, historical sites intrigue the history enthusiast. Important sites are Hampi, Khajuraho, Mandu, Aurangabad, Bikaner, Goa, Gwalior, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Mahabalipuram, Tanjore and Mysore.
With its vibrant mix of religious denominations, India is home to a formidable array of celebrations – from larger-than-life extravaganzas to pint-sized harvest fairs paying homage to a locally worshipped deity.Festivals and holidays differ in different regions and some are universally appreciated across the country. The winter festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated in cities, towns and dusty villages with twinkling lamps and fireworks. Spring brings myriad hues to the world around and also the festival of Holi - a happily messy rite of water and colour. The harvest brings joy and festivities of another order and is celebrated as Pongal in the south, and Bihu in the east and Baisakhi in the north. Christmas in Goa is still the most special but the cheer spreads everywhere. The month of Ramadan and feasting is important to Muslims. Besides these, dance festivals in southern temple towns in December and car festivals of Puri and Madurai when the temple chariots are wheeled around the city, and the Nehru Cup boat race in the Kerala's backwaters (second Saturday of August) bring more occasions to celebrate.