India is a diverse, heavily populated, extremely large country that boasts an amazing array of cultures and people. For first-time visitors, India can be both inspiring and frustrating at the same time: inspiring because India is blessed with beautiful temples and shrines; frustrating because there is so much poverty throughout the country. Tour India and you’ll be challenged at every step, but will find that the experience, though soul consuming, is a beautiful one that you will never forget in your life.
India has a lot of everything for every type of traveler. A traveler that is looking to get immersed in the religious and spiritual can visit temples and shrines to learn and understand the philosophies of the country. A traveler that loves to experience history will find remnants of former empires all over the country. Adventure-seeking travelers have a vast array of activities and adventures waiting to be conquered: paddle-boarding on beaches, animal-spotting on wildlife safari rides, or even hikes across forest and beautiful landscapes. Party-seeking travelers can immerse themselves in the extravagant festivals that feature acrobats, animals, and music.
The food is by far one of the best things about India. There are delicious restaurants around every corner, with spices and marinades that you’ll find no where else in the world. North India uses a lot of yogurt, cream and is non-vegetarian, while South Indian food is vegetarian, and uses lots of coconut. South Indian food also tends to be spicier than North Indian food.
The town of Darjeeling lies next to a steep mountain ridge and is surrounded by tea plantations and the Himalayan mountains. In the background, travelers can feast their eyes on Khangchendzonga, which stands at 859m tall.
There are a treasure trove of locations for a traveler to explore: colonial mansions, churches, Buddhist and Hindu temples, a zoo full of Himalayan fauna, and botanical gardens. The most adventures travelers can take on treks across ancient trade routes that will test endurance and show magnificent views of the landscape. Tourists that prefer to stay in town can shop at handicraft shops or eat delicious home-cooked meals at the local restaurants.
Best times to visit are from October – November and March – May when skies are clear and temperatures are pleasant.
The city of Shiva is one of the holiest places in India. This is where Hindu pilgrims go to wash away their sins, pray for forgiveness, or cremate their loved ones.
Varanasi is spiritual and colorful, offering tourists a metaphysical taste of the faith that Hindi people possess. For Hindi people, Varanasi is a fortunate place to pass away, as the people believe that passing away in Varanasi means liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The Ganges river is seen as a river of salvation, a symbol of hope for all past and future generations.
Tourists will experience a cross beween the physical and the spiritual worlds through intimate rituals of life and death that take place in public in the ghats across the city. Tourists should not be afraid, as the people are welcoming and encourage visitors to experience the traditions and the culture for themselves. Above all else, travelers should take a soul-searching boat ride on the Ganges river.
Tourists from all over the world go to Agra to witness the grandeur of the Taj Mahal. Pictures of the marvelous white marble don’t do the Taj Mahal justice, as seeing it in person eclipses any expectations that a tourist had.
Though the Taj Mahal is the main attraction in the city, there are plenty of other attractions to experience while in Agra. There are tombs and mausoleums left over from the Mughal empire, there are lively marketplaces offering a plethora of delicious food, and there are day trips available to Fatehpur Sikri and Mathura.
Udaipur is one of India’s most wonderful cities, set across a backdrop of shimmering Lake Pichola and the Aravalli hills.
Tourists have a plethora of activities to partake in while in Udaipur: take a walk around the Fateh Sagar Lake, visit the crystal gallery, ride a boat across Lake Pichola, ride the cable car to the Karni Mata Temple, or visit the Sajjangad Fort.
But the main attraction to the city is the snow-white Lake Palace.
Mumbai is a melting pot of India’s extremes. The city is plagued with traffic, pollution, and poverty, but the city is also blessed with ancient relics, delicious restaurants, lively bars, and a myriad of activities that will keep a traveler entertained and happy for as long as they want.
Mumbai is India’s financial powerhouse and center for film, music, and fashion. On top of the slums and poverty are layers of magnificent skyscrapers and super malls. The stark contrast between the upper class and the lower class is blazingly apparent in Mumbai, as over half of the population lives in the slums.
A world of possibilities opens up once a traveler gets past the culture shock of the city. Mumbai offers luxurious restaurants, grand colonial relics, spiritual temples, and a night life filled with Bollywood stars.