Never thought of India as a Destination you just HAVE to see and experience before you die?? Well…think again! As the seventh largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia by it’s earthy charm and geographical diversities. With so many variations and diversities, there is so much to explore in India. Traveling through this ancient land is an experience that is beyond description. If you love looking closely into the way of life of the people, enjoying ethnic culture,resplendent colors, magnificent monuments, historic cities, forts and palaces, beautiful coasts and the giant snow-capped Himalayas, then India is the place for you!!
1) Natural Landscape
Bordered by the world’s highest mountain The Great Himalayas in the north, India stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.
In between the seas and the mountains you have a land of rolling hills, snaking rivers, vast plateaus & plains, palm fringed beaches, rich deltas, majestic deserts, untamed jungles, tropical rain forests, sunny islands and snow capped mountains that touch the infinite skies! To explore India is to discover a land gifted with everything that makes for a perfect travel spot whatever your preferences from a mountain destination to a beach vacation.
2) Sights and Attractions Of India
Apart from what Nature has to offer, India has a range of man made sights to see and experience. India’s exotic cultural treasures and historic monuments are mesmerizing, each having it’s own story to tell.
Apart from the Taj Mahal,India also has the allure of Qutub Minar, a 5-story prodigious legacy of the Delhi regime and the magnificent Red Fort the foremost monumental structures built by great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The Jama Masjid, the divine shrine of Muslims, one of the largest mosque in Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, the erstwhile capital of the Mughal Empire built by Akbar are the epitome of Mughal architectural splendor. The princely state of Jaipur with all its majestic forts and palaces, Charminar with its 4 willowy pilasters, the Konark Sun Temple a unique specimens contrived in the shape of a chariot, all are the affirmation to the affluent Indian culture and heritage. The Ajanta, Ellora and the Elephanta caves are marvelous specimens of exquisite artifacts.
From the Majestic Taj Mahal to countless heritage monuments, architectural structures, temples, churches, mosques, forts, palaces and ancient cities, India has attractions and sights reflecting the diversity of Indian culture, history and religion.
3) A Mountain Destination
The arc-shaped Himalayas extend along the entire northern boundary of India and carve just as far across the Indian subcontinent as they do deeply into the life around them.
The Majestic Himalayas that are full of lush green, towering trees, snow clad mountains and hundreds of icy lakes, house some of the most breathtaking hill stations and tourist destinations. These destinations offer various Adventure activities like forest trekking, mountain climbing, hang-gliding and para-gliding, snow- skiing and heli-skiing on the snow covered mountains as well as white water rafting.
If not a big adventure buff…it’s still a perfect place to kick back those shoes, relax and breathe in the clean mountain air scented with those sky high trees of the mountain forests.
4) A Beach Vacation Destination
India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers (4,671 miles), so when it comes to beach holidays in India the choice is unending. Beaches in India provide the most tempting combination of sun, sand, sea and surf that is hard to resist for any beach lover and water sport adventurer.
The West Coast with the Arabian Sea and the East Coast with the Bay of Bengal offer many a verdant vistas to the traveler. The foremost choices of beach travel in India include the beautiful sea shores of Goa, where the tropical sun bathed beaches of Anjuna, Baga & Dona Paula have something for every visitor. With the long coastline lined with swaying coconut palm trees dotted with an occasional fishing hamlet, Kovalam in Kerala is fast developing into one of the world’s finest string of beaches.
The beach holiday to beat them all though is off the mainland in the Tropical Isles of the Andaman and Nicobar and the Coral Islands of Lakshwadeep, where you can see the myriad colours of the flashy fish in the coral reefs from above the aquamarine waters.
Whether it’s the isolated horizons of the Konkan Coast or the Arabian Sea; the golden sands or the water drenched seashores, every beach in India makes a picture perfect holiday destination.
5) The Grandeur of the Desert
The world’s seventh largest The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large, arid region in the northwestern part of India mostly in the state of Rajasthan, and extends into the southern portion of Haryana and Punjab as well as into northern Gujarat. Desert safaris on camels have become increasingly popular around Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. The tourism industry here ranges from cheaper backpacker treks to plush Arabian night style campsites replete with banquets and cultural performances. During the treks tourists are able to view the fragile and beautiful ecosystem of the Thar desert.
Thar desert provides the recreational value in terms of desert festivals organized every year. Rajasthan desert festivals are celebrated with great zest and zeal. This festival is held once a year during winters. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. The fair has snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival, where the rich and colorful folk culture of Rajasthan can be seen.
6) Jungle,Tropical Rainforest & Wildlife Destination
Because of its size and range of latitude, topography, and climate, India is home to a great diversity of ecoregions, ranging from permanent ice and snow to tropical rain forests.
India’s lush green forest cover ranges from the tropical rain forest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and North-East India to the coniferous forests of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the sal-dominated moist deciduous forest of eastern India; the teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain. Also acres and acres of tea and coffee plantations both in the south and the east of India, orange groves, undulating streets and breathtaking views are places not to be ignored.
The Wildlife in India has to offer any nature enthusiast is not to be left out. India is home to several well known large mammals including the Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Lion, Leopard and Indian Rhinoceros. These large mammals are important for wildlife tourism in India and several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries cater to these needs. Other well known large Indian mammals include ungulates such as the Water Buffalo, Nilgai, Gaur and several species of deer and antelope. Some members of the dog family such as the Indian Wolf, Bengal Fox, Golden Jackal and the Dhole or Wild Dogs are also widely distributed. It is also home to the Striped Hyaena.
Apart from the 410 species of mammals in India, there are about 2546 species of fishes (about 11% of the world species) found in Indian waters and about 1250 species of birds, accounting for about 12% of the world species.
7) A Budget or Luxury Travel Destination
India is a destination that caters to all kinds of travel right from Backpacking to Luxury Travel. So tourists won’t have to look hard to find accommodation, travel and activities according to their pockets. There are numerous tourist agents and tour operators as well to save you the hassle of finding your best options.
Accommodation ranging from 5 Star Deluxe Hotels, Business Hotels, Holiday Resorts to non-starred budget hotels, Home stays(Inns) right down to lodges and hostels there’s a place to suit every tourists budget.
Major cities in India are well connected by Air while smaller destinations can easily be reached by Train or buses(both privately run and public transport. Trains have different classes of travel, for the tough and cheap regular sleeper coaches and for the more comfortable option air-conditioned sleeper coaches and Fist Class sleepers. Luxury Trains that visit places of tourist interest are also available for a package tour.
A host of activities to indulge in are also part of India’s charm. Right from hard core adventure sports to spiritual centers, yoga centers, Ayurveda and Spa resorts, you’ll never fall short things to do either whatever your interests.
8) Adventure Travel
Blessed with snow-clad peaks, crystal glaciers, rolling meadows and ski slopes, beautiful valleys, meandering and roaring rivers, gushing waterfalls, thick forests rich in wildlife, swampy deltas, long coastlines and magical moonscapes – India has something for everyone looking for adventure.
The Himalayas offer you some of the toughest and most exciting river runs in the world for white water rafting. The innumerable fresh water streams and lakes in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are ideal for angling and trout fishing. The coastal regions provide excellent opportunities for water sports like water skiing, wind surfing yachting, snorkeling and scuba diving. The islands of Andaman and Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep in the Indian Ocean are virtually untouched and are some of the best spots for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Be it ballooning, hang gliding or para gliding, India offers excellent locations and facilities for Aero sports as well. Float over the mountains … soar higher on every current of air… hang-glide in the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu, the Chamudi hills of Karnataka and the hills of Shillong in Meghalaya.
The awesome height and spread of the snow clad mountains, with the added advantage of powdered snow are tempting enough to magnetize the adventurous spirits of the avid skier, providing all the thrill and excitement attached to the game. Realizing the immense prospect for tourism, India has developed some of the most modern and also the cheapest ski resorts in the whole world.
The Himalayas, a dream for any mountaineer and the most cherished mountain system in the world. With more than 100 peaks above 6000 meters (some of them yet unclimbed) the Himalaya promises every climber their share of adventure, which lures them to the mountains.
Other Activities India has to offer includes, Trekking, Rock climbing, Biking, Bungee Jumping, Safari’s, Bird watching and lots more.
9) The People & Culture
The 2nd highest in terms of population India is home to over 1 billion people from diverse backgrounds, religions and cultures. India is the second most culturally, linguistically and genetically diverse geographical entity after the African continent. Almost 70% of Indians reside in rural areas, although in recent decades migration to larger cities has led to a dramatic increase in the country’s urban population.
In a country as diverse and complex as India, it is not surprising to find that people here reflect the rich glories of the past, the culture, traditions and values relative to geographic locations and the numerous distinctive manners, habits and food that will always remain truly Indian. All these factors add up to rich and vibrant culture of India.
Hospitable and colorful are two words that best describe Indians. Friendly but inquisitive about foreigners, don’t be surprised to attract a small crowd where ever you go….but don’t worry they don’t mean any harm and are not out to get you. You’ll often be asked to sit and have a cup of Chai (Indian spiced tea) to hear their story or to answer their questions about where you’re from and what you think of India.
In a Land of 1,652 dialects, surprisingly language doesn’t often pose as an obstacle as a huge number of Indians speak and understand English…broken English…but English none-the-less.
10) Indian Cuisine and Food
The Cuisine of India is characterized by its sophisticated and subtle use of many spices and herbs and it a treat to any Food Lover. Being so diverse geographically, each region has its own cuisine and style of preparation. Indian Food is wide ranging in variety, taste and flavour. Indian cuisine is renowned for its exotic gravies and curries which may seem complicated to any newcomer.
Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into four categories: North Indian, South Indian, East Indian, and West Indian. Though a significant portion of Indian food is vegetarian, many traditional Indian dishes also include chicken, goat, lamb, fish, and other meats. Beef and Pork are not very common, but can be found in certain states like Goa, Kerala or in the North East.
If your not a fan of Indian Food…don’t worry there are a host of multi cuisine restaurants and eateries especially in the bigger cities and popular tourist spots. But to truly experience India a taste of the local cuisine is a Must!