Traveling to India: Things you should know – Part 1
Traveling to India: India is a South-Asian country and the 7th largest country in the world if you talk about its area. Also, it is the second most populous country in the world. But more than that, there is something more remarkable about India and that is it’s diversity. If you talk about the climate, the variation from the “deserted-driest place” Jaisalmer in Rajasthan to the “wettest place on earth” Cherrapunji in Meghalaya, makes India most diverse. In addition to that, the sky high Himalayas and the vast coastal area of western ghats, the vivid geography will force you to say how much India is grand. Furthermore, if you look at the ghats of Varanasi and the beaches & backwaters of Kerala; India is captivating, fascinating and also very exciting.
With all these geographical aspects, India has another aspect of been diverse – the rich vivid culture, deep rituals and traditions. These cultures and rituals are not new in India; actually the ancient and dynamic history of India depicts the truth behind this rich culture and traditions.
In this blog, allow me to show some of the important aspects that you will experience in India while exploring and traveling to India:
Incredible street food:
There is something which will keep on reminding you of India (if you are a foreign traveler), there is something which may force you to eat even your hand while traveling to India. The answer is simple but effective; it is “The incredible street food” of India. It is the real taste, real flavor of India. The street food is the integral part of India and it will make you run for every bit of it. Moreover, Indians never need a reason to think of hanging out with friends/family near the food stalls.
In street food you will find ready to eat tasty food/drinks that will fill your tummy at a very cheap cost (I suppose less than a dollar). In-fact, when it comes to street food, India has the most variety of street foods in the world and you will not know what will come next for you. Almost every state has it’s own special street food. From “masala dosa” and “Idli Sambhar” of South-India to “samosa-jalebi” and “chole-kulche” of North-India the taste is so much captivating and mouth-watering, that you cannot miss any one of them.
Here is the list of some of the best street food which I like the most:
- Mumbai (Maharashtra): Vada-pav, pav-bhajji, sev-puri, bhel-puri, barf-ka-gola. I would like you to visit my blog on Mumbai’s street food
- Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Poha-jalebi, samosa-kachori, kebabs-chicken tikka. Famous at Chatori gali, Bhopal.
- Jaipur (Rajasthan): chicken-tikka, onion kachori, daal-baati etc.
- Complete South-India: Masala dosa, idli sambhar, vada sambhar, uttappam etc..
- Delhi: Every North-Indian and Chinese food is best on Delhi’s street. Parathe wali gali is must to visit.
- Sikkim: Momos, thupka, and every Tibetan food.
Furthermore, the shape and smell of these foods, will make you to grab them, taste them, rate them and you’ll never know when you start missing them. Such incredible food is India’s street food.
Chai (tea) is integral part of India:
Chai (tea) is such a drink, without which no Indian can survive or cannot live without. A cup of tea is not “just a cup of tea”, it is much more than that. We Indians used to say to tea vendor “are bhaiya ji ek mast si cutting chai bana do” meaning “make a cup of tea for me brother”. In-fact, it is blessing for us, it is life for us and a good conversation starter.
If you take a walk around local streets of India, you’ll definitely find chaiwalas (tea vendors), there are even present in trains. Serving a cup of tea is like tea vendor is doing the most respectful work for you. Whenever we (Indians) get a break: break of 5 min from office, or we are traveling to somewhere, we stop and naturally have a cup of tea. Furthermore, every year, 840,000 tonnes of tea is served.
You can imagine the greatness of chai in every Indians life. So, while traveling to India, if any body offers a cup of tea, don’t think much about it just grab one. It is a token of love or it is the way we welcome our guests.
You are not alone anywhere (too many people)
Population is the major factor of India. Too many people, whether they are in queue or at some destination, you will not feel alone at all. You want to buy a metro train ticket at Delhi, or local train ticket at Mumbai, you need to stand in long queue. Again, even if you want to buy a ticket for destination sightseeing, or in restaurants (sometimes) you’ll find yourself in a queue. So, I’ll say India to be the most happening country and many a times you will feel like personal space is missing luxury for you. Moreover, it also true that people doesn’t care about it… They’ll do what they want to do, irrespective of “what others around them are thinking of.”
Helping nature of people: go out of their way to help you:
Believe me or not, the people of India are very helpful. For us, guest is like a god. The warm hospitality and kindness is in the hearts of Indians. You ask any thing like the path way or any question, most of the people go out of their way to help you. But yes it is also true, some of the people have no time to help you so don’t feel disheartened, search someone else. Still I’ll say above all, people of India will not make you feel like you are an alien or stranger in this big sized country. People will share their food with you in trains/buses, give you their seat and help you in reaching our spot. Again, it is true that every thing has another aspect: some of them have rude behavior, fishy nature or may scam you. But such number is less in India…
Give them a smile and in return will get a heart-bounding hospitality….
Bargaining is must here:
You can bargain every thing, almost everything. Whether it is on any room, rickshaw, shopping you can bargain any thing. I’ll say, you just start bargain and most of the shopkeepers will cut off their price by 50-60%. Another thing is, if you are a foreigner, shopkeeper always tries to earn most of it from you, so you need to bargain like an Indian.
For example, when I was in Mumbai, I bought shoes for me. Shopkeeper rated them “Rs. 3000”..
I replied: I’ll give only “Rs.100” for it
He: Not possible.. Are you MAD… OK I’ll give you for “Rs. 2600”
I: Not possible.. final rate “Rs. 200”
He: Only for you “Rs. 2000”
I: It is the starting of your day, I’ll give you “Rs. 300” at max. (Hindi: Bhaiya bonie ka time aapka 300 me done karo na)
After 10 min of negotiation, he finally give me the shoes for “Rs. 450”. That’s why I’ll say you have to bargain at your best, but for certain products and at certain shops you cannot bargain. Finally, I want to suggest please never fought for Rs. 10… and not for the vegetable vendors (if you are a luxury traveler). Try to understand they have to make their living out of those Rs.10.
Temples are beautiful and shrine:
Religion is something which is very special in India, whether it is Hindu/Muslim/Christian/Sikh/Buddhist. Therefore, India is such a country where you’ll find world’s most beautiful, most spectacular temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras and monasteries. Many of these are made centuries ago and with hand carvings. Moreover, they are situated at the high mountains, they are made of marbles, woods etc. These are places where you can visit, sit, meditate or gain some tranquil experience with mesmerizing views. In the past few decades, due to terrorist attacks, mischief, photography is prohibited in most of the places.
Festivals and celebration:
India is the land of festivals and celebrations. The whole calendar is full of festivals and celebrations and irrespective of the fact of religion, most of the people love to celebrate every festivals (Hindu, Christian or Islam and more). Some of the most prominent festivals are listed below:
- Diwali (festival of light)
- Holi (festival of colors)
- Eid-Ul-Fitr (celebrating end of Ramzan)
- Christmas (for birth of Jesus Christ)
- Lohri (most popular Punjabi festival)
- Buddh Purnima (Buddhist festival)
- Ganesh Pooja
- Durga Pooja
- Mahavir jayanti
In addition to all these, there are many state festivals are there. Hence, all these depicts the rich vivid culture of India. If you are traveling then you cannot miss these festivals – lot of things happens in these.
India known for its cows
One more thing is special about India is cows. One of the most religious thing in India is cow. Cow is one of the most respectful animal and almost everybody worships cows. Above all, in mythology of India, India is compared with cow. Due to this reason, in many parts of the country beef eating is ban, so if you an eater then it is not possible in India. In addition to that, cows are everywhere in India, you’ll find them on road, streets, at the gate of your house, at beaches etc.
Traveling to India: Where to start
India is so big and complex, you’ll get confused with where to start. If you are traveling India for the first time, plan carefully and specifically. Every state and every city has something to show you, something to amaze you whether it is its scenic beauty or culture. While talking to few of the travelers I got to know:
India’s hospitality is such that it will make you feel to stay for larger period which may disturb your schedule. Also, because of simplicity and soulfulness in villages and remote area, you’ll feel some kind of connection. The colours, the modernity, tradition and the relations that you form are soul bounding. Such things really matters a lot for India….
Every other traveler wants to visit India again and again…
India is such a great country. I’ll show you some more things to do and experience of India in my coming blogs. Till then stay tuned and have a look at my top rated blogs. Few of the blogs are: Sonmarg, Kashmir and Amazing Sikkim..