India is the seventh largest country in the world. A land rich with culture and its own unique ways of life, some of which can come as a shock to the western tourist. This should by no means put you off visiting. There is so much to see and do in India and many tourists claim they return a ‘changed person’. India offers great value for money and visitors are welcomed by the warm hospitality of locals.
Here are five ways to best spend your time in this unique country.
Experience the food
The Indian takeaways that line the streets of western cities offer just a small representation of authentic Indian cuisine. Many Indian families do not have ovens in the home, particularly within the cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata so street food is an important part of life here. As you wander the city streets, aromas of spices will leave your mouth watering.
There are some fantastic dishes to try such as kathi rolls, composed of a skewer roasted kebab wrapped with veg inside a paratha bread. Other popular foods include Naan breads and curries in the North of India, with rice, lentils and stews being more popular in the South.
Go to an Indian Wedding
The chance to attend an Indian Wedding is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. Weddings are a huge celebration in Indian and usually span over at least three days. Guests will attend in brightly coloured traditional dress to witness and take part in the various ceremonial rituals. Afterwards, you can expect further celebrations with food, music and bhangra dancing.
There are several iconic landmarks in India, including the famous Taj Mahal. The stunning white structure is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the seven wonders of the world. This beautiful marble tomb was built in 1632 to honour the deceased favourite wife of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan. Other iconic sites in India include the stunning hilltop Amber Palace that overlooks Maota Lake and the Ellora Caves of Maharashira.
When thinking of India, many people conjure images of either city slums or beautifully ornate temples. It is often forgotten that Indian is also home to some stunning beaches. In fact, India has 4,000 miles of coastline. Some of the most exotic beaches can be found in Goa, in the South West of the country. Palolem beach, Goa is a particular tourist hotspot, with its white sandy bay, coconut palms and colourful beach shacks.
Volunteer with Animals
In the West Indian city of Udaipur, you can find Animal Aid Unlimited, a sanctuary for injured and ill street-animals. From dogs to donkeys, cows and pigs, they all receive medical care and a home in this wonderful place. There are also several sanctuaries in India that care for wildlife such as tigers, leopards and elephants. Many of these sanctuaries allow you to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures and play a part in their care.
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The Taj Mahal