India travel guide

Some people are overwhelmed the minute they pick up their first India travel guide. But India is not a monster that needs to be tackled or tamed. It is a magical menagerie, an escape into the exotic and a place to break down all our western conventions and presumptions. Think of it like a box of exquisite handmade chocolates. You wouldn’t cram them all in at once. You would read the ingredients, savour each one, relishing the taste of every parcel presented to you.
There's an expression in Hindi - Aaaram Se, meaning to 'chill out'. It is the rule of thumb in India. Because if you 'Aaaram Se' - good things will come your way.
The Golden Triangle is the one that always jumps out first from the chocolate box, with Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Jaipur offering that reassuringly tasty concoction of palaces, princes, mughals and mystery. However, the remote beaches versus the resorts of Goa and Kerala are like the difference between a Mars Bar and a Montezuma, and the hiking to be had in Ladakh is like the surprise secret layer you never realised was there. In fact, that’s the thing about India. Go one step off the tourist trail, and you will find that the layers just go on forever.
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India
is/isn't

India is...

romantic, impressionist and surreal. All in a day.

India isn't...

predictable.

What we rate & what we don't

UNDERRATED

Ladakh

Ladakh means "land of high passes", the height …

High quality crafts

With many bazaars now a place for touts and tat, …

Hiking in the Ghats, Kerala

Few people associate Kerala with mountains, the Himalayas …

Tribal communities

Go east into the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha to …
RATED

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built by …

Rajasthan

Rajasthan is probably one of the best places …

Rural India

Many don’t venture beyond the Golden Triangle, national parks or …

Southern India

You have not ‘done’ South India by just …
OVERRATED

Indian beach culture

Going to the beach is not actually a big part …

Pseudo yoga

India is the pinnacle of most yoga practitioners’ journeys in …

Riding on elephants

As you will see from our

Tiger mania

They are extraordinary, elusive and endangered, and it is extremely …

Food, shopping & people

Eating & drinking in India
If you want to eat chaat, North Indian street food, Delhi is the place to be.
Thali is like Indian tapas, with a collection of small bowls of different foods (katori) served on a round tray
Each region has its own lassi. Such as Makhani lassi in Rajasthan made from buffalo butter, essential oils, and yoghurt. But, in Punjab, it is more frappé style.
In Kerala, don’t miss the seafood, from the coast or backwaters.
People & language
Aap keise hain? = How are you?
Hindi is the main language in India, although English is taught in many schools, and is widely spoken or understood. There are 21 other official languages, from Urdu to GujaratiBengali to Kashmiri.
Namaste is the main greeting but it has become almost a cliché that this is the only thing tourists know what to say. Stretch your skills and be brave with just a bit more:
Dhanyavad = thank you, although not used willy nilly in India, so don’t think local people rude if they don’t say it
For a more formal, ‘thank you from the bottom of my heart’ say ‘Shukryia’ , from Urdu.
Indian food in the west is usually Punjabi or Gujarati, but each region has a different cuisine. For epicurean excellence, check out Mughlai or Rajput cuisines.

Our top India Vacation

Wildlife holiday in Central India

Wildlife vacation in Central India

Best of Indian wildlife with tiger, leopard and sloth bear.

From Rupee 155000 to Rupee 180000 12 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about India or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Gifts & shopping
In Rajasthan, check out splendid textiles designed by hand using wooden blocks

For high quality handicrafts, state emporium Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Delhi is a must

Byloom in Calcutta is a wonderful tailor supporting small handlooms all over west Bengal

Hand lacquered products from bowls to bangles originate in India, with lac insects that secrete the main ingredient indigenous to India

For genuine handmade pashminas, made from pashm goats’ hair, go to Srinagar, Kashmir. Around £150

Buy spices from markets. The spice gardens are very overpriced

If tea is your chosen cuppa, it grows on trees here
Many north Indian bazaars now just cater for tourists, and have become very contrived. You need to go into really small towns to find the more traditional, local bazaars.
How much does it cost?
Fresh coconut: 20p-25p

Glass fresh toddy: 50p at a rural bar

Train Delhi-Agra: £10 or £20 1st class

Kilo of mangoes: £2

Bottle beer: £1-£2

Good quality thali lunch - £3.50

A brief history of India

Bollywood films are sometimes hard for westerners to get their head around, but when you start to read up on Indian history, you realize why they love to celebrate melodrama, heroes, villains, fate and fortune, epic themes of attack and revenge, as well as copious poetry, dance and music. Because history has doled out fair doses of all of these over the centuries in India. Going way back, There is still evidence of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation in India, such as the ruins seen at Dholavira in Gujarat, with people coming here from present day Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, as far back as 2600 BC. Read more

Next: When to go

The season between October to February is the best time to visit India. As India is such a large country you'll find the best time to visit varies from region to region with mild winters and roasting summers occurring thanks, in part, to the natural barrier of the Himalayas. In general, India succumbs to a summer season, winter season and monsoon season so read more to find the best time to go.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Uzi Yachin] [Top box - Malyavanta Hills: Vinoth Chandar] [Ladakh: Karunakar Rayker] [High quality crafts: Meena Kadri] [Hiking in the ghats, Kerala: Jakub Michankow] [Tribal communities - Bonda women: rajkumar1220] [Taj Mahal: plaits] [Rajasthan: Gilad Rom] [Rural India: nevil zaveri] [Southern India - Hampi: Vinoth Chandar] [Beach culture: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra] [Pseudo Yoga: Herry Lawford] [Riding on elephants: krishewitt] [Tiger mania: Brian Gratwicke] [Eating and drinking: Pritya Books] [People and languages: Navaneeth Kishor] [Quote 1 - Gujarati food: thefoodplace.co.uk] [Gifts and shopping - bangles: Singapore Sunny Side Up] [How much: shankar s.]
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