It is impossible not to be astonished by India. Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues. Every aspect of the country presents itself on a massive, exaggerated scale, worthy in comparison only to the superlative mountains that overshadow it. Perhaps the only thing more difficult than to be indifferent to India would be to describe or understand India completely. Amid the cacophony, some of the globe's most majestic and historical sights will emerge -- the Taj Mahal, the Ganges, the Himalayas. India, with all its variety, feels more like a series of countries strung together than a cohesive whole. As you move from region to region, you'll be exposed to dramatic changes in cuisine, dress, language, religion, custom and tradition.
WEATHER & CLIMATE
Many regions have their own microclimates (e.g. in mountain tops), and the main climatic conditions in Kashmir (extreme north) are very different from those in the extreme south. India has hot tropical weather with variations occurring region to region. While the coolest months are from November to mid-March, hottest are from April to June. From mid-July to September one can experience Monsoon rains. Winters in India are pleasant with plenty of sunny days. Most of the North India remains dry, dusty, and unpleasant during the summer months.
WHEN TO GO?
Travel to India is a pleasure during the cooler months between October and March. By then the heat of the summer is gone and tourism becomes pleasurable. Rajasthan's dry and arid land is more bearable in the winter months. Around this time, however, the usually wet North-East goes dry and is easier to travel to. The south, of course, is fascinating with the rain on the beaches. March to May and September and November are months for trekking in the Himalayas. So, if you have plans to do some serious mountain climbing or trekking or even take part in some adventure sports, plan your India Travel around this time.
The culture of India was moulded throughout various eras of history, all the while absorbing customs, traditions and ideas from both invaders and immigrants. Many cultural practices, languages, customs and monuments are examples of this co-mingling over centuries. India, with all its variety, feels more like a series of countries strung together than a cohesive whole. As you move from region to region, you'll be exposed to dramatic changes in cuisine, dress, language, religion, custom and tradition. Religion is central to Indian culture, and its practice can be seen in virtually every aspect of life in the country. Hinduism is the dominant faith of India, serving about 80 percent of the population. Ten percent worship Islam, and 5 percent are Sikhs and Christians; the rest (a good 45 million) are Buddhists, Jains, Bahai, and more.
PLACES TO VISIT
Tourists from all over the world visit Agra not to see the ruins of the red sandstone fortress built by the Mughal emperors but to make a pilgrimage to Taj Mahal, India’s most famous architectural wonder, in a land where magnificent temples and edificies abound to remind visitors about the rich civilization of a country that is slowly but surely lifting itself into an industrialized society. For those of you who are romantic at heart, this destination is unparalleled; the synonym of India, the magnificent architecture and the aesthetic beauty in White Makrana marble invites everyone from the world over for an experience of a lifetime.
Delhi is truly a symbol of the old and the new; a blend of ancient well preserved monuments and temples along with jam-packed burger joints and upmarket shopping malls. Both Old and New Delhi exert a beguiling charm on visitors. In addition to being the epicentre of power, Delhi is the second most-widely used entry point into the country. The architects envisioned structures of monumental scale and their efforts can be seen in the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's Residence), Connaught Place, Sansad Bhavan (The Parliament House) and India Gate. Delhi is also full of historical monuments and attractions like Jantar Mantar, Janpath Market, Qutub Minar, Laxmi Narayan Mandir and St. James Church.
Popularly known and believed as God’s Own Country - KERALA is today of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. Kerala, a destination blessed by the God, myriad feature of this tropical land: dense tropical forests fertile plan, beautiful beaches, cliffs, rocky coasts, an intricate maze of backwaters, still bays and astounding 44 glimmering rivers. The backwaters in Kerala are a world of serenity and wonderment. As a visitor to Kerala, it can be an incredibly different experience just floating on these waters in a country craft and absorbing this unusual representation of Kerala's life. The beautiful hillstations of Kerala like Munnar, Ponmudi, Nelliyampathy, Ranipuram, Devikulam are a tourist's dream paradise.
The culturally rich state of Rajasthan is popular for a range of things. The elephants, camels, bird sanctuaries, festivals and fairs, forts, luxury trains, folk dance/music, arts/crafts, and royalty. One of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, and its world famous Dilwara Temples. Eastern Rajasthan has two national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska, as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, famous for its bird life.
The allure of Goa is that it remains quite distinct from the rest of India and is small enough to be grasped and explored in a way that other Indian states are not. The most breathtakingly beautiful beaches, the confluence of the East and the West let the holiday be the best time of your life. The balmy beaches of India are perfect escapade for the fun loving holiday seekers. The young state of Goa certainly happens to be the beach capital of the country.The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with travellers around the world.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in India, Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu temples, famous for their erotic sculpture. The temples of Khajuraho are an example of religion laced with erotica. They are fine examples of Indian architectural styles that have gained popularity due to their salacious depiction of the traditional way of life during medieval times. Held every year from 25th February to 2nd March, Khajuraho Dance Festival takes place at the open-air auditorium in front of the Chitragupta Temple dedicated to the Sun God and the Vishwanatha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
AJANTA & ELLORA
Nestling in an inner fold of the Sahyardi hills, 100 km from Aurangabad in the shape of a mammoth horse- shoe, are the 30 rock-hewn caves of Ajanta. Carved with little more than a hammer and chisel, Ajanta, once the retreat of Buddhist monastic orders features several 'chaityas' (chapels) and 'viharas' (monasteries). The exquisite wall and ceiling paintings, panels and sculptures of Buddha's life are famous throughout the world as the earliest and finest examples of Buddhist pictorial art. The Ellora caves, 34 in number, are carved into the sides of a basaltic hill, 30 kms from Aurangabad. The finest specimens of cave - temple architecture, they house elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, were carved during the 350 AD to 700 AD period. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.
The cuisine of Modern India has great variety and each region has its own distinctive flavours.The range assumes astonishing proportions when one takes into account regional variations. Very often the taste, colour, texture and appearance of the same delicacy changes from state to state. In the north and the west, Kashmiri and Mughlai cuisines show strong central Asian influences. Through the medium of Mughlai food, this influence has propagated into many regional kitchens. To the east, the Bengali and Assamese styles shade off into the cuisines of East Asia. Besides the main dishes, various snacks are widely popular in Indian cuisine, such as samosa and vada. Among drinks, tea enjoys heavy popularity, while coffee is mostly popular in South India. Nimbu pani (lemonade), lassi, and coconut milk are also popular.
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT
Delhi is known as shopper's paradise. As befits a national capital, Delhi, with its many museums and art treasures, cultural performances and crafts, provides a showcase of the country's diverse heritage. Fabrics or readymade garments, gems or jewelry, accessories or footwear, furniture or crockery and sports equipments or electronic gadgets, you will find the best product while shopping in Delhi. Whether you are shopping for a designer label, a branded product or local made stuff, there are places for all these in Delhi. With plenty of spending money and a new sense of confidence among the wealthier classes, the city now boasts a great nightlife scene, with designer bars, chic cafés and good clubs. Its auditoria host a wide range of national music and dance events, drawing on the richness of India's great classical traditions. Smart new cinemas show innumerable Bollywood and Hollywood movies, while theatres hold performances in both Hindi and English.
HOW TO GET THERE?
The major international airlines operating in India are the Air India, British Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and other European carriers. Cities with international airports are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore. Of these, Delhi and Mumbai have direct flights, while the rest have indirect flights.
India has the distinction of having the largest rail network in the world. With the immense size of the land, railways play a crucial role in connecting the entire nation with this form of public transport.