Travel Guide 2021- What You Need To Know

travel-guide-india

It is said that India is not a country, but a continent, just like Europe. Stretching from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India encompasses an incomparable range of landscapes, cultures, and people. Traveling in India allows you to meet people of great faiths. 

Traveling in India is easier than ever before. A growing number of cities, new metro systems, linked by highways, more comfortable trains. Affordable hotels and a restaurant in the cities make India an attractive place to visit.

Despite many places around the world to visit, India remains an utterly compelling destination. Love it or hate it, India travel will shift the way you see the world.

Travel Facts About India

  • Capital: Delhi
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Population: 1.3 billion
  • Spoken Language: India has 22 official languages.
  • India has 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites 
  • Tourist numbers to India: 10.93 million in 2019; 10.56 million in 2018, 10.00 million in 2017
  • Indian Railways is India’s largest employer, providing employment to 1.4 million people
  • India is also producing around 2000 movies each year and has a turnover of  US$4 billion.
  • India is a federal parliamentary democratic republic in which the President of India is the head of state and the Prime Minister of India is the head of government.
  • India is the seventh-largest country in the world, covering more than three million square kilometers

Where to Go in India

India has 29 states and 8 Union territories, with major Empire landmarks of Kings,  mountain ranges in the north, and palm-lined beaches and jungles in the south.

It is impossible to cover the whole country on your first visit. It’s better to focus on a couple of regions in order to make the most of your time. You can decide what sort of places you want to go to, then plan those particular areas accordingly.

Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Chennai are undoubtedly the best places to visit. It is also possible to travel around India without setting foot in one, you can also visit and go to more relaxing rural areas.

The Golden Triangle is the most traveled place in the country, taking you from magnificent monuments to serene landscapes. You’ll cover Delhi, the Pink City of Jaipur and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal in The Golden Triangle.

Rajasthan is also the most popular with travelers, thanks to its mesmerizing desert landscape and unique cities, but there are plenty of other areas to discover for the second- or third-timer with more time on their hands.

On the other side of the country, Goa and  Kerala draw crowds of international and domestic tourists to their lively beach resorts. These two states offer some of India’s best tropical beaches.

Best Time to Travel to India

The best time to visit India is between October and March when the weather is more likely to be warm, sunny, and dry. Increasing temperatures in summer can result in excellent value trips, but you can expect high humidity and thunderstorms.

Ladakh, located in the far north, is most accessible between June and September when the rest of the country experiences monsoon season. However, December and January are much cooler. 

The best time to visit India’s southern states is from November onward, once the monsoon has ended.

How to Get to India

Most visitors FLY into India. International flights arrive in the Indian airports. From the UK it takes approximately 10 hours and many flights go via the Arab States. From the USA it takes around 20 hours.

Many people who wish to travel within the country also take internal flights. India’s national carrier is Air India and also Indian Airlines.

Most visitors fly into India but that’s not the only way to get there. There are overland routes from countries Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. Visitors who enter India by bus or train have to show their passport or relevant identification and have the required visa.

travel-around-india

How to Travel Around India

Once you decide to travel, getting around requires some forward planning. 

Although Intercity transport in India isn’t considered the most comfortable, quick, or efficient, it is one of the most affordable modes of transport in India. 

The main options to travel around are train or bus, but also occasionally plane or boat, and within cities, there are also rickshaws and metro systems.

Make use of the cheap long-distance trains for longer distances, on which journeys are an experience in themselves. By paying a little more for the higher classes of carriage, you can expect to have a hassle-free and comfortable journey. 

Cheap short-haul flights are another good option for Indian travelers.

Best Places to Visit in India

1. Jaipur

Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City, due to the dominant color scheme of its buildings.

Jaipur was founded in 1727 by the Rajput ruler Jai Singh II,  the ruler of Amer, after whom the city is named. It was one of the earliest planned cities of modern India, designed by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya.  

Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India and forms a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra. It also serves as a gateway to other tourist destinations in Rajasthan such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Kota, and Mount Abu.

The most beautiful thing about visiting Rajasthan is that you can still feel, taste, and experience this long history. You can sleep in historic palaces and some of those are still the residence of the royal family.

2. New Delhi

new-delhi

New Delhi is the capital of India and an administrative district of NCT Delhi. Delhi and New Delhi are two distinct entities, with New Delhi forming a small part of the city of Delhi.  

New Delhi is also the seat of all three branches of the government of India, hosting the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, and the Supreme Court of India.

The foundation stone of New Delhi was laid by Emperor George V.  It was designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker.

Like India, New Delhi is massive and highly diverse. You can easily spend multiple days exploring the highlights of the city that include Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Akshardham, and the Lotus Temple, and the India Gate.

3. Agra

Agra-Taj-Mahal

For most tourists in India, the second stop on the Golden Triangle itinerary is Agra.

Agra is mostly known as the city that is home to one of the world’s most famous sites: The Taj Mahal.  Taj Mahal is one of the world’s greatest buildings and the ultimate symbol of love.

Emperor Shah Jahan was the mind behind the grand design in order to enshrine his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahul. The best time to see the Taj Mahal is in the early morning with relatively few crowds while the palace is drenched in a soft red glow.

The Taj Mahal is by itself worth a trip to India. A vacation in India without seeing the tomb is a wasted trip.

4. Varanasi

Varanasi

The great Hindu city of Varanasi, also known as Banaras, stretches along the River Ganges, where thousands of pilgrims and residents come for their daily ritual ablutions.

Known to the devout as Kashi, the Luminous – the City of Light, founded by Shiva – Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world.

Located next to a ford on an ancient trade route, Varanasi is among the holiest of all tirthas allowing the devotee access to the divine and enable gods and goddesses to come down to earth.

It has attracted pilgrims, seekers, sannyasins, and students of the Vedas throughout its history, including sages such as Buddha, Mahavira, and the great Hindu reformer Shankara.

5. Dharamsala

Dharamshala

Dharamsala is famous for being the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. It’s also a great jumping-off point for exhilarating hikes around the Himalayas. 

Actually two separate towns, Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj, the latter has had an influx of Tibetan refugees, resulting in many temples, monasteries, meditation centers, and more.

6. Mumbai

Mumbai

Mumbai, previously known as Bombay is one of the biggest metropolises of this state.

Mumbai is also popular as the financial capital of India. It is the largest city in India and fondly called the city of dreams. It is a place filled with dreamers and people who work hard day and night to achieve their dreams.

From struggling actors, laborers to Bollywood stars, Mumbai has a lot. A lot that can be written about and talked about. Mumbai is also home to one of the biggest slum areas as well as home to the richest and thus it is only fair to describe Mumbai as a city for all.

Do read Best Places to Visit in Mumbai if you want to know more about Mumbai.

If you want to know and experience diversity, visit Mumbai. This city also has its very own language that is the Bambaiya Hindi. Known to be a city filled with warm and friendly people, I believe that anything written about Mumbai is never enough.

7. Bengaluru

Banglauru

Bengaluru is formerly known as Bangalore. It is home to India’s rapidly growing tech industry and is often dubbed as India’s silicon valley.

Bengaluru has a culture of its own. It has a flourishing pub scene, there are lots of young people working and living in the city and this boosts a lively modern atmosphere.  

Despite having all of its modernity, pub scene, and Western influences, Bengaluru has retained its typically Indian culture and atmosphere. The city is very green with trees and parks everywhere.

There are many places to visit in the city like Bangalore Palace, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, Bull Temple, Lalbagh Botanical Garden, and Ulsoor Lake.

8. Mysuru

mysuru-mysore-palace

Mysuru, formerly known as Mysore, a city in India’s southwestern Karnataka state, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947.

In Mysuru, you can still experience the rich history of the kingdom by visiting the immense Mysore Palace. This gigantic Palace is the second most visited tourist attraction in India, after the Taj Mahal. The palace, with beautiful halls and artwork, is worth visiting.

Stories about the festivals and parades that were organized in front of the building are the most intriguing. These parades, which are still organized each year in October, bring massive crowds while beautifully decorated elephants walk the streets.

9. Goa

Goa

Goa, the land of beaches, is the smallest state in India and yet, arguably, the biggest tourist destination of the country.

Goa is distinctly divided into North Goa and South Goa. Arambol, Vagator, Anjuna, Baga, Calangute, Candolim and Miramar are just some of the most popular beaches in north Goa. While the beaches of north Goa are considered ideal for beach holidays, those in south Goa are known for their scenic splendor.

Panaji, the capital of Goa is known for its old-world charm. Miramar Beach and Dona Paula are other popular places around Panaji.

Do read Best Tourist Places In Goa to know more about Goa.

There is hardly a list of best places to visit in India that doesn’t feature Goa at the very top.  Goa also offers a number of water sports; Baga and Calangute being two of the best destinations.  

When you get away from the beaches towards the interiors, you will be amazed by the beautiful churches of Old Goa. Basílica de Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, and  Church of St. Francis of Assisi will take you back in time.

10. Kerala 

Kerala

Kerala is known as God’s Own Country.

The state of Kerala stretches for 550km along India’s southwest coast. It is divided between the densely forested mountains of the Western Ghats inland and lush, lagoons, rivers, and canals.

Its intensely tropical landscape has intoxicated visitors since the ancient Sumerians and Greeks sailed in search of spices to the shore known as the Malabar coast.

Equally, Kerala’s arcane rituals and spectacular festivals – many of them little changed since the earliest era of Brahmanical Hinduism – have dazzled outsiders for thousands of years.

India Travel Itineraries

Because of its sheer size, there are many different ways of seeing India. Covering vast distances can be a challenge for those short on time, so it is worth researching different India travel itineraries and picking one that suits you.

Indian Food

indian-food

Indian cooking is as varied as the country itself, with dozens of distinctive regional cuisines.

Best known cuisine is of north India, with its signature biryanis, tandoori, and rich cream- and yogurt-based sauces accompanied with thick naan bread, evidence of the region’s long contact with Central Asia.

The food of south India is light-years away, exemplified by the vegetarian “meal” – a huge mound of rice served on a banana leaf and accompanied with fiery pickles – or by the classic masala dosa, a crisp rice pancake wrapped around a spicy potato filling.

There’s also a host of regional cuisines to explore – Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Goan, Keralan, and Kashmiri, to name just a few of the most distinctive – each of which has its own special dishes, spices, and cooking techniques.

Indian Culture

indian-culture

India is a culturally rich country made up of varied ethnic, cultural, linguistic, historical, and religious backgrounds.

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism were born here although several other major religions happily live in harmony with one another. India has an abundance of culture, each region with its own distinct traditions.

India’s Geography

India is part of the continent of Asia. India is surrounded by water on three sides. The world’s highest mountain range, the Himalayas, rises in the north.

The southeast is bordered by the Bay of Bengal, and the southwest is bordered by the Arabian Sea. India’s terrain varies widely, from the Thar Desert in the west to jungles in the northeast.

A fertile area called the Ganges Plain covers much of northern India. This formation was created from the soil that was deposited by rivers running from the Himalayas.

Travel Advice for India

From money to local customs, traveler safety to insurance, etc, make sure to have up-to-date travel information before your tour.

Costs and Money

indian-currency

India’s unit of currency is the rupee and it is divided into paper notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. Coins are 1, 2, 5, and 10.

It is technically illegal to take the Indian rupees in and out of the country.  ATMs can be found throughout India’s main banks in all major cities, towns, and tourist areas.

Travel Safety in India

Travel in India is safe for visitors. A tourist may be more susceptible to theft and scams, but common sense and a few precautions go a long way.

Crowded places – including public transport – are first and foremost where you should keep your awareness sharp, as this is where pickpockets are most likely to operate.

When staying in dorm rooms, make sure to lock up your luggage and keep an eye on any of your luggage you store on top of a bus, and ensure it’s well secured. If you go swimming, do not leave your belongings unattended.

Although it’s not common, refuse food and drink from strangers and fellow passengers, as it can be an attempt to drug and steal, too.

You shouldn’t be paranoid when traveling in India; crime rates are below many western countries and staying relaxed is the best way to experience the country. As with anywhere, just keep your wits about you.

Travel Insurance

travel-insurance

 It’s imperative that you take out proper travel insurance before setting off for India.

A typical travel insurance policy usually provides cover for the loss of baggage, tickets, and – up to a certain limit – cash, as well as cancellation or curtailment of your journey.

If you do take medical coverage, ascertain whether benefits will be paid as treatment proceeds or only after return home and whether there is a 24hr medical emergency number.  

If you need to make a claim, you should keep receipts for medicines and medical treatment, and in the event, you have anything stolen, you must obtain an official statement from the police.

Travel Visa Requirements for India

travel-visa-requirements-for-india

Most tourists require a visa in order to travel to India.

Nowadays, online applications are the main way to obtain a visa for a shorter visit. For people who plan to study or work in India, it’s necessary to apply for a special visa.

Citizens of the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and many more countries are eligible for an e-Tourist visa. E-Tourist visas are valid for one year from the date of issue for a stay of 90 days during each visit.

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