Travelling in India is like a rollercoaster ride on its own which is why lakhs of foreigners flock to various parts of India every year, only to stay for months at a time and explore the country. With the kind of history, culture, biodiversity and all kinds of terrains to offer, India is a very diverse country to visit. India shares its borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Nepal and Pakistan. The terrain found on the vast Indian Sub-Continent consists of upland plain in the south, flat to rolling plains along the Ganges, deserts in the west, and the magnificent Himalayas in the north. Israelis accommodate most of the Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan as tourists; British & Portuguese on the other hand enjoy places like Goa. The footfall of tourists from Germany is also increasing with the day. Americans and Australians also come as hitchhikers and settle in metropolitan cities of India with great scope in most of their fields of work.
From the deep orange sands of the Rajasthan Desert, the tropical waterways of Cochin or to the serenity of the national parks where rhinos, tigers and birds abound, India’s contrasting environment will not fail to inspire.
You’d be wrong if you think that I am only referring to the Taj Mahal in the north or the Victoria Memorial in the east or The Tirupati Temple in the South or Mehrangarh Fort in the west. No, India is also about places like Ladakh, Valley of Flowers, Tawang, Coorg, Namchi, Thekkady and the other places that foreigners are more passionate to explore than the fellow Indians.
Even though it’s sad how our country is left unexplored, I am going to tell you what to expect from Indians in each part of the country while you’re travelling solo or with company. There are 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India as in today’s date and each one of them is unique and important to India.
It isn’t only about the places that India offers but the food, the culture and the people that you meet on your voyage in India is extremely entertaining.
The kind of advices you’d get from the Babas in Rishikesh and Haridwar or the sort of love you’d get in Ziro Valley or the food that you’d eat in Parwati Valley or the hippies you’d meet in Goa is all a part of the life changing India. When Julia Roberts was casted in the movie, Eat Pray Love, she didn’t know that her time spent in India for it would become such an integral part of her life that she would convert to Hinduism.
The country may be noisy, full of rowdy people, but its’ essence is as strong as it gets. You will get to experience all types of transportation. If given a chance, do not miss to try riding a tractor in the fields of Punjab. It’s bliss! North India has a very typical culture. North Indians like to blow all the money that they have on their sons’ or daughters’ marriages and not their education.
Men of the North excel at evesteasing. If you’re a girl travelling alone or with a male companion, you are sure to get a lot of looks from head to toe and virtually get molested in their heads but that shouldn’t stop you from what you are doing. Just ignore unless it gets really disturbing. Indians in this part of the country are really big on food. From Punjab to Delhi, you will probably get a PhD in the kinds of oils the locals use. You will be spoilt for choice with the variety of food at your service. Avoid using public transport at night. I know that India is beyond scams and divinity but it is also unpredictable.
Uttarakhand is famous for its’ Kumaon region and people from Kumaon are very honest and helpful. They are the sweetest and will get you through any problem that you face in their area.
Majority of Haryana is very rural with people who are not too open minded or educated. It’s a developing state with a lot of corrupt politicians. Apart from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana is a very unsafe zone for females. I’d recommend not to talk to anyone if it’s not your business. Keep to yourself.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful states in India reason being they do not let outsiders buy any kind of property in their area so what belongs to the people from Himachal stays in Himachal. Himachal really runs of tourism so the locals are very friendly with the tourists and love to join them on various treks.
Jammu & Kashmir is the Switzerland of India. Most of its’ occupants are muslims and kashmiri pandits. By being there, you’d get to take a peek in the Islamic culture to a very large extent. The people are friendly but do not mess with any religious viewpoints.
The western part of India, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Daman and Diu are very cultural. Rajasthan is known as the Land of Kings and is home to lakhs of types of birds and tigers. People visit Rajasthan for its’ food and the locals in Rajasthan are the sweetest and the most welcoming. They are excellent hosts for tourists from all over. Foreigners take back a lot of Rajasthani art and craft, Indian clothing and the very famous “jootis” to their countries as souvenirs or gifts.
On the other hand, Gujaratis are a bunch of ridiculously hyper and happy people & you’d enjoy your stay there and come back with a lot of clothes from the city of Surat for sure. It is a dry state but all things illegal find a way to exist everywhere.
Daman and Diu & Dadar are the places you go to, when a trip to Goa is costing you more than your life. Daman is quiet, scenic and the people are friendly and seafood is of course, a speciality! Dadar is only a few hours away from Mumbai and calls for a great weekend getaway; a very touristy and rejuvinating place. All in all, the west is colourful enough to keep you on your feet from one place to the other without you getting bored.
East India is excessively green and beautiful and a must visit for every nature lover! The beauty of Arunachal Pradesh, the serenity of Meghalaya, the culture of Manipur & Nagaland, the beautiful Sunderbans of West Bengal, the tea gardens of South Sikkim, the wilderness of Kaziranaga in Assam, the tribes of Mizoram and Tripura are the gems of the East.
The best way to travel in the East is to plan a trip around the whole area, backpacking for a month. One just needs to have an Inner Line Permit for all the states and the best part is that you can even visit Bhutan, Nepal, Burma and Bangladesh as they share their borders with the states in the East. The food has a major Tibetian influence. If you’re a foodie, you will love the food one gets in that zone. It’s a non vegetarian’s heaven and momos, thukpa, fish and curry, pork fry, beef pickles are their specialities.
People in the East are open minded to opportunities and people but there’s always a fish that ruins the pond so no place is really perfect. Most of the East is a blend of modern and rural. It’s a developing part of the country but when you visit this side, you will leave your heart here and keep coming back for more.
South India is majestic, fun and lush. From the beaches of Gokarna in Karnataka to the backwaters of Alleppey in Kerala to Hyderabad’s biryani in Telanagana to Kodaikanal’s beauty to Vishakaptnam’s (Vizag) ports in Andhra Pradesh, it’s got it all. It isn’t practiacal to explore the whole of South India in one go because unlike the East the states are bigger and the issues are more. South Indians are the most educated , engineers, scientists, HRs, you name it. Bangalore in Karnataka is the hub of start ups and booms with engineers in all corners.
You will have a great time in South India unless you are a racist. Coffee from Karnataka and tea from Tamil Nadu are the best souvenirs that you can take back home. South India is relatively safer than the North. The people can get a little snobbish at times seeing someone white but they are kind hearted and down to Earth; can not and will not stand any kind of show off.
Andhra Pradesh was recently divided into two; the other half is Telangana. The culture is exactly the same, it’s just divided due to political atrocities. Just like Jammu & Kashmir, the majority of population is Muslim. You will develop quite a few conversations over food. Tourist guides will try to make a fool out of you if you lack negotiation skills. Do go see the Charminar and do not believe the kind of stories you hear about it. Sometimes people form up anything around the history of monuments.
You will face a lot of language problem. You really wouldn’t know what to do. Do not stress out; fake it till you make it. You can really enjoy the South by travelling in trains and see the mesmerising beauty that you’ll cross on your way; green fields, waterfalls, bridges et al.
In case you make a pit stop in Delhi while on your trip to India, you could definitely couch surf at my place. I will show you around and feed you Indian food till your tummy explodes. An email would do good. 🙂
Red bull doesn’t give you wings, travelling in India definitely does. May you enjoy India for what it is and may the country never cease to amaze you!