India has a rich and diverse mix of culture and tradition, dominated by religious and spiritual themes. It’s probably the only country where people of so many different origins, religious beliefs, languages and ethnic background coexist. The most frequently visited part of India is the Golden Triangle, comprised of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Meanwhile, the people-packed cities of Mumbai (Bombay) and Kolkata (Calcutta) have a bustling, colorful charm, while the holy city of Varanasi and the awe-inspiring temples of Tamil Nadu are rewarding places of pilgrimage. In India you can find anything ranging from adventure sports, cool retreats, deserts, eco tourism, beautiful beaches, pilgrimages and spirituality, wildlife and famous heritage sites.
The staples of Indian cuisine are rice, atta (whole wheat flour), and a variety of pulses, the most important of which are masoor (most often red lentil), chana (bengal gram), toor (pigeon pea or yellow gram), urad (black gram) and mung (green gram). Pulses may be used whole, dehusked, for example dhuli moong or dhuli urad, or split. Pulses are used extensively in the form of dal (split). Some of the pulses like chana and “Mung” are also processed into flour (besan). Most Indian curries are cooked in vegetable oil, because they have a big vegetarian population. Besides, because of the religion-Hindus, they do not eat beef. Cow is considered scared and thus beef is not eaten.
There’s many regional foods in India, so there will be plenty of different dishes to try depending where you are.
Other famous dishes besides the famous curry include:
- Tandoori chicken, yogurt and spice marinated chicken cooked in a tandoor (clay oven)
- Paneer makhani: a sweet creamy dish with Indian cheese.
- Naan- Naan is a delicious hot bread served with other popular dishes like Tandoori chicken
- Samosas- Samosas with a fried shell filled with potatoes, onions, lentils and spices. Other ingredients may be added on.
- Momos- Indian dumplings with a variety of spice, meat and vegetable fillings.
The declaration of Taj Mahal in the list of New Seven Wonders of the World, has once again brought the culturally and historically awakened country of India in news. The tourism industry of India has received a boom because of this announcement. It is not only the Taj Mahal that India is famous for. In fact the entire land is filled with attractions of many kind. Every part of India boasts of innumerable sightseeing scopes. Tourists of India as well as abroad, in advance plan their trip to the various must see destinations of India. Unending historic attractions of this dazzling land and the splendid cultural panorama make this place one of the most intricate and rewarding dramas unfolding on this earth. Most of these Favorite picks have deeply rooted past and reminds us of the glorious past that once belonged to India. Plan your trip to India and explore this mystical land that offers innumerable tourist attractions from north to south and east to west.
- Red Fort- Found in the 17th century, the fort was the home of the Mughal Empire until the 20th Surrounded by a 18 meter wall, the fort has various monuments and museums. The fort remains to signify a portion of India’s history.
- Taj Mahal- The world-famous site in India is a marble mausoleum with a tragic and romantic story. Emperor Shanh Jahan had built it as a tomb for his third wife, Mumatz Mahal. After his wife passed away giving birth, the emperor was so heartbroken that he had begun the construction of the Taj Mahal. After he was overthrown and following his death, he was buried here along with his beloved wife.
- Agra Fort- The UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the 16th century, is a walled imperial city. Its architectural designs will leave visitors in fascination of India’s history and intellect. It is in near distance with the world-famous Taj Mahal. Although portions of it are closed to public, visitors can still walk around and be amazed my majority of the site.
India’s nightlife is diverse and growing. Tucked away, you’ll find everything from intimate bars and pubs, to multi-level nightclubs. Those interested in something more traditional will find no shortage of cultural performances either. However, you do need to know where to look. The age for the legal consumption of alcohol varies across the different states in India. In Delhi, it remains at 25 years, despite ongoing discussions about lowering it. India’s party state of Goa has the lowest legal drinking age of 18 years, along with Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. Elsewhere it’s generally 21 years. However, venues aren’t usually strict about enforcing these limits. Gujurat is known as a “dry state”, where alcohol is illegal without a permit. In most cities in India, nightlife is early to start and early to end because of the curfews in place. While Mumbai may have the biggest selection of party places in the country, come 1.30 a.m. they’re all starting to close for the night. The city of Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are also places to check out for the night scene.
The Indian rupee (sign: ₹; code: INR), is the official currency of the Republic of India. It is important to change some Rupee in advance for emergencies, if you prefer to exchange US dollars to rupees in India. ATM is available in the major cities.
Customs & Language
The main languages spoken in India is Hindi and English. Many of the Indian languages today have been heavily influenced by Urdu, a form of Hindustani written in Persian script. There are some things that you shouldn’t do when in India. One, do not wear skimpy clothing, India is very conservative and doing so will allow other people to stare at you. Two, do not give or take things with your left hand. In India, your left hand is considered to be used to clean up after doing their business.
Here are some helpful words/phrases:
- Hello – Namaste
- Thank you – Dhanyavaad
- Please – Krpya
- How much is this? – Kitane kā hai
- Where is the bathroom – Baatharoom kahaan hai?
Go to India!
India is perhaps the only nation that has a checkered yet glorious history. The varied cultures woven into oneness present an awesome canvass of ages that have witnessed the rise and fall of mighty empires, each leaving its permanent mark on it. World fame Ajanta and Ellora are the two ancient sites that need no reference. They vividly indicate the highly developed state of art and culture that remains unsurpassed by the modern civilization. Be it, the Taj Mahal, or the beautiful forts and castles of Rajputs and Mughals, you will get the flavor of everything only here, in India.