This is a guest post written by Sarah Bennett, a content specialist at Holidayfactors. Enjoy her guide to India! ?
A guide to India
Before you visit India there are a few facts that you need to know about it. For starters, this republic happens to be one of the biggest countries in the world. In fact, in terms of total area, it happens to be the seventh biggest country in the world. In terms of population, it is second only to China in the world. It also happens to be the biggest democracy in the world and this is something that it is highly proud of. As such, India is a really enigmatic country and it is very hard to figure it out as such.
The first recorded civilization of India prospered around 5000 years back on the banks of River Indus and this is perhaps the reason why it is also known as Indus Valley Civilization. It covered an area of around million sq km. After this, the country was periodically invaded by Aryans, Sakas, Huns, Muslim rulers from Afghanistan and Turkey, Mughals, and finally the British. Apart from them, racial groups such as Parsees, Arabians, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and Danish came to India as well. All of them combined to create the melting pot that is today known as India.
It has already been stated that India has the largest democracy in the world and the country is pretty proud of that as well. However, India is still beset with caste and religious problems in various areas and it is not common for one to see racial angst being vented through violent means every now and then. Kashmir, in the northwestern part of India, and Arunachal Pradesh, in the northeastern part, are also pockets where India has faced trouble over the years with its neighbors Pakistan and China respectively. Just like any other Third World country India too suffers because of a high amount of corruption at every turn.
The best time to tour India is between October and March because this is when you experience the winter and spring seasons over here. The conditions at this time are the best even when you take you into account the huge size of this country. It is best to avoid the summer season from April to June because it is either unbearably hot or immensely humid. The rainy season that stretches from July to September can see heavy rains in many parts and make traveling really difficult. So, it should be avoided as well.
As such, you would come across many horror stories about India and they can be really scary. However, there is no need for so much worry as such if you follow a few precautions. Still, there is always a chance that you could fall ill in India at some point of the time or the other. It is always better to stay in the best possible hotels so that you can get adequate facilities like water and paper rolls in case you experience stomach ailments, which is the commonest thing to happen in India.
Visa related advice
You would definitely need a visa to get in India. At Indian consulates and embassies around the world, you could get visas for six months with provisions for multiple entries. Normally it takes a couple of weeks for a visa to be granted in case you send your passport to one of the offices mentioned above. With the help of these visas, you would also be able to visit neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka and Nepal. You can always visit the official website of the Indian embassy in your country for more detailed information.
Information on getting there
There are four major international airports in India, which happen to be situated in the metro cities — Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Chennai. Apart from these cities such as Bengaluru have international airports as well. So, in case you are coming in from the West, there is always a chance that you may be heading to one of these. All the leading global carriers such as British Airways, Virgin, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, American Airlines, Etihad Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, etc. fly to India. The price of flight normally depends on the time that you fly.
There are four major ways to travel in India — bus, car, plane, and train. Obviously, flights are the best way to travel between places and it also helps that there are plenty of low-cost carriers in India to choose from such as Air India, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, IndiGo, GoAir, AirAsia, and Vistara to name a few. Obviously, in case of long distance locations not connected by flights trains would be the best option. At the same time, if the distance between two places is short it may be better to travel by car. Buses — even the deluxe ones — can be bad in a funny way, especially for Western travelers.
The biggest events
The biggest events that you should definitely visit once you are in India may be enumerated as below:
· Pushkar Mela
· Kumbh Mela
· Durga Puja
· Various harvest festivals
Holi is basically celebrated by Indians in order to welcome the onset of summer whereby powder and colored water is thrown on each other. It happens to be the most famous festival in India — in case you are attending it, please do not wear any nice clothes as they would be spoiled for sure.
The top places to visit
Following is a list of the top places to visit in India:
· Agra for Taj Mahal and other attractions
· Kerala for the backwaters
· The banks of Ganges and perhaps the oldest city in the world in Varanasi
· The ruins of Hampi
· The Golden Temple in Amritsar
· McLeod Ganj for meeting Dalai Lama
· The beaches of Goa
· Desert trekking in Jaisalmer and forts around the state
· Bollywood and other attractions in Mumbai
· Manali for yak skiing
· Sunderbans for the Royal Bengal tigers
· The hill stations of India
· Sangla Valley
· Tirupati Balaji
· Temples of Orissa and southern India
· Mandvi Beach in Kutch
· Daman and Diu
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