Only India is able to turn the worldview of a person, forever change his idea of life, death, happiness. Traveling through this large and multi-colored country, you can see so much that a trip can replace a round-the-world trip for a tourist. A traveler who is going to make an independent trip to the country of a thousand secrets and a million mysteries should prepare a little for this trip.
Many tourists from the West, getting to India unprepared, experience an intense culture shock that spoils all impressions of this country. It’s all about the attitude of the Indians to the material world: they don’t consider it worthy of attention. Therefore, upon arrival in the country, many Europeans are struck by dirty streets, littered reservoirs, and an abundance of beggars and homeless people on the streets. The main thing here is to discern all the treasures of a rich and so unlike our cultural environment.
However, soon the shock passes, and the person begins to see, think, and feel differently. And all the treasures of Indian history and modernity will leave only positive impressions: the taste of masala tea, the aroma of temple incense, the Taj Mahal shimmering in a pink haze, and a smiling street preacher … Despite the fact that the prices for tours, hotels, and food are affordable, you should always bargain and insist on a discount. Some of them can be found in advance at discountler.com
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For Americans and Europeans, there should be no problems with employees of travel agencies and visa centers when obtaining a regular tourist visa. An entry permit, for a period not exceeding 30 days, can be obtained online by filling out a form at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. To obtain permission, you will need to upload your photo to the site, as well as a scan of your passport in pdf format. This must be done at least 5 days before the trip, but it is better to do it earlier, because the system does not always work perfectly. Here you can pay the consular fee – $ 60. You can pay for the service with VISA or Master Card. A visa can also be obtained in the usual way: at consulates, visa centers, or through the mediation of travel companies, but such actions will lead to higher costs.
Even in the capital of a fairy-tale country, you can find a double room in a hotel with all amenities – from $10 per day. Of course, you should not expect an establishment of a European level, but for a tourist who can do without breakfast in the room and a safe, it is quite suitable. The hotel, which offers double rooms from $15 to $20, provides customers with comfort and conveniences. In principle, there are thousands of excellent hotels in India that do not have their own website, are not in the database of hotel reservation systems, but offer good accommodation. Many experienced tourists do not reserve rooms in advance and travel at random, which allows them to save even more. But for those who travel to India for the first time, it is better to reserve accommodation in advance. Apartments in Delhi or Mumbai can be found for 15-17 dollars/day. Living with an Indian family can be an unforgettable cultural experience. Such a service costs ~$16 per day, including breakfast. In addition to all the usual amenities, accommodation of this type will provide you with good advisers and even guides to the most interesting places in Indian cities.
Indian cuisine is rice, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, and honey. Meat is eaten little in the country, but in many restaurants you can see dishes from lamb, goat meat, poultry (chicken, goose, duck, turkey) on the menu. The abundance of fruits is simply magnificent, you can get freshly squeezed juices everywhere.
And now about the main thing: the mix of spices in Indian dishes for a Westerner is unimaginable. When ordering any dish, except for dessert and water, you must add the magic words: “No spicy, please!”. This does not mean that the served dish will be insipid, not at all. Just in this case, they will bring you food that you can eat and admire a completely unique flavor bouquet.
Everything in India is delicious. Many meat eaters discover vegetarianism. India is overwhelmed by an abundance of delicious dishes from fruits, nuts, vegetables and dairy products. Oriental sweets and spices, unique in their “ensemble” of aromas, are so different from the familiar ones that the culinary adventure will turn out to be almost as bright as getting to know the ancient culture. If you eat in cafes, local fast food, and small restaurants, then you won’t have to spend more than $5 per person per day. Having chosen establishments for tourists, add $3 to the indicated amount, and if you want to indulge in local whiskey or rum for dinner, then add a couple more dollars to the amount. As a result, we get that, even without denying yourself anything, you won’t have to spend more than 12-15 dollars per day on food. Drink only bottled water!
Agree that in a country where there are about a hundred thousand ancient temples, palaces, monuments, sanctuaries, it is difficult to determine what should be visited first of all. Travel guides offer a variety of sites and routes for all tastes, but they all include a few sites in the list that are simply impossible to miss. You can spend two days in Delhi, or you can explore it for several weeks. You must definitely visit Lal Qila or the Red Fort – the citadel-palace, the imperial residence of the rulers, the main historical building of the city; Qubt Minar is an ancient mosque, from which only a minaret remains. The main object is a mysterious iron column, which has not corroded at all for 1500 years; Lakshmi Narayan – a modern Hindu temple, opened in the middle of the twentieth century; Agra (from the capital by train 2 hours) the tomb of the wife of Shah Jihan (Taj Mahal); Ajanta is a cave temple complex, a place to search for a way to liberation from suffering: ancient paintings, Buddha statues, huge halls and narrow cells.
Mumbai is a city of museums and markets, a vibrant and rich nightlife, one of the most modern cities in the country, and Indian Bollywood, there are many interesting things, but it is difficult to see the real India here.
Varanasi is the city of the dead, a place of funeral pyres, cleansing from all sins, and mourning ceremonies. The spectacle is quite specific, as are the aromas that reign in the city. But you can’t get to know India without visiting Varanasi.
Kolkata – it’s just nice to walk along the central streets of the old city, look into the temple of the goddess Kali, visit the Kumar Tuli artisans quarter, buy a small statuette of one of the many gods here, and relax in Maidan Park. The city has a reputation as the cultural capital of India, although it makes a depressing impression on many Europeans, after a few days of living, the huge slum areas no longer seem so scary, and numerous museums and exhibition halls will help fill your stay with vivid emotions and pleasant memories.
The list is far from complete. In all major cities of India, you can find an experienced and knowledgeable guide from local residents who, for a nominal fee of $3-5, will show their hometown from the most unexpected side, help bypass queues at museums and palaces, and provide a comfortable place in the temple during the service.
Traveling to the country of magnificent temples and palaces, one should not forget that there are some peculiarities of hygiene and behavior in India. Take simple but useful things with you: Wet disinfectant wipes; activated charcoal and antiacid; Hydrogen peroxide tablets; Patch.