India is one of the most vast and populous nations on earth, covering more than three million square kilometres. It’s home to an incredible diversity of culture, history and geography, and so it offers plenty of surprises, even to seasoned travellers. And that’s part of the reason that so many make the trip again and again!
But if you’re going to get the most out of your trip, it’s worth doing a little bit of preparation before you set out. Moreover, you’ll want to know ahead of time what the truly worthwhile diversions are ahead of time. Let’s take a look at what you should expect on your India holidays.
How do I prepare?
The first culture shock you’re going to run into is the infamous squat toilets. While you’ll get the familiar sit-down sort in hotels and swanky restaurants, elsewhere you’ll need to squat. While squatting is inherently better for you in many ways, the standard of sanitation in these toilets may be slightly different to what you’re used to, to put it mildly. Take some toilet paper with you, and bin it in the provided receptacle. Bring along some hand-sanitiser, too.
Another notorious source of problems is the tap water. The extent of this problem varies depending on where in the country you find yourself. If you’re in central Delhi, then avoid drinking the tap water at all costs; if you’re in the remote Himalayas, then you might have better luck. It’s worth sticking to bottled water and soft drinks. Don’t drink any bottle that’s been already opened – it might have been filled with tap water. Don’t order ice with your drink, either – it might just be frozen tap water!
Where should I Go?
Several locations as stand out as especially worth visiting. Varanasi is the country’s most significant religious location for both Hindus and Jains. There are thousands of temples, and endless ghats which line the banks of the Ganges. Religion plays an enormous role in India’s cultural life, and there’s no better way to get up-close with this than during a boat ride on the river at sunset.
Another must-visit location is Amritsar, where you’ll find the famous Harmandir Sahib (or ‘Golden Temple’). Nearby, there’s an absolutely vast community kitchen, where thousands upon thousands of people are fed traditional vegetarian cuisine – so if you want something authentically Indian to eat, this is the place to be.
Of course, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country is the famous Taj Mahal. Pay this wonder of the ancient world a visit at dawn, and you’ll be treated to one of the most spectacular scenes the continent has to offer – something that even pictures can’t do justice to!