Why go to India – 8 awsome reasons
Mention India to someone, and their mind tends to fill with exotic thoughts. Visions of rich culture, spices and spirituality will all spring to mind. I have had a strong passion for travelling my whole adult life, and I have been lucky enough to visit almost one-third of all the countries on this beautiful planet. Yet, I am building a website for Indian travel, and that is because no other country has left such a mark on my soul as this one.
Each one of India’s 29 states are so radically different from the next, it can feel like it is many countries all wrapped up in one. There must be a thousand reasons why I love to travel here so much and in all honesty, I have no idea what one appeals to me most. It is fair to say that whatever it is you are looking for, you will find something in India to match your needs perfectly. No other country can cater to so many tastes simultaneously like this one.
A complete post about why to visit would be a very long read indeed, so I will keep it as brief as possible. After you have finished this, ask yourself what is it you want from your time and what do you expect?
Once you have decided what that is, it’s easy to plan your trip from there. This is the most important question. Answering that will prevent you from wasting your precious time and money on things that do not really suit your desires. This post on why go to India should hopefully shed some light on what really appeals to you most and for more help on planning your perfect dream trip please click the link provided. There is so much to get through and I don’t want you falling asleep on me so let’s get started, shall we?
India is a vast country, covering about 3.287 million square kilometres and its topography varies more than any other country I know. India seamlessly changes from one incredible landscape into another.
Those of us on a spiritual quest or looking for a little bit of solitude will probably head to the foothills of the mighty Himalaya. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are the perfect places for long soul charging walks in the mountains. It could be how harsh the environment is in the Himalayas, but there is no place on earth I have ever experienced where people are so kind and hospitable. You could not dream of a better place to lose or find yourself in than the roof of the world.
Maybe you are looking for some pure hedonism and just want to feel the sand between your toes on a palm-fringed island? If that’s the case, head to Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, or the Andaman Islands. In places like these, it is easy to lose track of time from your hammock as you tirelessly watch the tide go in and out.
Perhaps you have come to see the Jungles of the Indian subcontinent so you can marvel at the extraordinary biodiversity mother nature has bestowed on this land. For nature lovers, I wholeheartedly recommend coming to the tropical heaven that is the Western Ghats. The animals that live in the lush hills are both unique and Varied.
The Sal forests of the Terai look and feel primordial in the extreme. It is quite an experience to be searching for some of the many species of Megafauna here while being memorized by the whimsical Landscape. The steaming tiger filled forests of central India could be straight out of Rudyard Kipling’s jungle book, and they are sure to enthral all who come.
You may be the adventurous type who wants to pit your wits against the elements. If this is true, then head to the far northern states of Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh or Sikkim. The country’s high mountain deserts are particularly stunning and offer one photographic moment after another. It is also extremely challenging to visit here and it will push you to your limits. It is the chance for you to really test out those north face shoes and see what they can do.
Rajasthan and Gujarat’s landscapes are hostile, yet they are some of the most densely populated deserts on earth. They are both dramatic and diverse. Catching a sleepy-eyed camel across this forbidding landscape is enough to make you grateful just to be alive. There are not so many dunes in the Thar, and there is a certain amount of vegetation that provides a home for a remarkable amount of wildlife.
No matter what you like, be it sun, sea, sand or ice, this country has you covered. Unless you have stacks of time, I suggest you decide which part of what I have just described appeals to you most. Ask yourself what the purpose of your visit is? What is it you are looking for? I strongly advise you to try not to cram too much into one journey, or you will spend all your time on transport and miss all the good stuff.
Even though India’s protected areas cover just 1.23% of its landmass, that still equates to 40501.13 square kilometres. That space is divided up into 104 national parks and reserves which are unevenly sprinkled across the country.
India is home to 8% of all the species found on earth, making it one of the 12 mega diversity hotspots in the world. With 1301 species of birds, India is an Ornithologists dream. You can also find 410 species of mammals or 8.86% of all the earth species. This includes some of the most spectacular megafauna to be found anywhere in the world, such as the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, stripped Hyena, Asian Elephant, Bengali Tiger, Snow leopard, common leopard and the entire world’s population of Asiatic Lions, to name just a few.
There are also 518 species of reptile, including 279 species of snakes. 410 species of amphibians and of that number 50% are found nowhere else in the world. There is also 18000 species of plants and an undetermined number of insects. Put bluntly, India is a wildlife enthusiasts paradise.
As I said, the distribution of habitats are very uneven and is concentrated into pockets. The rainforests and jungles are where the big hauls are to be found. The jungles are both warm and damp. These are the perfect conditions for life to thrive. Seldom have I seen a better example of what evolution can do when the conditions are just right than what you will find right here. The biodiversity is staggering, and it is all just there waiting for you to discover for yourselves.
In the same token, the deserts and high mountains provide a refuge for many species that you won’t find anywhere else on earth. It can be gratifying for any wildlife enthusiast to come to these parts. In terms of the numbers of species, it is obviously smaller than India’s jungles as living conditions are a lot more hostile. There are many times when I stand in awe that life finds a way to flourish at all in these parts, but flourish it does.
Humans first started to inhabit this land around 3500BC and have flourished ever since due to its bountiful nature. The country has seen countless empires’ rise and fall. Each has left a genuinely breath-taking mark on its architecture. From the Hindu empires in the south to the Muslim kingdoms of the north, Architectural wonders are everywhere, and they are as varied as their landscapes.
The historical ruins are so varied I would be hard-pressed to pick any single one as my favourite. Some are delicate, intricately carved and designed to impress like the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur. Some are built for strength. To protect all those who live in their walls like the mighty Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. Some are just plain Bizarre and can only be described as the personification of someone’s abstract imagination like those found in Gujarat.
There is also the mighty monuments leftover from India’s days as a colony scattered across the country. From the exquisite Portuguese churches of Goa to the Imposing grandeur of The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, there is plenty for any history buff to feast their eyes on.
India’s seemingly endless collection of man-made marvels are so numerous it would be impossible to see them all in just one visit. Many of them are now UNESCO world heritage sights that have had vast amounts of money put into their restoration in the hope to preserve these monuments against the ravages of time.
The fact of the matter is there are enough examples of breath-taking architecture to keep you coming back to the country again and again. Even if architecture is not your thing, some of the buildings are sure to grab your attention. There is a lot more here than simply the Taj Mahal, as elegant as it is. I think it is fair to say that discovering India’s Sublime architecture for your self is one of the plus points when considering why go to India?
While the country is hurtling into the 21st century, spirituality is still very much alive in India. This is something that many of us want to explore for ourselves because word on the street is India is the place to experience that. Its long history has allowed traditions to flourish and given rise to a kaleidoscope of cultures.
Some search for traditional and herbal alternatives to modern chemical-based medicines as they would inevitably be more kind to our bodies. If this is your purpose then look no further. India is the home of Ayurvedic medicine (Ayurveda for short.) It is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems known to man. Here in India, you can fill your boots with alternative medicines and therapies that we in the west seem to be hungry for.
Ayurvedic medicine can trace its roots back more than 3,000 years, and I find it very hard to believe that its practitioners did not find anything to note during this immense stretch of time. The ideas are based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind and body. That is something many of us will agree would be an obvious logic from the offset.
We use Western medicine to treat symptoms of an illness, whereas ayurvedic medicine is geared towards maintaining that balance to prevent you from getting sick in the first place. The accumulated secrets of this noble pursuit are just waiting for you to discover should you choose.
It is also the birthplace of yoga which has become part of so many of our daily lives. Studies show quite clearly that people who practise yoga tend to be generally in better condition in old age than those who don’t.
However, yoga is more than just a bit of stretching. It is also an excellent way to bring a sense of calm to our minds. That is something many of us crave in our fast-paced lifestyles in our own countries. Our lives in the western world tend to be full of pressure, anxiety and stress. Many come here to learn these methods to heal from those stresses and learn to cope with these issues a little bit better in the future.
There are ashrams (places of communal living established around the teachings of a guru) and centres of Vispanna (mindfulness meditation) all over the subcontinent and mostly welcome outsiders. It is certainly the best place to go if you want to learn these ancient arts. Indeed, Foreign tourists are coming in ever-increasing numbers to experience it all for themselves.
Culturally India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Jainism and where buddha came to become enlightened. Not to mention Muslims also make up a good portion of the country, and there are small pockets of Christian communities all over the country. This diversity all adds to the appeal of discovery. I think It is food for the soul to surround yourself with other cultures and ideas so that we might try and appreciate the world from someone else’s eyes. The Indian people as a whole welcome those who want to learn about their culture, and that makes everything all the more appealing.
Signs of spiritual India are everywhere, from small village shrines to enormous temples dedicated to the gods. There is a good reason many of us make a beeline for India. So if you are seeking to perfect your downward-facing dog pose in Rishikesh or indulging in a sumptuous ayurvedic spa in Kerala, then you have come to the right place. Whatever your seeking in your spiritual journey, India is undoubtedly at the top of the list of where to start.
India has become synonymous with good food across the planet and, in the UK, research shows it is our favourite takeaway. Travelling across the country and sampling each states culinary delights is a highlight for anyone. Places to fill up range from grubby street-side Dhabbas to plush 5-star hotels. The rule is if it is full of local people, then it is probably a good place to eat.
Word is out India is a vegetarian’s paradise, and indeed it is. Hands down the most creative vegetarian and vegan food you will find anywhere. You will find no remakes of burgers and sausages that plague our vegetarian menus in the west. It is all original and delicious. Vegetarian food is also safer to eat if you chose to eat in local street-side Dhabas as food handling practices can be a little on the questionable side.
Not only is India the best place to eat your greens in, but carnivores also won’t be disappointed either. Especially in the north, with roasts, Kebabs, and meaty curries are strewn across menus everywhere. Most restaurants a divided into pure veg and non-veg varieties, and If you are an omnivore, you have almost too much to choose from.
In the south, rice is the staple, and in the north, there will be bread accompanying most meals. Bread comes in all shapes and sizes in this country, so loosen your belts and see if you can try them all.
With over 7500km of coastline, seafood understandably features on many menus. Most notably, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Odisha have some of the best around. Each one of these states has its own signature dishes that are sure to excite any palate.
Eating your way across the subcontinent is a highlight for anyone who enjoys food, and now would be a good time to invest in some stretchy trousers if you plan on visiting. The cuisines you will encounter make up an essential part of why go to India in the beginning. To find out where to get some of the very best food to be had in India, why don’t you read my in-depth post on that when you get the chance?
Trekking in India.
India has a whole lot of space to stretch one’s legs, Ranging from half-day outings to multi-week expeditions that are sure to challenge even the most experienced trekkers.
What’s more, there are opportunities to walk through a wide range of landscapes that are just not offered by other countries. You can trek in search of the elusive tigers through the lush hillsides of the Western Ghats. Or push your limits in the lofty high mountain deserts of the north and take your time to meditate in one of the many Buddhist Gompas along the way.
For those looking to make there own footprints rather than follow someone else’s, I would suggest a visit to the tribal states of the Northeast. It can be truly pioneering work up there and it takes a lot of planning. In Uttarakhand, the intrepid traveller can join countless pilgrims on the roads to the source of the sacred river Ganges.
Additionally, if you are looking for something more hardcore, you might want to consider trekking the misty slopes of Khangchenzonga in Sikkim. It is the third highest mountain on earth, and a trip up to its basecamp is the ultimate test of your abilities. For more information on this and other examples of intrepid travel in India, check out my post. The truth is, with this many options, it is hard to work out where to stretch those hamstrings first.
India is virtually many countries in one. Different landscapes, cultures, and faiths give rise to the rich tapestry of human nature you will discover on your visit. One thing that all of these cultures have in common is a sense of hospitality and openness. Something that makes a trip to India a truly unforgettable experience.
Let me tell you a little story about what I mean. One day when I was on a train and waiting for it to depart, two children posted a piece of paper through my window, and I took it in my hands. When I opened the letter, it said, “thank you for visiting my country, and if you are lost or need any help, I should phone their mother.” They also provided me with the mother’s phone number and address.
Now I don’t know about how it is for my readers, but the chances of that happening in London is pretty much zero. I found this act of kindness to be a little overwhelming, to be honest. Most importantly, it is not an isolated case. Acts of kindness like this happen to me all the time in India. The fact of the matter is that I have found the people themselves make travel here all the more magical.
As you travel around the country, you can’t help but notice the people don’t just have different cultures and customs, but they also look different as well. It can really feel like you have crossed some kind of border when you move from one state to another.
With so many ways to perceive the world all inside one country, it must surely be one of the joys of travel here. After all, One of the key benefits of travel is seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, right? Because this helps us grow as a human and with so many walks of life living side by side, that can only be a good thing in my eyes. There is no doubt that the countries impressive diversity of culture is a highlight of coming in the first place and a definite plus when considering why to go to India.
Shopping in India.
Shopping for souvenirs is something most people will want to do. It could be one of the colourful saris that adorn so many Indian women or a sparkling new laptop you are after.
India is home to many artists who sell their masterpieces in pottery, drawings, paintings, leatherwork, stonework and just about every other art form you can imagine. There is a beguiling choice of souvenirs to choose from, and there is something to suit everyone, but you will have to bargain hard for a reasonable price. Not very much has a fixed rate here, and the bargains are only as good as you make them be. Remember, no one will sell at a loss, so don’t be afraid to haggle a little.
India is famous for spices and many of which are not available in our own countries or very unreasonably priced. For example, Kashmiri saffron strands cost a fortune in London, and Lichens are just not happening. You will also find countless spice blends that give the dishes their unique flavour, such a Deggi Merch or Mutton Masala, which are almost impossible to get your hands on outside of the big cities in the west. Although amazon can sometimes help, it is still best to capitalise on this if you are an avid food lover or a chef.
India is also famous for its textiles, and it can take a long time in a lot of shops to find just what it is you want in the price range that’s for you. A pashmina made from pure Kashmiri wool will set you back a few thousand rupees for sure. It is, of course, a little more cost-effective if you buy one straight from Kashmir, and even then, you will have to bargain hard.
However, Khadi (homespun textiles produced on a small scale) will only set you back a few hundred rupees, although it is largely low in quality. There is something to suit every budget, and no tourist is likely to leave empty-handed. So bring your poker face and good nature to bargain your night away at the great Indian Bazar.
Summary of my post Why go to India?
That was just eight reasons to include India into your bucket list, and I could quickly write a dozen more. No matter what it is you want from your travel, India has you covered. Its a land of colour and contrasts that is sure to provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. This post should give my readers an insight into why I keep going back to this amazing country again and again. More importantly, show you what is there for YOU.
As beautiful as the Indian subcontinent is, many potential issues could hamper the quality of your experience, such as being a victim of a scam or wasting your time on transport instead of enjoying all the wonderful things this country has to offer. I would suggest arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible to prevent that from happening. You are only there once, after all.
I have posts for you to check out on both of those topics and much more. Reading blogs like mine and checking out what is in a guide book like the lonely planet will greatly increase the odds of you maximising your time and money. Here is the link on the most common scams you are likely to encounter, and here is the link on getting around India. Build your dream plan, and that will lead to your dream trip.
I can’t overemphasise enough that it is a good idea to read as much as you can about where you will visit. It will make a world of difference to your experience. Ask yourself where your adventure will take you? What transport will you use? What scams will you face? What season will you visit? What sort of temperatures can you expect? What sort of activities will you be engaging in? Are you going somewhere that is considered dangerous? What vaccines will you need? Will you need any restricted area permits? Will you be timing your journey with any festivals?
It is better to see what is on the path in front of you when visiting anywhere, isn’t it? What’s more, planning your dream trip will motivate you to get out of bed on a Monday morning when you are on the hard grind of your normal life. So please feel free to utilise my website to your heart’s content.
For further information and inspiration, check out the government website called Incredible India. It is packed with even more ideas on how to get the most out of your travel. I refer to it all the time myself and I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you have any questions or comments, just leave them in the box provided, and I will get back to you. So that’s about it, I think so until next time, my fellow intrepid traveller, happy trails.
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