My top 8 unforgettable moments in India Golden Temple- More than guys with turbans and a temple covered with shiny gold Kumbh Mela 2013 – where chaos meets peace Personal experience of visiting the Taj Mahal Arriving at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport

My top 8 unforgettable moments in India

Manuela, my friend from Colombia describes some of her best moments of her stay in India. Those who don’t remember who Manuela is, well she’s a girl from Colombia who decided that she wanted to live in India. You can read about her arrival here and about her adventures in Chandigarh. By Manuela Last Tuesday, […]

Golden Temple- More than guys with turbans and a temple covered with shiny gold

My friend Manuela shares her experience of her visit to the Golden Temple Amritsar (also known as Swarn Mandir) in the Punjab. Golden Temple: More than guys with turbans and a temple covered with shiny gold By Manuela Osorio Pineda I’ve always considered myself as an ‘off-the-beat-traveler’ who craves visiting the remote little spots of a […]

Kumbh Mela 2013 – where chaos meets peace

This is a story of my friend Rishabh Oberoi who went to the Kumb Mela this year. This is the part 1 of his visit to the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. Part 1: The World Largest Religious Gathering of People on the Bed of Sangam I believe Indian culture is the most colorful and diverse culture […]

Personal experience of visiting the Taj Mahal

My friend Natalia from Brazil was recently in India where she happened to visit the Taj Mahal along with other places in India. She sent me her account of her visit along with some of her photos that she took on her visit. This is the personal account of her visit to the glorious Taj […]

Arriving at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport

Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi will perhaps be the entry point for most foreign travellers to India. I have always wondered why this airport was not named after Mahatma Gandhi since he is considered as the father of the nation. Anyway, from a personal point of view, this is the worst International airport I […]

Lotus Temple – Must see Bahai Temple

Lotus Temple – Must see Bahai Temple

In a country of more than a billion people where close to 70% people are Hindus and nearly 28% adhere to Islam, the Bahá’í form only a small community, less than five million. Despite their small numbers, the followers of this one of the newest religions in the world have built one of the largest temples in the world which due to its magnificent architectural design has compelled many to term it as “the Taj [Mahal] of modern India.” Officially known as the Bahai House of Worship, this structure in New Delhi is more famous as the Lotus Temple or the Bahai Temple, because of its partly-opened Lotus shaped praying hall. It’s one of the six major Bahai houses of worship in the world. The other five are in Apia, Western Samoa; Sydney, Australia; Kampala, Uganda; Panama City, Panama; Frankfurt, Germany and Wilmette, USA. Read More…

Heritage hotels in India

The word luxury brings in different meaning to different people. It might mean indulgence, relaxation, comfort, sumptuous or enjoyment. When you are in India the luxury should definitely mean Royal experience similar to what you will get to the Maharaja Express. India has a rich history of Royal lifestyle with numerous kings ruling the country for hundreds of years. They have left behind a rich heritage to experience.

The palaces that are part of Indian luxury till date are something that you will defiantly not find in any other parts of the world. You can welcome yourself to India as a royal ambassador and give yourself the palatial treat by opting to stay in these heritage hotels. That is the reason I suggest you to experience the luxury of Indian Heritage hotels when it comes to choosing luxury hotels in India.

"Heritage hotels in India"

Taj Lake Palace in the middle of Lake Pichola

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Are cabs in Delhi safe for tourists?

"Autorickshaws"

Auto-rickshaws at Connaught Place, New Delhi. Source: Prolix6x's photostream

Delhi is a big city. It’s home to more than 18 million people. More than 5.18 million foreign tourists came to India in 2010. (Annual Report 2012-11, Ministry of Tourism) A large proportion of those tourists first land in the capital and from there set off to explore this vast land. According to another report titled ‘Tourism survey in the State of Delhi,’ about 1.8 million foreign tourists and more than 21 million domestic tourists come to see the splendid capital each year. A large number of those tourists hire taxis or cabs to move around the city. Unfortunately, a small proportion of them become victims to impostors pretending as taxi drivers. This makes tourists uneasy and quite soon all taxis are regarded as driven by crooks. While it’s understandable why this happens, it’s not wise to put them all in the same category.

In this article, we will have a balanced look at the current situation and you will also read how you can stay safe while still enjoying your visit to this wonderful city in a taxi. Read More…

On the Way to Jhujhunu

"Travels in India"On the Way to Jhujhunu by Marie McCarthy

In March of 2011, I made my first trip to India. I was not a backpacking, college aged woman. Rather, I was in my last decade of work before retirement. Adventure is not just for the young. Sometimes you’re better able to appreciate things when you have a few more years of life experience under your belt.

As I nearly always travel alone, I had engaged the services of an Indian based travel agency, which had an itinerary of Rajasthan which covered all the places I wanted to visit plus a few I hadn’t heard of. I was traveling in a private car with a driver, which I thought would be prudent for my first visit. I could stop or change the itinerary as I wished, and my driver would not only keep me out of trouble, but he would be my personal ambassador. I could ask him anything and everything I wanted to know about life in India, the people and the culture.

Having been invited by Shalu to share some of my travel stories here on ShaluSharma.com, here is the first one, an excerpt from my recently published book.

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Visiting the capital of India, Delhi

Delhi is a wonderful city with a fascinating history and a promising future. It’s a city of contrasts, where the old and the new exist simultaneously. It is the place where important decisions are made and what direction this nation of a billion people should take is discussed everyday. Despite having only a fraction of the area of Australia, it has a population comparable to that vast continent-size country. In terms of money, it’s one of the richest cities in India. However, unlike many other big cities, it has managed to preserve its heritage while keeping in pace with the rest of the world.

Map of Delhi

History of Delhi

There is archaeological evidence to suggest people were inhabiting in Delhi as long ago as third millennium BC. There are signs of urban dwellings going back to 6th century BC. From 12th century to until the arrival of the British in 17th century, it was one of the most powerful cities in the world. The English moved the capital to Calcutta (Kolkata). They later changed the capital to Delhi and since then it’s remained the seat of most powerful men and women in South Asia. Read More…

Tourist places in North India

This article will go though the best tourist places in North India. North India houses some of the world’s most famous tourist destinations. The climate in North India is as diverse as the people and their culture. This part of India is known in terms of geographical riches and political activities. The Himalayas and the surreal hill stations are the perfect blend of exotic extravaganza one can experience. A few of you who are big time foodies will enjoy your travel time in North India even more than anybody else. The food is finger licking good and everybody gets a choice to take part in the diversity of the culinary fiesta. It is that part of India where you have the opportunity to make a trip to the Golden Triangle of Dehli, Agra and Jaipur.

Seven prominent states of India together make North India, they are Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.

"Tourist places in North India"

North India

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How to wear a saree

"rani mukherjee saree"If you ever wondered what the women of India wear, then the answer is the traditional sari (saree). Majority of the Indian women wear it. Sari or Saree is worn in many different styles in India. The styles are either culture specific or region specific. A few styles are -

Nivi style and Kaccha nivi style- It is commonly worn in Andrapradesh where the pallu hangs on the left shoulder. There is slightly different form of Nivi called Kaccha Nivi where the pleats are passed through the legs and tucked back in the waist. Read More…

Places to visit in Delhi

How can anyone describe Delhi, the 5000 year old capital city of the world’s largest democracy? Some call it the city of extremes; extreme weathers, from clean areas to congested ones, to open roads to chocking traffic, posh areas to poverty stricken. Whatever it may be, Delhi is best known as ‘Dillee Dilwalo ki’ which means ‘Delhi belongs to large hearted people’. Delhi, the capital India is the largest metropolis by area in India. It is also the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population. The city is also the one of the most historical capitals in the world and has a rich and numerous tourist sites.

The city can be divided into Old Delhi and New Delhi. Old Delhi represents the history of India with mosques, forts and other monuments. New Delhi is the seat of government and houses the government buildings and embassies. Read More…

Top 10 foods to try when in India

Indian food is feast for the taste buds. The variety of food you can find in India is countless. The Indian cuisine is as diverse as India itself. Here in India the food can be categorized mainly as North Indian and South Indian food. It can be further divided into region sub-groups such as Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Guajarati, Chettinad, Bengali, Mughali, Kashmiri and Hyderabadi. I will not be surprised if you add a few more regional cuisines to the list!

India is a land of festivals and every festival has its own special menu; every occasion also has a special menu and these are vary from region to region. Now, are you getting the idea of how many other varieties of cuisines you can expect in one cuisine called the Indian cuisine?

Most Indian dishes are full of spices hence the flavour and the colour. The most common spices and ingredients used in Indian cuisine include mustard, cumin, curry leaves, green coriander, garam masala (a masala made of select range of spices), tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger, along with the main ingredients such as the vegetables or lentils that go into it.

Do you know why did I am giving you this insight about the diversity and variety of Indian food? Because I find it very difficult to come up with the just top 10 amazing dishes which I can recommend to you on your visit to India. Yet here I am with my list of top 10 foods you cannot miss when in India. Read More…

How to use the Indian squat toilet

Tourists coming to India will have their first culture shock when they come out of the airport. First thing they will notice that India is one crowded country, too many people walking around, people wanting to talk to you or staring at you, some even offering you to take you to hotels and so on.

"Indian toilet"The second shock comes in quite unexpected. As soon as you walk in a public toilet you will notice that toilets are different to what they are used to. You may not notice this at the hotel as most hotels will have western style toilets. Depending what part of the world you are coming from, you will notice that the Indian toilets are like a hole in the ground. It’s not exactly the same as the pit latrines or the makeshift squat-holes you will find in sub-Saharan Africa but close. But there you have it, these are the traditional latrines used in all over India. You will find these types of squat toilets in many places in India including trains. Unless you are travelling on the Maharaja express you are bound to encounter squat toilets.

You will be forgiven to think, how on earth people take their dump. First things first, don’t panic, it’s quite simple. Also known as the squat toilets, they are pretty simple to use. It’s used in many countries around the world including Japan. Read More…

The swimming elephant of the Andaman Islands, India

Can elephants swim?

Can elephants swim? Yes they can. They are known to be good swimmers. New evidence suggests that elephants may have evolved from sea creatures. The discovery of “nephrostome” in elephant foetuses similar to what is found in freshwater fish, frogs and egg laying reptiles suggests that they have common ancestry. The ancestors of the modern elephant went through a variety of harsh environments and were able to evolve to environmental changes quite fast. This gave them remarkable physical and mental agility.

"Havelock Beach"

Havelock Beach. Source: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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