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 morePlaces to visit in Delhi

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 moreTop 10 foods to try when in India

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 moreHow to use the Indian squat toilet

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

Read moreThe swimming elephant of the Andaman Islands, India

Indian Street Food

Street food in India: what to eat and how to be careful when trying out the Indian street food? 2BCTVSY27ZW5

India is a country of diverse cultures and traditions. It has rightly been called as a ‘Subcontinent’. Most states of India are different from each other in terms of culture, ethnicity, language and the food they eat.

Foods are tempting and if you aren’t a foodie then you will miss a lot on your trip to India. Apart from the region specific menu in India, there is one particular menu that is not only mouth-watering but available in almost the entire country. It is the menu of the Indian ‘street food’.

"Indian street food"

Read moreIndian Street Food

Best destinations in South India

South India has the best destinations India has to offer. If you visit South India, here are the top destinations you should not miss.

Destination Karnataka

"South India"
Bangalore Palace was built to look like a smaller replica of the Windsor Castle. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Karnataka has the second highest number of protected historical monuments and is ranked as fifth best tourist’s destination in India.

Bangalore (Bengaluru) is the capital city of Karnataka also known as Silicon Valley of India. The tourist attractions list is exhaustive and the major ones include Bangalore Palace, Vidhana Soudha,  ISKON temple, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, Lal-Bagh a botanical garden, Cuban Park, the large Shiva Idol/statue, Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, St. Mary’s Basilica and Infant Jesus Church, UB city to hang-out, Wonderla amusement park, huge sophisticated malls and various other temples and more.

Bijapur in South India is famous for Gol-Gumbaz and other historical monuments, Hampi is the ruins of Vijayanagar Empire and is famous for Virupaksha temple, Murudeshwara is famous for the world’s second largest Shiva-statue and has a beautiful beach, in and around Mysore for bird sanctuaries, wild-life sanctuaries and many more temples, Udupi Krishna temple, and Mangalore Malpe beach.

"Gol Gumbaz"
The Gol-Gumbaz of Bijapur in South India

Read moreBest destinations in South India

Maharaja Express

Is there any other way to explore the marvels and the rich cultural heritage of India than in style, this is exactly what the Maharaja Express has to offer.

"Maharaja Express"

The maharaja express is one is one of the most luxurious trains on offer by the Indian Railways and the Indian Tourism Department. It happens to be the most expensive as well. Think of it as the “Orient Express of Europe”. As a matter of fact, it was voted in the top 25 trains of the world by the “Society of International Railway Travellers”. Indeed, it has the best onboard accommodation and dining facilities, off-train excursion programs fit for a king hence the name “Maharaja”.

Read moreMaharaja Express

Try tradition Indian food at the Dhaba

Are you on a trip to India? Then you just cannot afford to overlook the Dhaba!

What is a Dhaba?

The Dhaba is form of restaurant traditionally found on highways famous for catering authentic Punjabi cuisine typically for Punjabi truck drivers. Dhabas are prominently located near or next to petrol pumps or the gas stations.

Some special features of a typical Dhaba that make it different from restaurants:

• Roadside eating place usually found on highways.
• Tasty and nourishing food yet very economical.
• Traditionally the ambience here is very different. Fresh air, big earthen oven called ‘tandoor’, the smell of tandoor, the Punjabi music, traditional bamboo cots called ‘chaarpai’ to sit and a wooden plank placed perpendicularly in the centre of the chaarpai that serves as the purpose of the table.

"dhaba"
Source: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Read moreTry tradition Indian food at the Dhaba

Travelling India Alone

Freya Stark says ‘To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.’ One cannot possibly ignore the romance associated with travelling alone, exploring new and wonderful places and experiencing the unknown. But when you are in a foreign land or town; it is always better to know certain dos and don’ts to ensure a safe and secure travel.

Tips on travelling India alone

"Travelling India Alone"
Source: Eric.Parker's on flickr

While travelling to India alone especially for a female, the key is to dress modestly and avoid travelling at nights in taxis, auto rickshaws unless in cities. In that too certain cities like Delhi are not the safest in the world at night especially for Women, hence avoid any sojourn at night alone. While travelling always opt for pre-paid services wherever available like cabs or autos; that way you could be sure of your safety to a certain extent. When travelling alone in India be sure to stay in reputed hotels.

The reviews on various travel sites could be of help to ascertain that you pick the right hotel. Hiking alone is a strict no-no especially for women. It goes without saying do not trust strangers, which in your case would be everybody and never accept food from an unknown person; a polite no is always better than taking the risk of being dazed and looted.

Read moreTravelling India Alone

Wildlife of India

India is a land of splendours and has a bit of everything on offer-from the colossal Himalayas to the stunning beaches of God’s own country; from the amazing tribes of the north east to the beautiful desert forts of the west.

For a connoisseur of wildlife, there is a lot on the platter too. There are innumerable attractions that are world renowned and a must on the list of the wildlife aficionados. An approximate figure would be 80 national parks, 23 Tiger Reserves and 441 Wildlife Sanctuaries. It is also home to about 1250 different species of birds. Quite a number of rare and endangered species can be found in the country. The marine life is equally fascinating too. But there is not only a diversity of species but terrain too and that is what makes the experience more intriguing.

The wildlife of India

"Wildlife of India"
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Bengal tigers, one horned rhinoceros, elephants, black bucks, Asiatic lions, cobras and peacocks are among the prime wildlife attractions in India. A wildlife escape to India will let you have an experience worth cherishing for the rest of your lives. Seated on a jeep or the back of an elephant or on a boat you could see these animals moving around safely in their natural habitat. You could come face to face with the Asiatic Lions in the Gir National Park or the one horned rhinoceros at the Kaziranga National Park.

Bird watching, Tiger Tours and special Wildlife packages are on the offer online and you could choose from a variety of options. You could go for Bird watching in Sikkim, Uttarakhand or Andamans; Tiger watching in the Golden Triangle or the Sunderbans; spend exclusive weekends in Ranthambore or Corbett National Parks. The options are varied and one better than the other.

Read moreWildlife of India

Mosquitoes in India

"Mosquitoes in India"Imagine this; you are out to explore the beautiful landscapes of India when one morning you wake up with very high temperature. Sick in a foreign land and looking for a doctor can be quite a drag. What could have caused this you think and the next moment you hear the buzzing sound of a mosquito. Mosquitoes can really get you down to that point but there are various ways to avoid that. Malaria and other nasty diseases are carried by these tiny creatures. Here are a few tips for avoiding mosquitoes in India; to help ensure yourself an itch and bite free stay!

Read moreMosquitoes in India

Pickpockets in India, How to be Careful

"Pickpockets in India"Imagine yourself walking up to the counter at McDonald’s looking at the menu with you hungry eyes, you order your hearts out and are ready to gorge on burgers and fries but hold on a second. You need to pay the fellow behind the counter before that; but horrors of horrors you cannot find your wallet! It’s gone and along with it the credit cards, driver’s license and more! The pickpocket has robbed you off the joy of the burgers and more!

How would you get it back? Lodge a complaint at the police station you would think. Well that could hardly be of any use as the person who performed the little magic trick on you may have long disappeared into the crowded streets and also because you may have a jam packed itinerary!
Want to avoid the above situation then read on!

Read morePickpockets in India, How to be Careful

Beggars in India

A woman carrying a baby, seemingly sick and sound asleep, running around begging for food or money in the scorching sun is a common sight in India. Heart rendering isn’t it? The first reaction would always be to hand out any food or money available to give some sort of comfort to the child. But hold on a second and read through before acting on the very basic human instinct.

Beggars in India is a reality

"Beggars in India"
Source: ruffin_ready's on flickr

There is more to begging and beggars in India than meets the eye. Poverty is a sad reality about the country. It is a conundrum that is deep rooted and in spite of the efforts made by the Government and the Non Government Organisations (NGOs), it will take considerable time to phase out. The beggars are just one of the by-products of this mess.

Now there may be some who are genuine and forced to beg out of compulsion. But more often than not there are well organized gangs who run begging rackets. Yes unbelievable but true there are big syndicates whose sole source of income is begging. For them begging is the easy way to earn money and they do it by playing on the sympathy of the unsuspecting tourist or passerby.

Read moreBeggars in India

Indian Breakfast

"Indian breakfast"
Typical Indian breakfast, the Poori Sabji

Sampling food around the world can be quite fun. Your may be the adventurer in your heart and not afraid of experimenting with food but remember your stomach may not be in synch with what your heart wants. While travelling it is important to make sure you take in only what suits your metabolism and which doesn’t result in you ending up being sick. Nobody wants that! It’s not that the food at home is always better and healthier than the food you get abroad. It’s just that you are not used to the preparation, the spices and moreover weather too plays its part. Hence to prevent any sort of distress like the commonly known ‘Traveller’s Tummy’ you need to have some background on the food that you are eating and of course common-sense to realize what to eat and what to avoid.

Read moreIndian Breakfast