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India is extravagantly beautiful land and a repertoire of surprises and delights, ready to leave you spellbound. Spending time in India is like spending time at an indelible spiritual, architecturally glorious, astonishingly natural, and fascinatingly cultural place. From mountains to rivers, historical monuments to the rich cultural diversity, when it comes to a destination tour, India has a plethora of sights to showcase.
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Wherever you are in India, the country’s blanket of charm and originality will be integral to the experience. Whether it’s beach or mountains, temples or churches, there’s an irrefutable feeling of being immersed in local culture. This manifests in many ways, exemplified by the myriad of unique experiences you can find across the nation.
The Bustle of Modern India in Mumbai: The country’s economic hub isn’t for the fainthearted, yet it delivers a compelling look into modern India. The huge slums are an eye-opening experience and guided tours reveal the smiles and vitality behind the poverty. Whole suburbs exude luxury and the high-life, complete with ocean views and the country’s finest gastronomic feasts. There are funky markets, one of the world’s biggest movie industry, Bollywood, and marvelous remnants of the country’s colonial past.
Meditation and Yoga Retreat: The Beatles were among the famous musicians lured by India’s spirituality in the 60’s, and the country continues to offer handcrafted retreats focused on meditation and yoga. Ayurveda therapies rejuvenate, tranquility emanates from hilltop destinations like Rishikesh, and the world’s greatest meditators teach their lifelong knowledge. You can center your Indian experience around this deep connection between body and soul; it’s easy to add deeply authentic meditation and yoga experiences to your Indian itinerary.
Thrilling Tiger Safaris: A spectacular variety of indigenous wildlife has forever forged a haven in India’s vibrant national parks, the standout highlight being the rare Royal Bengal Tiger. The entrancing forests of Kanha & Bandhavgarh National Parks provide the best chances at experiencing the striped orange beauty, safaris heading out on elephant-back through the trees. At the other end of the size scale, India is a stunning destination for bird lovers, the cute and the colorful mixed with predatory claws.
Karma Sutra Temples of Khajuraho: All across this continent nation you’ll discover illustrious ancient temples; some evocatively stand in states of decay and ruin, others have been painstakingly restored to their former glory. Revealing the rich detail and dedication to originality are Khajuraho’s Hindu and Jain temples, the marble walls filled with erotic sculptures depicting the birthplace of the Kama Sutra. The Nagara symbolism adds a defining edge and an imposing originality that’s been standing for over 1000 years.
Trekking Holidays in the Himalayas: Keep going north in India and the green eventually turns to white, the dazzling peaks of the world’s highest mountain chain offering unrivaled adventure, from intimate journeys tracking snow leopards to intrepid river rafting through the wilderness. Nestled within the mountains are cute homestays, Buddhist culture, and staggering vistas onto majestic Himalayan peaks.
Luxury Cross-Country Train Odysseys: Indian trains have always provided picturesque impressions and miles of railroad that connect even the most remote of destinations. Forget preconceptions of squalid carriages; India’s trains also come wrapped in regal indulgence and opulence. Saunter through a continent of colors in unforgettable style, living out famous journeys and delighting at ancient cities.
From sub-zero Himalayan Mountains to the tropically humid rainforest, nowhere on earth can rival India for climatic variation. It’s impossible to encapsulate the weather into a single snapshot of advice, but let’s try some overarching summaries. The Indian sub-continent is annually marked by the monsoon, or rainy season, bringing a daily down-pouring of rain that’s interspersed with sunshine. This starts in the Southwest around May, and spreads northeast, coating most of the country in daily storms and sometimes floods. While the monsoon should have rescinded by August in the North, it can linger in the far South until late October. This is also the hottest time of the year.
There is no single time of year that’s perfect for everywhere in India. However, the cool dry season from November to March is a good bet for most of the country and any classic Indian itinerary. Temperatures are always manageable (predominantly in the 70’s), skies are wonderfully clear, and humidity stays low. However, the mountains and most of the far North get very cold through the winter, making remote destinations inaccessible. This is also the peak tourist season and major attractions like the Taj Mahal can feel a little crowded. For trekking and the tea plantations, the best climate is found around August to September.
In essence, there are two ways to approach your handcrafted Indian vacation. If your time of year is set, then there will always be destinations and enchantment to discover in certain parts of the country. Alternatively, if you have a firm idea of where to go, allow Zicasso’s handpicked specialist travel agents to inform you about the best months to visit.
India doesn’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to accommodation. The classic travel phrase “the black hole of Calcutta” has disparagingly associated the country with rundown hotels across the globe. Yet India has a millennia-old history of entertaining royalty with exuberant luxury. You, fair visitor, are the new royalty, firmly at the center of the government’s investment in high-end tourism and luxury travel markets. Dispel any preconceptions of having to rough it because India knows exactly how to impress.
While the country isn’t short on major international brands; wherever you stay will invariably have a localized feel. Mountain retreats have been elevated and enhanced since they served the colonial governors, while the ancient cities are now loaded with cute boutique hotels that exude authenticity. Sumptuous five-star resorts mark major cities and new tourist destinations, often coming with wonderful views and cultivated gardens. There’s not a squat toilet in sight, in fact, you’ll be wondering out loud how India can overtake the West in serving up luxury. At the other end of the scale, there are still many options to stay in remote village homestays and enthralling temples, the humble simplicity of providing a fitting immersion into local life.
Visa and Passport Requirements:
To visit India, you must have a visa which you can obtain from the Indian embassy in your respective country or through a travel agent who will do the legwork for a fee. You can also apply for the visa online and this facility is available for the citizens of the US, Canada, and EU nations.
As we said, India is a diverse land. It stretches from the cold and snow-capped Jammu & Kashmir and ends to Hot and humid, Kanyakumari. Because of varied land, the weather conditions of India too vary from states to states. Some states are cooler and some are hotter, so, it depends on the city where you are vacationing. Tourist restaurants are well versed in toning down the heat to foreign palates. While the rugged street food won’t appease every stomach, the gourmet dining experiences and hotel restaurants have a Western approach to food hygiene.
India has low criminal rates but it does not mean that all places are safe here. You need to be careful while roaming alone in the dark. We would recommend you to stay at your hotel in the dark and explore the cities along with your guide only, precisely because Precaution is always better than cure.
India is pacing up to electronic payments and ATMs are being installed at every corner of this country. So, you need not worry about cash payments when roaming across India. However, make sure you have fresh Indian rupee notes for all the cash transactions. In November 2016, India has demonetized 1000 and 5000 rupees notes. So, make sure you have the new Indian currency in your hand. Don’t get fooled by the old Indian currency notes which are of no use now. Currency exchange is relatively common and US dollars are the easiest currency to change.
For all the first-time travelers, India is no doubt, a cultural shock which may make you feel like staying at a dirty, smelly, poverty-stricken, and overly rugged country. But do not forget that it is one of the most colorful and unique countries and for this reason, you can actually put the small garbage on the streets out of this picture. Try focusing on the rarity and the vibrant colors of this country and you will get the most out of your trip.
Most of the Indians are welcoming and they will greet you with a smile. But, as it is one of the developing countries, people are too busy with their lives and hence, may not entertain you much. They might answer your query but do not feel offended if they do not respond promptly. English is not a universal language in India but you will find most of the people understanding and interacting in this same language. So, communication won’t be an issue in India.
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