“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” Mark Twain.
India is a place that has fascinated me for years, but I haven’t had the chance to go yet. It does seem to split opinion, and people who have been to India either love it or hate it. However you feel, there is no denying that a trip to India is something you should do at least once in your life! From speaking with Indian friends to seeing pictures and watching films about this magical sub-continent, India is definitely on my bucket list, and here’s why I think it should be on yours too! But don’t forget you have to get an Indian visa before you go!
The Festivals in India
India’s annual program of festivals right across the country is so richly diverse it is a tough choice when it comes to deciding which you should visit! From parading camels to throwing paint, there’s going to be literally something for everyone here. Festivals are so interwoven with the history and culture of this country that even if you’re not going specifically to visit one, you’ll probably stumble into the middle of it anyway!
Nature in India
Wildlife might not be the first thing you think of about India, but when I recently watched a documentary about wildlife in India I was shocked to learn that there are lions in India! I had no idea that there were Asiatic lions in India, although they are very rare I would love to see them in Gujarat’s Gir National Park where they live. And of course, to see a tiger in the wild would be a very special experience indeed. That’s not to mention the elephants, leopards, bears, and hundreds of species of birds.
The culinary delicacies that this region has offered the dining tables of the world are no secret, influencing many other cuisines in the process. The beauty of it is, it’s so eclectic that typical “Indian” food probably doesn’t exist! You’ll find the plates and palates vary just as much as everything else in this country, and no two region’s creations will be alike. And just as interesting as the food is the way that the people eat it too. Dining in India should hold a place on your bucket list alone! I am very excited about trying authentic Indian food, from street food in Delhi to fish curries in Goa and vegetarian specialities in Kerala, and everything in between.
You’ve never seen chaos until you’ve visited a city in India. The likes of Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, and Chennai are bustling, whirlwinds of activity that will sweep you off your feet if you’re not careful. You may love them or hate them, but these vibrant metropolises need to be seen to be believed. Traffic jams, a sea of bodies jostling in the streets and invasions of personal space are all part of the experience. I fell in love with Mexico City, and although I know that India is completely different, I hope my travels to that monster of a city gave me a small introduction to what going to cities in India might be like!
The Taj Mahal
Quite possibly the most famous monument on the planet, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction, but it’s definitely one of the most obvious reasons to visit India. Sitting on the banks of the river Yamuna near the city of Agra, this stunning architectural feat was built as a memorial and tomb for the Persian princess, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the new 7 wonders of the world and attracts around 8 million visitors a year. Aside from being able to visit another of the 7 wonders, after Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza and Christ the Redeemer, simply being able to see this beautiful monument up close is something I can’t pass up!
As hospitable and as friendly as they come, Indians are loved for their spirit, positivity, generosity and good nature. Of course, you’re going to get one or two bad eggs in any country – especially one of such size, but for the most part, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and treated like one of the family. And family is a very important thing here, as is a tolerance to other cultures and peoples. You’ll arrive a stranger and leave a friend – whatever your background.
Whether you’re a person of faith or not, visiting India to witness a vast array of religions and practices is key to many experiences here. Travellers often come to India looking for answers, be it from a knowledgeable Sadhu, Guru or Yogi, it matters not. Spirituality is powerful in this country and peace is its byword. You’re going to need it to remain calm, but you just might find what you’re looking for here.
Train Journeys in India
Long journeys on India’s railways are legendary and truly the defining spirit of adventure here. You’ll rub shoulders with people from all walks of life while passing by some astonishing landscapes, towns, and villages. You’ll see things you’ve never seen before – and never will again. Anyone who undertakes such an experience will not be going home the same.
India has the largest film industry in the world, producing an astonishing 1,986 films in 2017. As someone once said, it is more a way of life than it is film-making! But the reason I include it here is that it’s perfectly possible you could be in one! Whereas you probably won’t make it in Hollywood for simply standing on the street, with Bollywood if you go to a certain area of Mumbai and you’re a foreigner, there’s a strong chance they’ll ask you to be an extra in a film, and then superstardom beckons!
It may seem sacrilegious to admit that I’m an English person who doesn’t drink tea, but it’s true. However, I’d love to visit Assam and see the green fields of tea and see how it is picked. And who knows, maybe tea here tastes different to how it does back home!
So What am I Waiting for?
India is a country of extremes, in colour and life, history and culture, art and architecture and everything in between, and even after backpacking South and Central America, India is an exciting melting pot of people and beliefs that will have me stepping outside my comfort zone for a challenging, spiritual and empowering adventure I’m sure I will never forget. I shouldn’t really have to tell you why India should be on your bucket list too – it just should be!
Where would you like to visit in India and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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