So this year the number of FTA’s (Foreign Tourist Arrivals) in India is expected to rise well beyond 7 million. The reason? India is mysterious, unfathomable, exquisite, crazy and mind-boggling – A roller-coaster ride you won’t forget soon! Like every other place, though, India has its unique quirks and traditions and comes with its very own “operating manual”. So if you’re planning on visiting the “Land of Diversity” soon, here are a few things (thanks to our friends at distancesfrom.us for compiling this list for us) you need to keep in mind while touring India:
- Make a bucket-list of destinations
Truth is, India has so much to offer, you’re going to ultimately have to make a check-list of places you want to visit and then plan your route wisely according to that. Otherwise you can get lost in a maze of colorful distractions and end up getting exhausted and detracted. The Taj Mahal, The Golden Temple, national parks, tiger reserves, the Kumbh Mela (the biggest religious congregation in the world), The Rashtrapati Bhavan (the residence of the president of the biggest democracy in the world), the beaches and holiday resorts in Goa, and the Yoga asylums in Rishikesh can top the list.
- Timing is everything
Based on your reason for visiting India, it’s very important to know the seasons and weather forecasts. Your safest bet is to avoid the peak of the summer (between May and July) when temperatures can rise up to an unbearable 50.6 °C (123 °F), and monsoon (usually August) when delayed flights, floods and traffic jams can pose a problem for those on a tight schedule. Its also a good idea to look up the important dates for every place you plan on visiting. For example, the Rashtrapati Bhavan is open for public only on weekends and the tigers are best spotted from May to June if there isn’t too much dust and you can take the sun. So to sum it up, don’t jump into something without considering the timing.
3.Look after your health
Make sure you are properly vaccinated against any ongoing epidemic. You can find great health facilities in India so don’t worry on that account. But be sure to drink bottled water as cholera, rotaviruses, dengue are not uncommon. Wash any freshly bought fruits with bottled water too. India is famous for its delicious, spicy street food, but don’t sample anything unless you are sure of the hygiene factor of the food. There is always a slight chance of catching gastroenteritis (stomach flu). Also, don’t travel without a trusted mosquito repellent lotion
4.Pick your attire wisely
India is so culturally diverse that there is a very little chance that you could wear something that’ll be considered completely outrageous. Western clothes aren’t frowned upon either, but women should take care to dress modestly. Women should also carry a scarf and cover their hair while entering places of worship. It also helps protect from the sun on hot summer days. Men can use a wide brimmed hat for that purpose.
- Brush up your knowledge of Indian customs
Locals are welcoming, hospitable and very eager to help. They are fairly well versed in English too. But India is home to Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and Christians. Make sure that you don’t do anything that’s offensive to any of them. Generally speaking:
- Avoid hitting or insulting animals (some of them are sacred). Be specially respectful toward temple animals
- Take off your shoes while entering temples. Women should cover their hair.
- It’s considered inappropriate for men and women to touch, so be careful in offering your hand to anyone – even for a friendly shake.
- Using your left hand for eating or touching sacred objects is a big NO-NO
- Milk is a sacred beverage and drinking alcohol at public places is not encouraged
- Its very unethical to disrespect beggars, priests, temple animals, eununchs, elders and Ficus religiosa or sacred fig (“Peepal” tree)
So just keep these few things in mind and enjoy your trip to India. Namaste!