Sinchita Mitra

A plethora of colors that all exploded in the same place is perhaps the best way to describe a country like India. This Asian wonder has often surprised its tourists with a vibrant culture, a diverse lifestyle and sensational things that are only possible in India. This wonderful country is not only incredible in terms of its diversity, but also a great travel destination. Equipped with mountains, rivers, lakes, beaches, national parks, ashrams, religious sites, and hill stations, India is truly sensational. It is hard to find all of these things coexisting in the same country. Along with all of this, you will also find a myriad of cultures that will enthrall you and engross you at the same time.

However, we do understand that the culture of India can get a little too much for tourists coming here for the first time. So, to help you out, we have listed some of the most important tips for a first-time tourist coming to India:

Before The India Trip:-

Go Beyond The Maps

Most tourists flock to cities like Agra, Delhi, Rishikesh, Kerala and other such places. However, India is much more than that. It has so much more than crowded cities and chaotic streets. India has some wonderful parts that are still waiting to be explored, and are the getaway from the maddening crowd.

Places like- Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim, Tarkali, Gokarna are away from the hustle-bustle and rest in the realm of nature. These are also great places to escape to and experience a different kind of world. You should head over to some quieter places, rejuvenate yourself and experience the countryside of India.

Find The Right Places

India is quite a large country, and to make matters more confusing, each state of India is different than the other. However, it is impossible to see everything all in one trip, so you need to come up with an itinerary according to your preference.

India has everything for everyone, so you need to cherry-pick and narrow down on things that you would like to see, or things you would like to do when choosing the places you want to visit. While doing so, always keep the time in mind, and figure out how much can you do wither stretching yourself out. You do not want to just glance over the places, you should be able to experience something, learn something and take away something. All of this can get quite confusing. So to make it less confusing, we have listed down some routes that you can embark upon. You can also mix and match to get the best out of your trip.

Here are some routes to help you choose the one best for you

The Mainstream:

Also known as the Golden Triangle Tour, most of the tourists undertake this route. It includes India’s most iconic destinations: Agra, Delhi, and Jaipur. This trip will take you about a week, and you can stretch it up to another week if you wish to see other cities in Rajasthan like- Udaipur or Jaisalmer.

Religious Abodes:

India is known to be the land of temples. However, there is much more to India than Hindu Temples.

If you wish to see wonderful churches, you should head to places like Goa, Manali, Shillong. If you wish to see Buddhist monasteries then, head off to Ladakh or Sikkim or the caves of Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra. 

For temples you can head off to Amritsar in the north, Puri and Konark in the east, Rajasthan and Gujarat in the west, Hampi, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Tiruvannamalai in the south.

Coastal Town:

There is no doubt that India has some of the finest beaches and waterways that will stream your heart away-and make you gasp.

The Goan beaches are all the rave, and you will surely be floored by the sun-kissed sea, the seafood, and the parties that keep raging over at the beaches. If you are looking for something quieter then head off to Gokarna for a lively relaxing time at the beach. You can also traverse the island of Andaman to try something new and experience a different kind of India.

Into The Wild:

wildlife in india

The diversity of India is not only limited to its people and culture but also extends to its wildlife. India is a land of nature and forests, that will take you into her realm of nature. To get into the wild, you should visit national parks in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, and Kerala.

The Majestic Mountains:

India is home to some amazing hill stations, equipped with the views of the mighty ad stunning Himalayas! If you are looking to get away from the maddening crowd, and looking for a more peaceful time in the laps of nature then visit places like Leh, Shimla, Arunachal Pradesh, Manali, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and many more.

These places are also filled with rejuvenating nature trails and hiking spots, all of which will take you to some majestic views. Many adventure sports like paragliding, bungee jumping and many more also take place in these mountains.

The Ashrams:

If you are in India to look for some spiritual guidance or some high soul-cleansing journey, then you must head off to the wonderful Ashrams. You will find these ashrams in highly religious places like Varanasi, Rishikesh, and Haridwar, wherein you can detox your body and practice meditation. These places are great for pilgrimage sojourns, along with places like Amritsar, Pushkar, Ajmer, Mathura and many more.

You Might Get A Cultural Shock:

When you first come to India, especially from a Western country, then you might just experience a cultural shock. The culture of India is unique, with thousands of languages and hundreds of festivals. The best way to deal with this is to keep an open mind, and read as much as you can before coming here. While this will surely not prepare you fully for the great Indian Circus, however, it will help you ease into it a bit.

Read and Learn:

Before you land in India, you should learn the basic words of the local language. A lot of people in India still don’t follow English, so it is for the best that you research which state you are going to and learn the basic words in that language. Please note, each state in India has a different local language, so make sure you learn the words according to the place you are visiting.

When In India:-

Take One Step At A Time

One common mistake that tourists make while visiting India, is that they bite off more than they can chew. It is impossible to cover India or even half of India in one trip. So, do not try to cram in as much as possible, and instead, just space out your travel. Consider travelling to two or three different places to experience something different. You can also just stick to one city and explore that in-depth. This way you will truly be able to appreciate the true beauty of India, and also indulge in all of the quintessential Indian experiences. You can also utilize this time to talk to the locals and make friends along the way.

Be Aware At All Times

India is an exceptionally beautiful country and it is often easy to get carried away with this beauty. However, you should always be aware of your surroundings, since India does have a reputation for scams, cheaters and touts. Sometimes it can be as little as charging you more for a cab ride, or it can be something quite big like tying a thread around your wrist and then asking for a huge fee. You will usually find such scammers at temples or other religious institutions.

To avoid all this, you must firstly never trust every person on the street offering you a sightseeing tour or some other kind of travelling experience. Also, try to keep your calm and assess the situation properly before reacting in any way. Whenever you require a guide, make sure you get a government licensed guide.

Think Before Eating

kerala food

The cuisine and food of India are much richer and laden with many more spices than the ordinary Western culture is used to. Some of the Unique Indian food shops, like street stalls, are also not the most hygienic, because of which you an end up with a bad stomach. This happens more than you can expect, and one wrong edible can have you nursing a stomach bug for days.

To keep these problems at bay, you need to be cautious.

  • Do not drink tap water. Always go for bottled mineral water.
  • Avoid extremely spicy food, especially if you are stomach is not used to any spice.

While Indian street food is lip-smackingly delicious, it is best to stay away from it or eat it with great caution. If you want to try the street food, then assess how clean the shop is, and as if the cooks are wearing gloves and following basic sanitation.

The Indian roads are not very well equipped with the washroom, and even if you find one they might not be the cleanest. You should always keep a hand sanitizer with you and preferably carry toilet wipes as well.

Dress According To The City

While most of the metropolitan cities in India have accepted the Western Culture, and you will usually find women wearing mini skirts, and short dresses in cities like Mumbai or Delhi, it is still not that common or acceptable. India is still quite conservative, and it is best to dress appropriately to avoid unwarranted attention.

You should also assess the place before choosing an outfit. You can wear a bikini in Goa, however, you cannot do the same on the beaches of Kerala. Also, you need to dress conservatively while visiting religious sites like temples. Cover your shoulders and knees, and always take off your shoes before entering a temple.

The Indian Standard Time

Life in India doesn’t move exactly the way life in other countries do. Here, there is something called the Indian Standard Time or IST, which essentially means, that Indians have their own time of doing things.

Indian people don’t tend to arrive on time anywhere, and even the trains won’t arrive or depart on time. You need to get used to this, and not stress out if there are delays. These things are normal and you have nothing to worry about if anything is delayed.

Avoid PDA

India trip
source: TOI

When you are travelling to India with your partner, you should avoid PDA. India is not that open to the cult of PDA, and you will not find people kissing or hugging openly, especially in the smaller cities. It is best to keep it away from the public eye.

When you first land in India, things can get a little overwhelming. However, the most important tip is that you keep an open mind and let yourself go. You just have to try everything and let the magic of India engulf you. Soon enough, you will fall in love with this country and accept it with all its quirks and colours.

January 15, 2020
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