India is a unique travel destination that’s growing in popularity allthe time. I have visited India Twice. India (Wikipedia link) is one of the world largest country. Thinking of visiting India? Here are 22 reasons why youshould.
During my travel time in India, I had fallen in love with this complex country for these 22 reasons:
Reasons to Visit to the Great India
1. India is a Great Value Destination
India is often thought of as a backpacker destination withgrotty hotel rooms and dirt everywhere. Let me assure you that thisdefinitely isn’t the reality. You can travel as cheaply or as lavishlyas you want in India, and that’s definitely part of its appeal as atourist destination. The luxury segment of the market offers somemesmerizing accommodations, such as authentic palace hotels. Alternatively you might prefer a quaint guesthouse or homestay. Options, such as these top budget hotels in India, abound. These days, even the backpacker hostels in India are modern, clean, and welcoming!
2. Sensory Adventure
India is acountry that can’t be explained; it must be experienced. A walk down the street here in Kolkata is a smorgasbord of sights, sounds, and smells:business men yapping into cell phones, beggars clanking their collection of pocket change, colorful saris, chaotic traffic constantly honking,savory smells of street food, the stink of rotting garbage, the muggyheat in full sunshine. It’s a kind of chaos that somehow flows when youleast expect it, and you definitely won’t find it anywhere else.
3. Regional Cuisine
Indian food is much more than the catch-all phrase of “curry,” and like most things in India there is a surprising amount of diversity in the country’scuisine. In the North, you’ll sample clay-oven Tandoor recipes withthick gravy and naan bread, while in the East you’ll find plenty of fish and tortilla-like chapatti, and wafer-thin filled crepes called dosa in the South. There’s plenty of spice if you’re looking for it, sweetscovered in silver, and yogurt-based drinks to beat the heat. The bestfood is prepared within local homes, not in restaurants.
4. Genuine People
The locals hereare some of the most genuinely helpful and kind people I have everencountered in my travels. In my experience, their hospitality isastounding. My host mother once met a traveler at a local market, talked to her for a few minutes, and offered her to stay the night in our home without second thoughts. The students in my classes were so welcomingand gave me their cell phone number in case I had any questions orwanted to do anything–and they actually meant it.
5. Bollywood Culture
Bollywood is a national pastime and a cultural phenomenon. People from all regions and socioeconomic classes flock to the cinemas to see the newest films, and as the actors and actresses are the most well-known Indians in thecountry there is always some Bollywood star gossip. The movies are often long and full of slapstick humor, song, and dance. Sometimes you haveto suspend the laws of reality and probability and just embrace thecheesiness, but they really are entertaining.
6. Study Abroad
Study abroad inIndia is not really a vacation–it’s an intense, in-your-face culturalimmersion whether you want it to be or not. I’m in the middle of a5-month long study abroad in Kolkata and as difficult and exhausting itcan be, I am thriving on the challenge. It’s a place where I cancontinuously learn. The academic portion is secondary to what I learnjust by walking down the street, as there is so much to learn just byasking questions to locals about whatever piques your curiosity. Thisculture has challenged my views on poverty, privilege, education, family habits, and so much more. I’ve been here for over 3 months now, and Ihave just barely scratched the surface of all India has to offer.
7. Folk Art
India has an abundance of folk art, which is kept alive in the small ruralcommunities and is being revived in the big cities. Each region has aunique dance style, music, handicrafts, and more. My favorite thing todo here is to shop for rural artwork because the artists are so talented and use the few materials they have to their fullest potential. All the artwork is unique, one-of-a-kind, and handmade, and usually has a story or meaning behind it that offers some cultural insights.
8. Learn a Language
India has over 15 national languages, and literally thousands of local languages anddialects. Many Indian languages are among the most-spoken languages ofthe world, like Hindi and Bengali. There are many of people who speakEnglish, particularly in the big cities, so knowing a local language isnot necessarily required. However, the locals really appreciate it whenthey encounter foreigners who attempt to speak some of their language.The locals here always have a cheerful laugh when I show of my Bengaliskills by counting to 20.
9. Street Food
This is a wholeseparate kind of food from what you’ll find in restaurants. Theseroadside specialties are not the most sanitary or refined preparations,but they are absolutely delicious. The street food junkies who enjoy itis part of the experience. They’re people from all backgrounds andclasses, and it’s a great way to feel connected to the locals. Besides,it’s a cheap treat. Spicy, savory, and sweet dishes are readilyavailable for less than $1.
10. Big Cities and Rural Villages
India has some of the most populous cities in the world and some of the most remotevillages. It’s great to get a balance of both, to witness thehustle-and-bustle of the crowded city life and to experience the peaceand simplistic lifestyle of the villages. There’s a lot to learn fromboth, and by visiting both extremes I now can appreciate how far Indiahas come in its growth to modernization. I always enjoy visiting thevillages because it gives me a break from the overcrowded city, andbecause the people there are incredibly warm and welcoming though theyhave very little. Try and get a taste of both the big cities and therural villages, because both are an integral part of India today.
There arecountless opportunities to volunteer in India from charities, NGOs,volunteer corps, schools, and more. There are more than enough peoplewho could benefit from your time, talents, and donations. Search aroundfor the organization that best fits your interests and available time.During my study abroad experience, I volunteer at a school for girlswhere some of the girls came from the streets to live at the school.It’s a challenging but extremely rewarding experience that helps me toreconcile with my daily encounters with poverty by knowing I’mcontributing to positive action against it.
12. The Taj Mahal
It’s a bitcliché, but it’s a must-see. The Taj Mahal is a truly beautiful piece of architectural art, with a romantically sad story to accompany it.Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore described it as “a teardrop on the faceof eternity.”
13. Religious Diversity
India isthe melting pot of religions, from mainstream religions with millions of followers to obscure cults and everything in between. Some of the mostprominent religions include Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism,Jainism, and Buddhism. It’s fascinating to learn the strikingsimilarities and differences among all these religions, and even morecompelling to witness the kind of religious tolerance found here. Manyof my friends here celebrate holidays and festivals of numerousreligions, regardless of their own spiritual beliefs.
India is one of theworld’s most ancient-surviving civilizations and has thousands of yearsof history to explore: the “crown jewel of the British empire” as aBritish colony, India’s fight for independence, Partition, and India’smove toward modernity.
15. The Himayalas
The highest mountain range in the world is breathtakingly beautiful andworth a visit. Though Mount Everest is outside of India’s borders, thethird-highest peak named Kanchenjunga is in the region of Sikkim alongthe India-Nepal border. I had a trip to the foothills of the Himalayas,which aren’t the snow-capped peaks I imagine when I think of theHimalayas, but they were still beautiful and very peaceful.
16. Explore Spirituality
India can be very inspiring and refreshing for the soul. Manypeople come to India to learn yoga, meditate, or spend time at anashram. Another moving experience is to take part in an evening aarti (fire worship) along the Ganges river at either Rishikesh, Haridwar, or Varanasi.
Of course, I LOVE shopping like most females do. But items inIndia are so irresistible! The handicrafts are particularly eye catching and well made. Each region tends to specialize in a particular industry that’s been handed down over generations.
An inheritance fromBritish culture, cricket is a national obsession. Everyone followscricket, and if they’re not watching the game on the TV or hearing thescore on the radio, they’re playing their own pickup game in thestreets. I was lucky to be in India during this year’s InternationalCricket World Cup and witnessed the overwhelming passion and pride thatexploded in this country when India won the championship game over SriLanka.
19. An Emerging World Power
Withover a billion people, India is the second most populous country in theworld and is the largest democracy in the world. India is in a period of rapid economic growth, which is pushing it forward into the leagues ofthe world’s superpowers. Countries like the United States have recentlyacknowledged India not as a rising power but rather a world power, andIndia is likely to confirm that position in the coming years. India isstill struggling with problems like overpopulation, pollution, and other effects of urbanization but there is no doubt India will have more sayin the future of global politics.
India is the birthplaceof yoga and is a combination of physical, mental, and spiritualpractices. There are a number of forms, specializations, and focuses. Ienjoy practicing yoga back home in the U.S. and had the opportunity totake a month-long course of yoga here. I found it different than as itis at home. It was a more holistic approach that focused on breathingand mediation than as a chic form of exercise. There are a number ofopportunities to experience yoga in India, whether it’s through aprivate teacher, classes, or a stay at an ashram where yoga ispracticed.
21. Influential Personalities
There are several famous Indian personalities who inspired millions with their work and contributions to India’s history. Mahatma Gandhi,considered as the “father of the nation,” was a leader in the politicalfight for India’s independence and is on every denomination of therupee. Rabindranath Tagore, India’s artistic titan, is considered asIndia’s national poet. Mother Teresa, Indian by citizenship rather thanbirth, is famous for her Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata and is inthe process of becoming a saint in the Catholic church. Other Indianpersonalities that I had never known about but who have accomplishedtruly great things include Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivikenanda,Ramakrishna, and Lord Buddha.
22. Religious Festivals
There is nothing quite like the massively elaborate religious festivals thatoccur on a regular basis. These festivals take over entire communitieswith dancing in the streets, music, chanting, worshiping idols, food,and more. Even more intriguing, people of various religions willcelebrate in festivals outside of their own spiritual beliefs. Hindusattend church on Christmas, Muslims participate in Durga Puja, andChristians play Holi. I was lucky enough to participate in Holi, theHindu festival of colors, as well. It was a great day of throwingpowders and dyes at my friends and celebrating the arrival of spring.Religious festivals have an exuberance like nothing I’ve everexperienced.