India tourism

The Best of Winter Experiences in India

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With November, winters knocks the door in most places in India. The northern frontiers are blessed with pure snowy breeze of the Himalayas while the southern places are blissful with the sun shining down is warmth. The plains and the forests are covered in a blanketed of fog that sets in the early evening and stays most of the daytime. The weather is just right to plan to go exploring India. Sightseeing becomes special with the temperatures just right.

Stay in the Lake Palace of Udaipur

Lake Palace Udaipur

Houseboat cruise on Kerala’s backwaters

Bird spotting in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Birds in Bharatpur National Park

Chasing the Tiger Trail in the Tiger Reserves

Stay in the mountains enjoy view of snow-capped mountains

Bask in the sun at the beach resort

Goa beach resort

Heal your souls with Yoga and Ayurveda

Camping under the stars in a desert

Camping in the Thar desert

Ride the Mountain Railways

Go on a food trail

Attend Dance and Music Festivals

Khajuraho Dance Festival


Shopping in India: The Best Places

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Shopping is one of the under-rated pleasures of travelling in India. Shopping in India is one of the immersive experiences of the country. Just like the country itself, the markest are vibrant, bustling with enery, sometimes chaotic and often hospitable. On your holiday in India, do indulge in shopping. From handcrafted treasures to natural produce, rare craftsmanship to some budget bragins, there is a lot on offer.

Here Places for Shopping in India:

1. Jaipur

For anything traditional and ethnic, it has to be Jaipur. Mirror Work, tie and dyes, exuberant embroideries and just so much colour! Keep to traditional items, clothing and handicrafts, a bargain at bazaars, break for amazing street food and you are set. Maybe even buy some traditional puppets. Jaipur is undoubtedly one of the best shopping places in India.

When you are done pampering yourself, also hoard some beautiful, and mostly hand-painted and natural colour printed home decor goodies, from cushions, bed sheets to rajaais. Psst? Also great for wedding shopping in India!

What: Jewelry (Lac, Trinkets, Precious, Customized), Clothing (Traditional),  Footwear (Traditional Jaipuri Jootis), Handicrafts, Saris, Home Decor (Curtains, Bedspreads etc)

Top Places: Bapu Bazaar, Johri Bazaar, MI Road,

2. Delhi

If there is one place where you get the best of both traditional, ethnic and contemporary as well as budget street shopping and splurging designer labels, it is Delhi. The sheer variety on this city's list is amazing and this makes it one of the best place to buy clothes in India. Connaught place and Janpath Market are essentials. Don't miss Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar if you are interested street shopping and clothing (sometimes even top brands) and jewellery on a budget. A bargain at local shops. Delhi Haat is essential for Handicrafts from around the country and Select Citywalk and Dlf Emporio for brands and designer labels.

What: Clothing (both street and labels), Trinkets, Silver and street Jewelry, Handicrafts, books

Top Places: Connaught Place and the adjoining emporiums and Janpath Market, Delhi Haat, Khan Market,

3. Chennai

You just don't leave Chennai without a bright Kanchipuram Sari. Even if you don't wear saris too often, a fine silk sari is essential, and if you are looking for a special one, it doesn't get better than this. Head to the Nalli store if you aren't an expert at saris for a full proof shopping spree. Do visit Pondy Bazaar and maybe grab a bite at Anna Salai in between. Express Avenue and Phoenix Market  City are some popular malls for shopping in India.

What: Kanchipuram Silk Saris, Clothing, Jewelry, Dance costumes and accessories (classical), handicrafts

Top Places: Anna Salai,T-Nagar, Mylapore (for dance costumes, accessories and handicrafts)

 

4. Goa - Beach shacks, Night markets and Stalls

Goa may already be your favourite, but if you like shopping at flea markets, stalls, and shacks and bargaining you might just fall for it again. Anjuna market is extremely popular and essential. Do bargain and check at multiple stalls before you settle for a purchase. When it comes to pop up flea markets, Anjuna is the best for impulse shopping in India.

What:  Artificial Jewelry and trinkets, Clothing, Beachwear, Footwear, Spices, Local handicrafts, Handbags, Accessories

Top Places: Anjuna Flea Market, Saturday Night Bazaar at Arpora, Calangute Market Square

5. Mumbai

Like any other metro in India, Mumbai's shopping list doesn't have anyone, single highlight or speciality but a muse for anything you may desire. If you are in the mood for street shopping, there is the essential Colaba Causeway, Fashion Street and Hill Road. Don't forget to bargain here. There is also a certain Chor Bazaar and the word is you can find some vintage movie posters here. Could this be the best place to shop in India? We think so too! Amongst malls, do drop in at High Street Phoenix.

What: Clothing (both street and brands hopping), Accessories, Footwear, Jewelry, Maybe even some old and new Bollywood posters

Top Places: Colaba Causeway, Linking Road, High Street Phoenix

6. Kerala

God's own country has nothing but everything natural here. From spices, coffee to essential oils, everything has an original aroma of its own. When it comes to jewellery- it's nothing but pure gold. Kerela is filled with charming markets and malls. Make a visit to the tea and coffee estates and lay your hands on freshly plucked beverage leaves. It's truly a paradise of sorts.

What: spices, gold jewellery (real & artificial), handicrafts, aroma oils, cashew nuts, banana chips, tea, coffee and Kasavu mundu

Top places: Connemara market in Trivandrum, Kochi spice market, Lulu International shopping mall in Kochi

7. Hyderabad

Known as The City of Pearls, Hyderabad is one of the best places to shop for the authentic pearls and relish the tasty biryanis, skewer kebabs and haleem. You'll love Hyderabad if you're a shopaholic.

What: Pearls, Ittar, Pochampally Ikkat Sarees, Mojaris, Kalamkari fabrics, Bidri work, Lac Bangles

Top places: Char Minar Bazaar, Laad Bazaar, Koti Market


Festivals that can be experienced with the Golden Triangle Tour

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India's iconic travel itinerary, the Golden Triangle is a brief experience of rich heritage, colourful culture, hospitality and enriching memories. On a Golden Triangle tour, explore the vibrancy of Delhi, the royal charms of Jaipur and the mystique of Agra along with the finest of cultural bounty of India. And, when is about culture, festivals is an insight that is . After all, they are the foundation of the opulent heritage in the country.

If you too wish to know India a little closely, we’d recommend you travel it by the virtue of Indian festivals. Sounds like a plan? Then, here is a list of festivals that will make your Golden triangle trip a success. Relish every piece of information, who knows when you’ll have your India calling. Happy reading folks!

The Artistic Taj Mahotsav, Agra
 
With the backdrop of exquisite Taj Mahal, Taj Mahotsav is a 10-day gala event that celebrates the life and lifestyle of ancient India. During this festival, hundreds of imminent artisans get the opportunity to carry forward their family heritage. For anyone visiting India for the very first time, a trip to Agra during Taj Mahotsav is a feast for the senses.

Wood/stone carvings of Tamil Nadu, Bamboo/cane work from the North East India, Pashmina from Kashmir, marble and zardozi work from Agra and what not, there is no limit to the art on display here. However, this event is not just about exquisite craft work. In fact, it equally emphasizes on performing arts. In the gist of which, it entertains visitors with various cultural performances. So, if you are a sucker for folk and classical art forms, you’d definitely love every bit of this bonanza.Are you a connoisseur of good food? Then, this festival will be a gourmet delight for you. 

Date: 2nd week of February
Location: Shilpgram.

The International Kite Festival, Jaipur

Jaipur International Kite Festival
The clear blue skies of Jaipur are too bejeweled every January to celebrate the International Kite Festival. During this time of the year, thousands of enthusiastic folk take part in the kite flying competition. The craze of it is such, that people from across the country travel miles just to witness this phenomenon. Besides being an enthralling escapade, the Kite Festival is also the perfect place to bond regardless of age, gender and nationality.

Do you know that this festival was strategically planned in order to get the benefits of the winter sun? Yes, that’s a hundred percent true.  It is believed that when the sun moves in Uttarayana, its rays act as medicine for the human body. Celebrated on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, the kite festival is a cultural luxury that only a few get to experience on a cultural trip to India. However, if you are on a Golden triangle trip, you too can enjoy this cultural feast.

Time: February
Location: All Jaipur

The Colourful Holi

Holi in India

Have you ever wanted to paint the world in the colours of the rainbow? If your answer is yes, then, you’ve got a golden opportunity in hand in the form of Holi celebration in India. Although Holi is an auspicious festival celebrated with all hearts across the country, the celebration of it in Jaipur is a little off-beat and unique. Like everything else, Holi in Jaipur is celebrated with all the regal charms. It calls for a two day event, where the community bonds and basks in the glory of religious quintessence.

The first day of Holi celebration in Jaipur invites tourists to become the part of the Hindu folklore. During this time a huge bonfire is set up. Furthermore, people pray around it and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. However, the next day is marked by colours on the streets and people having the best of times. Beside the colour play, there is another aspect of Holi celebration that takes place in the Govind Ji Temple. Here, to celebrate holi with the deities, the devotees play with colours, flowers and even sandalwood.

Time: February- March
Location: Jaipur

Gangaur Festival and Teej Festival, Jaipur

Gangaur and Teej Festivals are Rajasthan’s prized possession. It is the crux of everything we love about the state, from attires to rich customs. Gangaur commences on the day following Holi whereas Teej marks the beginning of monsoon.  Out of which it is Gangaur that continues for 18 days and is very famous among the womenfolk of Rajasthan.

Both of these festivals revolve around love and marriage and venerate Goddess Parvati. During Gangaur, you will notice a procession of women raiding the streets of Jaipur, all decked up in blingy attires. Gangaur and Teej festivals are the apt representation of the Rajasthan. And, if you’d want to bind yourself with the threads of its plush heritage, it’s imperative to add this festival to your bucket list via the Golden triangle trip.

Jaipur Literature Festival

Jaipur Literature Festival

This 3 –day literature carnival invites authors from India and abroad. Literature enthusiasts from all over the world meet at this event to read, discuss, question and answer about the top literary works of the planet.  Moreover, there is even a range of stalls selling everything from food to handicrafts here, which is amazing. If you are a patron of quaint laid back vibes, then an outdoor lounge bar is also available here for relaxing. Furthermore, music performances adorn the evenings here after every literary session.

Time: Late January
Venue: Diggi Palace Hotel, Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort.

Every festival in India is unique. If you have the opportunity to experience any of these festivals on your trip to India, then no one is as lucky as you are. So, make the most of it!


India Tourism — A Case of Missed Opportunities

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It is certainly true that India as a tourist destination offers a whole lot more to tourists than most other destinations can, from the peaks of the Himalayas to the Tea Gardens of Assam to the backwaters of Kerala, to the white sandy beaches of Goa, and above all, monuments like the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world--- India has all of this and much more , but sadly, India gets fewer tourists than most of its competing nations.

There are quite a few reasons as to why India only gets a minuscule percentage of the world’s tourists. Prominent amongst these are our lack of infrastructure, visa’s being difficult and expensive, the perception regarding lack of safety and security, etc.

When it comes to infrastructure, sadly, we are way behind our neighboring countries or other Asian destinations – the drive from Delhi to Agra has improved and is now world-class, but, when you look at other highways, it’s a sad situation. The drive from Jaipur to Delhi, a distance of about 250 kms, could take up to 7 hours! Likewise, the drive from Bangalore to Mysore, a distance of only about 150 kms, could take up to 5 hours! It is just not the roads or the lack of them, it is basic facilities like clean toilets that are lacking in most of our highways.

Then there is air connectivity – while things have improved quite a bit in the last few years, our national carries Air India, unfortunately, hasn’t done much to improve connectivity to India from major tourism producing countries. Compare ourselves to Dubai or Singapore, where the national carriers because of their strength, network, and connections, bring in thousands of tourists.

A lot of tourists intending to travel to India are deterred by the high cost and the time taken to obtain a Visa for India. With short lead times and last minute vacation planning becoming more and more common, travelers obviously choose destinations that are easy to get to in terms of the visa. Competing destinations like Thailand, Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc, either require no visas at all or have visas that are available on arrival. Even countries like Turkey, that are serious about their tourism, have introduced e-visa that can be obtained on the internet.

As a country, we have so much to show, in terms of history and culture, but, unfortunately, greed and dishonesty seems to have crept in, and crept in so deep, that it mars the tourist’s good experiences too! Tourists visiting the Jama Masjid (the largest Mosque in India ) are forced to pay a camera fee when there is actually nothing to be paid. Tourists traveling in auto rickshaws often end up paying 3 or 4 times the usual fare!

We really need to get our act together , and the Government needs to understand the importance of tourism, both in terms of its cultural exchange value , and in terms of its economic value, and do things that will attract visitors to our shores--- getting our act together on the infrastructure front , lowering of taxes on tourism product ( taxes in Delhi for example constitute almost 40% of the Hotel costs) , ensuring the safety and security of tourists travelling (particularly female travellers), would be the first steps towards this .

We also need to have more leisure activities for tourists, travellers are very happy to see monuments, forts, and palaces, but a lot of them even want nightlife and evening entertainment, good golfing facilities, etc, facilities which sadly, most of our tourist destinations lack. For example, Goa, India’s most sought after beach holiday destination, does not till date, have a world-class Championship Golf course something that every other beach holiday destination offers.

Having said all of this, India certainly does have lots to attract tourists, monuments like the Taj Mahal, Tiger Reserves like Kanha and Bandhavgarh, the frozen deserts of Ladakh, the pristine backwaters of Kerala, the 400-year-old temples of Southern India, the list is actually endless !!!


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