Welcome to Incredible India!
With its sumptuous mix of traditions, spiritual beliefs, festivals, architecture and landscapes, your memories of India will blaze bright long after you have left its shores.
Capital City of India:
INR = Indian Rupee
Table of Contents
Best time to visit India
India for City Lovers
The Most Beautiful Places for Nature Lovers in India
India for Beach Lovers
Lovers of Indian Food
India for Festival Lovers
What is India famous for?
Our Partner in India
More Information about India
When is the best time to visit India?
November to March in the plains, July to September for the Himalaya.
Discover the regions of India!
The region of Delhi
The vibrant and magical capital of India contrasts with its calm forest surroundings.
The Himalayan Northern Border
Adventurers will be delighted to discover the spirituality and cultural heritage of the Himalayas.
The North, the tribal Belt
This region is quite isolated and less explored but offers acres of lush vegetation and tea plantations.
The East, bordering the Bay of Bengal
Culture, cuisine and colonial architecture are what attracts tourists to this tolerant region.
The great South
With lush vegetation and historic temples, the south pays tribute to its indigenous culture.
The west, on the path of the Maharadjas
Mumbai, Bollywood cinema and beautiful landscapes including deserts, beaches, forests, fortresses and palaces.
India is famous for its incredible culture, tasty cuisine, scenic beauty and heritage sites. We show you the most beautiful cities countrywide with stunning urban landscapes, and a thriving cultural scene which you should visit.
Best Cites in India to visit?
It is true that Delhi is the capital of India, home to the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of the Government. But Delhi is much more than that. It is a creative hub – a large metropolis with many arts and culture-related activities to offer. Travelers can head there for the best dining experiences and nightlife, but also for sightseeing as the city is home to some of the most stunning temples, mosques and forts. These include the Red Fort, Jama Masjid and the Baha’i Lotus Temple.
Agra is home to what is arguably the most beautiful and revered building in the country, the Taj Mahal. This stunning marble mausoleum is part of the Seven Wonders of the World. Agra also has two other UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, which are also worth a visit.
Varanasi is one of the most beautiful, historical and spiritual cities in northern India. The first settlements date back to the 11th century BC, making it one of the oldest inhabited places in the world. A sacred place for both Hindus and Jains, it is also home to a varied range of vendors, sadhus, entrepreneurs, priests, pilgrims and families. The scenes of devotion in the river, set against the backdrop of stunning temples, are certainly some of the most impressive in the world.
A charming city for the unsuspecting traveler, Kolkata has long been known as the country’s cultural capital, and continues to be home to some of the best poets, film producers, writers and Nobel Prize winners. It is a city of contrasts, where you’ll encounter run-down but beautiful British Raj period houses, historical colleges and stunning gardens.
Chennai is a beautiful city serving as the gateway to the south of India and has a distinct culture based on Tamil traditions. At the same time, the city is a modern cosmopolitan city with a very diverse population. The architectural landscape, for example, comprises beautiful ancient temples just as much as modern high-rises. Besides the thriving local arts and culture scene which attracts visitors from across the globe, Chennai is also an important medical tourism destination.
In one of the latest surveys, Bangalore was established as India’s most livable city. In the past, it used to be referred to as the “Pensioner’s Paradise” and the “Garden City of India” because of its large, green spaces. While in recent years, development has meant that the city’s green areas have been affected and reduced, it still has enough to make it one of the most beautiful cities in India, and lush green forests can still be found in the outskirts. Bangalore is also the main center of the IT industry, commonly known as the “Silicon Valley of India”.
Located in southern India, Mysore is by far one of the most well-planned cities in India, the second cleanliest countrywide and the cultural capital of Karnataka. What Mysore is most famous for is its yoga centers; in fact, it’s where Ashtanga yoga originated. To find the best yoga schools, the Gokulam suburb is your best bet. The area is home to some of the most renowned schools in the country, including the famous S.K. Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute.
Located along the sea, Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan metropolis of India, and was once known as Bombay. It is also the biggest city in India, and, without doubt, the country’s financial center. With endless opportunities for exploration, the city’s most notable attraction is the Gateway of India, built in 1911 to commemorate a royal visit.
Most famous for its stunning lakes, forts, temples and palaces, Udaipur is another city located in the state of Rajasthan, and is certainly not to be missed. Lovers will be delighted to hear that this is a city filled with romantic spots, as well as beautiful gardens. Over the years, it has been a favorite setting for many movies, including James Bond-title Octopussy (1983). The city is filled with colour, as locals opt to wear vibrant clothes, and fairs and festivals happen year-round.
Jaipur is commonly known as the ‘Pink City’ due to its stunning buildings which were painted pink in 1876 to welcome the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria. Jaipur is also the biggest city in the state of Rajasthan, and its capital. Together with Agra and Delhi, it is part of the famous Golden “Triangle” which attracts thousands of Indian and international tourists every year. The most-visited sites include the mesmerizing City Palace, a couple of impressive Rajput forts and the many temples.
Butter Chicken or Makhan Murg in Hindi is one of the most popular Indian dishes. Makhan, in Hindi, stands for Butter and Murg means chicken, which literally translates to butter chicken. Initially originating in the northern Indian state of Punjab, butter chicken features a beautifully cooked chicken mixed in with a tomato curry sauce, resulting in a popular curry that has gained international fame. Butter chicken was first invented by accident in the Moti Mahal restaurant in New Delhi when leftover chicken pieces were mixed with leftover sauce. This dish is enjoyed with naan, roti or even with rice.
Next up on this list of the best Indian foods is a broad category of street foods known as chaat. Chaat in India is typically sold from makeshift stands on the sides of busy streets and is a popular dinner or snack for all sorts of people ranging from children to office workers to the elderly. Among the most popular types of chaats are Bhel Puri, Pani Puri, and Samosa Chaat. Although chaats are very susceptible to change based on the region you may be visiting, the aforementioned foods are common and can be found almost anywhere you go in India.
Dal Tadka is also a very popular Indian dish that has not only garnered domestic fame but also international fame. Dal Tadka was originally made with burnt charcoal to give it a smoky flavor but since then has changed to be one of the most simple dishes in the world. Making Dal Tadka is a simple process that involves steaming lentils or the dal, and then seasoning it with traditional Indian spices such as cumin, garlic, and ghee. Dal Tadka goes easy on the spices, just enough to give it a good flavor, but not enough to make it intolerable.
Coming from the Indian state of Gujarat is the Dhokla. Dhoklas are made with a fermented batter that is derived from split chickpeas and rice and can be eaten for virtually any course. Dhoklas are eaten in India as side dishes, for breakfast, as the main course and even as a snack at events such as parties and weddings. Dhoklas are best served with green mint sauce and a sweet tamarind sauce and are usually yellow in color. Dhoklas have many variations to them. They can be prepared with a variety of ingredients with different ratios of chickpeas within them.
Next is not a food, but rather a type of tea. One of the most traditional and most classic staples of Indian foods is Masala Chai. Masala Chai differs from the traditional British or American teas that most people are accustomed to. Masala Chai starts with fresh tea leaves derived from the tea plantations of Assam or West Bengal. The black tea leaves are then steeped in hot water and mixed with shredded ginger and cardamom seeds to give it a hint of spiciness. Following the brewing process, milk is added and it is served hot and fresh.
Next up is the classic Matar Paneer. In Hindi, Matar translates to peas and Paneer refers to a fresh cheese made in India, which is one of the main ingredients in this dish. Matar Paneer is a North Indian dish that consists of peas and paneer cooked in a mild tomato sauce like the Butter Chicken, except Matar Paneer is seasoned with Garam Masala, a blend of ground spices. Matar Paneer is traditionally served with Indian bread such as naan or aloo paratha, but is also eaten by some with rice. Sometimes, other ingredients such as potatoes may be added.
Finally on this list is Rogan Josh. Rogan Josh is a North Indian dish with Muslim influences and first originated in Persia or Kashmir. Rogan Josh is a meat curry dish that features a lump of red meat such as lamb or goat which is colored and flavored by alkanet flowers or roots and Kashmiri chillis. Rogan Josh is prepared by both Muslims and Hindus with significant differences in the way it is prepared. Rogan Josh is best served with naan or any other Indian bread. It should also be mentioned that Rogan Josh is a staple in British restaurants.
Next up on this list are the classic samosas. A samosa can differ in shape, size, and fillings based on the region but have the same basics no matter where they are found. Samosas are basically Indian calzones. They feature a crusty exterior that is deep-fried and is filled with a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, meats or lentils that are heavily seasoned. Samosas are served alongside sauces such as mint sauce, tamarind sauce, and spicy green sauce, which compliments the samosa well. Samosas are not only found in India and can be found in the Middle East too.
Tandoori chicken is another North Indian dish that may have been around back in 3000 BC. Tandoori Chicken derives its name for the vessel it’s cooked in known as a Tandoor Oven. It is a cylindrical shaped oven that is powered by burning wood or charcoal. The Tandoor Oven is made of either clay or metal and offers a distinct taste to meals cooked within it. Tandoori Chicken consists of chicken that is marinated for a few days in a mixture of yogurt and tandoori masala, a blend of traditional Indian spices. Following this, the chicken is then cooked.
Next up is food that first originated as street food and is sold in restaurants across India and the rest of the world today, Vada Pav. The Vada refers to a deep-fried potato fritter that is placed between two pieces of bread, the pav. Due to this dish’s resemblance to a sandwich or a burger, it is commonly known as the Bombay burger because of its origin in the North Indian city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. The Vada Pav is served with one or more chutneys such as green sauces and tamarind sauces. Alongside the Pav is also a green chili.
India for Festival Lovers
Diwali honors the victory of good over evil and brightness over darkness. It celebrates Lord Ram and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom of Ayodhya, following the defeat of Ravan and rescue of Sita on Dussehra. It’s known as the “Festival of Lights” for all the fireworks, small clay lamps, and candles that are lit to guide their way. For Indian Hindu families, Diwali is the most anticipated festival of the year.
The spectacular 11-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival honors the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. The start of the festival sees huge, elaborately-crafted statutes of Ganesh installed in homes and public podiums, which have been beautifully decorated. The statues are worshiped everyday throughout the festival. On the last day, they’re paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then submerged in the ocean. The best place to experience it is in Mumbai.
Holi, often referred to as the “Festival of Colors”, is one of the best known festivals outside of India. The festival is centered around the burning and destruction of the demoness Holika, which was made possible through unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu. However, the really fun part involves people throwing colored powder on each other and squirting each other with water guns. This is associated with Lord Krishna, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, who liked to play pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and colors. Bhang (a paste made from cannabis plants) is also traditionally consumed during the celebrations. Holi is a very carefree festival that’s great fun to participate in if you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.
Krishna Janmashtami (Govinda)
Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Govinda, commemorates the birthday of Lord Krishna. An extremely fun part of the festival involves teams of guys climbing on each other to form a human pyramid to try and reach and break open clay pots filled with curd, which have been strung up high from buildings. This activity, called dahi handi, falls on the second day. It’s best experienced in Mumbai.
Navaratri, Durga Puja and Dussehra
The nine nights of the Navaratri festival honor the mother goddess Durga in all her incarnations. The tenth day, called Dussehra, celebrates the defeat of demon king Ravan by Lord Ram and monkey god Hanuman in northern India. It also coincides with Durga’s victory over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. In eastern India, the festival is observed as Durga Puja. It’s the biggest festival of the year in Kolkata. Huge statues of the Goddess Durga are made and immersed in the river there. In Delhi, nightly Ramlila plays are held around the Red Fort, recounting episodes from the life of Lord Ram.
Onam is the biggest festival of the year in the South Indian state of Kerala. This lengthy harvest festival marks the homecoming of mythical King Mahabali, and it showcases the state’s culture and heritage. People decorate the ground in front of their houses with flowers arranged in beautiful patterns to welcome the king. The festival is also celebrated with new clothes, feasts served on banana leaves, folk dance, games, and snake boat races.
Pushkar Camel Fair
An astonishing number of camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar, in India’s state of Rajasthan, for the Pushkar Camel Fair. The camels are dressed up, paraded, shaved, entered into beauty contests, raced, and of course traded. If you want to see the camel trading, make sure you arrive before the start of the festival because it gets underway and winds up early.
Temple Festivals in Kerala
Kerala has many temples that hold annual festivals in honor of the presiding local god or goddess. Each festival has a different set of legends and myths behind it, depending on the temple deity. However, most revolve around the presence of elephants to honor the deity. The large processions of elephants, resplendent in ornaments, are the main attraction at these festivals. The processions are accompanied by colorful floats, drummers and other musicians. Some processions feature towering effigies of horses and bulls.
What is India famous for?
Its incredible Architecture
India is known for its incredible architecture, most notably the Taj Mahal, one of the most famous buildings on Earth and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Hindi Film Industry – Bollywood
The Hindi Film Industry – commonly known as Bollywood, began in Mumbai and still has a strong presence today. Although originally Bollywood films were only promoted throughout India, they are now a worldwide sensation, creating many international stars.
Its diverse Culture
India has a varied and diverse culture, which changes depending on where in the country you visit. You’ll find different religions, different styles of art and music – even different languages across the nation.
Colourful Celebrations and Festivals
India is known all over the world for its colourful and bright festivals such as Holi and Diwali. People in India love to celebrate, and many from around the world travel to join them too!
Delicious Indian Food
Food is a big part of Indian culture and is so varied regarding styles and flavours. Indian food is loved not only in India but also all over the world due to its unique and tasty spices.
India has long been associated with mathematics. In fact, it was Aryabhatta and Ramanujam – two famous mathematicians from India – who first brought to light the concept of ‘zero’.
The large Population
India is the second most populated country in the world, showing how carefully and effectively the country is run in order to manage and govern such a high number of people.
Its Spiritual Connection
Many people travel to India in search of spirituality, taking the opportunity to learn from gurus at ashrams around the country. Not only that, but India is also home to several religions which are proudly worshipped throughout the country.
Its Sporting Culture
India’s national sport is hockey, but the country is most commonly associated with cricket, which is also a favourite sport of many people across India. In fact, India’s cricket team has won several world championships, and some of the world’s most famous cricket players are Indians!
An old yet outstanding Train Network
India is famed for its train system – one of the oldest in the world. It spans the entire nation and connects all of India’s major cities, with around 2.3 crore people (23 million) travelling by rail each year.
Our Partner in India
East Voyages: www.eastvoyages.com
Also read (internal link): Interview with Monica from New Delhi, India