This is where we will provide you with the most updated information, tips and suggestions on getting ready and preparing for your trip before hitting the road.

Here's what they don't want you to know before travelling to India

5 Things to Know Before You Travel to India (But No One Will Tell You)

Here are 5 Things You Should Know But No One Will Tell You Before You Travel To India

The truth must be said.

There are some dark secrets within every industry that very few are willing to reveal.

Why?

Because it’s bad for the business.Also, in the tourist industry in India, there are some things that travel agents prefer not to get into details of.

It’s not about lying or deceiving (at least we hope so), but it’s about providing disinformation or ambiguous information that eventually can turn your trip into a failure.

The following issues have been constantly repeated by many tourists who’ve been traveling in India.  

Let’s get in to it…

1.  Did anyone tell you that you that driver probably didn’t sleep before you hopped in his car?

There’s almost no such thing as renting a car in India for a self drive. Even if you could, you don’t want to. Let me describe the roadconditions in India and the car maintenance in one word: Chaotic!

So if renting a car is part of services included in your trip, than you’ll get it with a driver.

Driving in the Himalayas

Driving in the Himalayas

But here’s the scary thing.

Most likely while renting a car in India, you’ll get a driver who hasn’t slept for quite a bit. Why? Because in India, there’re noregulations that limit the driving hours per day. As long as your money pops in to your travel operator’sbank account,who gives a damn how many hours the driver had slept before picking you up?

It gets even worse when you think of the huge distances in India it takes to travel from one place to another.   It can get pretty scary to travel that far with a driver who has barely slept.

‘It will be okay’ or ‘This is how things are getting managed here’ or,God forbid (though I have heard this too),the ‘It’s all about karma’ kind of attitude will get you nowhere!

Make sure over and over again with your travel agent that you will get a driver who has enough sleeping before you hop in his car. And I’m talking about at least 8 hours before starting the engine up. No discounts, no bargaining.

Be specific and assertive and make sure that your tour operator knows that planning a tour program for you must include 8 hours sleeping for the drivers.

2. Did anyone tell you that your driver might have had few drinks last night?

Yes, you heard me right. A lot of drivers in India tend to drink quiet heavily at nights. “it makes us fall asleep”.There’s nothing wrong with having some drinks, but when your driver is waking up with a hangover and the smell of alcohol, then it’s a getting out of line. It is unsafe. And it won’t make your trip better.

So unless you really enjoy having long rides on the roughest roads you can possibly imagine with stoned drivers, make sure to point out to your travel agent that this is absolutely unacceptable.

Should or should we not visit the Taj Mahal while we travel In India

750 Rupees for foreigners while Indians pay 20 Rupees

3. Did anyone tell you that chances are that your hotel room will probably not worth the price you paid?

It’s a fact that India is short with mid-range hotels. What happens then is that because of lack of competition, hotel owners do not feel the urge to provide the best service for their guests. That is a nice way of saying that even the basic maintenance every hotel ought to provide is much less than the standards you know. By ‘basic’ we mean a clean room, clean bed sheets, working air-conditioning, hot water in the showers, somebody to answer the phone when you need him, and that kind of stuff.

The result is that you will pay much more than the actual value of the room.

Why invest money in keeping the hotel clean and comfortable, with all its facilities properly functioning,if you can charge the same price for the rooms without doing so?

Some guesthouses have better rooms than mid-range hotels. Let’s put it in other words: the difference between $10-$12 guesthouse rooms to a $50-$55 mid range hotel can be annoyingly minor.

In the high range hotels segment the story is totally different. You will probably get much more than what you are used to for the same budget.

What we suggest you to do is to choose your hotel carefully.TripAdvisor is a great tool to get a general idea of the hotel. Or, you can always search for recommendations about the hotels before booking it.

4. Did anyone tell you that you will have to pay more for most of the services/products you will buy in India only because you are foreigner?

It’s a tricky one: you may accuse me of being too naïve because overcharging tourists is common all over the world. But trust me, in India it’s different. Why? Because it’s official! It is a policy that is authorized by the government. You want to enter a heritage site in India like the Taj Mahal, for example?  No problem, but you’ll pay 750 rupees while Indians pay 20 rupees. The same thing is true for all the heritage sites in India, as well as to wildlife sanctuaries,and the list goes on and on.  It is irritating because it has no justification whatsoever.

5. Did anyone tell you exactly when will be the best time to visit a certain region in India?

Weather is one of the key elements that determine how successful your trip will be. In India, the weather factor is crucial because it may completely change your entire trip. Some areas in India are super vulnerable to weather effects, and beside the fact that bad weather can cause changes in the original plan, it’s simply not fun to deal with.

There is nothing fun about being a prisoner in your hotel room because of the monsoon showers that never stop.

There is nothing fun about going back on the same road because a landslide blocked your road. And there is no funin getting stuck in a place where the temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius.

Starching up the season a bit as part of a tour promotionjust to get more tourists coming (and more revenues) is something that you should be aware of.

Be sure to check and double-check what the weather will be like at the time you plan to travel to a certain region in India. When it comes to the Indian climate, even2-3 weeks difference can have serious consequences for your trip.

Now we’ve told you some of the things that some people in the industry would be happy to leave in the fog.

Now it’s your turn.

Did you have any experiences while travelling in India that sound similar to what we have mentioned here?

Have you found any other information that might help others to plan their trip better? If you have, we’ll be happy to share!

Knowing Hindi phrases can get you all over India

79+4 Essential Hindi phrases that every traveler must know

Traveling in India could be painful if you don’t have in your arsenal some knowledge of the local languages. If you think most Indians speak English you’er wrong. Most people in India do not speak English.

Knowing Hindi phrases can get you all over India

Even the Buddhist lamas in Ladakh speak fluent Hindi. Speaking Hindi can help you in most places in northern India

Be sure that at some point of your travel you’ll need to communicate with people who do not speak English. I’m highlighting the ‘need’ because this Hindi phrases kit is about the essentials. We don’t go too far with getting you deep into the Hindi Language, although we would love to!

What we do want to ensure is that you stay hungry because the food was too spicy.  Or you won’t be missing your train because you couldn’t figure out the directions, or getting a lousy room in your hotel, emergency situations – that sort of things.  Nothing more, and it’s a lot!

For further Hindi phrases and glossaries we’ll provide you some links to some resources further down the post.

We picked Hindi because it covers a lot of regions in India but we’ll get to other languages too.

In the meanwhile here’s why you should stick around and learn our Hindi essential tool Kit:

  1. You will have handy ready made phrases for any situation travelers face when the travel in India.
  2. You will easily pull the right things to say out of your tool kit because we made the phrases super easy to remember.
  3. You will immediately understand what the locals will be answering or telling you! Why? Because we made the phrases in a way that the reply will be short and sweet.
  4. And one more thing…you will get a lot of LOVE from the locals for your efforts and that alone can get very beneficial for you in unpredictable ways…

So let’s get started: 

Some Basic Hindi phrases 

What’s your name? aapka naam kya hai? 
My name is….. mera naam …………hai 
I’m fine thank you main thik hun 
How are you? Keise hein aap? 
Nice to meet you aapse milkar badi khushi hui
How’s your family ? aapke parivar keise hai
See you later phir milenge
Where are you from? aap kahan se hein?
I’m from…… mein ……..se hun
I don’t know mujhe pata nahin 
I don’t understand main nahin samjha/samjhi ( m/f ) 
What is the time? kitane baje hai
How is the weather there? Vahan ka mausam keisa hai? 

Finding the Way (orientation)

Can you tell me how to reach ……? Kya aap ……. ke jane ka rasta bata dijiye? 
Where is ………? ………….kahan hai? 
Where am I? main kahan hun 
What is the name of this place? Yahan ka naam kya hai?  / is jagah ka naam kya hai?
Can you show me where ……… is? Kya aap ………….  ka disha dikha dijiye? 
I’m lost main kho gaya/gai  hun ( m/f) 
Will you come with me? aap mere sath chalein? 
Which road goes to ………. kaunsa rasta ………. jata hai

 In The Restaurant (with special column for keywords)

We want to order (food ) hum khana maangna chate hein
We are hungry Humein  bhook lagi hai
We are thirsty hamein  pyas lagi hai
Can we get the menu? menu de do
Is it spicy? Kya yeh mirch masala vala hai?
We do not eat spicy mirchi walla khana nahin kha sakte hein
Would you recommend? kya acha hoga?
I’ll have ………. mujhe ………. de do
The food is great Khana badiya hai
I didn’t like the food khana achcha nahin laga
Bring us the bill bill de do
There’s a mistake in the bill Bill me ek galat hai
We haven’t ordered ……. Yeh ……..hamne nahin liya

 Some keywords for this section

Bottle / Botal Bowl  /  katori Breakfast / nashta Dinner / rat ka khana lunch / din ka khana
Sweets / motaa Fork / kanta Knife / chaku Spoon / chamach Plate / plet
Salt / namak Suger / chini Rice /chaval Vegetarian /  shakahrai None Veg /mansahari

Health Issues and Emergencies

I’m having a headache Mere sir me dard hai
I’m having a stomach ache mere peth me dard hai
Do you have something for the stomach kya aap ke pass pet ke liye kuch hai?
I need something (medicine/ pill)   for my stomach mujhe peth ke liye koi davai chaahiye
I’m not feeling well Meri tabyat kharab hai
I’m cold mujhe bukhar hai
Please call the doctor Doctor bulaaye
Where is the nearest hospital? Yahan ke sab se nasdik hospital kidhar hai?
Help me mujhe madad chahiye
Call the police! Police ko bulao!
I lost my luggage Main apna saman kho gya

 Shopping

How much it cost? yeh kitana ka hai? 
Please give us a discount discount  karo
This is to expensive yeh bahut mehenga hai
Can you show me that yeh dikha do 
I like that acha laga
I don’t like that acha nahin laga
Do you have any other? Iske alava kuch aur hai? 
Do you have… Kya aap ke paas….hai
I’m Just looking sirf dekhna aaya/ aai  hun  (m/f)
I’d like to buy…… muj…..chahiye 
I’ll be back main vapas aaunga/ aaungi  (m/f) 
I’ll think about it iske bare me soch lunga/lungi (m/f) 

 

Here are some keywords for this section:

Market   /  bazaar Shop   /  dukan Money  /   paisa Change /  change Cloths   / kapde Shirt  /    kamiz
Trousers  /  patloon Skirt /   skrit Black   /kala/ kali  ( m/f) White  / safed White  / safed Red  /  lal

 In the Hotel

How much is for a night? Ek Rat ke liye kitna ka hai?
This is too expensive yeh bahut mehenga hai
Please give us a discount Thoda discount karo
We are going to stay here for …. nights hum yahan par…… rukenge
Where is the best restaurant in the area? Yahan ke aas paas sab se achi restaurant kahan hai?
Where can I find internet? Internet khan milta hai
The room isn’t clean kamra saaf nahin hai
The room is too small kamra zyada chota hai
Do you have a room service room service hai
Are you receptionists are here all time? Kya aap log din-raat yahi par hein
Do you have a safety box in the hotel? hotel me safe box hai?
Which floor is the room kamra kounsi manzil par hai?
Do you have rooms available? Aapke paas koi kamre hein?
Is there hot water? Kya garam pani chalta rehata hai?
Is there room with balcony? kya aapke pass ek kamera jisme balcony hai?
Can you wake us up in …. o’clock kya aap hamein ….baje jagah sakte hein?

Trains

Where is the train to……? …….wali kahan hai   e.g. Delhi wali kahan hai?
On which platform is the train to ……..? …….wali  kounsa platform ka hai?
What time is the train departs? Train kab nikalti hai?/ Kitne baje jati hai?
How long will it be delayed? Us-se kitni der hui hai
What time is it reaching? Kab aaegi?
Kab aaegi? ticket kharidna kahan par milti hai?
This is my seat yeh meri sit hai
How long is the trip to ……. …….tak kitana samay lagta hai?

 

Other free resources for basic Hindi phrases:

 

That’s it.

Do you think that we might have forgotten something important? Add to the comment box below more phrases that may be helpful for travelers and we’ll hook them in!

P.S subscribe to our newsletter and start exploring the Indian Himalayas with our FREE Bhaba Pass trek Guide!  You’ll get it straight to your mailbox.

Speaking Hindi in India

Speaking Hindi in India, do Locals like it?

Speaking Hindi in India, do Locals like it? We get this question quite a lot recently so we decided to address within this blog post. Phrasing the question in this way is actually to assume that all the ‘locals’ that is Indian people hold the same standpoint about their identity. Language is, as you know, a prominent part of our self-identity. In India, the question of identity is very complex, just as is question of language.
In 2007, I was staying in Delhi as part as my University scholarship. I took a ride with a Rickshaw driver from the Main Bazaar which is the backpacker’s center of Delhi’s , to South Delhi. I hopped on the rickshaw and told to guy where I needed to go. He was driving in silence. Eventually, I started to talk to him in Hindi. Just simple small talk, but that was enough to make him so happy that a 25 minute drive turned out to be an hour. It was the first time he spoke with a foreign person. When we got to our destination, he insisted that the ride is free. He made me promise to visit him at home, which I did few months later. ‘You are truly Indian,’ he said when I was finally able to leave.

A little bit about Hindi as a formal language in India

Hindi or not Hindi? That is the Questions

Hindi or not Hindi? That is the Questions

In the Rajya Sabha and Lokh Sabha (the Indian parliament institutions), representatives from all over the Republic of India sit there and speak hundreds of languages, but mostly English. Not Hindi. During the British Raj, English was the official language. When the Indian Independence Movement gained momentum in the early part of the 20th Century, efforts were undertaken to adopt Hindustani as a common language to unite the various linguistic groups against the British Government. Unity as a whole (cultural, historical, ethnical, religious etc) was the key factor to ‘earning’ independence through proving eligibility for self-governance. Language was a crucial aspect of this. Did I mention that speaking any certain language is a political issue?
As early as 1918, Mahatma Gandhi established the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha (Institution for the Propagation of Hindi in South India). In 1925, the Indian National Congress switched to Hindustani from English for conducting its proceedings. Both Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister were supporters of Hindustani, and the Congress wanted to propagate the learning of Hindustani in non-Hindi speaking Provinces of India. The idea of making Hindustani, or Hindi, the common language, was not acceptable to most of the south Indian leaders; they viewed it as an attempt to make Tamils subordinate to North Indians.

The Madras anti-Hindi Agitation of 1965

 

Speaking Hindi in some places is the best idea

Speaking Hindi in some places is always the best idea

For decades, constitutional attempts were made to establish the status of Hindi as the sole official language of India which was eventually implemented in 1965 based on the new constitution. However, those changes were totally not acceptable to many non-Hindi Indian states, who wanted the continued use of English as a primary language. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a political party in the state of Tamil Nadu, led the opposition to Hindi and tried to move the government to take action against the constitutional amendments. As the day (26 January 1965) of switching over to Hindi as the official language approached, the anti-Hindi movement gained momentum in Madras State which had mobilized college students to lead the processions. On 25 January, a full-scale riot broke out in the southern city of Madurai, sparked off by a minor altercation between agitating students and Congress party members. The riots spread all over Madras State, continued unabated for the next two months, and were marked by acts of violence, arson, looting and police stations firing.
The agitations of 1965 led to major political changes in the state. The DMK won the 1967 assembly election and the Congress Party has not managed to recapture power in the state since then. The Official Languages Act was eventually amended in 1967 by the Government headed by Indira Gandhi to guarantee the indefinite use of Hindi and English as official languages. This effectively ensured the current “virtually indefinite policy of bilingualism” of the Indian Republic.

About the political tension in India and its connection to the language

Until current day, a strong sentiment over regional languages is being demonstrated over and over whenever the tension between the regional and the central ‘forces’ arises. States in India have been reorganized on a linguistic basis and Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have seen vocal protests (such as the one mentioned above) in the past over the imposition of Hindi as the national language. Questions like: “Should Hindi be made compulsory as a national language and be taught in schools throughout India, or is each state within India entitled to determine its official language? Is language being used as a tool for political gains?” are still under constant debate.

Coming back to the question “Speaking Hindi in India, do locals like it”?

Dakshin bharat hindi
I was glad for the appreciation I received from the locals of me speaking Hindi. I even took advantage of it, especially when it came to getting discounts by haggling. However, when I traveled to south India, speaking Hindi was far from being helpful. “This is not the place to speak Hindi,” people told me. Now you know how politically sensitive this issue is. Not to mention states in north eastern India, such as Aruanchal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizuram ,Tripura and Nagaland, commonly known as the “Seven Sisters,” where Hindi skills are not appreciated for exactly the same reason: they want to differentiate themselves from the central govern in Delhi. Language differentiation is a good place to start with.
So to sum it up, speaking Hindi In India won’t make everyone happy, but as long as you are around Hindi dominated regions in north India ,you’ll be very much appreciated. Even in those areas Hindi might not be the native language, but you will enjoy a warm welcome from the locals. Anyhow, we can never make everyone happy – no matter what language we speak.

Click here to get your first 79+4 super valuable Hindi phrases that will make a big difference while you travel in India – Guaranteed! 

Feel free to leave a comment and we will be happy to get ideas and suggestions for future articles

Monsoon season In India

Best time to visit India

The Indian subcontinent has an extremely varied climate; therefore, the best time to visit India actually depends greatly on what places you plan to travel to, each with its own unique weather conditions. The most influential feature of India’s climate is the Monsoon. The monsoon hits the southwest coast of Kerala and moves northward for the following two months.  During those two months (the Monsoon season), India gets its water supply from the monsoon’s prolonged downpours. It is the curse and blessing of India. The majority of India’s population is agrarian with no steady water supply, surviving only because the Monsoon’s heavy downpours provide a significant amount of water for their crops.Monsoon in India

However, in lower regions such as the Bengal delta, flooding can severely damage agricultural fields, disrupt communications, and can even spark epidemics. In the high parts of the country, as in the foothills of the Himalayas, from the end of August till mid September when the Monsoon is at its peak, landsides are common and many areas can get cut off with no connectivity. Although its rather rare, floods can accrue also at the high mountains of the Himalaya, even in Ladhak region such as in the August 2010 flood.

By September the Monsoon is weakening in the north but there is still occasional rainfall. The eastern coasts of Andra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu get a second “shower” from the northwest monsoon. By late October the skies are clearing and India is calm again.

Rice growing near Hampi

Rice growing near Hampi

It is during  winter when the diversity of Indian weather is most obvious. The northern parts of India, such as the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu Kashmir, Uttarkhand, suffer from heavy snowfall and extremely low temperatures; whereas Delhi and other lower parts experience chill winds blowing off the snowfields of the high Himalayas.  The south of India is a whole different story, people in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka enjoy their best time of the year with temperatures ranging from 20 – 28 c°.

Moving ahead with the seasons, we enter spring time.  The centre of the Subcontinent starts to heat up, creating the right conditions for the next monsoon, and by late March thermometers nudge 33°C across most of the Indo-Gangetic Plains and Deccan plateau. Temperatures peak in May and early June which makes a perfect time to retreat to the nearest hill stations. Above the baking Subcontinental land mass, hot air builds up and sucks in humidity from the southwest, causing the onset of the monsoon in late June, and bringing relief to millions of overheated Indians.

The best time to visit India is during the cool, dry season, between November and March. Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are ideal at this time, and temperatures in Goa and central India remain comfortable. The heat of the south is never less than intense but it becomes stifling in May and June, so aim to be in Tamil Nadu and Kerala between January and March. From this time onwards, the Himalayas grow more accessible, and the trekking season reaches its peak in August and September while the rest of the Subcontinent is being soaked by rain.

Best time to visit North India

Destination    State       Best time to visit
Leh Jammu and Kashmir May- Mid October
Srinagar April – June and September-November
Dharamsala Himachal Pradesh September – November and April- June
Manali March- November
Shimala September – November and April- June
Spiti May- Mid October
Rishikesh  Uttarkhand  March and April & September and October
Valley of flowers  July –mid August ( Monsoon time)* Unlike other places here the monsoon season is the time to go

 

Destinations at the Indu-Genetic plains and Rajasthan

Destination  State Best time to visit 
Delhi Delhi October- April
Agra Uttar Pradesh
Varanasi January-December
Jaipur
Udaipur Rajasthan October- March
Jaisalmer

 

Best time to visit Northeast India

Destination  State Best time to visit
Gangtok Sikkim March – May and September-November
Tawang Arunachal Pradesh October – April
Dimapur Nagaland October – May
Loktak Lake Manipur October – March

 

Best time to visit South India:

Destination State Best time to visit
Goa’s beaches Goa November to March
Hampi Karnataka November-February
Mysore September- March
Munnar Kerala September-May
Pondicherry Tamil Nadu October – March
Otty October – June

 

Feel free to leave a comment and we will be happy to get ideas and suggestions for future articles

Backpacking India will get to the remotest corners on earth

A Simple Guide for Backpacking in India

 General notes about backpacking across india

India is a haven for backpackers.While backpacking through india you can practically travel for months, without spending much money or running out of places to see and things to do.

It is great for backpackers because you have  many places where you can stay for long periods of time and you can get an intimate look at locales and the people who live there. In some places there are a lot of things that you can do while staying there, such as taking courses (Yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, food, learning the Local language, mountaineering – you name it…), or just laying back and reading a book.

Of course backpacking India allows traveling at the speed of light, too, well not exactly so fast at least until the transportation infrastructure improves. Anyways, even if you are a runner/traveler/backpacker, remember one thing: India offers much more than coverable!

Backpacking in India with Motorbike

Heading towards the high mountains

Backpacking in India is a very fluid way of traveling, socially speaking. While backpacking in India you will meet up with so many backpackers like yourself, traveling with them from one place to another sharing so many experiences together. Then one day, you might find yourself traveling with others in a whole different direction. Naturally you may find someone to travel with for longer, maybe until your backpacks are deep back in your closet.  Who knows? India has a lot of “backpacker centers” (See section below) so even if you travel alone you’ll always have someone to travel with, if you only choose to.

Indiatravelz_Tollywood

In this post we will cover some of the basic info that can provide you a better idea for what is backpacking in India.

Budget

Although costs in India are getting more and more expensive, one of the best things about backpacking in India is it that is relatively cheap, and cheap means staying longer. How much cheaper is also a relative question. Like everywhere, it depends on three major factors – let’s break them down:

1)    Food

2)    Accommodations

3)    Transport

These 3 components have a wide range even within a low budget travel.

Let’s take these components and check them out to give you a feeling for how much it could cost you to travel in India for a month. Of course prices are changing all the time with the seasons; here on this table we’ll go for the averages.

 Accommodation expenses table  for low budget traveler in India

Location

Level

Cost per Night (in Rupees)

Number of nights

Total in Rupee

Total in US Dollar
Guesthouses  In the city Extremely low budget

350

3

1050

19

  Average

500

3

1500

28

  A little bit above Average

800

3

2400

44

Guesthouses  In  Rural area Extremely low budget

150

27

4050

75

  Average

250

27

6750

125

  A little bit above Average

400

27

10800

200

As you can see we arrive at the sum of 244$ for accommodations at the high end for low budget travelers.

Backpacking in India means to find great accommodation

You are looking at the best room ever in the state of Himachal Pradesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Food and Drinks

What’s on the menu?

Cost/ item

Total a month in India Rupees

In $

Breakfast

50

1500

$28

Lunch

60

1800

$33

Dinner

60

1800

$33

Mineral water ( 3 Bottles a day)

50

1500

$28

Others

50

1500

$28

     

$150

Backpacking in India_food

Perfect meal in 40 Rupees

Transport cost

We assume that transport per month for a low budget traveler will cost approximately around 100$. We have included here inner city transport (Rickshaws and metro), trains, tourist buses and local buses.

Total cost for a low budget backpacker in India for one month: 394$ you can add to this calculation 15% just in case and you’ll end up with 453$ a month.

That is an average cost for low budget traveler. On the top of that you may pay some entrance fees for heritage sites, museums, national parks, internet etc. It won’t be much. Also we didn’t include shopping that you might do while traveling.

Backpacking in India- What to Pack?

Unlike what you may think you need to pack for long travel, backpacking in India requires a different approach. The less you pack the better. We recommend you to buy whatever you can in India. In the big cities everything is available and probably you can purchase it for much less money.

If you plan to trek in India I would advise you not to wait to buy the gear in India because it is not in the best quality.  For the complete trekking pack list click here.

Basics 

Passport Toothpaste and brush can get Glasses / contact lenses
Visas Sun cream Sunglasses
Immunization record Sleeping bag Medical kit (see below)
Travel tickets Sleeping sheet Medications
Insurance Head torch Prescriptions
Travelers checks All emergency numbers  Glasses
Photocopies of documents Guide books Camera + Memory card + spear one
Cell Phone + battery+Charger  

 

Clothes

 Underwear Belt Thermal underwear
Shorts Swimming clothes Light waterproof top
T shirts – long/short sleeves Jumper / fleece Scarf and gloves
Cotton shirts – long/short sleeves Sun hat Shoes / sandals
trekking pants Woolly hat  

First aid kit

Medical sterile kit Medic Alert ID if necessary Water purification tablets
Rehydration solutions / spoon Adhesive bandages Antibiotic cream
Anti–diarrhoea medication Anti fungal foot  powder Anti inflammatory e.g. ibuprofen
Motion sickness medication Throat lozenges Analgaesia e.g paracetamol
  Thermometer  

 Backpacker’s centers in India

Firstly we would like to clarify that the places mentioned below are not only touristy destinations, but a major backpacker’s scene which has developed over for their locations and various facilities which meet the needs of backpackers in India. So not every tourist destination in India fits the backpackers’ needs and it doesn’t matter how popular they may be. Take Agra for example, almost everyone visits the Taj Mahal, whether backpacking in India or just a vacationer. However, although Agra is such a popular tourist destination, it has nothing to do with backpacking scene. This list however includes places where backpackers stay for long periods of time, get regrouped, take care of their travel logistics, meet up with people, chill out, take courses etc. or simply stay there because it is a hub.

From North to South:

1)   Leh, Ladakh  2)  Manali Himachal Pradesh  3)  Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh  4) Rishikesh, Uttarkhand  5) Delhi, Main Bazar   6)Pushkar, Rajasthan

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And… 

7)   Udaipur, Rajashan 8)   Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 9)   Hampi, Karanatka 10)   Kolkata, Sudder Street

Internet

Almost in everywhere in India you can find internet cafés. In big cities, you will pay approximately 20 rupees per hour, while in remote areas the prices will be higher (up to 40 rupees an hour). Internet connections in many places in India aren’t that stable, so don’t get frustrated because everything will take more time than what you’re used to.

Drugs

For some reason there is an impression that using drugs in India is allowed. That is wrong! Although there is a tremendously huge drug industry in India and some Sadhus will be smoking hash publicly you don’t want to do the same. Not only will you insult the locals for smoking and violate the core values of social behavior, you will also put yourself in a great risk. Indian police forces show no tolerance for foreign tourists when it comes to drugs. Again do not assume that if you see Sadhus ( Babas) smoking it is allowed – they play different games there.

If you so badly want to smoke, keep that private.

Transportation

Inner city

Here’s a brief review about the means of transport you may use while backpacking in India. For Inside the cities you can use the Auto Rickshaw. It’s fun and you’ll get to your destination with no fuss at all. The downside is A) it’s not so cheap and B) You can get stuck in the traffic jams.

Alternatively, in the big Metros you can travel in the city on the Metros. It is super fast and extremely cheap! The downside of the Metros is when you’re traveling in the rush hour it can get so busy you can hardly breath.

 Out of the city

Local buses in India are the cheapest option you can have. Basically there is a bus going to every corner in India, even the most remote. So lack of transport never excuses not to go somewhere, ha?

Local buses are very cheap and, as we said, take you everywhere. It is also quite an experience to travel, sometimes with goats on the next seat, sometimes chickens, and even one time we got a cow in the corridor. The downside is : A) It is uncomfortable by definition. B) it is the slowest mean of transport ever invented by mankind. C) it can be a little bit unsafe for women traveling alone.

Trains in India; so much to say about trains in India, for getting all the info you need about trains in India click here. We have dedicated two posts for that. By trains you can have long distance travels very easily; it is comfortable and fun! The downside?… none. ( if you insist than I wouldn’t say that the Indian train system is the most accurate in the world).

Accommodations

First and foremost, if you are backpacking in India for the first time it is important for you to know that the overall standard of hotels and guesthouses in India is not the same as in the west- at least when it comes to low budget accommodations – luxury hotels are a whole of a different league. Keep in mind that the prices for a room are not an indication of the quality. That means that if you want to stay for a few days or so in a certain place, you will have to check out a few guesthouses before you decide where to stay at. When we say ‘quality’ we mean; if it is clean, if it is well located, if the hotel owner or management are nice, if there is hot water in the shower and if it is not too busy so you won’t be able to sleep at night – then the guesthouse is fit for you.

 

Feel free to leave a comment and we will be happy to get ideas and suggestions for future articles 

Katrina.Kaif responsible blogging

Responsible blogging and the forest of traveling

The other day I was reading through a blog, written by a nice couple who were traveling around the world, sharing their experiences with their readers. Naturally, that is the purpose of having a blog (other than the fact that you can to earn some money out of it, but that is obvious, too).

On this couple’s blog post, they talked about their experience living 3 weeks in an Ashram in Rishikesh, the world’s center of Yoga. They also mentioned how India is unique to them and different from other places they’ve traveled to.

Katrina.Kaif responsible blogging

Kartina Kaif, One of Bollywood’s mega supersatrs

No matter how many times I read the articles, I could not get over the fact that it seemed as if this couple had absolutely no idea what they were talking about when it comes to India. Of course it’s their own personal blog and they are allowed to write whatever they feel; for them and many others blogs are a platform to share traveling experiences, but that is exactly what I am wondering about:  Can we, as a bloggers or website owners actually write whatever we feel? Even if it may present false and superficial images of the cultures and the places we visit?

I decided to express my comments as a blog post. Before beginning, I must mention that this is my personal opinion and I am picking on these guys only because I read their blog recently; however, they convey messages that I have seen in so many other articles on the internet.  I thought that it would be pointless to link to each specific post, simply because it’s a general thought about the way we travel, and about what we write in our blogs.

Places we visit aren’t exactly chicks in bikinis

While I was reading the post, I felt a little bit uncomfortable with the attitude that they held towards “India”. As I read, the “attitude” grew clearer to me, especially when I read a sentence which made me kind of jumpy. It went something like: “Lay back and let India come to you”.

Although this is only figurative language, it expresses a chauvinistic attitude, wherein they are obviously unaware of what they, like many others, presume “India” to be during their vacations. This phrase implies that India has to actively satisfy you.

I’m aware that many of us who come to India find it extremely fascinating in every possible aspect when it comes to travel (and not only travel, but spiritually and culturally, too). This is where your inner alarm bells should go off.

This is the point where you may feel that you have figured everything out, and that everything you see, smell, touch, and hear is accessible to you. You might even think that you actually know it all, just because you are fascinated and charmed. Buddhist identifies this process of getting attached blindly to a certain object or idea while possessing  it, with the famous term Trishna (thirst ,crave).

Annie Besant and Jiddu Krishnamurti, Theosophical Society

Annie Besant and Jiddu Krishnamurti, Theosophical Society. Got polished and now he’s ready to fill up the halls

Much like other popular tourist destinations, India suffers from being stereotyped. On the one hand, India is perceived as a third world country that is severely underdeveloped. On the other hand, many see India as an exotic country unlike any other, with mysterious secrets to be unraveled. This romantic outlook about India  had begun way back. Take a 19thcentury example: Annie Besant and the Theosophical Society who “discovered”  a 14 year old boy, Jiddu Krishnamurti, from Chennai to be the “world’s teacher” -the messiah. Of course he had to get some “proper” education to fulfill such grand expectations and Annie Besant took custody over him.

The bloggers were so thrilled when they wrote: “We even learned some Sanskrit phrases” while staying in an Ashram in Rishikesh. Having seen this in their blog post, you may conclude that staying in an Ashram in Rishikesh, like  doing Yoga, eating in local restaurants using your hands, and attending Pujas (prayers) on the Ganga River, will actually draw you nearer to the roots of Indian tradition.

I hate to ruin the party, but learning Sanskrit isn’t rocket science -in fact, it’s much harder! It’s as if you expect to learn complex physics equations in one visit to a science museum.

Responsible travel blogging

Describing the sophistication and complexity of Sanskrit in a single blog post is difficult. The complexity of the language is reason enough to make the blogger’s statement sound absurd. One thing is for sure- a lack of knowledge and blitheness, mixed with a sprinkling of arrogance (factors often found hand in hand) are key to imposing such a false impression.

None of what you do or experience in India (nor any other place you visit) will make you closer to the culture and/ or to the “locals”, as long as you keep on perpetuating your own preconceived notions of what you think you know about India! These presumptions won’t assist you in discovering the beauty of traveling or in delving deeper into the local culture, if that’s what you wish for.

In other words, if you think “India” is here to reveal secrets from underneath “her” clothes, trying to tempt you with the beautiful sounds of Sanskrit mantras, with its ancient wisdom of Yoga, bright candle lights on the Ganga, crowded and colorful markets, the magnetic aura of ‘Karma’ and ‘Dharma’ and all the other romantic fantasies and ideas you may have, you are mistaken.

If you expect to just lay back and watch as these mystical wonders open up and offer themselves for you,  I can only say that you are far removed from reality! The worst part of it all is the false expectations that you pass to others with your notions, and the fact that you misinform readers as well.

The Myth of Karma – another example for seductive India

Karma isn’t simply “What goes around comes around” although it may be convenient to think about it this way. There is no “Karma police” (although I’m a Radiohead fan). The doctrine of Karma has been under discussion throughout the entire spectrum of Indian karma-quotes-sayings-sandra-bullock-celebrityphilosophers for centuries, and like all great philosophical questions, there is no definite answer. Yajnavalkya, the great Upanishadic  sage, had the following answer to his disciple’s question about the meaning of Karma : “Let’s go to the forest to discuss that”. Why go to the forest if the answer is as simple as “What goes around comes around” ? Because this question is a tough one, and the forest is the only place that can propagate such difficult philosophical questions.

The forest is a domain of transformation in the Indian consciousness, and challenges everything you perceive as valid. It is a place of doubt and critique, wherein knowledge can be obtained only by leaving the familiar and safe (both mentally and physically).

“What goes around comes around” is heard everywhere. The “forest”; however, is where the journey into the enormous challenge that India can offer us as westerners begins, and it is not exactly trying to tempt us to step in.

Get Undressed too and step in the Forest of traveling!

The good news for us, if you want to explore, is that we should get undressed, too. This is where the challenge of travel begins! This is when love making begins. You might feel vulnerable in the beginning as you realize that none of what you see is meant for you.

Once you realize that you aren’t the center and there is almost no way to understand or figure out the entire context of what is seen or heard, then that you start questioning what is there. Question marks are the best travel guides, whereas exclamation points will infinitely alienate you.  Respecting other cultures doesn’t mean you have to blindly take everything in without understanding. On the contrary, questioning can be the best way to show respect, so long as it’s not patronizing.

At the forest of travelling

At the forest of travelling

Then you will be traveling with the same attitude as Yajnavalkya’s disciple, and you won’t be satisfied with the cheap, cliché, and worn out explanations of Yoga, Karma, Dharma and other unfamiliar concepts. Some of these aren’t even clear to many Indians! The difference is that for Indians those concepts are part of their cultural DNA, whereas for us it is at most an intellectual challenge. Check out in this video to see how bad and perverted this cultural confusion can turn out.  That would be a perfect illustration of a brutal violation of cultural dialogue. Of course this is an extreme example to demonstrate a wanton lack of understanding for a culture.

And that’s when some people had enough…

Play
 

Avoiding this confusion is the true challenge for travelers entering the “forest of traveling”. Where we can safely ask questions and truly learn, inevitably, this traveling process will impel us to ask the same questions about ourselves.

This would be the point where you reduce the almost unavoidable objectification and misconceptions of a place you visit to a minimum, which should be an obligation, if you intend to publish your impressions of your travels in a blog.

Responsible traveler and travel bloggers

One of the clearest definitions I found about the responsible traveler concept which can also be applied, with minor adjustments, to responsible blogging was from Responsible Travel 

“Travel is all the enlightening, life changing clichés it promises to be. In 1967, International Year of the Tourist; the United Nations recognized that tourism is “a basic and most desirable human activity, deserving the praise and encouragement of all peoples and all governments”. We agree. Quite simply, if you do travel, be aware that the choices we make while away do have an impact.”

Mariellen Ward, the owner of Breathedreamgo blog  ( an excellent one! ) wrote on her Facebook timeline recently after the terrible gang rape incident in Madhya Pradesh:

I have mistakenly given the world the impression that I think India is a safe country for women to travel in — and I have to take responsibility for that…

She was the only one we have found to be aware enough of her words’ potential impact, and she was the only one who had the integrity to post that sort of comment.

Responsible blogging requires an acknowledgement that the impact of our travels is not constrained merely within the time we travel, but continues through impressions published online/offline. As it has been said before, and should be repeated often lest we forget: words do have power.

Feel free to leave a comment and we will be happy to get ideas and suggestions for future articles

 

safe travel in India

Tips For Safe Travel in India

Due to last Friday’s shocking gang rape of a Swiss woman at Madhya Pradesh, we decided to publish a post dedicated to some essentials regarding safety precautions, especially for female travelers in India.

First and foremost:  

It is true that traveling with a certain amount of suspicious at all times is not altogether enjoyable; it would be amazing if we knew we were safe no matter what we do or where we are and if nobody we met while traveling has ill intentions for us. But that ideal vision doesn’t exist while treading this Earth.

Regardless of the unfortunate incidents in the news recently regarding foreign  tourists (and even locals too), overall India remains a safe place to travel.  However, for whatever reason when it comes to crime, some people (based on discussions I have seen on the internet) perceive India as quite safe for its seemingly spiritual attributes. Romantic visions about India, like that, have led people to conclude that India has some sort of inherent immunity from the dark side of humanity. This is of course a mistake, the consequences of which India ultimately suffers.  Anyways, like any other place in the world there are good and bad people. Indian is no different in that manner.

The Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The day a woman can walk freely on the roads, that day we can say that India achieved independence.” India isn’t there yet.

Women protest in India against the gang rapes

The day Gandhi has wished for is yet to arrive

Having said this, it is important for us to assume that the existence of cultural differences exposes travelers to some mutual misunderstandings in the best cases, and to risks in the worst. We actually have to assume that we haven’t the slightest idea what is safe and what is dangerous.

Normally, foreign tourists don’t speak the language, aren’t familiar with local costumes, and don’t have any instinct for whom or what could be pulling them into a danger zone. You will then have to assume that traveling in India is not as safe as expected.  And you will have to be tuned to that issue at all times!

India isn’t a peaceful, non-violent, spiritual -oriented place, so it would be a good idea to bid goodbye to all stereotypes so removed from reality.

Tips for safe travel in India:

 Do not trek alone / Do not camp alone

Staying alone in the wild is not safe for you even if you are a couple.  Besidesthe fact that it could be dangerous to get lost, unexpected injuries might occur on the trail, bad weather, etc; you expose yourself to potential criminals, too.  Shepherds  are quite often wandering around and may not be friendly. Aside from shepherds, there may others like fake Babas, who sometime are just outlaws looking for refuge under the orange cloak. Fake Babas have been involved with drug related set-ups and severe violent incidents against foreign tourists.

If you are cycling or motor biking through India, then it is highly suggestible not to camp outside, tempting as it may be. Unfortunately, last Friday illustrates how bad a turn that can take.  Make sure you plan your stops in a guesthouse/hotel.

If you get stuck along the way for some reason and there are no accommodation facilities available, you can always knock on someone’s door and ask to stay the night there. Indians are well known for their warm hospitality – especially in rural areas. You will be much better protected under somebody’s roof. Furthermore, staying with locals at their homes is an experience in and of itself.

Respect local dressing codes

Have you ever seen Indian women dressed in undershirts or any other short outfits? If you are a woman traveling in India you should respect local dress codes and customs. Indians aren’t used to seeing women expose their bodies in public spaces. For them dressing up in such a way is brutally deviant from social norms and can easily be misconstrued and ‘invite’ unwelcome groping .

Do not to travel alone on local/public transport

 

Sit where you feel safe. Sit   together with families

Sit where you feel safe. Sit together with families

  • Avoid traveling alone on public transport or in taxis, auto-rickshaws and trains, especially at night. If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports.  Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street.
  • Never agree to having more than one man in the car. Do not break that rule even when the driver claims that this is ‘just my brother’, ‘my friend’ or any other creative way to make you go with more than himself.

Do not hitchhike  ( Nothing can be too obvious)

Hitchhiking in India is dangerous.  Apparently there is nothing too obvious; therefore, we would like to stress how dangerous it could be. For the past several years, sexual harassments have cropped up while female foreign tourists were hitchhiking.

Interacting with locals

  • Indians can be very communicative, yet it would be wise to keep conversations with unknown men brief –getting involved in a conversation with someone you barely know can be misinterpreted as a sign of sexual interest.
  • Questions and comments such as ‘Do you have a husband?’ or ‘You’re very beautiful,’ ‘Do you want me to show you around?’ or explicit questions like ‘Are you traveling alone?’ are indicators that the conversation may be taking a steamy tangent.
  • Avoid shaking hands with men you don’t know, you can reply to any gesture with the traditional greeting ‘Namaste’.
  • If you feel that a guy is invading your space a firm request to keep away usually suffices. Louder tones increase the efficacy; you will be drawing the attention of passers-by and he’ll be forced to stop.

Avoid walking alone during night time

As we said, the day a woman can walk freely on the roads in India is yet to arrive. Especially not during night time. Do whatever you can to have someone walk with you.  In isolated areas (beaches, forests etc) avoid walking alone in daytime as well.

Make sure you always carry your embassy contact number.

Police stations in India may not be safest place for you either. There were too many incidences shown that when foreign tourists have reported a crime committed against them to local police stations, things only got worse for them.

We strongly advise you that if you have been a victim of any assault or other crime then contact your embassy first. Let them know what has happened to you, where you are located and to which police station you are about to taken. Ask for their assistance. Once you arrive at the police station the first thing you should say is that you have already contacted your embassy and they are about to take actions in your case. If there is one thing that police officers in India respect, it’s the involvement of a higher authority.

This post is not meant to intimidate, on the contrary, it can help you go farther and explore India as much as you want .Naturally there is no way to run the full gamut of possible scenarios leading to unpleasant situations, so be harsh with yourself and always err on the safe side.

 And don’t forget: India is still a safe place to travel!

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Wikitravel

Welcome to Mumbai – Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport

The first meeting point of travellers to India is usually Mumbai airport (The second gate to India is Delhi airport). The airport in Mumbai was recently renovated and expanded and serves many passengers on their way in to the country and is one of the most active ports in India and South Asia. The airport is not far from the city and is relatively convenient and offers a variety of transportation to the city. The following post will offer you a guide for all that you need to know about Mumbai airport and how to start your journey:

General information:

Full name: The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport

Airport Code: BOM

Website: www.csia.in

Number of terminals: 2

Nearest city: the airport is a 26-30km north of Mumbai

TRANSFER BETWEEN TERMINALS:

The airport which is north of Mumbai has two terminals that are located just 4km apart from each other. Terminal 2 is in Sahar and is the international flights terminal. Terminal 1 is for domestic flights only and is located in Santa Cruz. There is a free shuttle transferring passengers between the terminals. The shuttle leaves every 20 minutes during the day.

HOW TO PASS TIME IN THE AIRPORT:

You can pass the time at one of the restaurants, fast food outlets, bars, coffee shops, ice-cream parlours or even chocolate stores, located at the airport. In addition, there is free wireless internet. You can connect to the Internet from anywhere in the airport (in all terminals).

Duty-free shops: the duty free is in Terminal 2. There is not much variety, but you will find a few duty free stores but it doesn’t have the variety relative to other duty free shops in international airports around the world.

Sleeping at the Airport?:

1.5km from Terminal 2 and 7km from Terminal 1 there is Hotel Leela Kempinski. There is free shuttle from the airport directly to the hotel.

Here are some additional hotels with free shuttle service directly to the airport:

Orchid Hotel and Hotel Midland Hotel Mumbai. You can book your accommodation in these hotels or in other hotels, and book a ride that will take you directly to the hotel at a special booth at the airport.

EXCHANGING MONEY AND TAX REFUNDS:

ATM’s and currency changers are scattered in several areas around the terminals in the airport. For more information click here.

INFORMATION FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE:

At the airport (in all terminals) you can find a communication center that provides telephone, fax, internet, photocopy machines and more. In addition, there are postal services, which anyone can use if necessary.

Especially for business travelers, there is a business center, located in the departure flights section of the terminals. The center offers a lounge for passengers in business class. If you need a conference rooms, you will find them at the Leela Kempinski, near the airport. (Phone: 6691 1234 022).

ACCESSIBILITY:

At the airport you can find lifts, WC for disabled and disabled parking spots. Wheelchairs can be obtained also in the terminals, but you need to contact the airlines in advance. Passengers seeking special help/special equipment will have to contact their chosen airline before the flight. In addition, you can address the crew in the airport that provide help to all whom in need for free.

TRANSPORTATION TO THE CITY:

There are several means of transportation from the airport to the city:

Buses: at the airport you can obtain the services of a public bus that will take you directly to Mumbai city center from the airport. In addition, there are buses (prepaid) to the southern parts of the country. Shuttles to town can be booked in a booth at terminal 2 arrivals section.

Taxi: prepaid taxis meter taxis and rickshaws are also available from the airport. The journey in a taxi directly to the city center is between an hour and a half to three hours.

Train: train tickets counter can be found in Terminal 2. You can get a train to Mumbai CST and Churchgate Station.

Important to know:

Arrival or departure to/from the airport to the city may take a long time. Roads leading to the airport and from the airport are mostly packed. So to arrive from the city in time for your flight it is advised to get out early enough (this advice is actually fitting for many situations in India…). Transportation is good and varied, but the roads may be jammed and crowded.

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Welcome to Mumbai!

Looking for some great travel guides to Mumbai’s main attractions? Watch this space – coming soon

 

Main Bazaar or Paharganj_Delhi

Welcome to Delhi – Indira Gandhi Airport

During my first visit to India more than 10 years ago, I remember my arrival at Delhi international airport as a crazy experience. The disorder was unbelievable and I remember thinking to myself, if this is the chaos inside the airport, what in the name of god is going on outside??

Today things have changed in India and at the main airport in Delhi. As Delhi’s airport is one of the main entrances into India (along with Mumbai) today it looks like a top official came to a decision to build a worthy airport for this massive city and country.

This short guide of Delhi airport will offer some great tips and practical information to help you navigate your way round when you land.

General information:

Full name of Delhi International Airport: New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport

Airport code: DEL

The nearest city: New Delhi, about 23km south of the airport

Number of terminals: 3

Internet site:http://www.newdelhiairport.in/traveller.aspx

Transfer between terminals:

A free airport shuttle service connects the international flights terminal (Terminal 3) and the domestic terminal (Terminal 1D).Local airlines also run their own shuttle services between terminals. More information can be found in various information stands in the terminals.

How to pass time in the airport?:

There are paid internet stations scattered throughout the terminals.The airport also has a Wi-Fi network. To connect you need to insert your mobile number and you will get a username and password to connect to the service where the first twenty minutes are free. In the terminals there are some food stalls and in the new Terminal 3 you can find the best restaurants, cafes and fast-food joints. InTerminal 2 you can find a pharmacy. You can leave your luggage in the specific cloak rooms near Terminal 2 and opposite Terminal 1.

In Terminal 1 and 2 there are some lounges to rest and in Terminal 3 there are more relaxing lounges, as well as shower rooms and spa services. Entrance to the departures terminal is allowed only three hours before the flight. If you have some more waiting time, you can do so in a special hall located in the departure international flights floor. In the airport there are two medical centres that offer medical services 24 hours.

Duty-free shop: Duty-free shops are in the departure and arrivals lounge and also in the transit lounge in Terminal 2. Terminal 2 has a large area of the duty-free shops, including some great designers and unique shops.

Sleeping at the airport?:

Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 3 near gate 17 has nap rooms and spa and massage services. Cost: $10 per hour for a single user, 14$ per couple. Eaton Smart is a new four-star hotel located in Terminal 3. Near to the airport along the highway there are a number of hotels with a range of standards.

Exchanging money and tax refunds:

In all the three terminals you can find banks, ATMs and money exchange outlets.

Information for business people:

Halls A and B in Terminal 1 operate executive lounges with all the amenities necessary for the business person on the go. The Maharaja Lounge is in the transit area of Terminal 2. Venues for conferences and meetings are in Centaur Hotel, adjacent to Terminal 2 (website:www.centaurhotels.con). In Terminal 3 there are five special lounges for business.

Coming with children:

Each terminal contains special rooms, equipped with toys, feeding and diapering areas.

Accessibility:

Delhi’s airport is accessible for disabled. There are reserved parking spaces, elevators and restrooms for special needs. In each terminal you can request a wheelchair.

Transportation to the city:

Delhi Metro train arrives at Terminal 3 international flights. The train frequency is every twenty minutes and it operates between 6:00 to 22:00. Note that there were some changes in the service so it is advised to check the Metro internet site beforehand. You can reach the city centre by bus from Terminal 2. There are buses also passing through Terminal 1. Bus service is 24 hours and takes about an hour drive. Another option is air-conditioned bus, which must be booked in the arrivals hall in Terminal 2. You can also go to the city with pre paid taxi service. Special pre-paid taxi stations are at the airport exit and is organised according to travel destinations. Pay there and present the receipt to the driver. You can also take a regular taxi by a meter, but the pre paid are more of a safe bet.

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So welcome, and don’t forget to enjoy your stay in Delhi!

Looking for some great travel guides to Delhi’s main attractions? Watch this space – coming soon

Interested in renting a car, a driver, an elephant (no, not really…), booking your next destination or every other tourist service? Click here to contact us and see if we can be of help.

ganesha (lord ganesha.net)

Hindu Deities That You Must Know

Index – Click here to meet the Deities 

1) Meet Ganesh

2) Meet Krishna

3) Meet Rama

4) Meet Kali 

5) Meet Hanuman 

In my last two posts I covered a short introduction with the three main male Hindu gods and the three main female goddesses. Of course, it is mission impossible to write about all the massive Hindu pantheon of gods. But my goal is to make it possible for every traveler in India to recognize at least the main correctors. For this purpose I will now describe some more very important deities in Hinduism. These are not the main gods like the previous, but they enjoy a great popularity among Hindus as they symbolize values that are considered to be noble. One can argue that these are more ‘down to earth’ deities, a combination between gods and folk legendary heroes. Each one of those deities has a direct linkage to one on the main gods, but they have numerous temples and statues in their honour all around India as they are considered to be more accessible and communicative with their devotees. Let’s see who they are:

Ganesh. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Ganesh. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Ganesh

The son of Shiva and Parvati is Ganesh – the god with the Elephant head. He is one of the best-known and most widely worshipped deities in Hinduism and is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions. He is known as the Lord of Beginnings, God of the intellect and the remover of obstacles. If you are buying a new car, start a new business or starting a religious ceremony (Puja), Ganesh is the one that gets the first honour. An annual festival honours Ganesha for ten days, starting on Ganesh Chaturthi, which usually takes place in late August or early September and is highly popular in the state of Maharashtra particularly in Mumbai.

Krishna

Krishna. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Krishna. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Krishna is one of the incarnations (or avatars) of Vishnu. Arguably, he is the most beloved god in Hinduism He seen by his devotees as the supreme god, and even arrived to western shores in the 60’s by the founders of the Hari Krishna movement. He appears in a few popular forms as an adorable and naughty infant (in blue colour), a young boy playing a flute and as youthful prince from the Indian great epic of the Mahabharata. Krishna’s massive popularity made him connected to many pilgrim sites, temples, arts, philosophy, celebrations and festivals all around India and beyond.

Rama. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Rama. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Rama

Rama is another avatar of Vishnu and also an all-time favourite among Hindu deities. He symbolizes chivalry and virtue, the ideal king. He is widely believed to be an actual historical figure form the great Hindu epic of the Ramayana. Rama is also celebrated publicly in many villages, towns and cities around India in The Ram Leela performances. Rama’s return to his capital Ayodhya and his coronation are celebrated as Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights (between mid-October and mid-November). The latter two are the most important and popular festivals in India and for Hindus across the world.

Kali

Kali. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Kali. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Kali is the goddess of death and destruction. She is the wife of Shiva (and therefore another form of Parvati), but she is far more frightening than her partner (who usually is not so pleasant, to say the least). Kali’s function is to destroy the demons that threaten the cosmic order. She is considered more powerful than her husband, one of the three main gods in Hindu mythology and perceived by her devotees as the supreme deity. Her practice is foul with wild violence, blood and sacrifice, even a human sacrifice in the past that was banned by the British. In any case, this is a very interesting form of the practice of the Shakti (feminine energy), and can be seen mostly in West Bengal, where Shakti practices are common.

Hanuman. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Hanuman. Image courtesy of Useful Charts

Hanuman

The ape-like deity is known as the greatest devotee of Rama in the Hindu epic of Ramayana. Therefore he represents ideals of devotion, friendship and loyalty. Hanuman participated in Rama’s war against the demon king, and is the leader of the army of monkeys. He is the reason why monkeys are considered sacred in India.