When I first whispered my desire to travel to India in the ears of friends and relatives, for most of them, the instant reaction was the classic question: “Why?” accompanied by a crooked face.
I don’t have any statistic research to back up what I’m about to say, but I think the majority of people only imagine filthy streets, horrendous poverty, and total mayhem when it comes to India.
Of course, I can’t deny that these things exist in some parts of India, but there is definitely more to this magnificent country than that.
So without further ado, I present to you my main reasons why you just have to travel to India:
1. The food Oh my god, the food. The spices, the richness, the taste...
If there is one thing I miss tremendously, it’s got to be the amazing Indian food. And it’s not like there aren't Indian restaurants where I live, it’s just that it’s not the same. I swear that the dirtier, the cheaper, and the more remote the dhaba was in India, the better the food was. And if you don’t know what a dhaba is, then you definitely need to catch the first flight to India! Or you can just read here. (link)
Tip: follow the locals. If you see a big crowd - eat there.
2. The people Like in every country, there are always nice and welcoming people and there are people that you would rather not meet at all. But from my experience, and the experience of other travelers I know, most Indian people are very warm and friendly. They always show interest in you and are curious to know where you're from. They would be happy to help you and even welcome you into their homes.
You might have some difficulties at the beginning understanding habits and some unique body language, like the famous Indian head shake, but give it time and you'll see how easy it is manage in India, and how much they care about hospitality.
3. The culture If there is a place that suits the phrase “culture shock,” it’s got to be India. After you land in a place like Delhi, you realize that you've been living in a cultural bubble your entire life. But once you pass the first shock and start to observe your surroundings, you just can’t get enough of it.
Indian culture is one of the world's oldest. It is rich, colorful and diverse; languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, customs and celebrations change from region to region. You can live in India for a decade, and still learn something new about this unique culture every day.
Tip: don’t miss the Holi festival
4. The budget Traveling cheap is the name of the game in India. You can live there like a Saudi sheikh on a ridiculously low amount of money. You’ll be hard pressed to spend a lot of money in this magnificent country. I even met a lot of Westerners who work for a few month back home, and for the rest of the year come to India and live like kings!
Tip: Though it’s tempting to travel in India as if you were one of the people in the Fortune magazine lists, you’ll be missing a great deal of the experience if you chose to fly first class instead of using the local bus or train, or isolate yourself in ivory towers.
5. The spirituality No matter what your religion, or if you are religious at all, India offers many options for the spiritual seeker. You can start your spiritual journey in mystical places like Haridwar, Varanasi and Rishikesh. These popular destinations are just a few of the many places in India where you can find temples, ashrams, yoga retreats, vipassana courses, and other activities to meet your spiritual needs.
6. The adventure Rafting, trekking, jeep rides, and even local busses are an adventure when you wind along very steep hillsides with one wheel hanging in the air. That’s right, everything is an adventure in India. Except for the obvious touristy blood-pumping attractions, you’ll find that some of the everyday tasks in India can get your adrenalin going. And that is what I call an adventure!
7. The ‘Indian time’ India has its own ‘internal clock.’ It feels like that, even in busy places such as Delhi, everything runs a little bit slower. It’s not uncommon to be waiting for a couple of hours to get things that would normally take about ten minutes back home, like ordering food at a restaurant.
It is your choice whether you want to get mad and annoyed about it, or if you want to embrace and enjoy it, slow down and catch your breath. Things that we don’t always have a chance to do back home with our busy schedules.
8. The diversity It’s not just the culture that is highly diverse, it’s everything. The landscapes, the people, the social classes. Every place is so different from the last. You can go to the forest one day, the beach the second day and on the third day find yourself in a desert. You can go to the most chaotic city streets or stay in a remote village in the mountains. If there is one thing I can tell you is that you’ll never get bored.
9. To get some perspective Do you feel sometimes like your life is harder than others'? Do you feel like nobody gets you and your problems? Then maybe you should go to India and get some new perspective.
It might be hard to cope with some of the sights you’ll see there, but it will change the way you look at things and help you appreciate your life better. Plus, you can always volunteer there. By giving to others you will feel happier as well. It’s a win-win situation!
To sum it up, I can’t find a reason not to go to India. Personally, I can say that it is my favorite travel destination and I can’t wait to go back again. Even my skeptical parents went there and had the time of their lives.
Now, I know that this blog sounds a bit like a tourist promotional pamphlet for India, but I promise you: I'm not in cahoots with the Ministry of Tourism, or with my local travel agent, or even with the guy running the guest house in Manali. I just think you all should go to India.