India is a beautiful country, overwhelming, also chaotic to charge your senses. A trip to India is adventurous and filled with cultural & wonderful experiences. A country holed up in South Asia, with the Himalayas in the North & east and coastal beauty in west & southern regions. Talking of beauty, India has it all for everyone, the white desert of Gujarat, the hilly regions of Himachal Pradesh & the untouched valleys of Uttarakhand & clean beaches in South. Not to forget the centuries-old history dating back to the times of King Asoka and before. India is a stunning haven for the history lovers and people seeking a connection with the past.
Why take a trip to India? I’ll give you 8 reasons to visit India –
Even with all this, India is a country not for everyone, with all the security issues, littering and bad media coverage, not everyone can have the courage to take a trip to India. But there have been numerous people visiting India and falling in love with the country. So, I am going to present to you the reasons to visit India from the people who had amazing experiences on their India tour –
A train ride from Bikaner (Rajasthan) to Haridwar (Uttarakhand)
It hadn’t been the best start to the journey. After a train that was 10 hours late, eventually cancelled, and a night spent at Jaisalmer railway station, I’d had to change my plans in my mission to get from the western end of Rajasthan to Rishikesh by train. Just as I was at the point of feeling overwhelmed with travel fatigue, and the complications that sometimes present themselves when travelling as a solo female around India, comfort found me.
For my 17 hour journey from Bikaner to Haridwar, I had the good fortune to be sitting with a Rajasthani family, from near Jodhpur, who was travelling to Haridwar for a family ceremony. The daughter, who spoke fluent English, became my conversation buddy for the hours that followed on the train as we covered topics from travel to language, to family traditions. Instead of being allowed to buy food on the train, her family insisted on feeding me chapatis and delicious homemade sabzi (vegetables). When we reached Haridwar in the rain the next morning, they insisted on seeing me out of the train station safely (which included telling plenty of taxis touts to leave me alone) and even taking me to the bus station and making sure I was on the correct bus for Rishikesh.
The saying goes in India, that “Guest is God” – and it’s impossible to travel around the country without meeting kind and friendly souls who go above and beyond to make visitors feel welcome. For a total of 9 months travelling around India – much of it solo – the stories of hospitality that stand out are many, but many friends I have made have been formed on long train journeys. To this day I am still in contact with the girl I met on the train to Haridwar.
Ellie gave us a perfect example of how she made friends when travelling solo in India which gives us a perfect reason to take a trip to India.
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When the hotel owner turns driver to help
My first trip to India was like a rollercoaster. Filled with all sorts of emotions and feelings, with joy but also panic, with memorable moments and less memorable ones. Before getting there, I had said to myself that India is not my type of country. But now, three years after that trip, I have already visited it four times and spent a total of approximately six months there. So yes, that first trip ended with me falling in love with it. And the number one factor that contributed to my falling in love with Incredible India is its people. I usually don’t travel to places, but for people and their stories. And Indian that truly had an impact on myself is the owner of a small and cozy hotel in Jodhpur.
We only spent two night in Jodhpur, but his hospitality and warm attitude connected both my husband and I to him since the beginning. The most surprising gesture was on our second evening when we were supposed to have dinner in the desert. He had arranged everything for us, so we patiently waited for our car to pick us up. But minutes before our departure, the driver announced that he couldn’t make it.
We were disappointed, but the owner immediately jumped into the rescue. He dropped what he was doing and took us in his car and drove us there. He spent the evening with us telling some incredible stories and taking such care of us. We will forever be grateful for that tiny gesture. And we’ve remained friends with him ever since. Because yes, India is full of such people.
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Friend turned host
The locals in India are known for their hospitality and I experienced this on my first big India trip. A few years earlier, I met a girl from India during a volunteering project in Africa and we became Facebook friends but didn’t really stay in touch afterwards. When I was planning to visit India, I reached out to her asking if she has any advice or recommendations.
She immediately decided that she would host me and my two friends at her family’s place in Delhi, which was extremely generous and the perfect beginning to a new country. She even organized an airport transfer for us, we got our private rooms and were treated like kings! It’s been great getting to know her family better and we talked a lot about their culture and country. My friend even organized mobile sim cards for us (which isn’t very easy in India due to government restrictions) and got her family’s driver to take us on a day trip to the Taj Mahal! When we wanted to offer her and her family some money in order to compensate for everything they did and organized for us, they declined. I quickly realized that it’s in the culture to be hospitable and to make sure that visitors will have the best experiences when visiting India. This is one of many reasons why India is one of my favourite travel destinations in the world!
Didn’t Patrick just give us a wonderful reason to visit India?
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Suggested Read – New Delhi Travel Tips for first-time travellers to Delhi, India.
A Magical Door in Pondicherry
I’ve had more magical adventures in India than I can count. There was the Korean speaking fisherman that invited us to his house for dinner with his family out of the blue. The herd of boys that appeared out of nowhere to fix the Royal Enfield motorcycle that quit on us, en route to the tea fields of Munnar. And the hostel owner in Cochin who lent us his scooter, no questions asked, to visit a festival in a nearby town.
Hands down though, the best experience I’ve had with locals in India was in the former French colony of Pondicherry. It started with a simple knock on the wrong door and ended up with an incredible week with Anita, the owner of the house.
Because she not only took us in, allowing us to stay in a gorgeous apartment she had at the back of her house, she also treated us like long lost daughters. She cooked us homemade French food and dosas, hired a driver to take us around to 3 different temples in the area, and along for a visit to the decrepit palace of an old raja in search of antique gems. And all without asking for a single penny.
It’s an understatement to call it a stroke of luck. That week in Pondicherry is, without a doubt, one of the top experiences I’ve had travelling, in all of the 61 countries I’ve visited. Ever. And it’s one I’ll never forget.
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(Almost) Adopted by Indian Family
On my first trip to India back in 2007, I was still a student and could only travel during summer when it was the monsoon. I was lucky in Rajasthan and the weather was great, but there were few other tourists. On the one hand, it was a pleasure that it was quiet, but after 3 weeks I was ready to meet some fellow travellers. In Jaipur I decided to book a tour in the hope I could exchange some travel stories with others.
However, India is always full of surprises. When I entered the tour bus it was full of Indian tourists, none of them speaking one word of English. I was the only foreigner on the bus and on top of that the only solo female traveller. At first, there was a lot of staring and giggling and I was worried about the rest of the day to come.
But soon I was adopted by several Indian families that made it their mission to look over my well-being during this tour. Even though we could not talk to each other, they communicated with their hearts. They shared their food with me, bought me drinks and showed me around the sights. It was a wonderful experience showing me the hospitality of India needs no language.
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Sleeping at strangers’ houses in India
Fear gripped my stomach on the “taxi” ride from the Airport to my hostel in Delhi, India. I (Crystal) was travelling to India alone and I was terrified. The media, my friends, everyone had worked me up into such a state of anxiety making me wonder if I was making a huge mistake.
Little did I know I had absolutely nothing to worry about. I travelled from North to South India over the space of six months and got to know the country very well.
With a girl I’d met travelling, we decided to try CouchSurfing. CS is a website where people around the world give their couches, spare rooms or hammocks to other weary travellers.
Our first experience Couchsurfing was with Winston (yes, that’s his actual name) who picked us up from the bus station with a gigantic smile. Not only did he have a place for us to sleep – but he was offering his entire apartment to us while he slept at his work (a hotel). Winston immediately proclaimed to us: “My CouchSurfers NEVER pay for anything on the first day. It’s my rule.” And with that, he whisked us off to a beach bar for some food and drinks.
My next CouchSurfing host gave up his entire bedroom my three friends and myself, declaring that he preferred sleeping in the common room anyway! My experience with Indian people was such a far cry from everything I thought I was scared of and it’s now one of my favourite countries in all my travels.
Couchsurfing is still a foreign concept in India, but locals here are almost always welcome to host travellers, which will make your trip to India a memory.
Birthdays in India
Birthdays are a big deal when you’re two. As we were in India at the time of our son’s second birthday (we lived in Bangalore for a year), we decided to head to Hampi for the weekend to celebrate. It’s a bit different from your usual soft play or bouncy castle affair for a two-year old’s party, and I did feel a little bit guilty that he wouldn’t be having a ‘normal’ birthday party.
However, I needn’t have feared as we were soon to meet Vinny, the tuk-tuk driver. We hired Vinny to drive us around the sites of Hampi in his tuk-tuk. He had a wonderful nature with our boys, who soon took a shine to him, and it wasn’t long until Vinny was allowing them to drive his tuk-tuk (with a little help, of course)!
When it came round to his our son’s birthday we invited Vinny to join us for a drink at a restaurant overlooking the river in the evening. I was so touched to see that Vinny had brought a personalised cake and presents for both my boys (a toy tuk-tuk). It was such a thoughtful gesture and made my son’s second birthday feel all the more special.
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Located on the East Coast of India lies a beautiful fishing village community and unspoilt stunning golden beaches, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. I went off exploring one-day eager and excited to see and explore local villages and get off the beaten track close to my family home in South India. I stumbled across the small village called Tupilipalem.
I arrived at the huge incredible beach, lined with lots of traditional fishing boats. As I was taking photos of the local fishermen bringing in their catch of the day to shore, a few locals came up to me. They offered to take me out to sea in one of their boats which I accepted.
As I can’t fully speak the local language which is Telegu my driver translated. The fisherman brought his wife along on the boat trip and they told me about their daily lives and how the tsunami of 2004 hit their coast and how many of their friends and relatives lost their lives. I was touched by their story and how despite not having much were so friendly and hospitable.
I found out lots about the local fish in the sea and their daily struggles to earn an income from fishing. Once I arrived back to shore they invited me to see their home which was a short distance from the beach. I asked my driver to buy some cold drinks and some Indian sweets locally to give them. Whilst waiting the fisherman called Sundar and his wife, Rupa began cooking on an outdoor stove with coal, little did I know they were making me a meal. After talking to them for a while, I was brought the most amazing traditional Indian fish curry served with rice, the flavours were just incredible and delicious. I’ll never forget their kindness and whenever I visit India I try and go back to visit them. This is just one of the many acts of kindness and hospitality showed to me when I visited India.
I have to admit India is full of surprises even for locals like us, and yes with security on our minds, I feel you. Though I feel one shouldn’t judge a place by the bad experiences. If you would like to have an experience of a lifetime, I’d suggest taking a trip to India. And I’m pretty sure, these stories have given you ample reasons to visit India, have they? Let me know your thoughts.
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– The Wanderer