India - tips

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In short Probably the most interesting country on earth, and certainly my own favourite in terms of traveling.

Depending on who you ask, you may get the impression that India is either the jewel in the crown of the empire or the arse-hole of the world. It's a very "oppressive" country which doesn't allow you to watch the world from the side-line. You're in the boxing ring yourself and being a passive spectator is an absolute impossibility.

India is a country clearly dividing the travelers in two distinctly different groups: You love it or you hate it. There is no  middle way and the number of travelers darting out of India after spending less than a week among the crows is quite amazing. Nobody ever travels India and remain untouched.

There is nowhere like India.

Highlights Lots - more than anywhere else I can think of!

For religious stuff, Varanasi easily rivals Jerusalem and Lhasa, however, don't forget the other holy cities such as Haridwar, Kanchupuram, Allahabad and so. Also the holy abodes are worth going to, among which Badrinath in the Himalaya is probably the most interesting.

For nature, go to Ladakh og Garhwal Himal (UP). Otherwise, the NE hill states, Rajahstan or the far south are definitely worth a visit.

For cities, avoid Bombay (Mumbai) and Delhi, whereas Madras (Chennai) and Calcutta are much better than their dubious reputation. Jaipur, Guwahati and Amritsar ar even more pleasant. For village life, just get away from the big cities, and, for the perfect experience, try to break out of the Lonely Planet defined "tourist cirquit".

Indian photo samples HERE. Slide shows from India (Danish text): River Ganges and North India Mix.

Articles (Danish): Indian Jeep Ride, Hard Boiled Eggs, Elephant Ride.

For the surrounding countries, check the slide show Pakistan and the Danish articles on Pakistani Tribes and Bangladeshi Curiosity.

Places to avoid In Agra, be prepared for a major hazzle fighting the most stupid and dumbest rickshaw wallahs on earth. No matter where you want to go, you end up in the "brothers" jewellry shop or the "uncles" carpet factory, and shouting doesn't help at all. Very frustrating, but  kind of manhood test like dodging the camel drivers at the Giza Pyramids.

As above, Bombay is not exactly my favourite, while others seem to hate Calcutta (which I love!). Traveling in India is very much a matter of personal taste.

Seasons In most of India, go in the dry and "cold" winter period. The exception is the Tibetan Ladakh which is much better in the summer.
Do's and don'ts Not that bad. Do as the locals, and everything will be fine - except in the traffic where chaos rules.
Visa Six month multiple-entry visas are easy to get.
Value for money Superb, especially outside the main tourist cirquit. Probably only rivaled by Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.
Others Be patient. You can't change India or the crowds of manically staring people, so better accept it and try to enjoy it. India is not a country for "beginners.

Beggars: "Soft-hearted" travelers are in for a hard time in India. There are beggars everywhere, and if you have to give them something, resist the temptation to give away high-value dollar notes. The average Indian worker makes between 1 and 5 dollars a day, and giving anything more than a couple of cents actually makes it a much better business begging than working. If in doubt, have a look at the flood of beggars at the roadside of Calcuttas Sudder Street. As a local merchant put it: "They are not beggars, they are business men!".

Watch the Indians and never give away more than a few paise to each beggar. By giving away a fortune, you twist the local economy and make life very hard for your fellow travelers, so please don't!

 

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