Amazing India

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1 Himalayas-India

India is second only to China in population and is the seventh largest country in the world by area. The country is bordered by China and Nepal to the north, Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east, Bhutan to the north-east and Pakistan to the west. Indonesia is located south-east of India in the Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka to the south.

 

India is home to deserts, beaches, jungles and mountains. The tallest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas, is situated to the north and north-east of the country. The majestic mountain range is the origin of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers that substantially flow through India. The Ganges River is the most sacred river to Hindus and is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. Unfortunately, the river was ranked as the fifth most polluted river of the world.

 

India is divided into the regions of Himalayan North, The Plains, Western India, Southern India, Eastern India and North-eastern India. The country is really big and there are many interesting and beautiful places to see. Tourists tend to suffer culture shock shortly after arrival. Most of us expect to see fabulous palaces and maharajahs, but poverty dominates instead. Garbage, dirt and insects abound in the cities and the pollution is bad in almost all the towns and cities.

 

Noise in the cities can be overwhelming at first as drivers lean on vehicles’ horns, mosques and churches use loudspeakers to spread the message and radios blare from just about everywhere. The markets, streets and bazaars are usually jam-packed with animals, people and vehicles. Tourists are typically targets for beggars and some men will shove their mobile phone in your face and simply take pictures.  After a couple of days you may start seeing the good sides too.

Golden Temple of Amritsar

Golden Temple of Amritsar

Amritsar is a holy city in the state of Punjab in the north-western part of the subcontinent. Punjab is bounded by Kashmir and Jammu to the north, Haryana to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the north-east. Pakistan is located to the west of Punjab. The best time to visit this area is between October and March.

The Golden Temple of Amritsar is one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines and is the main attraction in the city. The temple is plated with gold and surrounded by a giant pool of water. Pilgrims often bathe in this pool. Central Sikh Museum is on the second floor of the temple housing a large gallery of paintings.

The Temple itself is called Harmandir Sahib and this is where the sacred Adi Granth scripture is kept. During the day the scripture, or parts of it, is recited out loud. Everyone you see working in the temple are doing volunteer work for a week. It is expected from all Sikhs to at some point in their lives to work for one week at the temple.

Leh, Ladakh

Leh, Ladakh

Part of the Pangong Tso Lake belongs to India. The lake with its deep blue water lies on the China border. It is about five hours drive from Leh and only experienced bikers usually challenge the road through Chang-la pass.

Leh, located in the Indus river valley where the roads cross from Kashgar, Tibet and Kashmir, is a great place for trekking in Ladakh. The town is considered to be one of the highest inhabited cities in the world. Leh is a small town that time seems to have forgotten.

The Palace of the King of Ladakh is worth seeing with its dark and spooky corridors. The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa Buddhist Temple is in close proximity to the palace and was built in 1430. You will find the Soma Gompa just around the corner from the bazaar.

Leh is a great place to use as a base to visit the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh. Ensure to visit the Nubra Valley at the base of the Karakorum Range. The capital of Nubra, Diskit, is about 150 kilometers from Leh. You can drive from Leh to Kardung-La to the Nubra Valley with its well-known Hundar Sand Dunes. The sand dunes are located between Hundar and Diskit.  For a great experience and lots of fun you can hire a two-humped Bactrian camel and take a ride for just 300 rupees.

Village of Turtuk

Village of Turtuk

The Village of Turtuk is worth visiting and offers a camping site. Tourists were not allowed in this area until 2010. Turtuk is a destination for people who seek peace and is an absolute beautiful village situated in the Shyok River Valley.  You will also learn about the Balti tribe in the Village of Turtuk with its old customs and speaking a language which is just spoken and not written.

Tourists need and Inner Line Permit to visit the village and it can be obtained directly from the Magistrate Office in Leh. Ensure to carry at least three passport copies with you and three photocopies of your permit. There is a local bus service from Leh to Turtuk a few times a week. 

The Village of Turtuk is the largest apricot and walnut producing area in the region. You can taste the sweetest apricots here or buy dried ones to take home. The village is also well-known for its traditional shawls weaved by the locals.

Other great places worth visiting include Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim and a popular tourist destination with beautiful hiking trails and Srinagar, the picturesque capital of Kasmir and Jammu in the midst of the Himalayas.

Balaji Temple of Tirupati

Balaji Temple of Tirupati

Andhra Pradesh borders Tamil Nadu in the south, Telangana in the north-west, Odisha in the north-east, Karnataka in the west and Chhattisgarh in the north. The Balaji Temple of Tirupati is a must see. The temple is considered to be the richest in the world.

The Balaji is located in Tirumala in close proximity to the town of Tirupati. The seven hills of Tirumala represent the heads of Adhisesha.  The temple is located on the southern side of the banks of the holy tank of Sri Swami Pushkarini on the peak of Venkata hill, which is the seventh hill. Balaji Temple is the most visited worship place in the world and on special occasions more than 500,000 pilgrims visit the site daily.

The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the River Yamuna and was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and widely recognized as the jewel of Muslim art. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

The Taj Mahal’s tomb is the central focus of the entire complex. The massive, white marble structure consists of symmetrical building with and arch-shaped doorway topped by a dome and finial. The marble dome at about thirty-five meters in height is the most spectacular feature.

The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest Mughal architecture.  Passages of the Qur’an are used throughout the complex as decorative elements. The complex is surrounded by a large Mughal garden with many flowerbeds and avenues of trees and fountains. The reflecting pool reflects the image of the Taj Mahal.

Explore Mumbai – The Capital of India

Driving in Mumbai can be extremely challenging and is generally considered a dangerous undertaking due to irresponsible driving habits of the locals. The city is located at the mouth of the Ulhas River and is divided into the districts of South Mumbai (affluent area), South Central Mumbai (home to Mumbai Zoo), North Central Mumbai (home to Asia’s second largest slum), West Mumbai (beaches and airport), East Mumbai (middle class), Harbour Suburbs (Trombay, Govandi, Mankhurd and Chembur) and North Mumbai (home to the city’s oldest heritage sites and clean beaches).

Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai

Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai

The High Court and Mumbai University buildings are excellent examples of colonial architecture in the city. The well-known Taj Mahal Hotel is located opposite the Gateway of India. Most of the famous museums and noteworthy buildings are concentrated in South Mumbai.  One of the most visited places in Mumbai is the Haji Ali Dargah built on a small islet about 500 meters from the coast.

The city boasts several beaches, but the water of the coast here is really dirty. Swimming at Juhu beach and Aksa Beach is best avoided, as many people die from drowning there each year. North-west Mumbai is a better choice for spending time on the beach.

Apart from the many temples, other religious places and mosques to visit in Mumbai, the city offers amazing tours, such as the Slum Tour offered by “Be the Local Tours” or “Reality Tours and Travel.”

Open Air Laundry in Dharavi, Mumbai

Open Air Laundry in Dharavi, Mumbai

Dharavi is the largest slum in the entire Asia and features the red light district and the largest open air laundry in the world. No photos are permitted of the slum, out of respect for the residents.

The Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai, is one of the most notable monuments in Mumbai. The center can seat 8,000 people. You can attend a meditation course on Sundays or a ten-day course only if you registered. The courses are for free.

You can learn Indian cooking at a workshop for individuals or private groups at +91-93148 33666 or mail to kunal.khetan@gmail.com. Learn how to get that Indian taste in any recipe and also how to purchase the right ingredients. The workshop offers you the perfect opportunity to become knowledgeable about the Indian yin yang theory of food.

At Film city located in Goregaon you can experience a Bollywood shooting. You can also visit one of the many cinemas, such as Regal in Colaba, Eros opposite Churchgate, New Excelsior in Fort and Sterling next to CST Station.

9 Bollywood-Dancing

The Mumbai Festival is in January each year and this is a great way to experience the vibrant culture of the city. The festival features an array of food stalls and shopping opportunities. The Banganga Musical Festival is also in January and organized by Maharashtra Tourism. In February each year you can sample wines at the Mumbai Wine Festival at Kala Ghoda. The Elephanta Festival in March features music and dance at Elephanta Caves.

Tourist Visa Requirements for India

Only on-line Indian visa application forms are accepted. Once the application form has been printed, no corrections can be made. The Indian visa application form must be printed on two pages, and requires a signature on both pages.

 The three photo requirements include one recent 2 x 2 passport type photograph, in color, front view and with a plain/white background. Glasses should not be worn in these photos; photos should not be stapled to the application. You need proof of your residential address: Clear photocopy of applicant’s proof of residence/address that matches the present address on the visa application exactly.

Save money on International calls to India. You can even call for free with 011Now.

 

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