Summary: India is in Southern Asia between Myanmar (Burma) and Pakistan, India has a very rich history and culture as the Indus Valley civilization dates back more than 5,000 years and has included Aryan tribes, Arab incursions, and then Turkish and European traders. With a terrain that includes highlands and plains in the south, rolling down along the Ganges in to deserts in the west and the Himalayas in the north, India dominates the subcontinent with trade routes, an educated people, and a consistently growing economy based on village farming through to modern industries, while working to control overpopulation, environmentalism, and a dispute over the region of Kashmir with Pakistan.
Capital: New Delhi
Time Zone: UTC+5:30
Languages: English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Sanskrit and Hindustani
Power: 230 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Indian Rupee
- Currently 1 INR = 0.0182 USD $
Climate: The climate in India varies from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north.
- Currently 109º, var t
India to get first female Roman Catholic saint - USA Today - Oct 14 12:17 PM
More legal legwork gets outsourced to India - USA Today - Oct 14 6:27 PM
A debut novel about India wins the Man Booker prize - International Herald Tribune - Oct 14 5:48 PM
A Debut Novel About India Wins the Man Booker Prize - New York Times - Oct 14 5:50 PM
India's slum dwellers face ruin in development blitz - Reuters via Yahoo! News - Jun 07 5:10 PM
| New Delhi : Delhi is made of two parts: Old Delhi has the more traditional Muslim influence and sights like the Red Fort, started in 1639 and once housing the Indian Emperor, and the large market Chandni Chowk, and Raj Ghat, the resting place of Mahatma Gandhi with museums and the Shanti Vana park nearby. New Delhi is a modern and openly designed city with its focus being the Rajpath, a pathway between the once Imperial Palace Rashtrapati Bhawan and the India Gate, similar to Paris’ Arch de Triumphe, standing above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In the south of the city, the Baha'i Temple, or the Lotus Temple, stands on large peaceful parkland.|
| Kolkata: Kolkata, also known as Calcutta or Kolcutta, is a 300-year old city with colonial British roots, young compared to Delhi, which is around 3000 years old. With a clean and efficient subway and train system, getting around is relatively easy. See the Raj Bhavan, an 18th century political home, the Jain Temple at Manicktolla, and the marble Victoria Memorial with its great statues.|
| Bombay (Mumbai) : Mumbai, more familiarly known as Bombay, is home to Bollywood, the cinema glitz and glamour that makes Hollywood look small and dim. Of course, the drive along Marine Drive looking over the Arabian Sea, the beaches at Chowpatty with the nearby markets, and the Gateway of India, built in 1927 for King George V, reveal much more about the city than just the film industry. Those who love tile can go further to the south to Goa, where the architecture looks like its Portuguese and European influences, while the beaches are still fine.|
| Agra: Agra is almost singly known for the most famous monument to love, the Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 when his wife Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth. Its 22 year construction led to such attention to detail that the building is considered perfect, and its construction utilized pietra dura to inlay gemstones in to the marble to make pieces or artwork. Considering the Quran verses, the standing pools, the gardens and the mosque itself, the Taj Mahal is a combination of Islamic, Persian and Asian styles, and is closed on Fridays. Not to be overlooked is the Agra Fort on the same bank of the Yamuna River with a moat, gardens and the Pearl Mosque made of white marble.|
| Varanasi: Varanasi is considered one of the holiest places in India, known as the Eternal City, resting on the banks of the Ganges River for over 2000 years. The banks of the Ganges themselves are considered sacred, and many will spend their day along the river with the stalls, peddlers, bathers and those who wish to do a little yoga. Ghats, buildings that handle passing the dead to the next world, are plentiful near the river as tradition holds that one who dies here will pass on to heaven, but further out, you can visit the gilded Golden Temple and the extensive markets.|
Patriarchal: India is traditionally a patriarchal society, less so in urban areas, so women should behave and dress modestly, and all visitors should show respect when visiting places of worship, and when interacting with older Indians.
Security: Avoid the Kashmir province as India and Pakistan continue to dispute the area, as well as religious and political rallies if possible. Violent crime is rare, as minor pick pocketing is the likeliest concern.
Change: It's illegal to import and export Indian currency, so keep that in mind when cashing your traveller's checks, as credit cards are widely accepted.
Bollywood: Indians are as captured with the film industry as Americans. Their Hollywood is in Bombay is just as glitzy and their films mix music, romance and violence into epic proportions.
When To Visit: October to March are drier and make the central part of the country more easily navigable, although the best time to run a trek into the Himalayas is the summer, from April to November. Delhi’s Republic Day Festival in January includes a parade of soldiers and elephants, reminding some of Hannibal’s march through the Alps.
Food: In the south, there are more vegetarians, thus many meals are based on alternatives like rice and curries, and note that locals typically will eat by scooping food with their right hand. In the north, you will find more meat- based dishes with a spicier influence and with more grains and breads and less chili.
Phrases: Yes = haan, no = ji nahi, hello = namastay, please = meherbani she, thank you = shukriya
Tipping: Follow standard tipping rules, as taxi drivers, guides, and waiters will expect 10% gratuity.
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