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Venturers, Mid-Venturers, and Centric-Venturers like it most

Did You Know … ?

  • India’s newspapers print in more than 90 languages and radio stations broadcast in 71.
  • The world’s largest Hindu temple, Srirangam at Tiruchirappalli, occupies 50% more space than Vatican City.
  • The world’s oldest continuing festivals (at least 5,000 years) are India’s Ganesh Chaturthi and Holi.
  • Jamshetji Tata founded Taj Hotels after an English hotel in India denied him a room because he was Indian.
  • Alexander the Great’s sweeping conquests brought him as far as northwest India in 326 B.C.

The ultimate in diversity

India has the world’s second-largest population but the world’s largest democracy. Also, India is the epitome of diversity. Its citizens speak as many as 1,000 different languages and dialects. That immense variety is also reflected in the range of foods, music, dance and even the types of clothing seen on streets and in markets across the country.

In addition, there is an astonishing range of temples, palaces and forts to see, the heritage of several religions, of empires past and of the maharajas who became most numerous when India was under British control. Some grand homes are luxury hotels now.

India’s rich history is nearly 5,000 years old. Westerners are most familiar with the relatively recent — the Moghul Empire of the 16th to 18th centuries and India’s prominent place in the British Empire, from the 19th century until a struggle for independence, led by Mahatma Gandhi, ended successfully in 1947. Today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh broke off at that time, too.

India’s predominate religion, Hinduism, dates back about 3,500 years. Gautama Buddha was born here 2,500 years ago, and all other major religions are represented, too. Hindu’s caste system, though weakening, makes this picture still more complex.

Even India’s geography runs the gamut from the world’s highest mountain range, the Himalayas in the north, to beaches, where the best are on the west coast; from desert in the west to eastern states where the world’s heaviest rains have been recorded. The Himalayan foothills give way to the Ganges river valley, and farther south, to the upland Deccan Plateau, plus more mountains on the east and west coasts of this South Asian peninsula.

For tourists, India is so colorful, literally, that photos seem to jump onto their film — or onto memory cards. Visitors also see, despite extensive poverty, an economy that is bustling and growing.

India has been targeted by terrorists — radical Islamists, ethnic insurgents and Maoists. The most prominent recent example is the coordinated attacks on Mumbai in late 2008. It is best to check the U.S. State Department or other equivalent sources to stay current on threats. The department recommends against visiting Kashmir, except for the Ladakh region.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Eat curried foods in their country of origin. Also, try regional specialties wherever you go. One example is dosas, griddle-fried pancakes, and idlis, steamed rice dumplings, both of which are served on banana leaves in southern India.
  • Try India’s river running, which includes canoeing, kayaking and rafting, usually on the Beas, Mahakali, Sutlej and Ganges rivers, with the Ganges deemed the safest. Make your run at night under a full moon. Or, choose rock climbing in areas around Bangalore or near Mumbai, among other possible choices.
  • Walk the narrow alleyways of India’s shopping bazaars. These may look to be nothing but scenes of madness, but you can bargain for and buy trip mementoes here, too.
  • Take a course in meditation at the Osho Ashram in Pune. The site is better known as the ashram of Bhagwan Rajneesh.
  • Go trekking in the Darjeeling hills. For safety, the State Department urges trekkers, regardless of area, to stick to designated trekking routes and to travel with registered companies and with groups of eight to 10.
  • Attend Holi festivities, which celebrate the arrival of spring with a wild and colorful “battle.” Participants throw colored powders on friends, relatives and hapless strangers alike. Holi occurs all over northern and eastern India.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Allow as much time as possible for your visit to the Taj Mahal. Try to see it at sunrise and at sunset, as well.
  • Buy silk for a sari and, with some help wrapping the fabric, get a feel for wearing the garment so identified with India. You can use the silk for other garments, once back home. Also, buy colorful glass bangles for your wrist. Ferozabad, in Uttar Pradesh, is noted for its glass bangles, but appealing bracelets can be found in all regions, made with the materials available locally.
  • Attend a cricket game. Or, consider soccer.
  • Spend a few days at a hill station. The hill stations are high-altitude towns, often favored by Europeans as a way to escape the summer heat. Darjeeling is among the best known, but another — Shimla — was the summer capital of British India.
  • Recall the past. Ride an elephant for your journey into the Jim Corbett National Park, where you may see wild boar and herds of deer, as well as the predators, leopards and tigers.
  • Carry good camera equipment to ensure you have the best photos in a country that, with its bright colors and incredible diversity, lends itself so well to photography.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Stay in one of India’s luxurious palace hotels. The best-known choice is the Lake Palace in Udaipur, and it is accessible by boat. But there are others where you will be pampered, too.
  • Attend a performance of classical Indian dance.
  • Ride one of India’s luxury tourist trains. One example is the Deccan Odyssey, which takes tourists on a weeklong journey departing and returning to Mumbai (Bombay), including visits to Goa and to the Ellora and Ajanta caves.
  • Sign on for guided tours to see palaces and forts anywhere you visit. There are an astonishing number in this vast and diverse country. The India Government Tourist Office Web site provides some 90 click-through options to learn more about specific royal retreats or to obtain still more names of options available to you.
  • India is noted for its film industry. Go to the movies to learn more about why.
  • See the sound and light show at the Red Fort in Delhi. Similar shows are staged at other Indian monuments as well; find the one nearest your itinerary.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Indiatourism at