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Mar
17
10 Top Tourist Attractions in India
Posted by An Nguyen on 17 March 2015 04:06 AM

India is the world's seventh-largest country stretching from the high mountains of the Himalayas to the tropical greenery of Kerala, and from the sacred Ganges to the sands of the Thar desert. Its more than one billion inhabitants are divided into two thousand ethnic groups and speak over 200 different languages.

Conform its size and population, India has an almost endless variety of cultures, landscapes, monuments and places to explore. From the ancient ruins, fascinating religious structures, exotic cities and diverse landscape there is an endless collection of tourist attractions in India that will never cease to awe and fascinate the visitor. 

10Kerala backwaters
Kerala backwatersflickr/-RejiK

The Kerala backwaters are a chain of lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast in the Kerala state. The Kerala backwaters are home to many unique species of aquatic life including crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds and animals such as otters and turtles. Today, houseboat tourism is the most popular tourist activity in the backwaters, with several large Kettuvallams (traditional rice boats, now converted into floating hotels)ply the waterways. 

9Lake Palace
Lake Palaceflickr/gustaffo89

The Lake Palace in Lake Pichola in the city of Udaipur was built as a royal summer palace in the 18th century. Today it is a luxury 5 Star hotel, operating under the "Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces". The Lake Palace hotel operates a boat which transports guests to the hotel from a jetty at the City Palace on the east bank of Lake Pichola. The palace became famous in 1983 when it was featured in the James Bond film Octopussy, as the home of titular character.

8Virupaksha Temple

The Virupaksha Temple in the city of Hampi started out as a small shrine and grew into a large complex under the Vijayanagara rulers. It is believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since the small shrine was built in the 7th century AD which makes it one of the oldest functioning Hindu temples in India.

7Palolem
Palolemflickr/abmiller99

Palolem is the most southerly of Goa's developed beaches and also one of the most beautiful. It is a natural bay surrounded by lofty headlands on either sides, resulting in a calm, idyllic sea with a gently sloping bed. For those who believe a beach cannot be paradise without a decent selection of cheap restaurants and good hotels, a dose of nightlife and plenty of like-minded people Palolem is the place to be.

6Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park is among the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Asia and one of best places to catch a glimpse of a tiger in India. The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel "Jungle Book" and make this one of the top attractions in India.

5Harmandir Sahib

The Harmandir Sahib, better known as the Golden Temple is the main tourist attraction in Amritsar, and the most important religious place to the Sikhs. Construction of the temple was begun by Guru Ramdas ji. in the 16th century. In the 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh the upper floors of the temple were covered with gold. It's a stunning temple, and always full of thousands of pilgrims from all over India, excited to be at a place that they usually only see on television.

4Jaisalmer
Jaisalmerflickr/Carlo_it

Located in Rajasthan's remote westernmost corner close to the border with Pakistan, Jaisalmer is the quintessential desert town. The yellow sandstone walls of the "Golden City" rise from the Thar desert like a scene from the Arabian Nights while the Jaisalmer Fort crowns the city. Uncontrolled commercialism has dampened the romantic vision of Jaisalmer, but even with all the touts and tour buses, it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in India.

3Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the 2th century BC. The magnificent Ajanta caves were abandoned around 650 AD and forgotten until 1819, when a British hunting party stumbled upon them. Their isolation contributed to the fine state of preservation in which some of their paintings remain to this day. The well preserved murals depict everything from battlefields to sailing ships, city streets and teeming animal-filled forests to snow-capped mountains. The city of Aurangabad is the gateway to the Ajanta Caves as well as the equally spectacular Ellora Caves.

2Varanasi

Situated on the banks of the River Ganges, Varanasi is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming. The scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganges at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.

1Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal in Agra is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1632 and 1653 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. Called "a teardrop on the cheek of eternity" it is one of the masterpieces of Mughal architecture, and one of the great tourist attractions in India. Besides the white domed marble mausoleum the Taj Mahal includes several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes.


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Mar
17
Indian Cuisines
Posted by An Nguyen on 17 March 2015 03:49 AM

India is the second largest country in the world (population wise) and food is an important part of Indian culture. Just like the people the food they eat varies from place to place. Each part of India has it own style of cooking and special dishes. According to some ancient traditions from India, food is a gift from god and hence the preparation and consumption of food requires seriousness, concentration and a lot of time.

We have featured simple and tasty dishes from Indian cuisine, some of them have been contributed by famous Indian food bloggers. Through this we would like you to not only learn to cook something new but also dispel any myths and stereotypes that you may have.

Lets us start by learning some common terms in Indian cooking.

Masala – It means a mixture of herbs or spices and herbs, specific to Indian cuisine. Some masalas are a mixture of about 20 different herbs and spices. Indian spices despite their appearances are used not only to give flavour but they also have practical purposes. They retain water in the body and also protect against infection.

Curry – In Europe, most dishes from South Asia are referred to a “curry”. However, in India curry refers to a dish that has “gravy” and “sauce". Curries are eaten with either with rice or rotis (flatbread).

Chutney - They are pastes from overcooked or grated raw vegetables and fruit. They can either be spicy or sweet depending on the amount of ginger and chilli in them. They are similar to “dips” in European or American cuisine and go along well with fried food.The word 'chutney' is the English equivalent of the Hindu 'chatni' word for 'finger licking'.

Aachar – This refers to Pickles. Pickled vegetables in Oil and spices complete a dining table in India. Pickles can be made from most vegetables and in some parts of India also from seafood. They available in all stores however the best type are home-made.

Some of the stereotypes people have of Indian food and cooking are:

"Indian food is too spicy"

This is the most common stereotype about Indian cuisine. While Indian food uses a lot of spices and condiments in them not all of them are spicy but they add flavour to the dish. If you are not too fond of spicy food you should add a lesser amount of the spices than required by the recipes. Eating Indian food with youghurt also helps reduce the spiciness of the dish.

"Indian food takes a long time to prepare"

Dishes that use vegetable as an ingredient cook faster than those that require meat. Using fresh ingredients also help speed up the cooking process.

"Indian food to is too greasy"

Dishes from India can be prepared not only by frying but also by grilling and baking. For those who are health concious and conerned about their waistline, they should use less than half of the oil required in the recipe.

"Indian food uses a lot of rice"

Food from the south of India uses a lot of rice since rice is grown there however in the North of India where wheat are grown, people eat rotis or chappatis with their meal. Rotis or chappatis are flatbread made with wheat or any other grain.

"Indian food is only vegetarian"

The most common religion of people from India is Hinduism. For religious reasons most Hindus do not eat meat, the Cow is a sacred animal to them and hence beef is not common in dishes from India. Chicken and lamb are sometimes used.


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Mar
17
India launches new visa rules to boost tourism
Posted by An Nguyen on 17 March 2015 03:48 AM

Visitors from 43 countries no longer have to queue up at local consulates, but can instead apply for their visas online and collect them at airports.

The country received 6.58 million tourists in 2012, far fewer than Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia.

Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said the change would be boost to the industry.

The scheme was "a dream come true for the entire tourism industry of India and is bound to positively impact the economy," he said in a statement.

"The government's objective is to boost tourism and this scheme's implementation will send out a clear message that India is serious about making travel to the country easy."

India previously offered visas-on-arrival to visitors from only 12 countries.

Most other foreigners had to wait several weeks before learning whether they would be allowed to enter India after submitting their applications at visa processing centres.

The new visa-on-arrival will be available at nine major airports in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP government has pledged to boost tourism since his party won a landslide election victory earlier this year.


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Mar
17
Where to go in India
Posted by An Nguyen on 17 March 2015 03:47 AM

The best Indian itineraries are the simplest. It just isn’t possible to see everything in a single expedition, even if you spent a year trying. Far better, then, to concentrate on one or two specific regions and, above all, to be flexible. Although it requires a deliberate change of pace to venture away from the urban centres, rural India has its own very distinct pleasures. In fact, while Indian cities are undoubtedly adrenalin-fuelled, upbeat places, it is possible – and certainly less stressful – to travel for months around the Subcontinent and rarely have to set foot in one.

The most-travelled circuit in the country, combining spectacular monuments with the flat, fertile landscape that for many people is archetypally Indian, is the so-called Golden Triangle in the north: Delhi itself, the colonial capital; Agra, home of the Taj Mahal; and the Pink City of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is probably the single most popular state with travellers, who are drawn by its desert scenery, the imposing medieval forts and palaces of Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Bundi, and by the colourful traditional dress.

East of Delhi, the River Ganges meanders through some of India’s most densely populated regions to reach the extraordinary holy Hindu city of Varanasi (also known as Benares), where to witness the daily rituals of life and death focused around the waterfront ghats (bathing places) is to glimpse the continuing practice of India’s most ancient religious traditions. Further east still is the great city of Kolkata (Calcutta), the capital until early last century of the British Raj and now a teeming metropolis that epitomizes contemporary India’s most pressing problems.

The majority of travellers follow the well-trodden Ganges route to reach Nepal, perhaps unaware that the Indian Himalayas offer superlative trekking and mountain scenery to rival any in the range. With travel in Kashmir still largely limited to its capital, Srinagar, and central valley area, Himachal Pradesh – where Dharamsala is the home of a Tibetan community that includes the Dalai Lama himself – and the remote province of Ladakh, with its mysterious lunar landscape and cloud-swept monasteries, have become the major targets for journeys into the mountains. Less visited, but possessing some of Asia’s highest peaks, is the niche of Uttarakhand bordering Nepal, where the glacial source of the sacred River Ganges has attracted pilgrims for more than a thousand years. At the opposite end of the chain, Sikkim, north of Bengal, is another low-key trekking destination, harbouring scenery and a Buddhist culture similar to that of neighbouring Bhutan. The Northeast Hill States, connected to eastern India by a slender neck of land, boast remarkably diverse landscapes and an incredible fifty percent of India’s biodiversity.

Heading south from Kolkata (Calcutta) along the coast, your first likely stop is Konarak in Odisha, site of the famous Sun Temple, a giant carved pyramid of stone that lay submerged under sand until its rediscovery at the start of the twentieth century. Tamil Nadu, further south, has also retained its own tradition of magnificent architecture, with towering gopura gateways dominating towns whose vast temple complexes are still the focus of everyday life. Of them all, Madurai, in the far south, is the most stunning, but you could spend months wandering between the sacred sites of the Kaveri Delta and the fragrant Nilgiri Hills, draped in the tea terraces that have become the hallmark of south Indian landscapes. Kerala, near the southernmost tip of the Subcontinent on the western coast, is India at its most tropical and relaxed, its lush backwaters teeming with simple wooden craft of all shapes and sizes, and red-roofed towns and villages all but invisible beneath a canopy of palm trees. Further up the coast is Goa, the former Portuguese colony whose 100km coastline is fringed with beaches to suit all tastes and budgets, from upmarket package tourists to long-staying backpackers, and whose towns hold whitewashed Christian churches that could almost have been transplanted from Europe.

North of here sits Mumbai, an ungainly beast that has been the major focus of the nationwide drift to the big cities. Centre of the country’s formidable popular movie industry, it reels along on an undeniable energy that, after a few days of acclimatization, can prove addictive. Beyond Mumbai is the state of Gujarat, renowned for the unique culture and crafts of the barren Kutch region.

On a long trip, it makes sense to pause and rest every few weeks. Certain places have fulfilled that function for generations, such as the Himalayan resort of Manali, epicentre of India’s hashish-producing area, and the many former colonial hill stations that dot the country, from Udhagamandalam (Ooty), in the far south, to that archetypal British retreat, Shimla, immortalized in the writing of Rudyard Kipling. Elsewhere, the combination of sand and the sea, and a picturesque rural or religious backdrop – such as at Varkala in Kerala, Gokarna in Karnataka, and the remoter beaches of Goa – are usually enough to loosen even the tightest itineraries.


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Mar
17
Overview about India
Posted by An Nguyen on 17 March 2015 03:46 AM

Travel in India can be challenging and exciting! Get to know a little more about the planet's second-most populous country before you go.

Official Name: Republic of India

Location: South Asia

Time: UTC + 05:30 (9.5 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time; Daylight Savings Time is not observed)

Country Phone Code: +91

Population: 1.21 billion (per 2011 census)

Capital City: New Delhi (population: 22 million per 2011 census)

Primary Religions: Hinduism and Islam

Official Currency: Indian rupee (INR)

ATMs: Easily found in tourist areas

Credit Cards: Only accepted at large hotels and for online bookings

Tipping: Service charges are added in some hotels and restaurants.

Receipts in India can be a bewildering breakdown of various service charges and taxes levied -- at different rates -- for food, drinks, and services. Prices in shops should be inclusive of tax, however, hotels, bars, and restaurants will most likely tack on additional charges. Always ask for an itemized receipt in case you are entitled to a VAT (government tax) refund in the airport upon departure.

ATMs in India are fairly reliable, although machines located in small towns may often run out of cash or have queues an hour long at times.

Tip: Large banknotes (the 1,000-rupee note) can be difficult to break; many people simply don't have enough cash to provide change. Enter amounts into ATMs strategically to receive smaller denominations, horde your small change when possible, and use large banknotes for covering accommodation.

Electricity in India

Power: 230 volts / 50 Hz

Outlets: EuroPlug (round with two prongs); BS 546 (round with three prongs)

Despite a history of British rule, outlets in India don't follow the same configuration used in the United Kingdom (square with three prongs). Outlets vary from place to place, with newer tourist establishments offering universal outlets that accept all the popular types of plugs.

Unless your electronic device was purchased in Europe, you'll probably need a plug adapter to connect to power. Most electronics with a charging transformer (e.g., laptops and mobile phone chargers) will already work at 230 volts, otherwise you'll need a power converter to step down the voltage.

Power in India can be 'unclean,' meaning that sags and surges may travel the lines and damage sensitive devices. Be mindful of the frequent power outages and try not to charge your electronic devices unattended.

Getting Around India

India isn't just big, it's huge! Changing regions means taking either a domestic flight, train (the most popular option), or a bone-rattling bus ride.

Once in a new town or city, you'll have an unlimited number of options -- and offers -- from taxi drivers and auto-rickshaws, the Indian equivalent of atuk-tuk. Driving in India can be a real challenge; hiring a private car with driver is a better option than renting a car.

Tourists are most likely to get scammed while on transportation in India. Always refuse to go inside any shops even if your driver stops at one. Don't believe your driver when he pretends there was an earlier miscommunication and asks you to pay more.


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