India. The name has a deep and profound resonance within the backpacker community. The sights, the smells, the foods, the way of life, everything is a wonderful shock to the senses. There are some things that should be illegal to miss out on when visiting the country. Indian boarder security shouldn’t let you leave until you see them, just to guarantee you enjoyed yourself and have nothing but incredible things to say about this magical nation. Keep reading for 6 of the best reasons to visit India, and keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg:
1. Backwaters in Alleppey
Hop on a boat and coast through the old villages in Alleppey. There isn’t actually much water to be seen; it actually feels like you’re floating on grass. So get in that arm workout, enjoy the lush landscape of India, and spend the entire day out on the boat (with a personal guide) for only $10 per person.
2. Beach Parties in Goa
The fact is, Goa is THE spot for nightlife in India. Our traveler buddies all say that events here have such a positive energy and sense of community. If you’re more of a beach bum than an urban explorer, Goa might be one of the best reasons to visit India. Definitely worth stopping through, but be careful not to plan your trip during the rainy season as it will seriously limit your party options.
3. Manic Streets in New Delhi
Wow, talk about culture shock. Streets like Main Bazar are some of the oldest in the world. We arrived drenched with sweat in a taxi weaving through people and cows. There’s no pavement, just dirt and dust everywhere. The sights and the smells are unforgettable. It’s funny, some people who hear this think it to be a nightmare, while others are exhilarated by a “HOLY S#!T” culture shock. To each their own, but we loved it. When it comes to accommodations, cleanliness and safety are key. Luckily, we found an incredible hostel right on the Bazar strip. Be sure to stay at Smyle Inn. The people are lovely and friendly. If you ask politely, the rickshaw drivers will let you ride the bike. That way they can enjoy the nice breeze while you work off that second helping of paneer curry from last night.
4. Baby Taj Mahal in Agra
Everyone goes to the Taj Mahal, but some miss out on the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, or commonly known as the “Baby Taj Mahal”. It’s next-door to the Taj, and incredibly beautiful. Instead of herding with thousands of tourists, you get the whole place to yourself to go on photography frenzy. There’s also much more interaction with the locals. Entrance fee: $1.60.
5. The Cremations in Varanasi
Wow. This experience left us speechless. We had just arrived to Varanasi and walked along the Ganges River to watch the kids play cricket. After one told us to follow him, we wrapped around the corner only to discover 13 cremations going on with hundreds of mourning friends and family overlooking. The closer we got, the more we could feel the heat of the scorching fires, and smells that I will never forget. As the families would carry the cloth wrapped bodies down the stairs, cows would follow behind and eat the flowers that fall from the open casket.
These cremations have been going on for thousands of years, and the coals at the top of the ‘burning Ghat’ have never gone out. People request their bodies be burned and ashes poured in the Ganga as a holy place. In other words, they come here to die.
6. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho
The after effects of the heat in Varanasi can be cooled with the softness and sensuality at the Khajuraho Karmaseutra temples, also referred to as the “sex temples”. From a distance, they look like any traditional temple you would see all across Asia. But the closer you get, the more you realized there is something ‘special’ about these statues on the wall. Yes, they are all engaging in intercourse. Not just one-on-one, but as a group. A very large one.
Even though there are hundreds of reasons to visit India, this is where we decided to end our list for now. While visiting every country in the world, make sure you do India justice and stop through all these places.