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India is a peninsula with twenty eight states and four distinct regions, the mountain zone, the plains, the desert region, and the far south. The Himalayas separate mainland India from the land mass of Asia, and the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean all surround the Indian Peninsula. India's land borders include China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, whereas Sri Lanka and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands also form part of India. The country's population is one of the largest in the world and natural resources include coal, iron & manganese ore, titanium, and natural gas. Although Indians have more than twenty languages, English remains the official language for economic purposes.
Activities in India are based around adventure. The Himalayan snow capped region offers thrill-seeking travelers a huge variety of trekking and mountaineering pursuits and adventures. However, India has so much more to offer, and there is something to experience for everyone, such as white water river rafting, kayaking, and camping.
The region of Maharashtra is popular for paragliding. Adventure holiday companies based around Mumbai and Pune cater for tourists looking for paragliding tandem joyrides or professional tuition.
Water Sports in India are found mostly on the west coast beaches. Goa is a popular destination for holiday makers who are seeking water activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, para sailing, windsurfing, and water skiing.
Another traditional 'must do' for visitors is to travel around the Indian countryside on a motorcycle. It is the ultimate exploration activity for those who love to travel on bikes. A slightly less popular mode of transport might be the rickshaw. Mainly in the south, there is an extraordinary event called the Rickshaw Challenge which promotes rickshaw travel around India. If that doesn't appeal to you, why not try another crazy method of traveling around, a Camel and Yak Safari, Ballooning, Mountain Biking, or Heli Skiing.
India has four typical seasons. The dry winters begin around December until the end of February and the high temperatures of summer generally start in March until June. The south-west monsoon season follows the hot summertime and the months of July to September are traditionally very wet with lots of heavy rainfall. October until the beginning of winter usually sees drier and less humidity with pleasant temperatures and less rain.
The people of India have different cultural tendencies depending on which state they live within the country. They are influenced by age old subcontinent traditional mixed cultures and this includes their language, religion, music, food, and typical Indian customs.
For example, even in modern times, Indian arranged marriages are still the tradition in most of their society. Parents and important family members will choose and arrange marriages for their sons and daughters. It is 'expected' that the bride's family will provide the dowry or her share of her family's wealth to her future husband. Somewhat surprisingly, the divorce rate in India is extremely low, and surveys show that around 80% of these divorces are instigated by the female.
The three national holiday festivals are Independence Day, Republic Day, and Gandhi Jayanti. The multi-cultural and diverse religious society celebrates these festivals and others with great pride and enthusiasm. Other traditional festive occasions include Diwali, Holi, Navatri, and Ganesh. Many Indian festivals are celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists all together, which emphasizes the multi-religious society that exists in India.
Indian food varieties and ingredients vary so intensely that we have separated them into five regional descriptions.
The north-eastern state of Assam is probably best known for its tea, silk, and oil. The staple food in this region is mostly rice. Boiled rice is a popular menu item served with sour fish (Tengamach) or spicy meat. Another favorite dish in this area is rice with a combination of boiled spinach, pork, and bamboo shoot, known as Bai. Other regular dishes include Sawchair and Naga cuisine, made with pork, chicken, prawns, dried fish, and ghost chilli.
The Bangali influence in the east of India tends to produce more subtle flavors. The use of fish, vegetables, mustard-based sauces, and lentils is evident with a popular demand for sweet confectionery deserts. Rural regions eat a lot of dairy products and a fermented yoghurt based food called Pakhala.
Central India is essentially Madhya Pradesh and the cuisine in these states vary by region. Variances being mostly wheat and meat in the north-western areas and rice with fish in the south east. Typical meat and fish dishes would also include delicacies of rogan josh, keema, korma, and shami & seekh kababs.
Strong features of western India food ingredients are rice, seafood, coconut milk, and paste. Goan food is influenced with the addition of a tarty fruit belonging to the mangosteen family called kokum. Visitors to Goa will appreciate the Portuguese influence of seafood dishes and pork. Further north on the west coats of India, the food tends to get spicier with its distinctive konkani style of cooking. Here you will also find a big influence of vegetarian cuisine and the state of Gujarati is primarily devout vegetarians, preferring roti, daal, rice, vegetables, and stir fried spices.
The Hyderabad biryani is a local favorite in the huge Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is a mixture of meat and spices with other A.P. regions recognized for using extra spices and chilies. Fish, poultry and meat dishes are also popular in this south-eastern coastal area of India. There is a strong influence of French and Tamil food which includes vegetables, legumes, lentils, and spicy curries.
Most Indians follow the religion of Hinduism, with Islam and Christianity following. There are thought to be over five hundred spoken and written languages. India is undoubtedly one of the most diversely deeply religious societies and cultural nations in the world, playing a centralized and definitive role in the life of its people.
You can introduce yourself with a long and soft handshake and the word Namaste (I bow to you) is considered a respectful salutation, though these traditional forms of greeting are no longer used in the world of business and in India's urban environment.Men should greet Indian women with a slight nod unless the woman offers her hand for a short handshake.
Choose the route to travel wisely. Try to avoid the chaotic crowds and not to cram too much in a single visit. You’ll be less stressed if the place is slow and rewarding.
Avoid tap water, and any food that may have been washed in it. Many travelers go veggie whilst in India. Avoid ice, salads and fruit that you haven’t just peeled yourself.
Try to remain calm. Frustrations boil over easily in India, and being able to control them, take a deep breath and move on, is key to enjoying your overall experience.