Indian News

Advice For Your First Visit To India

India is a truly magical country. It is home to stunning natural and manmade spectacles, but it can be a daunting place to visit for the first time.

Nothing can prepare you for the hustle and bustle of cities like Delhi. It's incredible and really does have to be seen to be believed. India is a wonderful place to visit on a holiday if you're looking for a cultural and beautiful destination. As you can apply for an India e visa, it's easy to get all your paperwork ready for your trip.

BT recently published some of its top tips for people visiting India for the first time. They include getting all the right vaccinations before you travel - including tetanus and typhoid - and checking the current malaria warnings.

The website also offers some advice to help travellers avoid the infamous Delhi-belly. Carrying antibacterial hand wash to ensure you can always clean your hands is a must, as is staying hydrated. Only drinking bottled water is key though, even when you're brushing your teeth.

India can be something of a culture shock to those travelling from the UK. Prepare for the fact that it will be very different. With so many people around you need to stay on your guard, so be cautious when dealing with people you don't know.

Booking an organised trip can be a good way to feel more comfortable on your first visit to this vibrant country. Robb Report recently highlighted the Deccan Odyssey as a fantastic way to see some of India's top sights.

The newly refurbished train has all the luxuries you'll need and with six itineraries to choose from, you're bound to find one that takes in the attractions you want to see.

Indian Train Journey Among Top 5 For A Luxury Rail Break

A journey on the Deccan Odyssey, a train journey that takes you to some of India's most iconic sites, has been named as one of the top options for those seeking luxury railway holidays this year.

Robb Report named the Deccan Odyssey in its top five luxury railway journeys for 2017, pointing out that the train has been recently upgraded making it even more luxurious than before.

The website noted that the train itself has been fitted out with opulent new interiors, while the itineraries it offers have been "upgraded to evoke the princely sojourns of decades past". There are six itineraries available, each of which takes in at least seven destinations. Known as India's blue train, this is the perfect holiday for anyone who wants to take things a bit slower and see India from the comfort of a modernised locomotive.

You could blend history and culture with the splendour of the natural environment. Set off from the historic city of Mumbai to the holy city of Nashik. Disembark and stroll along the Ghats, where you will see a number of Hindu rituals performed. If you're hoping to discover the spiritual side of India, this is a good place to begin.

From this important Hindu centre, you will head to cave temples of great importance to India's Buddhists. The Ellora Caves and Ajanta Caves are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, with these natural spaces carved into incredible places of worship.

The Ellora Caves also feature Jain and Hindu imagery, alongside the Buddhist symbols. After plenty of cultural sightseeing, you can round off this particular journey with a visit to Goa. Known for its stunning sandy beaches, this is one of India's coastal gems.

If this kind of journey sounds like it could tick all of your boxes for your holiday this year, make sure you arrange your India tourist visa in good time before your break.

Taj Opens New Amritsar Hotel

The Taj luxury hotel chain has opened a new hotel in Amritsar, in India's Punjab region. The Taj Swarna is just 12km from the airport and close to the city's main attractions.

According to Travel Daily India, the hotel is embracing some of the new concepts being trialled by the hotel brand, including running morning yoga classes and removing check-in desks.

There are 157 rooms and suites in this new hotel, which also features facilities like a fitness centre, a spa, international and Chinese restaurants, and a whisky and cigar lounge.

If you've booked a trip to Amritsar, make sure you've got your India tourist visa before you travel. You could add a touch of luxury to your stay by booking into this latest Taj hotel.

There is plenty to see and do around Amritsar, with its top attractions including the Mata Temple - a Hindu cave temple - the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, and the Golden Temple.

The Golden Temple is particularly striking and special. As its name suggests, it's golden in

colour and looks stunning reflected in the water that surrounds this shrine. Pilgrims travel for miles to bathe in the water that surrounds this central shrine, as it's said to have healing powers.

In fact, the Golden Temple is just one part of the Harmandir Sahib complex, which is the most important religious place for Sikhs. Also within the complex is the Sikh Museum and the Ramgarhia Bunga fortress.

Make sure you also visit this religious site at night, as well as during the day, to see the temple lit up by dozens of golden lights that look truly magical reflected in the surrounding water.

Warangal: One Of India's Hidden Gems

Warangal is a city located in the state of Telangana. Although this is far removed from the Golden Triangle where many tourists flock, it is between this region of the country and its stunning beach areas of Kerala and Goa, so could be the perfect place for a stop on the journey.

India Today has recently highlighted some of the top reasons to visit Warangal when you've got your India e visa, chief among them is its incredible heritage.

The city is the ancient capital of the Kakatiya dynasty, and as a result is home to some impressive monuments. Think stone gateways, impressive forts, ornate temples and lots more. One of the oldest temples to visit during a trip to Warangal is Bhadrakali, which was constructed in the eighth century and is one of the oldest examples of a place of worship dedicated to the Goddess Bhadrakali.

If you venture up the hill to this temple, you can also explore the tranquil Kakatiya Musical Garden, so named as a result of its musical fountain.

It isn't all about culture and heritage though, as Warangal has plenty to offer wildlife lovers too, such as access to the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to chinkara and sloth bears, among many other animals.

There are plenty of incredible destinations in India that are off the beaten tourist trail. Earlier this year we highlighted the waterfalls in Chhattisgarh, also known as the Niagara Falls of India. It is actually the widest waterfall in the country, and is compared to its more famous North American counterpart as a result of its horseshoe shape.

India Gets Its First Igloo Hotel

When you think of travelling to India, you probably imagine warm climates, tropical shores and world-famous monuments, but now you can add igloos to the list.

Although the beaches of Goa, the stunning Taj Mahal and the bustling city of Delhi are more likely to spring to mind, some enterprising young people in one of India's mountainous regions have built igloos for travellers to stay in.

The Times of India revealed that two igloos have been built near Manali, a town in the Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, with Tashi and Vikas who are offering this igloo experience explaining that a good snowfall this winter, as well as low temperatures, helped them turn their dream into a reality.

Tashi added that it's an eco-friendly concept, telling the news provider: "It does not require timber or any construction material. Everywhere, it is just snow, which will melt away on its own."

However, the winter in this region does not last long, with the igloos only available to stay in until the end of February, for this year at least.

Tashi and Vikas hope that more villages similar to their own will consider introducing new ideas like this to attract tourists, and plan to build new igloos next winter.

In the winter, the mountains around Manali are popular for skiing, while rafting, climbing and trekking are among the attractions in the summer months, the Lonely Planet reveals.

When you're applying for your India e visa, consider adding a stay in Himachal Pradesh to your itinerary to discover this beautiful corner of the country.

Discover The Niagara Falls Of India!

Getting off the beaten track and doing something a little different is always a good idea after you've booked your long term Indian visa and want to spend some time exploring the country. An oft- forgotten about but still incredible attraction in India has to be the Chitrakot Waterfalls in Chhattisgarh, in the Bastar district just west of Jagdalpur.

Of course, people want to go and see the Taj Mahal and the Ganges when on holiday in India, but while such sights and attractions are also a must-do you should also try and see something that other people may not have yet discovered for themselves… and the good news is that India has an abundance of these particular attractions!

The waterfalls in Chhattisgarh are also known as the Niagara Falls of India, which should give you some idea as to how majestic they actually are. According to India Today, Chitrakot is around 100ft high and 1,000ft wide (so it's the widest fall to be found in India) and is likened to Niagara because of its horseshoe shape.

Apparently, monsoon season is the best time to visit the falls, so if you are planning on going perhaps try and coincide a trip at this time of year. Monsoon season in India is between July and September, so you've got plenty of time to plan your holiday if you start right now! Bear in mind as well that it takes about five hours to get to the falls if you're travelling from Raipur Airport, although you can also get to them if you use the local railway station – which might be a more fun way of travelling.

Taj Mahal Among Most Instagrammed Spots

Taking photos of the incredible sights you see on your travels has long been popular, and now that we have a multitude of social media networks, it's easier than ever to share your experiences with friends, family and the rest of the world.

Of course, for those of us left at home there's always a twinge of jealousy when we see someone's amazing holiday snaps appearing on their feed, but you might have noticed certain landmarks crop up more often than others.

Hello! magazine has shared a list compiled by CEWE Photoworld of the top ten destinations around the world that are perfect for an Instagram shot, and the Taj Mahal in India is in at

number nine. And while it might be a shot that's been taken thousands of times before, the publication points out that a photo in front of the long fountain that leads up to the beautiful marble mausoleum is a must.

Located in Agra, the iconic building was constructed by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan for his wife Arjuman Banu Begum. It took 17 years to complete the stunning structure, which was a monument to the emperor's favourite wife.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a must-visit if you're spending time in India, as it is considered to be one of the most stunning examples of Indo-Islamic architecture in the world. When you're organising your itinerary and applying for your India tourist visa, make sure you allow at least a day to explore this incredible site, which encompasses beautiful gardens as well as the mausoleum itself.

Uttarayan: One Of India's Stunning Festivals

The festival of Uttarayan, which is hosted in the state of Gujarat in early January every year, is truly a sight to behold, and while it may have finished for 2017, there's no reason to wait to plan your trip - and apply for your India tourist visa - now.

Also known as the International Kite Festival, this event draws people from far and wide to see the displays of colourful and elaborate kites dancing in the skies.

The best place to visit to experience the vibrancy and fun of this festival is the city of Ahmedabad, according to India.com.

Every year, Uttarayan is held to mark the end of winter and the beginning of the transformation into summer, and although the festival runs for a week, the most important date is 14 th January. Although the large-scale festival in Ahmedabad has only been running since 1989, the practice of flying kites to mark Uttarayan has been happening for centuries.

Kites of all shapes, sizes and designs take to the skies, with people playfully battling with their kites in the skies. As part of the official festival, there is also a kite flying competition which attracts competitors from around the world.

People in the city begin preparing their kites as early as November, and there's even an entire market dedicated to the gliders in the city.

However, Uttarayan isn't the only festival celebrated throughout the year in Gujarat - the Modhera Dance Festival, which directly follows Uttarayan, is a showcase of traditional dance. Meanwhile, for just over three months from the beginning of November, Gujarat marks Rann Ustav, which is a celebration of life and a wonderful opportunity for visitors to delve into the heritage of the Kutchi people.

Could You Benefit From A Wellness Holiday In India?

With January here and everyone making new year's resolutions, it's a good time to get caught up in your own wellbeing and what you can do to ensure you get some ‘me time' in 2017.

One option that's guaranteed to relax you and give you time to focus on number one is a wellness retreat, and it should come as no surprise that India, one of the homes of spirituality, has been named as a top wellness destination.

The Evening Standard highlighted 11 of the world's top wellness retreats for 2017, with India among them. The publication pointed out that India has some strong credentials if you're looking for a place to unwind and focus on yourself, including its incredible food and its status as the home of yoga.

Whether you can stretch to a wellness retreat in India or not, fitting some yoga into your routine is a good idea, with the ancient practice not only good for stretching your muscles, but also known to help you quieten your mind, meditate and cultivate mindfulness in your everyday life. If you're already searching for an India tourist visa and booking flights though, make sure you check out what the Shreyas Hotel has to offer, with its 20,000 sq ft spa its biggest selling point for those looking for the ultimate wellness retreat.

According to the newspaper, the spa is dedicated to wellbeing, as well as encouraging detoxing and healing. Among its facilities are a yoga and meditation pavilion, Ayurveda therapy rooms and a relaxation area with an organic juice bar.

Goa's Agonda Beach Named A Top Secret Escape

If you're looking for inspiration for a holiday in 2017, and you've got your heart set on strolling along deserted golden sands, Agonda Beach in Goa could be the perfect choice.

It was one of the sandy spots highlighted by Travel + Leisure magazine in its list of the best secret beaches on earth.

The publication explains that, while Goa initially became popular due to its party and rave scene in the 1990s, there are plenty of parts of this south Indian state that have remained relatively untouched. Agonda is one of these.

"Agonda remains largely a simple and authentic destination where beach huts are decidedly rustic," the magazine stated.

But lounging on the sand and soaking up the sun isn't the only activity you can do here, as it's also a favoured spot among surfers, although the waves mean it's not the best place for swimming.

Agonda beach is also a nesting site for Ridley turtles, so visitors are asked to keep noise and light levels to a minimum after dark.

There are plenty of other beautiful spots to explore around the south of Goa once you've got your India tourist visa. Close by is Palolem, one of the area's most famous bays and known for being something of a party hotspot. If you're after more peace and quiet than Agonda can provide, take a trip to Khola Beach, which is around 10km further north.

Tucked away from the road, you'll find three small bays and a lagoon that backs onto the jungle. It's delightfully peaceful and there's just one place - the Blue Lagoon - for food and drink there.

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