I am planning a trip to India and am trying to get organized. There is such a multitude of website and guides...and by this time I am thouroughly overwhelmed.
I know in a very vague way what I want to see--the stuff I see one the travel/discovery channel--I want to tour desert, jungle, and river temples. Take an elephant ride into the jungle, a camel ride into the desert, visit the dalai llama, go to the huge clothing fair that’s gong to be going on, and…oh god, I’m on overload, there are SO many things to do and see and India is HUGE! Of course, I want to see archaeological sites and palaces, the Taj and all that, too. I want to wade in the Ganges (ick, I know). I would like to visit Sai Baba's ashram. Get a rail pass and take the train...Try amazing new foods. Talk to real Indians. Learn about the culture. See the REAL India. As a student of religions and international studies (double major), I felt I knew a little--I now know that I know nothing--some famous dead guy once said that this was the path to wisdom, so I must be on the right track.
I need some help trying to get it together--I'm also a little worried about travelling alone as an obviously white gal and an american. I WANT to wear the Salwar Kameez--I think it's really fun to dress for where I'm going. But would it be ok for me to try a sari?
Can anyone out there help me?
so sorry, there is so much I'm losing my head!
I am going in late July, early Aug. I am a student and on an extreme budget--but all I really need is a place to sleep--maybe on the train if I splurge for an upgrade. I plan to go for three to five weeks. I'm not afraid of roughing it at all--but I do want to be safe, since I'm traveling alone.
I know u r excited to go to India. I have been there, and I loved it so much. I did not necesarily wear a sari, I was in Western clothing. If u want to wear a sari u can. I noticed that not many young people wear saris anymore, they usually wear western clothing or salwaar kameez. But I did buy some Indian outfits, ones called parallels, they are so nice.
I went shopping in India and was able to buy a lot of neat things, western clothing, and a lot of other souvenirs, and they are cheap. I went to Bangalore and saw the Mysore Palace, it was so nice and just beautiful. I also love the people there, they are pretty friendly, and I never felt threatened in any way. If u r going shopping, vendors may try to almost force u to buy something, especially when they see ur a foreigner, that got me a little weary, but u can tell them that u r only looking. Well I only went to the cities, I never really went to any jungles or went hiking, but I am sure u'll have fun. It may be a little hot, if ur going in July or august. Drink plenty of bottled water and always wash ur hands, and watch the food u eat at restaurants, avoid a greasy foods. It would be good if u stuck to vegetarian in the beginning. It depends on ur stomach.
Most of the main cities are pretty westernized and u may not be able to taste the culture that much, but I'm sure u will through the mainy ancient places u visit.
Have a great time.
In safety, when u travel by train, take the women's compartment and dont travel on General. It is very hard, if travelling the nite, unless u r up for hardship. U can also take a bus which is like our Greyhound here to travel from state to state. In safety, the South such as bangalore and other cities are pretty safe. The north some places are not so safe. Dont expose ur self to places u feel u may not be comfortable in. Watch ur bags at all times. Sometimes when u catch a taxi or a 3 wheeler, the driver may try to rip u off, so make sure the meter is working fine. And when u buy stuff u can bargain, because when they see a white girl they may try to jack up the prices to get more money from u. $US 1 is equivalent to 45Ruppees currently. This may have changed but its close.
If ur will be living in a hotel, try to get a decent place, it wont be so expensive, its better that u r safe. Last of all, dont let anyone try to rip u off, when it comes to money!!!!
First! Oh my Gosh!!!
Do you really have an idea of how much time you need for that. (just that I am jealous that I don't have that much time)...
Well those 4-5 months will have to be really planned. First make a list of what you want to do, where you want to go, visit. Then mark them up in India and plan. ...
Well, the list you have made (even the camel and elephant rides) are quite easy to get. You just have to be at the right places. About wading the Ganges (Ganga), you can do it anywhere in Uttaranchal without the ick. It is so good there that you can even drink it directly from river. So head to Rishikesh/Hardwar or even better to the very source of Ganga in Gangotri (not for diving in as it will be cold there as Ganga drips directly from ice there from icy stalactite which are thought to be as hairs of Shiva. Shiva is said to have accumulated the Ganga wandering randomly in universe in his locks and direct it to earth for the good of humanity).
Now while being White Gal is as much as you can be different, being American doesn't gets you the special treatment in India that you can get in some countries. So don't worry too much. Though India has 2nd largest muslim population in the world, here they are quite different.
And Sari!!!! Oh dear, just try it. Don't move around in it. You can really mess up and it will be quite ungraceful situation. You will feel stripped even when fully covered in blouse and petticoat. Salwar Kameez is good enough. Sari will surely catch much more attention. I have seen only one white in Sari here (and she was not young but looking great in it and getting a lots of attention, smiles, stares, ...)...
Welcome to India... Wish that you have a great time
Any other issues, message me for details.
Thank you so much for all of your helpful info! (especially about Shiva)
as for the sari--I know I won't be able to really wear a real one if I plan to walk or sit--but I know they make "automatic saris" which are sewed together, but look like real saris....I just dont want to offend anyone or make them angry.
(but prolly wouldn't wear around too much anyway if I would draw that much attention. However, from being in Israel--I have the feeling I'll draw attention no matter what I do )
I appreciate your interest in India
Three to four weeks and you have a grand plan. Difficult to complete the All India tour.
I recommed you to fix your route.
Delhi - taj and local sight seeing
Mumbai - elephanta caves, local site seeing
Ajantha & Ellora caves
Jaipur - your dream of camels and Forts
Varanasi - Ganges - if you really insist. Don't get shocked by the actual situation there :-(
Then move down to south.
Bangalore - local sight seeing
hampi - if you like temples and heritge sites
Mysore - palace, museum, bird sanctuary, Wild life
(You just stay in Jingle Lodges to experience the wild)
Ooty & kodaikanal - Hill stations
Rameswaram - last vintage point of India!
Mahabalipuram - near chennai
Madhurai - if you are interested in temples
And don't miss Kerala - god's own country!
You will notice that the distances are long between places. Flights are available to all major cities. However each and every place is conencted by Train and Bus. Night travel by train save you lot of time and you can see more places. In all railway stations, if you have any problem, contact the Station master and they will be very helpful. And
Check this site:
Try experimenting Indian food, though all kind of food is available. Freak out on our 'Biryani' and spicy stuff. After all' Curry hotels' have become popular in UK for nothing:-)
There are plenty of choices from top class to youth clubs.
Ideally you shall contact YMCA/YWCA /youth hostels
some Youth hostels are at:
wear some thing decent and not very revealing. feel comfortable. if you like trousers and t-shirts, go ahead. Salwars are fine. if you think you can carry yourself in sari, you can try. No body gets offended in India if you wear sari. salwars are fine.
Avoid - Late night travels.
Use bottled drinkng water.
Keep your travel kit - medicines etc
Keep your identity/passport always.
Keep a provision to inform some one where you are going and when you are going ( This is not specific to India or something.), as a practice. Say a simple email to a friend - before going and after reaching a place.
Get a mobile phone with all india roaming facilty. Almost all India is reachable by mobile phones.
Keep a list of Telephone numbers of local people who you know ( like me - Ramesh, bangalore , 9845213042) etc.
Feel free to contact me for any help locally.
Welcome to India
'The Human Search Engine'
As Ramesh already said, nobody is offended. But if it slips then it can become a mess, all nine yards on road can be quite a thing to roll back.
Surely you can wear a Sari, anyone can. But I will not recommend you going around in it.
I suppose it is difficult for you to suppose whole of India in just 4-5 weeks with a tight budget.
Suggest you to plan your trip properly giving priority to those places you want to see surely taking into account transportation and amount time that you can spend in each place etc.
Traveling alone is not a problem in India,even though you are a white girl. as long as you take normal precautions like in any place.
Not necessary that you should wear a saree or a salwar kameez if you are not comfortable with. You can wear trousers as you do in your country.
If you visit only cities, you will not be able to see much of 'real' India.
Try to visit villages specially on some festival days.
Have a nice stay in India as it has lot to offer.
Although I believe I know--just for a reality check--what are "reasonable precautions as you would anywhere"?