Distant, exotic, steeped in history and culture and just plain cool, India has long been a traveller favourite for obvious reasons. With cities that overflow with life, breath-taking natural scenery, authentic spiritual heritage and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, it’s not hard to understand why this diverse and colourful country has become a bucket list destination for travel junkies the world over. To celebrate the launch of its brand new 12-day Indian itinerary entitled “The Eternal India”, youth travel experts Contiki have compiled a list of reasons why India is a feast for all the senses, and somewhere everyone should visit at least once.
Sight – Obviously India boasts some of the world’s most breath-taking sites of natural and manmade beauty, but it’s not just the scenery that will disarm you, everything from clothing to food and cosmetics is bursting with colour. Heck, there’s even the Holi festival of colour, which has now been recreated by several western cities. India is without a doubt one of the most visually stunning travel destinations in the world, a treat for the eyes as well as a cultural, historical and spiritual travel experience.
Smell – India is known for its smells as much its known for its temples, beaches and spirituality – some are good, others not so much, but it’s all part and parcel of travelling India. Evenings are a wonderful time to explore India’s streets as the smell of fresh spices waft up from the roadside snack stalls, and people light incense to attract Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, into their houses. As you might expect, the olfactory system can find the myriad of smells in India a bit of a shock, but come prepared to endure the occasional nose wrinkle and it will make the enjoyment of evening spices, incense or flower scent that much sweeter.
Sound – Whether it’s the sound of a cowbell, spices being ground with stone, water lapping against a boat in Kerala or traffic noise in Delhi – the sounds of India are like nowhere else in the world. When visiting India’s cities, perhaps the sound that travellers will notice the most is that of other people – the term cheek by jowl is given new meaning in a country of over a billion people – but alongside this you’ll hear sounds reflective of the billion lives being lived in this amazing country.
Taste – Indian food is known as being one of the of most aromatic and flavoursome national cuisines in existence, but most western countries predominantly consume a totally westernised version of Indian food, stripped of its more interesting flavours and superhot spices. One of the treats of travelling to India for the first time is being delighted by the taste of real Indian food – just be careful you don’t opt for anything too heavy on the spice!
Touch – India is the home of touch and texture; the rough stone of old buildings contrasts with the polished marble of the temples and earth underfoot. The silk of saris flutters in the wind, the water of the Ganges River is warm to the touch and thousands upon thousands of tea plants brush against your leg if you choose to visit the plantation region of Munnar. Eating with your hands, as is traditional in much of India, adds a whole new level of tactile wonder to the Indian experience as you not only taste but touch the breads, spices, rice and meats.