A fusion of modernity and tradition, the vibrant colours of India are truly captivating. Be at one with bustling cities, surrender to the simplicity of villages and be touched by the spirituality of this land. A journey through India is enriching, inspiring and unforgettable.
India Tours & Travel
All our India trips
Articles on India
More praise for Monty
Posted on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 by Sue Elliot
We are thrilled that Intrepid’s Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt is once again a finalist in the prestigious Wanderlust World Guide Awards. To be recognised as one of the best in his [...]Read more
Biggest paint party in India
Posted on Mon, 20 Jan 2014 by Laura Rinderknecht
Holi or होली is the festival of color celebrated each spring in India. Go ahead and google images for Holi right now. I’ll wait… Ah-may-zing, right? It’s an ancient Hindu [...]Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in India, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in India you may find yourself staying in a:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- New Delhi (population 295,000)
- 1.14 billion
- Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Kashmiri, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, English
- Time zone:
- (GMT+05:30) Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi
- Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type M (see D)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit India
Due to India's size and topography, there's a huge amount of variation in its climate. One of the most beneficial times to visit is from September to March when temperatures are at their coolest. During winter (December-January), temperatures can get quite cold in Delhi and in the north, especially at night. Monsoon is from late-May to around October and offers hot and humid conditions, although this is considered one of the best times to visit Ladakh and the hills.
Culture and customs
Regardless of a person's religious beliefs, the family unit is given paramount importance in life and society, with generations of family members living together under one roof, often with the eldest male acting as head of the family. Indian weddings are usually elaborate affairs and arranged marriages are still common - being arranged according to caste, social standing and sometimes, favourable astrological alignments at birth. Giving the world everything from playing cards to prayer flags, yoga, cotton cultivation, ayurvedic medicine, Bollywood films, as well as many other important contributions in mathematics, science, literature and political theory, India's evolution has impacted on the entire world.
Indian cuisine, architecture, dance and fashion are also admired and reproduced worldwide, which is partly due to Indian populations who have immigrated to other parts of the world, taking their culture and beliefs with them.
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
Indian food is one of the world's most favoured cuisines, and travellers will be in for a real treat when visiting India. Relying heavily on spices and vegetables, vegetarians will be delighted with the multitude of meat-free dishes available and visitors will be able to notice marked differences in the cuisines of each region.
Things to try in India
The tropical climate and coastal location ensures the seafood is fresh and tasty here. Pungent seafood curries bubbling in coconut milk, as well as fresh crab, lobster, squid and prawns are all great picks in this region. A Kingfisher beer also goes down well with a Goan sunset.
With little access to water, Rajasthani cuisine relies on milk or ghee as a base, making it quite rich. Legumes, pulses and breads feature heavily as access to fresh vegetables is scarce.
A great producer of many spices so expect hot and spicy dishes when eating here. Rice is abundant, as is coconut, so expect coconut-based curries laced with chilli, ginger, cardamom and pepper. Having access to many waterways, seafood also features on the menu here. Dosa (pancake-like crepes) are popular breakfast items in Kerala.
The cuisine of this north-eastern hills region is characterised by a reliance on rice and preserved produce. There is a distinct lack of spice used but despite this, the cuisine still possesses a strong flavour due to the dried herbs and flavoursome vegetables and fruits that most dishes are based on. Pickles, salads, garnishes and condiments like mustard oil, lemon and mangosteen add a distinct flavour to Assamese dishes.
Cuisine from western India is predominantly vegetarian. Daal, rice and roti (flat bread) are the main dishes, which are sometimes supplemented with stir fried vegetables.
Geography and environment
History and government
India has been inhabited by humans for as long as 75,000 years, with early civilisations flourishing as early as 3300 BC. Subsequent civilisations showed advanced technology and infrastructure with drainages systems and houses made of brick appearing sometime between 2600 and 1900 BC. Over the centuries, India both influenced and was influenced by other nations and kingdoms, with far reaching trade, conquest and migration spreading the subcontinent's culture far and wide. Trading with the Romans, Persians and Greeks ensured that Indian culture had an impact on civilisations that seemed worlds away. Empires rose and fell over the centuries, with the wealthy Mughal Dynasty ruling most of India by 1600. At the same time, different European nations started showing an interest in India after being brought to the area for trade. The Portuguese, Dutch, British and French all had vested interests in India, with the British East India Company being given the rights to trade in India in 1617. The 1857 rebellion and War of Independence culminated in the decline of Mughal rule and were considered the first movements against the British Raj's heavy handed rule of the country. India's independence movement continued to grow and soon changed the face of India's future.
By the 1920s, India's independence movement had grown considerable momentum with Mohandas Gandhi leading mass movements based on passive resistance and non-cooperation against the British Raj. Although it took decades, India finally gained independence in 1947. More recently, India has seen dramatic changes in society mainly due to modernisation and globalisation. A new wave of prosperity has seen the rise of the middle class, with men and women entering into new work roles in telecommunications, manufacturing and business. India's large cities are dealing with mass migration of rural citizens, who are moving to the city to seek better employment, education and opportunities for their children. Delhi successfully hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010, further putting India on the map as an increasingly cosmopolitan, modern country.
Top 10 Sensory Experiences of India
1. Potent Pleasures
Breathe in the intoxicating aroma of fresh spices while wandering through the bustling markets of India. Cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg are classic spices of the subcontinent and aren't hard to find - the fresh scent envelopes markets across the country.
2. Fiery Flavours
Treat your tastebuds to the spicy flavours of India with a traditional aromatic curry. Indulge in the heady mix of coconut milk, chilli, ginger, ghee and spices, then cool down by sipping on a refreshing Lassi - the prefect antidote to the unrelenting heat of an Indian curry.
3. Colourful Chaos
Experience the urban cacophony of Delhi - a unique collision of cultures, cattle and people. Hear the rumble of cars, truck and buses, the frantic calls of street vendors and hawkers, the sizzle of food and the rustic ring of a cow bell in this unforgettable and irrepressible city.
4. In The Pink
Admire the dazzling pink hues of Jaipur. Watch the historic palaces, forts, temples and monuments of the 'Pink City' be bathed in a dusky pink glow as the golden sun sets over the dramatic Aravalli Range.
5. Rat Race
Walk barefoot through the Karni Mata Temple as thousands of rats scamper across the marble floor. Just felt a furry rodent scurry over your feet? Fear not - it's a sign of good luck in this unique rat-worshipping temple.
6. Instant Karma
Experience the multi-sensory wonder of an Aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges. Hear the clanging of bells, watch the luminous glow of fire, smell wafts of pungent incense and hear rousing devotional songs and mantras. Be immersed in the fire and prayer of this Hindu ritual and be changed forever.
7. Gorgeous Goa
Sit beachside in Goa and gaze into the sublime beauty of the ocean. Take a moment to kick back and soak up the clear skies and deep blue sea of this exotic island. Watch the sun's rays shimmer on the horizon and bask in the golden glow of this balmy retreat.
8. Silky Sophistication
For a slice of extravagance, feel the soft, luxurious touch of traditional Indian silk. Made in a variety of vibrant colours and perfect for making everything from saris to prayer mats and decorative hangings to upholstery, the inimitable feel of finely crafted silk is a simple pleasure in life.
9. Answered Prayers
Hear the flutter of prayer flags as they flap in the wind near the isolated monasteries of Dharamsala. In a stark environment of rugged, mountainous landscapes, quietness permeates the air, except for the unique sound of prayer flags collecting prayers and sending them to the heavens above.
10. Big Screen Brilliance
Be treated to a feast for the senses at a bombastic Bollywood movie screening. Covet the glamorous costumes, marvel at the energetic choreography and delight in the lively music. Revel in the razzle dazzle of the whole spectacle and be swept away by the irresistible charm of India's triumphant cinematic phenomenon.
India's fragrant bazaars, modern boutiques and village markets are brimming with wares harnessing centuries of artistic traditions. With talented artisans and top quality items at low prices, India is a shopper's paradise.
It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in India
From big, chunky ornate silver earrings to vibrant bangles and bold statement rings, India's silversmiths and jewellery makers ensure there are lots of pieces to choose from in the bazaars and shops.
2. Wraps, Scarves and Shawls
Whether you're looking for pricey pashmina, luxurious silk or colourful cotton, India has a huge variety of materials to wrap yourself in.
If you're lucky enough to be able to bring tea into your home country, then pick up some of the world's finest tea from the Darjeeling, Assam or Nilgiri regions.
Indian cotton sheets, embroidered bed spreads and colourful cushion covers can be picked up in bazaars at a fraction of the price paid elsewhere.
Festivals and Events in India
Travellers get a chance to revel in a tangible rainbow at this festival, which occurs throughout different regions of India. While northern India has the largest celebrations, Goa and some other areas also participate in this festival with Hindu origins. Colourful powders fly through the air onto crowds of people; water balloons explode in the street, food and drink flow and devotees slip into trances - all culminating into a wonderful festival of vibrancy.
See firecrackers, lanterns, gift giving and gift receiving during this Hindu festival of lights. While many shops and businesses close during this period of spiritual significance, it's still a special time to visit, with moving pujas (offerings) and rituals to witness.
Pushkar Camel Fair
Thousands of camels (and their owners dressed in their finest garb) descend upon Rajasthan's Pushkar for the annual camel fair. Camels are traded and raced, acrobats and performers entertain crowds at a nearby fair, while finely dressed males and bejewelled females take the chance to let their hair down.
FAQs on India
Small bottle of beer = 40 INR
Basic street food plate = 40-60 INR
Buffet dinner in a nice restaurant = 800-1500 INR
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 24 Milad-Un-Nabi (Birth of the Prophet)
Jan 26 Republic Day
Mar 10 Mahashivratri
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 1 Easter Monday
Apr 23 Mahavir Jayanthi
May 25 Buddha Purnima (Buddha's Birthday)
Aug 8 Id ul Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Aug 15 Independence Day
Aug 28 Krishna Janmashtami
Oct 2 Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday
Oct 14 Dussehra (Vijaya Dashami)
Oct 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
Nov 3 Deepavali or Diwali (Festival of the Lights)
Nov 4 Muharram (Islamic New Year)
Nov 17 Guru Nanak's Birthday
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. Many festivals are timed to the lunar calendar therefore some of these dates are estimates only. Furthermore, there are many other religious holidays observed regionally throughout India. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/India/public-holidays
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance OR on arrival*
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
There is NO visa on arrival in India for most nationalities. Indian visas can NOT be obtained in Nepal. Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.
*Visa on arrival is available for select nationalities, including New Zealanders provided that specific criteria can be met. See link below for more information.
Australien: Ja - im Voraus
Belgien: Ja - im Voraus
Kanada: Ja - im Voraus
Deutschland: Ja - im Voraus
Irland: Ja - im Voraus
Niederlande: Ja - im Voraus
Neuseeland: Ja - im Voraus
Südafrika: Ja - im Voraus
Schweiz: Ja - im Voraus
Großbritannien: Ja - im Voraus
USA: Ja - im Voraus
In Indien wird bei Ankunft KEIN Visum ausgestellt. Indische Visa können NICHT in Nepal ausgestellt werden. Touristenvisa gibt es mit einfacher und mehrfacher Einreise. Stellen Sie sicher, dass Ihr Visum am Tag der Einreise gültig ist und den gesamten Aufenthaltszeitraum in Indien umfasst, insbesondere wenn Sie während Ihrer Reise durch mehrere Länder reisen.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
India Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for India
1. Be considerate of India’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
The Intrepid Foundation
The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.
In India, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:
Asha Ka Jharna
Providing essential services to disabled children and adults, this Rajasthan-based organisation assists disempowered people to feel part of their community. Vocational training, education, guidance and counselling all help to foster self reliance and confidence.
Image supplied by Asha Ka Jharna.
This organisation builds a better future for Delhi's street children by providing food, housing, health care, education and emotional support.
Image supplied by Deepalaya.
This innovative group turns unwanted clothing into useful items for India's needy people. It also distributes donated books, school uniforms, toys, blankets and utensils across the country to disadvantaged students in need.
Image supplied by GOONJ.
To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org
|A Fine Balance||Rohinton Mistry|
|Razor's Edge||Somerset Maugham|
|Life of Pi||Yann Martel|
|The God of Small Things||Arundhati Roy|
|Holy Cow||Sarah Macdonald|
|Shantaram||Gregory David Roberts|
|Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth||Mahatma Gandhi|
|A Suitable Boy||Vikram Seth|
|No Full Stops in India||Mark Tully|
|The Discovery of India||Jawaharlal Nehru|