Here at Crooked Compass HQ, we spend a lot of time researching, chatting with our local partners to create impressive, immersive and intriguing travel experiences for our travellers to ensure you really get under the skin of the destination you are travelling to and understand the culture, customs and lifestyles of your chosen destination.
We share with you some of our incredible experiences on offer in India – allowing you to travel deeper.
Biriyani Walk – Delhi and Agra
Biriyani has been an integral part of Indian cuisine from the palaces of the Sultans to the small back alleys in the most remote villages. We take you on a walking that explores the many regional and subtle foreign influences that make this dish so special. Weave through Delhi and Agra’s biriyani hubs through the old market areas and see the huge handis (cooking pots) of fragrant rice and secret combinations of meat and spices that beguile the senses.
Witness Traditional Indian Wrestlers, Varanasi
Most countries have a traditional style of wrestling. In India, wrestling takes place in a clay or dirt pit. The soil is mixed with ghee and other things and is tended to before each practice. Traditional Indian wrestling isn’t just a sport – it’s an ancient subculture where wrestlers live and train together and follow strict rules on everything from what they can eat to what they can do in their spare time. The focus is on living a pure life, building strength and honouring their wrestling skills. Wrestlers belong to gyms called akharas, where wrestlers live under strict rules. Wrestlers diets consist of milk, almonds, ghee, eggs and chapattis and each wrestler has a job to do in preparing meals.
Walk through the Spice Markets, Cochin
Though Jew Town has not lost much of its earlier glory, it has retained its status as an important centre of spice trade. The exotic odour of the finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, tumeric and pepper, also known as black gold, emanate from the spice warehouses lining the street and fills it. The bustling trade of spices if evidenced in the trucks going to and from the warehouses, loads being taken in and out using pushcarts and the sight of workers drying, sorting and packing spices.
Sunday Book Market (Chor Bazaar), Delhi & Kolkata
From students to artists to designers to theorists to activists – Daryaganj is the favourite place to be on a Sunday. Life begins at 7am every Sunday, over decades this old book bazaar is a paradise for book lovers all over Delhi and beyond, as the mind-boggling variety of rare books are usually available in this market at very affordable prices. Many book-lovers, who throng the weekly market at Daryaganj are surprised to see books once presented to prime ministers by their authors, being sold on the pavements. If you are lucky on a Sunday, you might end up getting previously owned classics as throw away prices.
Kachpura Village Walk, Agra
In the evening, take a heritage and village walk. Walk through the villages across from the Taj Mahal, on the other bank of the Yamuna River. This part of Agra will provide you a fascinating insight into traditional rural life and some rich architectural heritage of India. These villages are part of a community development program where a local person will guide you around. Visit the lovely Mahtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) from where you can watch the sunset over the Taj Mahal.
Flower Market Delhi & Kolkata
A visit to the flower markets is an early morning start, usually around 5am. Watched as local and international flowers are traded and how garlands for temples, traditional ceremonies and weddings are woven – in fact this is a great opportunity for you to try your hand at it!
Spice and Dry Fruit Markets, Agra
Walk through the local vegetable and spice markets of Agra – an area often overlooked by most travellers through the city. Stroll through the local markets to see the produce available and to familiarise yourself with the essential ingredients of North Indian cooking. You will learn about the various spices and condiments used in an Indian meal.
Want to discover India a little deeper? Check our range of unique small group tours!
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.