From visiting Sikh kitchens and the bustling hub of Asia’s largest spice markets in Delhi to seeing tigers in the wild in Ranthambhore or pulling back the curtain on Mumbai and lazing about in Goa, your time spent in India is guaranteed to be full of variety. Distinct cultures side-by-side, think Hindu temples, mosques and churches coexisting on the same city block. Travel only a very short distance and you will see some eclectic terrain from chaotic epicentres to national parks, lakeside cities and beachside states.
Join us on our latest blog post which is a photo diary of travels through India. Find out more about highlights from a private journey through this land of mist and magic, Crooked Compass style…
As anyone who has seen The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel knows, Indian weddings are not just any ordinary celebration. A traditional wedding in India usually lasts an average of three days and is a colourful, music-filled affair that spares no expense when it comes to food or drink.
For travellers, attending an Indian wedding when simply visiting the country is not something you should expect. However, now thanks to a new Indian start-up, you can purchase admission to a traditional Indian wedding and enjoy the revelry like a local. The idea is to help Indian couples that may need a bit of cash for the event and help travellers experience something very unique.
Taking a dip in the 23 theerthams (holy water bodies) in and around Ramanathaswamy Temple is an integral part of washing away sins. All are inside the temple premises except for Agnitheertham, which is located at the sea a short walk, just before the temple’s east gate. It’s customary to bathe in all the theerthams before worshipping the deity and bathing must be done in a set order, as directed by signs, starting at Agnitheertham first.
It’s believed that Sita bathed in the sea at that spot and offered prayers to Lord Shiva. Lord Agni (the fire god) also appeared there to convince Ram that Sita had been faithful to him while held captive by Ravan. You will be required to change out of your wet clothes after bathing in the theerthams at the temple in order to enter the inner sanctum where the deity is, so make sure to pack some dry clothes.
Spice markets are a window onto the history and culture of a place. Home to the largest wholesale spice market in Asia, Khari Baoli sits near the Red Fort in Old Delhi. Dating back to the 16th century, the stalls here sell spices, nuts and dried fruits from across northern India and Afghanistan. You’ll find everything from dried mulberries to khoya, a milk solid used in cakes and desserts, as well as classics like turmeric and allspice. The alleyways here are narrow and the pace frenetic, so be sure not to dawdle.
Khari Baoli is essential for foodies, market lovers, and photographers visiting Old Delhi. Some tips to make your visit more enjoyable: Wear comfortable footwear as Old Delhi visits require a fair bit of walking. Be sure to dress appropriately and avoid exposed shoulders, mid-riffs, or legs. Most importantly, be prepared for a culture shock, especially if you are visiting India for the first time.
Every day, Shri Harmandir Sahib, known worldwide as the Golden Temple, serves upwards of 50,000 free meals to whoever shows up. This beautiful gold-coated gurudwara (temple) in Amritsar is the most sacred place for Sikhs. It’s both the spiritual and temporal centre of the religion, and thousands of pilgrims, tourists, and followers arrive daily to worship, pray, volunteer and soak up the peaceful vibes.
The Sikh religion rests on several important values, including equality and community service. To that end, every gurudwara offers langar, a free communal kitchen. The langar at Golden Temple follows this tradition on a big scale, in keeping with the size of the gurudwara and the number of visitors it gets. You have to see the communal kitchen to believe it. The huge size of the rooms, cooking vats, mounds of food, plus the numbers of people prepping, cooking, and cleaning is a sight to behold. It’s virtually a small army at work, and many of them are volunteers.
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.