Call2Call’s top five student gap year destinations. No.2 – India.
A culture cocktail.
The seventh largest country in the world, with a population of over 1.2 billion, it’s no surprise that India is an amazing place to explore. There are a whole host of activities to do and places to see, from beautiful beaches to incredible mountain ranges, impressive temples to bustling markets. It’s fast-paced all the way. Just make sure you take a moment to appreciate its beauty.
India’s coastline is vast, and among its sandy beaches, Goa is definitely one of the most popular. But it’s not just about sunbathing. Choose one of the many wildlife sanctuaries to view some creatures you never knew existed. There’s no doubt that you’ll come home with some award-winning shots on your camera.
Caught in the heat.
Climate plays a key factor in deciding when to visit India, whether you are travelling in the north or stopping by in the south; you’ll find the weather conditions vary drastically. The climate is split into three categories: the hot, the wet (monsoon season) and the cool. These differ in length depending on where you are in the country. If you’re already planning on boarding that plane, the most comfortable time to go is the cooler period, which is normally November to mid-February. However, if the heat gets too much, take a scenic trip to the Himalayas for a cool trekking tour.
Shop ‘til you drop.
India is chaotic. Delhi is no exception, and amid the addictive hustle and bustle, there are magnificent museums, ancient monuments and seemingly unlimited places to taste the local cuisine. If shopping is your thing, there are numerous bazaars and markets full of colorful textiles, aromatic spices and trinkets galore. Just remember to haggle hard.
Take a look at Delhi.
You must visit Delhi, India's largest city and captital, where there is so much to do and a place where the old and the new India meet head on. Any trip to this amazing citry would not be complete without doing the following:
• A tour of the Red Fort. This great sandstone carcass is a physical memory of the remaining days of the Mughal Empire and also the British era.
• An outing to the newly restored UNESCO world heritage site of Shah Humayun’s tomb will give you a better idea of the splendor of the Mughals.
• Journey back to the days of the Raj by visiting the Imperial Hotel. The plush hallways are polished and hung with chandeliers and beautiful art work. Step back in time and have a drink in the 1911 bar.
• Take a breather from the busy lifestyle, with one of the numerous spots that offer tranquility and quietness. Qutb Minar offers a peaceful walk, and a visit to Ghandi’s simple tomb is a must. One of the world’s most historic figures, he was laid to rest here and his message of peace lives on through the beautiful gardens.
• Wander around the district of Hauz Khas to get a real taste of Delhi. Crumbling, ancient Mughal tombs give you a flavour of some of India’s history whilst art, antique and fashion boutiques present a slice of new Indian culture.
Got to keep moving?
Obviously you want to experience a new place in every way possible – travelling abroad is not just about reading a book by a pool! One of the more expensive activities (but by all accounts worth it) is renting a houseboat and drifting through Indian canals. You don’t have to worry about food either, as it is often included in the price of renting the boat.
If water isn’t your thing, then why not try Vino Desert Safari? Delve into the wilderness and explore the natural sights. You are able to go on safari on your own or in a group and trips are from half a day up to a 13 day stint. Costs of these trips vary depending on where you stay and how much you use the jeep but are definitely worth doing if you want to really experience India.
Religion is hugely important in India. Hinduism is the major religion, and along with Hindu philosophy such as yoga and meditation, there is a lot to explore. The Taj Mahal of course speaks for itself. Regarded as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, its sheer size and beauty is overwhelming in itself. Just make sure you take a whole day to appreciate it, and if follow this advice to get the best from your visit!
Give some help along the way.
Volunteering is easy to find in India. Spend a few weeks working with elephants in the heart of Rajasthan, teach English in Bangalore or bring some joy to the lives of some underprivileged children from the slums. Whatever you choose to do, it’s a fantastic way to spend some of your trip.
The money question?
How much will this cost? The simple answer is that costs vary depending on what region you are in and also how much or how little sightseeing you do. Tourists will often be charged a bit more than citizens when entering popular sights. For a day, you could set yourself a budget of Rs 1,680.19 (£20) enabling you to eat and drink, stay at the cheaper hotels and also do a little sightseeing. This is a basic guide to get you going!
When it comes to food, India is really very cheap. For a fairly budget restaurant, you would be looking to spend 40rupees which is approximately 50pence! If you’re feeling a bit thrifty, a main meal at more expensive restaurants will set you back between Rs150 – Rs300 (£2-£4). Visit here for more information.
Stay well and healthy.
The biggest word of advice is to be extra careful about the water. Avoid tap water, or any food that has been washed in it. That includes ice and fresh fruit and vegetables that you haven’t peeled yourself. It’s a shame to miss out on some amazing opportunities because you have ‘Delhi Belly’ – just take care.