India, known as the Republic of India, is found country in South Asia. By area, it is the seventh-largest country and the second-most populated country in the world.
Archaeological evidence has informed us that a highly sophisticated urbanised culture – the Indus civilisation – dominated the north-western part of the subcontinent from about 2600 to 2000 BCE. From here onwards, India functioned as a virtually self-contained political and cultural arena. From this grew a distinctive tradition that was associated primarily with Hinduism, the origins of which can largely be traced to the Indus civilisation. Other religions, notably Buddhism and Jainism, began in India and over the centuries residents of the subcontinent nurtured a rich intellectual life in such fields as mathematics, astronomy, architecture, literature, music, and the fine arts.
Over time, India was intermittently disturbed by incursions from beyond its northern mountain wall. Beginning early in the 8th century CE, the most significant was the coming of Islam, brought from the northwest by Arab, Turkish, Persian, and other raiders. Some of those raiders remained and by the 13th century much of the subcontinent was under Muslim rule, and the number of Muslims steadily increased. It was only following the arrival of the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, in 1498, and then the establishment of European maritime supremacy in the region, when India was exposed to major external influences arriving by sea. This led to the decline of the ruling Muslim elite and the subcontinent being ruled by the British Empire.
Sitting upon layers of history, there is perhaps no other country on Earth as complex as India. It assaults the senses with its cacophony of sounds, its vibrant colours and its extreme contradictions. It is the unexpected nature of India that adds to the adventure.
UK/USA: You’ll need to get a visa before travelling to India. India issues various types of visas, including transit visas and e-visas. Make sure you get the right visa for your travel and that it’s valid for the purpose and duration of your stay. If you enter India on the wrong visa, you could be detained on arrival and you may be deported and blacklisted, meaning that you can’t enter India again. Make sure you meet entry requirements. You can find further information on the Indian High Commission website.
Both male and female travellers should have trousers and avoid vests as clothes to wear in India. In India, attire for women includes long skirts that go down to the ankle instead of pants. While T-shirts are acceptable, always err on the side of modesty. It’s a hot climate and dusty all year round so hats, sunglasses, lightweight but comfortable shoes, a cotton scarf or neckerchief are all useful pieces of clothing to have with you. Women should bring loose-fitting T-shirts, tunics and blouses with high necklines and long or short sleeves, and loose-fitting trousers and ankle-length skirts in cool, lightweight fabrics like cotton. Pack a lightweight scarf to wear around your neck for extra modesty and to cover your head when visiting temples and mosques
India’s main religion is Hindu, but it also has the second largest Muslim population in the world. Religious practices are an integral part of daily life. The cow is considered a sacred animal and they can often be seen wandering around the streets. Family values are highly respected throughout India and are fundamental in daily life.
The structure of the family is patriarchal – a woman must obey her father, her husband and her son. Arranged marriages are commonplace, but the urban middle-class population of India have begun to move away from arranged marriages. Families often live with three or four generations in the same household. Traditionally sons inherit and daughters receive a dowry, and childcare tends to be provided by female family members.
Tipping in India can be overwhelming as there isn’t really a tipping tradition. However, tipping is generally expected from you as a tourist. In fact, it is usually frowned upon if you don’t tip while in some of the more tourist populated areas. In restaurants and bars you may see a 10% service charge added to the bill. If a service charge isn’t on the bill then 5-10% is appropriate which should be given directly to the waiting staff. Andante Travels will take care of gratuities to restaurant staff, local guides and drivers.