A to Z Blog - India

Updated: May 21


Sorry a little late with September's A to Z Blog, I've been having too much fun traveling and exploring Taiwan. Yes, Taiwan could be T (wink). More on Taiwan later. There are lots of great countries to visit with the letter I Including Iceland, Italy, Israel, Ireland and of course India. It was another difficult month trying to decide which one of these really interesting destinations I would share with you. I have been very lucky to have traveled to India five times, with my latest adventure this past February, taking us to the home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. What an adventure it was too! Here are some insightful tips and highlights you should not miss while enjoying your trip to Incredible India.

Lady picking Darjeeling tea leaves on a plantation in India.
Darjeeling Tea Plantation ©MDHarding

A to Z Blog - India

Getting to India

There are several airlines and cities you can fly into within India. I flew with British Airways from Edinburgh via London and landing in Delhi.

Indian Visa

If traveling with a British passport, you have two options. One being the E-Visa or applying for a physical visa directly from the Indian Consulate in London.

On our last visit in February the E-Visa had really taken off and the lines going through passport control were horrendous!! After two hours we were frantically looking for our luggage on the baggage belts, but with the amount of time taken all traces of the flight number had been removed from the baggage screens. I have never experienced this before but then again I normally travel to India in March and November.

There are positive and negative points for both visa options. The E-Visa is very fast and is less expensive (currently £62) but can be a little problematic with sizing the photograph and copy of passport, you have to attach. The physical visa can take up to a week. As I'm located in Edinburgh I have used a visa processing company called (will need to have a think and get back to you on this). It saved time traveling to London and waiting in line. On another occasion, I have applied through VFS Global who are located in Edinburgh. When I next travel to India I will revert back to the visa processing company in London. As it was very quick and efficient service. After a long flight, all you want to do is get your bags and re-coup at the hotel before exploring.

Guard in red uniform, sat on brown and white horse holding a flag by a historical firing gun, outside the gates of Fateh Prakesh Palace, Udaipur, India
Fateh Prakesh Palace, Udaipur, Inda ©MDHarding

India

India is 13 times larger than the UK, spanning 3.287 million km² and has a population of over 1.3 billion! Each of the 29 states has something unique to offer. There are a number of options available to travel throughout the country, train, plane and of course automobile. The train can be a little haphazard at times, being cancelled or severally delayed, although this past February our Northern India by Rail went smoothly. As with most countries, flying can now be a little tiresome, with lines for check-in, security and finally boarding. Did you know India has segregated airport security lines? IndiGo Airways offers reasonable fares between many of the states. Maybe like me, you would like to travel independently with a pre-booked taxi? What fun, that trip was!

Sunset at India Gate with tuk tuk, people and traffic.
Delhi as the sun goes down on India Gate ©MDHarding

Agra

One of the wonders of the world - The Taj Mahal should not be missed! Built between 1631-1648 the white marble mausoleum commissioned by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife. As well as the incredible masterpiece itself lookout for the colorful parakeets. The best time to visit is early morning before the large tour groups arrive. If you are short of time why not pre-book a one-day private tour from Delhi.

Image of Taj Mahal, with reflection in water feature, lined by upright small evergreen trees.
The Taj Mahal ©MDHarding

India's Colourful South

The south of India is bursting with colour and culture. Did you know you can enjoy a well-being Ayurveda retreat, stay onboard a houseboat while exploring Kerala's backwaters, visit tea plantations and much more!

Varkala Beach, at the back lined with small boats, restaurants, craft selling huts and coconut palm trees.
Varkala Beach ©MDHarding

North India

The north of India has a completely different ambiance, fresh cool air, more hills and the towns are spread across different levels. Did you know you can stay on Dal Lake in one of its walnut houseboats? Visit the home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala or witness the India - Pakistan Border Ceremony?

Dal Lake with it's many house boats reflected in the water, in the background a large monastery sitting on the mountain.
Dal Lake, Kashmir ©MDHarding

Unique Experiences