India through the eyes of foreign travelers

India through the eyes of foreign travelers

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I am partial about India and I can say a lot of things about my country. But it is also important what visitors think about India and what is India through the eyes of foreign travelers. As per records, more than 10 million foreign tourists visited India in 2017. Some had a fantastic experience, some were ok and some might have gone disappointed. A new culture and country are not easy to understand.
I have asked some basic questions to fellow bloggers who traveled to India recently and here is what they have to say about their experience.

Jill Bowdery from the United Kingdom – Blogs at Reading the Book Travel

Jill is a British blogger who has been traveling for more than 15 years, visited over 60 countries on 6 continents. She loves to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries she visits. And She loves to share a good story or two along the way!Jill Bowdery

Q: Please share your India travel experience.

I’ve made 3 trips to India so far! On my first visit in 2011, I visited South India, traveling through Chennai through Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. My second trip, in 2014, took me from Kolkata to Amritsar via Bodhgaya, Varanasi, Agra, Delhi, and Shimla. Then, most recently, I toured from Mumbai right round Gujarat in April 2018.

Every region of India has its own individual character, so each trip has been very different. I already know I will be returning – either Odisha or Central India will probably be next on my list!

Q: What you loved and what you hated?

I adore the bustle of India, the colors and the amazing food! I feel like it’s ok to be yourself in India, as there are so many different types of people that, as a foreigner, they are very accepting of you no matter who you are.

The blend of religions is fascinating to someone coming from a predominantly Christian country, and the chaotic swirl of the temples is hypnotizing.

In terms of hating aspects of India, obviously, poverty is challenging to see, as is some of the treatment of animals. Lack of cleanliness was also an issue on earlier trips, but that has improved in recent years with many places doing a lot to tackle litter, along with improvements in things like road infrastructure and wifi connectivity.

Q: Why do you suggest others travel to India?

If you want to experience a completely different outlook on life, and a culture very different from your own, there is nowhere like India. And the food is incredible!

India can get a bad press in certain countries, and I believe it’s important to visit it for yourself to really start to understand what’s going on. And another bonus is that the cost of living is much cheaper, so it’s a great budget destination!

Q: What precautions and tips you have for the first-time traveler?

Get up-to-date with your vaccinations before you leave, and check whether malaria is present in the region you are visiting (this can change according to the season, so always check again a month or so before you travel). Traveler’s stomach problems are common for foreign visitors, but I find taking probiotic help, as does sticking to vegetarian food – which is available everywhere as many Indians are vegetarian.

Q: Which are your must-visit places?

The Taj Mahal is a huge cliche but truly is incredible. Varanasi can be overwhelming, but once you figure out what’s going on it is an eye-opening place to visit.

But otherwise, I have really enjoyed some of the less obvious destinations. Tamil Nadu is full of history and the people are so friendly, while Gujarat has incredible local villages and great food (again!)

Q: What do you think about Indian food?

I’ve already mentioned it several times, so it’s clear I love Indian food! Coming from the UK we are already used to eating curry, so to experience the range of options available in India is wonderful. And in case you’re worried it will be too spicy, there are plenty of milder options available.

Synopsis I adore India and have already been 3 times with more trips planned. The culture, color, and relaxed atmosphere is like nowhere else on earth, and really has to be experienced for yourself!

Also check Travel tips for India

Jacky from Austria – Blogs at Nomad Epicureans

Jacky is one half of the traveling duo at Together they travel the world and write about off-beat destinations and cultural experiences. Jacky

Q: Please share your India travel experience.

My first time traveling to India was in the summer of 2014. Now, I should say that I was in a very fortunate position. My husband is from India and we were set to visit his family for a month. At the time, my husband’s family and friends were equally split between Pune and Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra. We based ourselves in Pune but also spent a week in the bustling city of Mumbai. Additionally, we took some time to explore other parts of Maharashtra, such as Aurangabad as well as the Ellora and Ajanta caves.

Q: What you loved and what you hated?

I’m obviously biased, but I truly loved every minute we spent in India. First and foremost, I enjoyed my in-law’s hospitality. No matter where I went, I was showered with gifts and my face stuffed with Indian food. And let me tell you, Maharashtrian food is delicious! I’m sure I put on several kilos thanks to the amazing barfi I had day after day (think of marzipan but made from different kinds of nuts).

I also enjoyed the craziness, the traffic, the loudness, the chaos. Although admittedly it was rather overwhelming in the beginning. I mean, just crossing the street is a skill in itself, which you’ll need to acquire.

What I didn’t like was the stares and attention I attracted as a fair, blonde, blue-eyed foreigner. In the beginning, it was funny how people wanted to take photos of me. But when you start to get surrounded by a group of men trying to take pictures with you, it becomes scary.

The most difficult thing to stomach was the confrontation with absolute poverty. Of course, I knew people live in slums in India (as in other parts of the world). But actually seeing children begging in the street, trying to sell me balloons and other trinkets, was absolutely heart-breaking.

Q: Why do you suggest others travel to India?

Traveling to India is perfect for those who actually want to challenge themselves. For those, who truly want to leave their comfort zone.  Nothing in India is easy – from dealing with spicy foods to food poisoning, to transport, to shopping – everything is a challenge. India will force you to grow personally. It will teach you to know your limits, but also give you the chance to go beyond your limits.

Q: What precautions and tips you have for the first-time traveler?

I think the most important thing is to come to India with the right mindset. You’ll have to keep a very open mind to enjoy this country. You should also be prepared to not like it at first. India is the kind of place, which grows on you slowly as you become familiar with the customs and get used to the chaos.

It’s important that you realize and accept that you will not like every food that you will sweat like an animal, that you WILL come down with diarrhea, and that you will feel helpless sometimes. That is what it means to travel to India.

Personally, I think traveling to India is easiest if you know somebody there. It’s worth connecting with people you know or find a local through portals such as Couchsurfing (or similar). Or connect with people while you travel. Talk to them, get to know them. You won’t be disappointed by their hospitality!

Q: Which are your must-visit places?

I know most people dream of visiting places such as Jaipur or the Taj Mahal. And while they are on my bucket list too, I definitely think you should get off the beaten track in India. I love Mumbai, but in my opinion, Pune is an even better place to explore. It is more intimate (if you can say that for a city of more than 3 million) and much easier to get around. Additionally, I’m amazed by the growing café and restaurant scene in Pune. We’re heading back there this summer and already got dozens of places on our list to check out!

Also, Pune is the perfect base for exploring the Western Ghats, a lush green mountain range. Visiting during monsoon meant we got to see it in its full glory. You have not seen green until you have seen the ghats during monsoon!

Q: What do you think about Indian food?

I’m not sure I can speak of Indian food in general, but perhaps only Maharashtrian food. I must say I enjoyed most of the food I had, particularly my mother-in-law’s home cooking. What I found particularly surprising is the extensive and creative use of vegetables. Of course, many Indians follow a purely vegetarian diet, so a wide variety of vegetarian dishes should be expected. Nonetheless, coming from Central Europe, we probably don’t use more than 10-15 vegetables in our cooking.

Another “issue” of course is the spice level. Although we exclusively ordered “non-spicy” food for me, it was usually still much too spicy for me. I must say though, that I got rather used to it towards the end. In any case, everything I ate was absolutely delicious. The only thing I honestly didn’t like at all was gavran chicken – I’m rather partial to broiler chicken.

Synopsis – I love coming to India and enjoy the craziness & hospitality. I am planning to explore other parts of India during my upcoming trip.

 Also, check What to wear in India and Packing list

Nafisa Habib from Bangladesh – Blogs at My Own Way to Travel

Nafisa is a solo traveler and nature lover, enjoy exploring new destinations, food, and culture. And also loved to be fascinated by the artistic old architecture around. Nafisa Habib

Q: Please share your India travel experience.

I’ve visited many times India and explored many states till now. It is always nice to revisit India as I find many similarities between India and Bangladesh in terms of culture, food, and language. I love the taste of South Indian food. Kolkata and Bengaluru are my all time favorite cities. Every artistic Mughal architecture in India is my top favorite. Every time I come back from India with many memorable travel experiences. As a nature lover, Northeast India is too fascinating to me. I wish to explore some more states from East India during my future trip.

Q: What you loved and what you hated?

Many things are there to love, but I just loved the outstanding natural beauty of Sonamarg in Kashmir during my recent trip to Jammu and Kashmir.

And yes, I enjoy speaking in Hindi. I loved to communicate in Hindi during many trips with locals on the road, lol. There are many sweet benefits of that, trust me. It is interesting to me travel by train (Sleeper Class). It creates one instant bonding with passengers, which I loved. I loved the Holi festival for colors and Diwali for the light. I loved being in India during my student life. Anyways the list is going to be a long one, so I’m quitting here…

I enjoy road trip but I think taxi fare is too high per day in India. Not all places are safe and common to travel solo. Sometimes you’ve to overcome the curious mind with many questions. So you got to travel smart in India to handle every situation smartly as well. I also don’t like the tipping culture. If I really like any service, I’ll tip with my own consent. But I hated when I got to kind of force for tipping.

Q: Why do you suggest others travel to India?

Everyone should travel India to explore the diversity of culture, food, and lifestyle in the different state of India. Many historic places are must-visit for all. The landscape beauty of Northeast India is outstanding; all travelers should more explore this unpopular part of India as well.

Q: What precautions and tips you have for the first-time traveler?

As a first-time traveler before visiting any state in India must take a good idea of that particular state. Every state carries different culture and tradition, their language is different, lifestyle and food as well. As a solo traveler, I’ll suggest handling any situation on the road smartly. Don’t trust everyone on the road. Don’t explore any new destination during night hour. Maintain a traditional or proper outfit depends on the specific destination. Respect the cultural values no matter where you travel in India.

Q: Which are your must-visit places?

There are many beautiful places in India. But the following I’ve explored and loved the most. Definitely must-visit for all:
•    Pristine beaches of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
•    The backwaters beauty of Alleppey in Kerala
•    Adventure in Gulmarg, Kashmir
•    The outstanding natural beauty of Sonamarg and Pahalgam in   Kashmir
•    Udaipur in Rajasthan
•    City Life of Kolkata
•    Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi
•    Taj Mahal in Agra
•    Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh

Q: What do you think about Indian food?

Indian food I like for many varieties. The taste of vegan South Indian dishes is mouth-watering. Now my top most favorite food from India is Keralan food. I loved to try many street foods as well. Chilli Bajji/Pakoda, Puri, Chaat, Chole Bhatore, Sweet Lassi, Masala Dosa, Aloo Paratha are some of my favorites. But any desserts from Kolkata are too yummy.

Synopsis – I like the culture and monuments of India. I have visited many countries but I like the essence of India.

This is how India through the eyes of foreign travelers, I am able to converse. There are many other people with different experiences. There may be good or bad experiences in India, this is my small effort to explore and get some different points of view about India. I will continue my effort to know more from other travelers.

Also read Pictures from India that will make your visit now

Also read Naturally most beautiful places in India

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2 thoughts on “India through the eyes of foreign travelers”

  1. I love love love this! <3 My boyfriend is Malayali so I'm definitely a bit biased, but I'd go so far as to say India is one of my favourite countries on this planet! The food, the views, the people… just everything is amazing! Granted, I've also had some really bad experiences there but hand on heart would make the permanent move over there right now if I had the resources. Thanks for sharing the view of foreigners 🙂

    1. That’s interesting 🙂 By the way Kerala cuisine is one of my favorite.
      Thanks for such a lovely comment <3

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