Places, like people, have personalities. The personality of a place shines through in its food, its architecture and its people. And, just like in people, personalities of places too change. Places grow, their attitudes change, developments take place and prejudice too. But places are much more resilient than people, places live on while people die. The lives that live in a city or a nation may be obliterated, but the life of the nation itself may never be taken away. It will pulsate and grow, in ways you cannot imagine, and be back on its feet again. India, has a personality like a rich tapestry woven with silk, wool and even lint. Fabrics of all colors, bright and dull, come together to make this tapestry beautiful and worth a second look. We have walked in glory and we have walked in shame. But we are alive and very much here, a formidable force on the world map with a fascinating story to tell. You may have visited India earlier, but it is time you returned to taste the difference. Here are 20 reasons an international traveler must return to India:

  1. Mumbai, the Manhattan of India: Tall skyscrapers, corporate offices big and small, huddled in one place, crazy pedestrian traffic during office hours and your favorite coffee shop. Welcome to Nariman Point in Mumbai, the Manhattan of India. Plus, throw in a beach for the evening sea breeze to soothe your frayed nerves.
    mumbai skyscrapers

    You've fallen in love with the Mumbai skyline

  2. The outspoken Indian woman: If you have been sketching the Indian woman with downcast eyes, and fantasizing about her docile ways, it is time you turned the page of that book you have been reading to 'today'. Agreed, media is rife with stories of girls being violated even in the national capital, but there is also the story of the rising voice of the Indian woman. This voice, is rising against suppression and harassment, and can be heard inside homes and on the roads, inside buses and in trains. This is the voice of the new Indian woman.
    You admire the Indian women

    You admire the Indian women

  3. 29 states and seven Union territories: The number of states in India has gone up to 29 and the number of Union Territories is seven. The aspect of new economic resurgence is always there. But for a true globetrotter, the promise lies in the study of the political and social history that shaped the birth of these states. Rarely do you get a chance to land upon history so freshly made.
    To explore the new Indian states

    You want to explore the newly formed Indian states

  4. The Taj Mahal, of course: Do I need to remind you to visit the Taj Mahal. If you are in the northern region of India, a visit to the spectacular Taj Mahal is warranted. Even if you have outgrown the story of eternal love that puts this place on every lover's bucket-list, you surely cannot outgrow the love for the beautiful monument itself, which is being restored even as I write.
    Places to stay near the taj mahal

    You simply love visiting the Taj Mahal 

  5. International hotel chains in India: Gone are the days when a trip to India was a daunting task, accomplished by only the bravest, who were willing to take on the risk of diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and so many other 'ias'. Now, you can visit India and stay in plush hotels, which are at par with world standards. You see, if you have the moolah, we have the mahal (palace).
  6. The Ranthambore tiger: India is no longer a land of snake charmers and tigers. That being said, the tiger is our national animal and we do take pride in the fact that we have preserved this animal from the brink of extinction. Visit the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan for a safari to meet the king of the Asian jungle. And you will understand what powered Blake's poem (Tiger, Tiger burning bright).
    You're a wildlife lover

    You are a wildlife lover

  7. Now is the time to make those dollars work: Like I said before. India is a third world country and your dollars transform to a huge pile of money here. Convert those dollars into rupees, and get your money's worth in terms of facilities, services and (sometimes) obsequiousness. You can tour India for a quarter of what it takes to tour Europe. Of course, the charge for foreigner travelers  is higher than the charge for domestic tourists. But it is still very cheap.
  8. Culture on a platter: This is for the lazy ones out there. You want a simulated experience of India and do not really want to soil your Gucci shoes in the village mud. Yet, you are keen to try your hand at clay pottery. Well, we have devised places that bring together all that you want to eat, see and click, and still be near the comfort of your city hotel. Just visit Delhi Haat or any one of the numerous exhibitions that take place in all the big cities throughout the year.
    You are yet to explore Indian craft

    You are yet to explore Indian craft

  9. Mini pockets of diversity: Again, if you are traveling with budget time and within budget means, you may not be able to visit the nooks and corners of the country. But India fulfills its promise of diversity even within a single region. If you visit the National Capital Region (NCR), that includes New Delhi as well as neighboring industrial pockets of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, you will see diversity and oneness in the same place. People speaking different tongues, from different states, and yet at different rungs of the same ladder of ambition.
  10. Food, you do love our golgappa and biryani, rightIndia can keep calling you back with, if nothing else, the promise of food. Culinary delights from 29 states is too much to pass. And, if you miss the taste of your burrito bowl or pasta, or anything else that you love back home, we do have world class restaurants that serve international cuisine.
  11. The streets, the street food and the occasional cow: Yes, to be out on the streets in India is an adventure in itself. It is not just plain crowded, but it offers an audio-visual and olfactory treat. You can hear the horns blast, the cows moo, and the aroma of jalebis (sweet pretzels) freshly fried by the roadside wrecks havoc on your salivary glands.
    You love street food

    You're tempted by street food

  12. Shopping on the streets could not get more fun: The shops on Indian streets make Latin American carnivals look meh. Haggling vendors, bright garments, grinning shop boys, thieving loiterers-shops on Indian streets have it all. Even if you discount for the fact that a couple of dresses you buy may turn out defective, you still will have got yourself a decent bargain and will have had the time of your life in the process.
    You love street shopping

    You love street shopping

  13. Balance the equation between the destitute and the educated earning class:To decipher the riddle of how we have so many urchins on the street and yet end up sending so many educated IT guys to take your jobs. What happens in between? Economic disparity and population explosion.
  14. The miracle of 'jugaad': Our unorganized sector embodies the miracle of 'jugaad'. I am sure with a little more practice we can have our very own 7 sigma! {'Jugaad' is an 'innovative fix or a simple work around', for problems that are seemingly too complicated or expensive to address(wiki)}. You can just ask for anything and marvel at the way our people here bend rules to get it for you.
  15. Jallianwala Bagh Memorial: More than 90 years have passed and yet, the chilling story of brutal homicide makes us ashamed of humanity. The Jallianwala Bagh memorial is a testimony to the memory of the gruesome day when British soldiers gunned down hundreds of innocent men, women and children. More surprising however, is the warmth with which the hospitable descendants of the dead open their arms to outsiders.
    You want to revisit the history

    You want to revisit the history

  16. Leh LadakhYou have traveled across Dal Lake in Srinagar, and that has been your best memory of Kashmir, the paradise on earth. Return this time for a bike-ride on one of the highest roads in the world, at Leh, Ladakh.
  17. North East: And then, there is North East India, a quaint paradise of seven (now eight) states. Home to guileless people who are just starting to get a sense of what tourism can do for them, visit the northeast for hospitality sans the boisterousness.
    You want to experience the north-east

    You want to experience the north-east

  18. BPOs: Get a good look at all the Sams, and Mariahs with that fake American accent who have been peddling you toiletries or providing you with service solutions over the telephone or internet. Take a closer look at these educated people who are only too eager to learn about your ways and your culture, to be of service to you, these people who remain awake at nights since it is day where you live, who work on Indian holidays since it is not a holiday where you live.
  19. Paddle in the Kerala backwaters:  Kerala is again a complete experience, carefully packaged to be a tourist's delight. Slide across Kerala backwaters while sipping beer from a coconut, and nibbling at freshly caught fish that has been fried in-house.
    Enjoy the backwaters

    You miss the Kerala backwaters

  20. The Great Indian toilets: The benefits of the squatting position are many, except maybe for someone with troubled knees. Try the Indian toilets for a few days (do not fear, western toilets are installed in most public places), and you may decide to get an Anglo Indian toilet installed at your own home too!
the great indian toilet

You can't do without an Indian toilet!


Image credit :  SuSanA SecretariatRenjith BIndianhilbilly,  DellScott SmithRishabh Mathur, rajkumar1220, utpal, LokanthaLuisVillaVinoth Chandar

Published On: Monday, August 18th, 2014