My Impressions of India + Travel Tips

My Impressions of India + Travel Tips

I’ve hardly ever visited a country that has left so many impressions behind such as India. This is firstly related to the huge differences between our western culture and secondly to the wonderful culture and the great people there 🙂

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I believe India is a place that you either love or don’t like at all. At first sight also I suffered from a little culture shock because I didn’t think beforehand that the country’s poverty, poor hygiene standards and pollution were actually that bad.

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On the other hand at second sight I even fell in love a bit with the country and the people there. For instance Taj Mahal is one of the most stunning buildings I have EVER seen!! Furthermore, the beautiful clothes of the Indian people and the mostly great vibe throughout the entire country (even among the poor ones) influenced my picture of India to a very high extent. You can find many legendary men there such as him and even the poor people in India seem to be happy. Most likely many people in India who own little are more happy that many people in Europe who own much…

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Where should I start: Unfortunately I had only 6 days available to spend it in India. In Germany I met a wonderful men who currently works in Mumbai so of course I wanted to see him there and also visit Taj Mahal. Hence, I’ve chosen two lovely hotels in Mumbai and one beautiful hotel in Agra, directly at Taj Mahal. A detailed hotel review about the hotels will also follow because I was super happy with all of them 🙂

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In Mumbai we spent quite some time in the hotel. I can recommend you to visit AER, the rooftopbar bar of Four Seasons Mumbai. You can watch a stunning sunset from up there 🙂 Also dinner at the restaurant San-Qi was excellent! And if you are looking to do some shopping I can recommend you the visit Phoenix Mall.

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The flights from Germany to Mumbai aren’t very expensive. I flew directly from Cape Town though to Mumbai which was quite a long way. But it was totally worth it! After staying 3 nights in Mumbai we flew with the Indian low cost carrier IndiGo for below 50€ from Mumbai to Delhi. The flight was really pleasant, however, you should keep in mind that if your luggage exceeds 15kg you will be charged for the addional kilos. Because of our heavy camera equipment etc. we therefore had to pay quite a high amount extra. Besides that the flight was fine and I would fly with this airline anytime again.

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What many people don’t know is that Taj Mahal is not located in Delhi but in the approx. 3 to 4 hours distant town Agra which can only be reached by car or train. Because I believe that you don’t know a country until you’ve taken public transportation there we decided to take the train from Delhi to Agra. The train station in Delhi is approx. one hour away from the airport which is due to UBER not a problem.

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The train ride was quite an adventure though! My male company purposely booked our tickets in first class including a/c. However, a first class in India is not even by far comparable to even a second class in Germany 😀 As a blonde girl I got stared at there quite a lot which happened everywhere in India though. So I was quite happy always having had a tall and strong guy by my side 😀

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The compartments and the entire train wasn’t in a really good condition (you don’t even wanna see the second class) 😛 However, the train ride was quite pleasant! There were even toilets on the train which of course cannot compete with any western hygiene standards. I was most shocked that the entire waste was thrown out of the window of the train. Therefore, almost the entire rail route was full of waste. I believe the pollution as well as the waste problem were the things that shocked me most about India.

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On the other side visiting Taj Mahal made up for everything 😀 I can recommend you going there early in the morning because it will not be as crowded as during the day or in the evening. The doors at Taj Mahal open at 6:40 am. In order to watch the sunrise at Taj Mahal you should get there around 5:45 or 6 am because the entire security check will take some time. We arrived around 6:30 am at Taj Mahal and unfortunately just missed the sunrise. Only for that reason it is already worth coming back 😀

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Even without sunrise Taj Mahal is simply a dream and should definitely see it at least once in your lifetime 🙂

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A Secret Tip of mine: If you also wanna take such amazing pictures from the water ask the people standing in front of Taj Mahal. Show them one of these pictures and they will guide you to the fisherman who drives out via boat to Taj Mahal for just around 12€. We did this right after visiting Taj Mahal which was great timing because it was around that time when he starts to work. And because some of you asked: No, I didn’t use photoshop for these pictures (I don’t even own it…haha) 😀 The reflections are 100% natural! You can imagine how amazing it looked in reality 😀

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My company even suggested to get a tradional Saree. In Agra they are very hard to find so I can recommend you getting them in a bigger city. We found mine at Mohey (directly on the other side of Phoenix Mall) in Mumbai. In this mall there are also other saree stores but the sarees there don’t have such a good quality and are even more pricy. My saree including blouse only cost around 100€ which is considering the amazing quality and materials used really not a lot. I hope to be able to wear it again… maybe to an Indian wedding or so 😀

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Here are some more useful Tips for India:

  • Don’t forget to apply for a visa beforehand
  • Always pay attention to your belongings
  • As a woman try to always walk around with a male company
  • Always carry some desinfection fluid and some paper towels with you
  • Never eat street food
  • If you plan on taking the train definitely book a first class ticket
  • Don’t drink tab water and always bring enough water bottles with you
  • Cows are holy in India so treat them well 😉

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If you pay attention to theses things above you will have a great experience in India. To me India is definitely a country which left a huge impression on me and which one needs to visit at least once in your lifetime! Next time I also wanna visit other cities such as Jaipur and Co. It is definitely worth spending some more time in India and maybe even doing a round trip throughout the entire country 🙂

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Have you ever been to India? And if so: What were your impressions of the country?

Xoxo

Maddi

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Kommentare

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Comments
  • Zizou04 December 2016
    Reply

    Great honest feedback about India!
    I am also visiting India for the first time, and like you I was shocked with the pollution and lack of hygiene everywhere. Being a health professional I was really worried about picking up something or getting sick(specially that we are traveling with our 2.5 year old). It was a bit hard to find places to eat with minimum hygiene standards during our travels(much easier to eat out in big cities). We did the golden triangle(Jaipur, Agra, and New Delhi), Jim Corbett and Nainital. Visiting the monuments, the beautiful nature and wildlife in the jungles of Jim corbett national park made it all worth it though.
    I would add to your travel tips to carry a first aid kit including some basic meds as it can be hard sometimes to find a pharmacy if you are not in a big city. I usually carry antihistamine tablets, antihistamine cream for allergic reactions or mosquito bites, antidiarreah med, heartburn/GI upset meds, and a general antibiotic recommended by travel medicine. Depending on which area in India you are in, covering skin is recommended to avoid mosquito bites, which is a concern in many areas here(malaria, dengue, chikungunya) .
    Malaria prophylaxis is recommended when visiting India, I would also recommend getting the thyphoid vaccine before visiting, these are all based on studies and publications by the CDC(center for disease control in the US).
    Like you mentioned carrying a hand sanitizer is important, I would add a small packet of baby wipes which can be used in bathrooms and other purposes are well.
    And last but not least, having a mask to cover your nose and mouth really helps with the pollution you encounter in big cities. These are all things that fit in a small medicine bag and shouldn’t take up much space in a backpack.
    Once you adjust to the different culture and hygiene standards you really enjoy the beauty of the country and the people. My favorite encounters were with villagers during our road trips, most of people we met were so humble and friendly 😊.

  • aishakar9124 December 2016
    Reply

    I am super glad you went to India with an open mind and explored a lot. I definitely agree on hygiene, etc and to be safe with sanitizer and always have fresh water bottles or pack your own bottles of boiled water from home. Regardless, as kind as you were I couldn’t help but sense so much privilege and naivety in your post and would highly recommend reading up on the country more.
    I could go on forever but the few points that bugged me:
    – Your comments on poverty. The nation has a ton of poverty and the people are some of the most welcoming in the world but I don’t know how you comment on that living in the Oberoi and Taj hotels, 5 star hotels in both Agra and Mumbai that too for a mere 6 days. You are likely basing this walking on the street and while it’s great you have a good impression of these people, know that life is not easy for them or as happy as you may think photographing them in their colorful garb. Just something to think about when you go back home and have access to all the available charities online. It’s frustrating to see Western travelers go there and take photos of people who live on $2/day and think they know their lives

    – The extravagant sari at the Taj Mahal. Obviously it was for photos and that’s understandable, the location is fantastic. But based on the standards of living or even on trying to remotely explore a culture’s real essence by fitting into the local culture, you learn what is appropriate to wear and where. It was the equivalent of someone wearing a Toga to tour the ruins at Athens to be “Greek”. That is a special occasion/wedding sari style and it screams cultural appropriation. It was like a costume for your personal photoshoot in the land of the poor and unhygienic as you mentioned.

    – it’s very easy to go to India and visit the Taj and comment on some random spiritual men you saw at the train station and say wow what an amazing culture. I don’t blame you given the small amount of time you had but don’t pretend to understand the region based on such a limited experience. Not trying street food for example or even that a woman should have a male company. I know tons of strong independent women who have made the journey to the Taj and also many visitors from abroad who have eaten street food. You need to be careful and smart about it but again, the blatant categorizing of the country… frustrating.

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