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17 facts you thought you knew about a trip to India (Part 1)

When fellow traveler Adam Taylor Smith sent me his new guide about his 4 month trip to India referred to as “Where Camels Dance and Cows Wander, An Indian Odyssey” I used to be immediately enthralled.

India is a type of locations that each intrigue me and make me very apprehensive; and I regret to say I’ve never been there; I hope to in the future create a travel itinerary for it!

For my part India goes from the uncooked expertise of human survival, to the extravagant display of art and tradition in Bollywood films and local festivals.

From the unimaginable jaw-dropping architecture of temples, to the straightforward and rustic structure of the ashrams.

Adam and I had been corresponding for a couple of years as a result of I’ve borrowed a few of his superb footage earlier than. However this time, he had something new to present me!

In his travelogue guide Adam presents a few of the many faces of this immense and numerous land, how he skilled it head on with all its depth and what we’re missing if we select to stay ignorant about it.

Hearth Dancers of the Bikaner Camel Pageant.
Photograph: Adam Taylor Smith, Where Camels Dance and Cows Wander.

Adam’s e-book consists of a free How to Plan a Trip to India digital supplement, with all of the basics and practicalities of any journey to this superb land.

On this interview I requested Adam a collection of questions about his trip to India, so he will help us respect and understand this magnificent nation and know what it truly is like to travel there.

Right here we go!

1. Why does India both intrigue and make us westerners apprehensive?

I feel that within the Western imagination, India represents the last word in each the unique and the unknown.

Culturally, there are in all probability few locations on Earth which might be extra totally different from the Westernized world than India.

Though the speedy advance of capitalism in the nation is slowly changing that, I consider that its protected to say that culturally, much of India still offers vital distinction to a lot of the Western world.

So, relying on the individual’s viewpoint, that may either be intriguing or make one apprehensive.

2. How did your trip to India come about?

Earlier than arriving in India, I had already been (almost constantly) backpacking around the globe for over 2 years.

Whereas on the street, other travelers typically requested me if I’d been to India. They all the time had robust impressions of the place.

So, it appeared a logical step to go to the nation, as I was already positive that a trip there can be filled with discoveries. And I used to be right!

three. How do you determine where to go in India?

Deciding the place to go was relatively straightforward: I simply consulted my lonely planet guidebook and talked to other vacationers.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals go to the nation every year, so there’s a well-trodden tourist path via the nation.

Additionally, I took climate into consideration, as I began within the North during Winter after which followed the warmer climate southward.

four. How can you navigate India? When do you use a guidebook and when do you use a native information?

Though some individuals choose using guides, I personally not often did. I primarily relied on my guidebook.

To taxi inside cities I often relied on tuk-tuks: auto-rickshaws which might be the backbone of inner-city transport in much of the country.

To get across the country I virtually solely relied on India’s in depth practice network. Checking schedules and shopping for tickets is straightforward thanks to the web site www.cleartrip.com.

Typically I might be waitlisted for a place if the practice was full, but virtually inevitably I might make it on the practice. Canceling tickets by means of that website can also be very simple.

On the rare occasion once I desired to get a ticket on the final minute, I’d attempt to reap the benefits of the specifically reserved vacationer tickets which are bought at a number of the main practice stations.

Practice journey in India is a nice worth for a Westerner, and the beds within the extra luxurious (however still very reasonably priced) coaches are completely high quality for overnight journeys.

I’m going into rather more element on this matter in the free planning supplement to the e-book.

Trip to India. Elephanta. Photo: Adam Taylor

Elephanta Caves of Mumbai. Photograph: Adam Taylor Smith, Where Camels Dance and Cows Wander

5. What is going to we discover in India? What is going to surprise the regular westerner traveler about India?

Any individual can discover something in India, and that is a part of what makes the country so special.

Whether or not you’re in search of a chilly Himalaya mountain retreat, a religious escape, a lovely seashore, or an immersive cultural expertise, all of it may be had right here.

There’s so much variety within the nation that it might be unfair to generalize about what a typical traveler can anticipate to discover.

Nevertheless, there are two issues that the western traveler will doubtless observe in most places that they go: it’s going to in all probability be more crowded than what they are used to, and spirituality can be interwoven into the every day lives of almost all the locals that they arrive across.

Surprises happen each single day for a Western visitor.

A good friend as soon as informed me that if you sit in a crowded intersection in India for thirty minutes and intently observe every thing that is going around you, you’ll see extra in these thirty minutes than you have in your whole life.

That sense of constant surprise is what makes visiting India each exhilarating and, at occasions, overwhelming for the Western traveler.

6. How can a normal individual make sense of the robust contrasts in Indian tradition? How to put collectively the temples and Bollywood? How to put together extreme wealth and extreme poverty?

Nicely, in the few Bollywood films that I’ve seen there’s typically an undercurrent of (or no less than a nod to) spirituality, in order that doesn’t necessarily contrast with the temple-filled landscape of India.

But when one is inclined to see materials wealth as opposed to religious wealth, I might argue that, in a nation where so much poverty exists, it is sensible that the escapism offered by its film business would typically painting idealized worlds of material consolation.

I’m not an skilled on Indian historical past, however I do consider that both the country’s colonial history and its very current status as an unbiased nation state play a giant half in the disparity between the wealthy and the poor.

In addition, the legacy of the Hindu caste system has to be considered, as it institutionalized social and economic inequality for hundreds of years, and this cannot be overcome overnight.

However on the whole, I feel that the large contrasts in Indian society might be attributed to the large differences in history, language, geography, and tradition that have naturally advanced in a place that now has over a billion individuals.

Trip to India. Girl. Photo: Adam Taylor

Young woman in Hampi. Photograph: Adam Taylor Smith, Where Camels Dance and Cows Wander

7. How will a trip to India change the westerner traveler?

Nicely, the first requirement is to come to the country with a brave spirit and an open mind.

With out these qualities, I feel touring anyplace gained’t essentially influence self-change, and this is very true for the overseas visitor to India.

On the similar time, I consider that folks finally discover what they’re in search of. Many foreigners come to India within the hopes of rising spiritually, they usually can definitely achieve that right here.

However, some just need to get together or chill out at a resort in Goa, during which case they are going to be modified little.

But for anyone who stretches themselves more, who keeps an open mind, they may have loads of opportunity in India to expertise no matter personal transformation that they search.

8. You had some expertise with Vipassana meditation at a meditation middle. What was that like? And are you nonetheless meditating?

That was one of many more unique experiences that I had in India. For ten days, I and a hundred other individuals didn’t converse a single phrase to one another, and silently meditated for over ten hours a day.

I felt as if I used to be sampling the life of a monk (though monks sometimes do converse!) It was a actually unimaginable feeling to settle down all the background chatter in my thoughts, and study to focus all of my consideration inward.

It was also very, very challenging and required a lot of discipline.

Ten-day Vipassana courses are provided everywhere in the world. I would really like to attend another one when the circumstances are proper. For several months after the course I was meditating for over an hour each day.

I nonetheless meditate from time to time, however might undoubtedly do it more typically.

9. Do you assume a trip to India might convey extra inside peace and tolerance on the earth? How?

I feel that with the fitting mindset, touring anyplace may give the traveler extra inside peace and make them more tolerant.

Once we see that the slender circumstances through which we’ve got lived our lives are simply that, slender circumstances, than our former ignorance and extremist viewpoints can begin to erode.

Because India is such a totally different world for many Westerners, than perhaps sure, a go to to India particularly has the potential to promote inside peace and tolerance.

Nevertheless, all of it comes back to the visitor’s mindset: if they are passing judgment upon all the things overseas that they come into contact with, constructive change won’t end result.

10. What are a few of probably the most memorable experiences you had in India? Would you go back?

Lots of my most memorable experiences got here from attending local festivals. Indian tradition is so unbelievably rich, and countless festivities are held all across the country, all yr long.

Relying upon the pageant’s reputation with overseas vacationers, the Western customer might find themselves one in every of simply a handful of outsiders current. This in itself is certainly a unique expertise!

I might love to return to India. There are such a lot of issues that I didn’t get to see or expertise on my first trip, I feel like I might spend one other 4 months in the nation and never even do half of what I bear in mind.

Particularly, I might love to spend a while up close to the Himalayas, as I’ve heard that those areas are completely spectacular.

Trip to India. Boy. Photo: Adam Taylor

Boy in Varkala. Photograph: Adam Taylor Smith, Where Camels Dance and Cows Wander

Let’s end it there for immediately, however stay tuned for part 2 of this unimaginable interview, there’s a lot more to come resembling security recommendations and the highest places to visit! A not-to-miss continuation!

In the meantime, let me depart you with this thought:

I feel in the long run my apprehension has to do with the issues I might have to face about myself if I went to India; my very own prejudice and my very own concept of what’s “normal” and “acceptable”.

However isn’t travel about challenging one’s beliefs and seeing the world via a totally different lens? Isn’t it about stretching one’s own limits and experiencing sudden issues?

If this interview has sparked your curiosity, you can preview the primary part of the ebook or buy it as hardcover, paperback or e-book (which includes the free supplement) at his web site.

I am not affiliated with Adam’s guide, I just assume it’s a beautiful, heart-opening learn.

Have been any of your fears about India dispelled right here? What different questions do you have about India?
Depart a remark in the area under or be a part of us in Fb!

Tags: India, Inspiring

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