An Indian itinerary
India's rich and multi-layered cultures are dominated by religious and spiritual themes. While it is a mistake to assume that there is a single unified Indian culture, there certainly are unifying themes that link the various cultures. India's cultural heritage is expressed through its myriad of languages in which much great literature and poetry has been written. It can be seen in its music both in its classical Carnatic and Hindustani forms and in modern Bollywood music. India also has a vast tradition of classical and folk dances. Art and theatre flourish amongst the bustling cities of the country, against the backdrop of the ever expanding western influences.
Cultural aspects in India
Vibrant processions are seen going on everywhere, especially during festivals that can be seen on an Indian itinerary. Ganesh Chatutrthi processions in Mumbai, Dusshera in Mysore and so on are some important processions which have to be seen. Along with these, marriage and religious processions are also seen on the roads. You can see people dance, play music and drums, play with colors and so on. Indians value their family system a lot. Typically, an Indian's family encompasses what would be called the extended family in the West. It is routine for Indians to live as part of the paternal family unit throughout their lives for instance sons live together with their parents all their lives, and daughters live with their parents till they get married. The relationship is mutually self-supporting. Parents may support their children for longer than is common in the West, brothers and sisters may support each other and sons are expected to take care of their parents in their old age. Living with parents does not carry the same stigma as it does in Denmark, where the photographer is from. Nowadays, most indian families are becoming more open. Naturally, the arrangements are not perfect and there are strains and breakups, especially by the time the third generation grows up. Also, it has now become common for children to move away from the parental house for education and employment. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the joint family is still seen as the norm and an ideal to aspire to, and Indians continue to care about their family's honour, achievements and failures even while they are not living together. Despite the weakening of the caste system, India remains a fairly stratified society. Indians care about a person's background and position in society as is the case elsewhere in the world. This attitude, when combined with the legacy of colonial rule, results in some rather interesting, if unfortunate consequences. Paler skin is deemed desirable but there is no discrimination on the basis of color.
"Begin any trip to India with the knowledge that no matter how long your vacation, it will not be long enough. Knowing this can help you make the best of your time here and prevent you from planning a punishing schedule that will leave you not only thoroughly overwhelmed, but with an uncomfortable feeling that you have rushed through most of what you did see"
An itinerary in India
Despite greatly improved accommodations and transportation options, India is still a challenging destination, and you should always be prepared to take in stride a delayed flight, slow check-in, or upset tummy on, say, a long-distance train. Set aside time to acclimatize and simply unwind this is, after all, a vacation. Ideally, you should find a route that covers those experiences or sights that really appeal to you, as the range of possible itineraries is endless. If possible, extend your trip two weeks is not enough time to come to grips with India and set aside more time for those destinations that sound most appealing to you. You could, of course, combine a trip to both the north and the south, but then you really should stick to one state and even one hotel in each area. For instance, you can arrive in Delhi, travel through Agra and then Jaipur, Bundi and Udaipur, covering this region in eight days, and then head south to Kerala. In Kerala, you can cover Cochin and Kumarakom cruising the backwaters and finish off with a couple of days south of Kovalam or, better still, in the less-discovered far north of Kerala, before flying out of Bengaluru or Mumbai. If you do in fact extend your time in India, make your way from Delhi to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and then explore the remote valleys of Kinnaur, Lahaul, and Spiti before heading into surreal Ladakh, alternatively, you can take a road trip from Delhi through the picturesque Kumaon in Uttarakhand, or take off from Kolkata to Darjeeling book the famous toy train there and Buddhist Sikkim. Whatever you decide to do, it is highly recommended that you end your trip in one of India's natural paradises, at least to recover from the sensual assault you will experience exploring the crowded and often polluted urban areas. These oases include the beaches on the Malabar coast and Goa, the backwaters of Kerala, the lunar landscapes and wooded hills of the Himalayas, and the wonderful hotels and resorts in Rajasthan. Should limited time force you to include only the most obvious stops in your itinerary, you will invariably only make contact with those locals who depend on you for a living, which regrettably could leave you with a frustrated sense that many of India's inhabitants are grasping, manipulative, or downright pushy. This is why it is so important to get off the beaten tourist track, and book at least one homestay in order to experience firsthand the warmth, hospitality and generosity of the Indian people and their culture, which celebrates an ancient philosophy of the guest as god. Though an itinerary can include Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur known as the Golden Triangle and captures many of the essential Rajasthan sights, it does not include Jaisalmer, one of Rajasthan's most wonderful destinations, primarily because it is not very easy to get to. In a two-week vacation that also takes in Delhi and Agra, it would be hard but not impossible to include Jaisalmer. Best to extend your stay in India by a few days if you want to cover this oldest living fortified city in Rajasthan. Located in the heart of the Thar Desert on India's far western border, Jaisalmer has breathtakingly beautiful, crumbling sandstone mansions, though its main attraction, Golden Fort, is reason enough to travel this far west, not least because it may not exist in a few years time. Though not as impressive as Jodhpur's Mehrangarh Fort, Jaisalmer has its unique charm as an inhabited medieval fort. So if you do come to Jaisalmer, plan to spend two nights, not least because it takes so long to get to here.
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