8 Essential Items to Include on Your India Packing List

  • 01 of 08

    8 Essential Items to Include on Your India Packing List

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    A good India travel book can be invaluable when planning your vacation, and particularly so when traveling around India. Not only will it provide you with useful background information about the country and its attractions, it will give you valuable advice about what's good and what's avoidable. India can be a challenging country to visit, but with the right planning, you'll find that your trip to India is much more enjoyable. Some guidebooks are better than others.

  • 02 of 08

    Many people find it useful to know some of the local language when traveling in India. Most widely spoken is Hindi. Whether you simply want to learn a few useful phrases, or you're more serious about studying Hindi, there are plenty of books to help you. The Lonely Planet Hindi, Urdu & Bengali Phrase Book is a great resource if you're just starting out. The bonus is that it's not just restricted to Hindi phrases.

    • 5 Common but Often Misunderstood Hindi Words
    • 6 Different Meanings of “Achha” in Hindi

  • 03 of 08

    You save:

    The voltage in India is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you wish to use any electronic devices from the United States (which work on 110V currency) that doesn't have dual voltage, you'll need a voltage converter. People coming from countries with 230V currency, such as Australia and the UK, will only require a plug adapter for their appliances. These days, many travel devices such as laptop, camera and cell phone chargers can operate on dual voltage.

  • 04 of 08

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    Indian power plugs come in varying shapes and sizes. It's not uncommon to see five holes in one socket to accommodate them all! The most common plug consists of two round prongs. Sometimes there will also be a third round prong, making a triangle shape. If you didn't buy a voltage converter that comes with a plug adapter suitable for India, you'll need to purchase one separately.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.

  • 05 of 08

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    Unfortunately, theft is an issue, especially on Indian Railways trains. Therefore, it's wise to bring some good quality steel cable locks to secure your luggage. Fasten your bags to the ring facilities provided under the lower seat on the train. It will be worth it. Thieves are known to enter the 2AC and 3AC compartments at night, and foreign tourists (who are likely to be carrying valuables) are often targets. Waking up to find your luggage missing is not pleasant and speaking from experience it does happen, even to Indian passengers.

  • 06 of 08

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    Traveling in India requires a comfortable, and most of all, sturdy pair of shoes. The ground is often dirty, dusty, rocky, and uneven. Walking around puts quite a bit of stress on your feet and footwear, and there's nothing worse than a cheap pair of shoes unexpectedly falling apart. Your feet will be grateful for the extra support that you give them! As long as you watch where you walk, closed-toed shoes aren't necessary. I prefer sandals because India is also a hot country, and I like to let my feet breathe. In addition, you will often be required to remove your shoes in India (when entering temples and homes), and sandals are easier to slip on and off. Tevas is a popular brand, and Crocs are also making some surprisingly attractive waterproof footwear these days.

  • 07 of 08

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    One of the handiest things you can possibly have when traveling around India is a good quality day pack with plenty of compartments. It becomes invaluable for the safekeeping of all the items you'll need to carry with you in India. When put together, the number of items do add up (water bottle, guide book, camera, anti-bacterial hand wipes, insect repellent, sunscreen, toilet paper, maps, snacks, money). It helps if you can carry them properly, and not all jumbled up together, in way that they're easy to access.

  • 08 of 08

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    There's no doubt India is unforgettable. However, you'll find that there's so much going on everywhere in India, you'll need to write the details down to remember it all (as well as have an outlet for all the conflicting emotions you'll definitely feel). A well-designed travel journal will really help you keep track of all your experiences, the sights, and the sounds.

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13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    India's first national park, Corbett was established in 1936 by legendary tiger hunter Jim Corbett. It's located around three hours from Nainital and seven hours from Delhi. The park is a large one and has five zones. One zone, Jhirna, is open all year round. The rest of the park closes during the monsoon. The chances of seeing a tiger at Corbett aren't great but there are other animals, and elephant safaris are possible. For the best wildlife viewing, stay deep in the reserve in the Dhikala zone. However, if you're a foreigner be prepared to pay double the rates for accommodation, with the cheapest rates around 2,500 rupees a night for a private cabin at a forest rest house. More information is available from the park's website.

    • See Photos of Corbett National Park
    • Check Special Corbett Hotel Deals on Tripadvisor and Save

  • 02 of 13

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Ranthambore is a fascinating blend of history and nature. Inside the park is a formidable fort that was built in the 10th century and coveted by many rulers due to its strategic position between north and central India. The park itself is characterized by rocky plains and steep cliffs. It supports a diverse range of flora and fauna, including around 30 tigers. This park is very popular due to its proximity to Delhi and the fact that tigers are relatively easy to spot there. However, the park's popularity has resulted in overcrowding and mismanagement of safaris, which is a problem and something to be aware of.

    • Check Special Ranthambore Hotel Deals on Tripadvisor and Save

  • 03 of 13

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

    Sharell Cook

    Kanha National Park has the honor of providing the setting for Rudyard Kipling's classic novel, The Jungle Book. It's rich in lush saal and bamboo forests, lakes, streams and open grasslands. This large park is well regarded for its research and conservation programs, and many endangered species have been saved there. As well as tigers (the chance of seeing one has increased dramatically in recent years), the park is known for its barasingha (swamp deer) and an extensive variety of other animals and birds. It's perfect for nature lovers.

    • Check Special Kanha Hotel Deals on Tripadvisor and Save

  • 04 of 13

    Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Pench National Park gets its name from the river that runs through it, dividing it into east and west halves. Like Kanha National Park, Pench is also associated with Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. A place of wild natural beauty, it has open hilly terrain, teak forests and thick vegetation. This well-managed park is renowned for river rafting and is a great place for bird watching. Tiger sightings are quite common on safari, along with many other animals. An additional attraction is the potters' village that's situated near the park's Turiya gate.

    • Check Special Pench Hotels Deals on Tripadvisor and Save

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.

  • 05 of 13

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Bandhavgarh is best known for its spectacular setting, as well as having the highest concentration of tigers in any park in India. The park features dense green valleys and rocky hill terrain, with an ancient fort built on 800 meter (2,624 ft) high cliffs. Although it's relatively difficult to reach, this park offers among the best chance of seeing tigers.

    • Check Special Bandhavgarh Hotel Deals on Tripadvisor and Save

  • 06 of 13

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Much of Kaziranga National Park consists of swamp and grasslands, making it the perfect habitat for the one-horned rhinoceros. The largest population in the world of these prehistoric looking creatures exists there, along with almost 40 major mammals. This picturesque park can be explored by elephant safari. It sits on the banks of the Brahmaputra River in India's Northeast, approximately six hours from Guwahati.

    • Check Special Kaziranga Hotel Deals on Tripadvisor and Save

  • 07 of 13

    Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Sundarbans, one of the top tourist places in West Bengal, is a magnificent tangle of mangrove jungle that's the only one of its kind in the world. The Indian part is made up of 102 islands and just over half of them are inhabited. The Sundarbans is only accessible by boat and exploring it this way is a thrilling experience that shouldn't be missed. Don't be hopeful of seeing any tigers though. They're very shy and usually remain well hidden in the reserve. A highlight is staying in eco-friendly village accommodations and enjoying community-based tourism.

    • Sundarbans National Park India Essential Travel Guide
    • 7 Top Sundarban Tour Operators and Packages
    • Top 5 Sundarbans Hotels and Resorts

  • 08 of 13

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    This high altitude alpine valley is a glacial corridor that comes alive during the monsoon season with around 300 different varieties of alpine flowers. They appear as a bright carpet of color against a mountainous snow capped background. The Valley of Flowers requires a strenuous hike but you'll feel on top of the world in this magical and enchanting place!

    Continue to 9 of 13 below.

  • 09 of 13

    Bandipur National Park, Karnataka

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    One of the most famous national parks in south India, Bandipur is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It was once the the private hunting ground of the maharajas of Mysore. This substantial 870 square kilometer park receives a lot of tourists as its located on the way to Ooty from Mysore. It does have tigers, although they're rarely sighted.  You're more likely to see deer and monkeys on safari (and maybe elephants if you're lucky).

  • 10 of 13

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Nagahole is officially known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park and it's also part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The Kabini River runs between Bandipur and Nagahole, and it's not unusual to see herds of elephants on the river bank. The Kabini side of Nagarhole has some outstanding luxury safari lodges.

  • 11 of 13

    Mudumalai National Park, Tamil Nadu

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Mudumalai National Park, not far from Ooty in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu, shares its border with Kerala and Karnataka. More than 260 species of birds (including peacocks) are reportedly found there, as well as elephants, tigers, deer, monkeys, wild boar, bison, and leopards. Tree house accommodations are a popular feature at many of the properties around Mudumalai.

  • 12 of 13

    Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    One of the top places to visit in Himachal Pradesh, the Great Himalayan National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. The park has four valleys and covers more than 900 square kilometers. Its remote, rugged and untamed terrain makes it sought after by trekkers but only the fittest and most adventurous reach deep inside the core area.

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.

  • 13 of 13

    Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh

    13 Top National Parks in India to Visit

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    Another top national park in Madhya Pradesh, Satpura National Park is notably one of only a few protected forests in India that visitors are allowed to walk through. It's a relaxed place, without the usual hordes of tourists. The hilly scenery is quite dramatic too, with gorges, waterfalls, and ancient rock paintings. One of the best treks is the Duchess Falls Trail. It's challenging but you'll be rewarded with a refreshing dip in the waterfall at the end. Other possible activities inside the park include cycling, jeep safaris, night safaris and canoe safaris. If you don't care about seeing a tiger, this park is a wonderful place to enjoy nature.

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6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

  • 01 of 07

    Location and What to Expect

    6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

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    The Thar Desert is undoubtedly one of the major attractions around Jaisalmer and rarely do tourists visit the fairytale city and not venture out into it. These days, there are numerous options for staying out in the desert in a tent or desert camp, ranging from basic to ultra luxurious. Think glamping!

    Where to Stay

    The majority of desert camps are located on and near the main road close to the popular Sam Sand Dunes, about 45 minutes west of Jaisalmer, where people flock to go on camel rides into the sunset. However, there are other options in the area that are non-touristy.

    An alternative location is the sand dunes around Barna and Khuri villages, about an hour southwest of Jaisalmer. It's less crowded and less developed there, providing a more authentic experience. The dunes aren't as extensive though.

    Yet, no matter where you stay, evening cultural programs with folk music will take place.

    What to Consider

    When choosing a desert camp, especially ones around the Sam Dunes, it's important to do your research and pick a decent place that's properly managed. Otherwise, you're likely to end up with a dirty tent, poor food, bad service, and loud music. What's more, you'll be subjected to the noise coming from neighboring camps. You'll find that the tents usually have attached bathrooms with western toilets. However, not all will provide hot water and heating. Do keep in mind that photos on websites can be misleading too!

    Browse through these top Jaisalmer tent hotels and desert camps, for all budgets, to get an idea of what's available.

  • 02 of 07

    Ultimate Luxury: The Serai

    6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

    Courtesy of The Serai

    If you have cash to splash, when it comes to Jaisalmer desert camps, The Serai is the ultimate indulgence. If the thought of tented accommodations doesn't sound luxurious, you'll be in for a huge surprise at The Serai.

    Consisting of 21 large canvas tents built on a base of Jaisalmer stone, The Serai is set on thirty acres of desert scrub in the Great Thar Desert. Each tent is over a thousand square feet in size and has the exterior relaxing area, covered sitting room, a spacious bedroom, and en suite bathroom. If you choose one of the Luxury Tented Suites, you'll also get your own private walled-in garden with a sunken pool. Want a real treat? The Royal Suite comes with a private spa, outdoor pool, and dining and lounge tents.​

    The Serai also has a communal pool, spa, dining tent, and lounge bar for guests. Yet, one of the most romantic things about the Serai is that guests may drink or dine outdoors, anywhere on the estate. Perfect for sunset or dining under the stars!

    • Location: One hour east of Jaisalmer.
    • Cost: The Serai is open for the season from September to March end every year. Expect to pay 40,000 rupees for a Tented Suite, 50,500 rupees for a Luxury Tented Suite, and 78,500 rupees for the Royal Tented Suite per night, including breakfast and wireless Internet. Transfers and tax are additional.
    • More Information: Visit The Serai website or compare prices and read reviews at TripAdvisor.

  • 03 of 07

    Intimate and Peaceful: Damodra Desert Camp

    6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

    Courtesy of Damodra Desert Camp

    Damodra Desert Camp is a relatively new and small luxury Jaisalmer desert camp (it opened in late 2011) with just 10 Swiss tents. Unlike other camps in the Sam Sand Dunes area, it's notably peaceful. The camp has a rural village location a short distance from the dunes. Many of the staff are local villagers, and it's decorated with traditional artifacts, giving it a traditional village feel. Unlike the more noisy camps, there are no DJs and loud music at this classy camp. Only puppet shows and Rajasthani dance. Camel safaris are carried out at private sand dunes, away from the crowded. Stargazing at night on the rooftop terrace is also possible.

    In terms of the tents, they're pushing and immaculate, including the bathrooms. They come with air-conditioners and heaters. You'll be surprised how comfortable staying in a tent can be!

    • Location: Sam Road, Damodra Village (about 15 minutes from the Sam Sand Dunes).
    • Cost: The camp operates from October to March each year. Expect to pay about 10,000 rupees per night for a tent, with all meals included. The rate also includes camel ride into the dunes and visit local villages. 
    • More Information: Damodra Desert Camp website. 

  • 04 of 07

    Location, Location: Prince Desert Camp

    6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

    Prince Desert Camp

    Prince Desert Camp is one of the larger Jaisalmer tented camps, with 30 tents. It's also one of the more luxurious camps near the Sam Sand Dunes, with attractive interiors and bathrooms in the suite tents that are a step up from the rest. It's set far enough away from the cluster of camps on the main road that there's no noise (this turns out to be a huge factor, as some get loud). It feels more authentic too, as there are sand dunes right in the back yard! An early morning sunrise walk in the dunes is unmissable.

    The food is delicious and there are hot showers in the tents. It's a well-managed camp with excellent staff and hospitality.

    • Location: Lakhmana Road, Sam Sand Dunes.
    • Cost: Expect to pay 7,000 rupees per night for a double tent, including breakfast and one dinner. Compare prices and read reviews on TripAdvisor.
    • More Information: Visit the Prince Desert Camp website.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.

  • 05 of 07

    Exclusive Cultural Show: Desert Springs Resort

    6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

    Courtesy of Queen Harish

    If you're undecided about which desert camp to choose, what really stands out at Desert Springs Resort is the evening cultural show. It features renowned dancer Queen Harish of Jaisalmer and is the only place to see his legendary act there. He has performed his magnetic Rajasthani folk and Bollywood dances all over the world.

    In terms of accommodations, the property has 26 air-conditioned regular and deluxe tents (with mini bars). There's also a luxury spa on the premises, perfect for rejuvenating. The property is situated in a secluded location about 5-10 minutes before the Sam Sand Dunes.

    • Location: Kanoi Sam Road.
    • Cost: Packages (including room, all activities such as jeep safari and camel ride, dinner and breakfast) cost 7,500 rupees per night in a regular tent and 12,500 rupees per night in a deluxe tent. Compare prices and read reviews on TripAdvisor.
    • More Information: Visit the Desert Springs Resort website. 

  • 06 of 07

    On a Budget: Oasis Camp

    6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

    Courtesy of Oasis Camp

    Perhaps the best Jaisalmer budget camp, Oasis Camp has a super central location on the main road right opposite the Sam Sand Dunes. It's ideal for those who want to be in the heart of the action and not pay too much. What's more, while many camps close during the off-season, this one is open all year round. Another thing that sets this camp apart from the others in the same price range is the personalized service and presence of the owner who goes out of his way to fulfilling guests' requests.

    The tents are decent enough with attached western-style bathrooms, although hot water is only available for a limited time in the morning and you'll need to take a bucket bath as there is no shower. Do note that only vegetarian food is served (although non-vegetarian can be provided at an additional cost). 

    • Location: Major District Road 53, opposite Sam Sand Dunes.
    • Cost: From 3,500 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast and dinner. Compare prices and read reviews on TripAdvisor.
    • More Information: Visit the Oasis Camp website.

  • 07 of 07

    Near Khuri and Barna: Pal Rajah Resort

    6 Best Jaisalmer Desert Camps for Glamping

    Pal Rajah Resort

    Pal Rajah Resort is a small desert camp with just eight luxury tents and three mud huts, bordering agricultural land and a sand dune with a picturesque sunset point. It's related to the very popular Hotel Fifu in Jaisalmer. The camp is ideal for a quiet local experience, as it's situated away from the main road and there are no other tents in the vicinity. Its welcoming and friendly staff provide courteous, attentive service. In addition to camel safaris, guests can go on jeep safaris to remote villages, and sleep out in the dunes under the stars. The only drawback is that only vegetarian food is served, although it is fresh and tasty.

    • Location: Near Barna village.
    • Cost: Expect to pay 5,500 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast and lunch or dinner, and camel safari. Compare prices and read reviews on TripAdvisor.
    • More Information: Visit the Pal Rajah Resort website.

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12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

  • 01 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    India's capital city, Delhi, is unavoidable if you're visiting north India from another country. Delhi airport has been renovated and upgraded to be the largest in India, and your flight will land there. Delhi strikingly brings to life the ancient past while at the same time showcases India's modern future. It's divided into two parts — the crumbling old city of Old Delhi, and the orderly and well planned New Delhi — which exist side by side, but feel like they're worlds apart. The city is dotted with evocative mosques, forts, and monuments left over from the Mughal rulers that once occupied the city. Many of these are set in beautiful landscaped gardens.

    • 12 Unusual Things to Do in Delhi
    • Top 10 Delhi Attractions and Places to Visit
    • See Best Selling Delhi Tours on Tripadvisor
    • 12 Delightful Delhi Bed & Breakfasts and Homestays
    • 15 Hostels, Budget Guesthouses and Cheap Hotels in Delhi

  • 02 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    One of top historical places in India, it would be a huge loss to visit India and miss out on seeing the Taj Mahal in Agra. After all, it's India's most famous monument — and certainly the most identifiable. It looms like a fairy tale from the banks of the Yamuna River and has a rich history dating back to 1630 AD. The Taj Mahal is actually a tomb that contains the body of Mumtaz Mahal –- the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Made out of marble, it took 22 years and 20 000 workers to complete. One of the most captivating things about it is the way its color appears to gradually alter in the changing light of the day. Agra and the Taj Mahal are commonly visited as part of India's famous Golden Triangle tourist circuit, which incorporates Delhi and Jaipur.

    • 10 Top Places to Visit in Agra and Around
    • 10 Appealing Hotels in Agra for all Budgets
    • See Best Selling Agra Tours on Tripadvisor

  • 03 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, was founded in 1577 by Guru Ram Das, the fourth guru of Sikhs. It’s the spiritual capital of the Sikhs and gained its name, meaning “Holy Pool of Nectar”, from the body of water around the Golden Temple. The exquisite Golden Temple attracts pilgrims from all over the world. It looks particularly arresting at night when it’s beautifully lit up, with its imposing pure gold dome illuminated. If you love street food, Amritsar is renowned for it!

    • See Best Selling Amritsar Tours on Tripadvisor

  • 04 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    One of the top spiritual destinations in India, Varanasi is a sacred Hindu city with a very old history. Known as the city of Lord Shiva, the god of creation and destruction, it’s believed that anyone who dies here will be liberated from the cycle of reincarnation. Even a wash in the Ganges River is said to cleanse away all sins. The fascinating thing about this mystical city is that its rituals are revealed openly to along the many riverside ghats. It's filthy and confronting though, so do be prepared for that! Staying at a hotel overlooking the river is highly recommended and memorable.

    • 7 Best Riverside Hotels in Varanasi for All Budgets
    • 8 Important Ghats in Varanasi that You Must See
    • Ganga Aarti in India: Rishikesh, Haridwar and Varanasi
    • See Best Selling Varanasi Tours on Tripadvisor

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.

  • 05 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    Although Khajuraho is a little out of the way, don’t give it a miss on this basis. Nowhere else will you find such unique temples with meticulously detailed carvings. These ancient temples, which date back to the 10th and 11th centuries, are best known for their erotic sculptures. There are over 20 temples devoted to sexuality and sex. However, more than that, they show a celebration of love, life and worship. They also provide an uninhibited peek into ancient Hindu faith and Tantric practices.

    • 5 Best Khajuraho Hotels for All Budgets
    • See Best Selling Khajuraho Tours on Tripadvisor

  • 06 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    There's no better place to experience India's regal splendor than Udaipur. It really is India's most romantic city! Who could resist the allure of its enchanting old mansions, beautiful gardens, intricate temples, and grand palaces overlooking expansive shimmering lakes. The City Palace, which stretches along the eastern shore of Lake Pichola, leaves visitors spellbound. The way it has been constructed is exquisite, with Rajput military architecture and Mughal style decorative techniques both combined together. The Mewar royal family still lives in a part of it too!

    • 10 Best Udaipur Budget Hotels with Lake Views
    • Where to Stay at a Palace Hotel in Udaipur
    • See Best Selling Udiapur Tours on Tripadvisor

  • 07 of 12

    Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    Jaisalmer, Rajasthan's fairy tale sandstone city, features a remarkable living fort that was built in 1156 and is perched high on a pedestal overlooking the city. Inside, it houses five palaces, several temples, and some exquisite havelis (mansions), as well as shops and other residences. Camels safaris into the desert are another highlight.

    • 10 Top Attractions and Places to Visit in Jaisalmer
    • 8 Best Hotels in Jaisalmer with Fort Views
    • 5 Fabulous Jaisalmer Tent Hotels and Desert Camps
    • See Best Selling Jaisalmer Tours on Tripadvisor

  • 08 of 12

    Bishnoi, Rajasthan

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    While in Rajasthan, don't miss exploring rural village life. Bishnoi is a community of nature worshipers around 45 minutes from the Blue City of Jodhpur. It can be visited on a day trip but for the ultimate experience, stay overnight in traditional-style accommodations. The best options are Chhotaram Prajapat's Homestay, Bishnoi Village Camp and Resort, and Shambhu Prajapat Ecofriendly Stay. Bishnoi Village Safari organizes tours.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.

  • 09 of 12

    Haridwar and Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    Haridwar and Rishikesh are holy places situated not far from each other at the foothills of the Himalayas. While Haridwar predominantly attracts Hindu pilgrims, Rishikesh is acknowledged as the birthplace of yoga and is more popular with western spiritual seekers. If you have time, do see both!

    • Haridwar or Rishikesh: Which is Best to Visit?
    • 11 Top Rishikesh Ashrams for Yoga and Meditation
    • 5 Best Riverside Hotels in Haridwar for All Budgets

  • 10 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    There's Manali — and, there's Old Manali. A little uphill from Manali town, the village of Old Manali is a world away from the crowds. You'll find traditional homes and quaint guest houses, surrounded by apple orchards and snow-covered peaks. Old Manali is one of the top destinations for backpacking in India and is refreshing place to relax in the pure mountain air.

    • Top 10 Places to Visit in Manali
    • 10 Cheap Guesthouses & Budget Hotels in Old Manali

  • 11 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

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    Remote Ladakh has become an increasingly popular tourist destination since it was opened to foreigners in 1974. Leh, the most common entry point to the region, is bounded by two of the world's largest mountain ranges and surrounded by alpine desert. Buddhist monasteries and trekking opportunities are the biggest draws for visitors.

    • 6 Day Himalayan Ladakh Tour: Buddhist Monasteries Lakes and Yaks from Leh
    • Leh Ladakh Weather: When's the Best Time to Visit Ladakh?
    • 6 Best Homestays in Leh
    • 8 Best Luxury Camps and Hotels in Leh Ladakh
    • 6 Best Treks to Take in Ladakh

  • 12 of 12

    12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in North India

    Sharell Cook

    Srinagar, in predominantly Muslim Kashmir, is a place of splendid natural beauty, with serene lakes and Mughal-style gardens. Srinagar is most well known for its houseboats, a legacy of the British that has rapidly multiplied. Although civil unrest has been a concern in the area, harming tourism in the past, calm has been restored and visitors are returning to the area. It's often referred to as the “Switzerland of India”. Head there in early April to catch the magnificent Tulip Festival.

    • Tips for Choosing the Best Srinagar Houseboat
    • Top 5 Places to Visit in Srinagar
    • See Best Selling Srinagar Tours on Tripadvisor

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The 6 Best Homestays in Leh to Experience Local Life

  • 01 of 06

    Adu’s The Eternal Comfort

    The 6 Best Homestays in Leh to Experience Local Life

    Adu's The Eternal Comfort

    Leh's most luxurious and comfortable homestay, Adu's definitely lives up to its name! Everything is outstanding, from the delicious food to the hospitality. The property has been newly constructed in traditional style less than 10 minutes walk from the Main Bazaar, but it's modern and refined inside. There are nine guest rooms, many of which overlook the front garden and have their own porches. There's also a communal sitting area in the garden, perfect for relaxing. Decent (free) wireless Internet and 24-hour running hot water are important features. You'll never want to leave! Rates start from 2,250 rupees per night. Breakfast is additional.

  • 02 of 06

    Gangba Homestay

    The 6 Best Homestays in Leh to Experience Local Life

    Image courtesy of Tripadvisor

    The hosts of this reliable homestay are locals who have been living in the area for many generations. They built an extension to their residence, about 15 minutes walk from town on Upper Tukcha Road, to give tourists an opportunity to experience Ladakhi culture. The numerous accommodations are spread across the older extension plus a contemporary new building, which was completed in 2015. The newer rooms are more spacious and airy. There's plenty of hot water and a small library. Guests are welcome to join the courteous Gangba family in their daily activities, including tending to their farmland and cooking. The hosts also offer fresh apples and apricots off their trees. Yum! Rates start from about 1,200 rupees per night.

  • 03 of 06

    Tukchu Homestay

    The 6 Best Homestays in Leh to Experience Local Life

    Image courtesy of Tripadvisor.  

    Tukchu Homestay sits at the base of iconic Shanti Stupa in Changspa, a little further out than most other homestays (it's 20 minutes walk into town). However, it's super popular, and has a memorable view across to Leh Palace and Namgyal Tsemo Monastery. An endless supply of fresh mint tea is served, and the kitchen is available for guest use as well. Guests are also welcome to pick and eat apples from the trees when in season. Other highlights include lots of interesting books and conversation with the knowledgeable hosts, who go out of their way to make guests feel settled. Expect to pay around 2,000 rupees per night for a double room. Note that the owners are also constructing another homestay (to be called Tukchu Heritage Home) near their native village, on the way to Pangong Lake.

  • 04 of 06

    Jimmy’s Homestay

    The 6 Best Homestays in Leh to Experience Local Life

    Jimmy's Homestay

    Jimmy's Homestay is run by Jigmet (Jimmy) and his affable parents, who reside on the property. Jimmy's mother is an excellent cook, and she serves breakfast and dinner. Guests can use the kitchen to make lunch, at an additional cost. There's also a cafe on the premises. The rooms are cozy, clean and safe, with 24-hour hot water and mountain or garden views. Discounted bike rental is possible. The only drawback is that it takes about 20 minutes to walk into town. The area is quiet though. Expect to pay 1,500 rupees per night. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.

  • 05 of 06

    The 6 Best Homestays in Leh to Experience Local Life

    Leh Stumpa Homestay

    The whole family gets involved in running this big-hearted homestay, with the lady of the house taking special care of guests. Not only are guests served meals made with organic vegetables, fresh milk from the farm is provided as well. Meals are served alongside the traditional Ladakhi kitchen, so you'll really get a feel for the lifestyle there. The well-appointed guest rooms have been newly constructed around the garden and have big bathrooms with 24-hour running hot water (no buckets). Rates range from 1,900 rupees to 3,400 rupees per night, depending on how many meals are provided.  Read reviews on Tripadvisor.

  • 06 of 06

    The 6 Best Homestays in Leh to Experience Local Life

    Osel Boutique Homestay  

    Osel Boutique Homestay has a different location to the other properties mentioned in this article. It's situated in Skara, about five minutes drive southwest of the town center, off the Srinagar-Leh Highway. The homestay is ideal for those who would like an intimate and luxurious stay. There are just three elegant and spacious guest rooms, plus shared common room and balcony with views across the Stok Kangri mountain range. The hospitality and food are superb, and guests are invited to dine with the hosts. Cooking lessons are also offered. Expect to pay 4,000 rupees per night for a double room, including breakfast. Read reviews on Tripadvisor.

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9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

  • 01 of 09

    Marine Drive

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

    Andrea Pistolesi/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Marine Drive is possibly Mumbai's best known road. This 3 kilometer stretch of boulevard, with Girgaum Chowpatty beach at the northern end, curves around the coast. Its feature is a seaside promenade where people flock to catch the evening breeze. Marine Drive is also referred to as the Queen's Necklace because of its string of sparkling lights, reflective of a row of jewels. View it from the rooftop Dome bar at the Intercontinental Hotel while sipping on a sunset cocktail.

    • Where: Marine Drive links Nariman Point to Babulnath and Malabar Hill, in south Mumbai.

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.

  • 02 of 09

    Girgaum Chowpatty at Sunset

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

    Dave AbramGetty Images.

    One of the top attractions in Mumbai, Girgaum Chowpatty (also referred to as Marine Drive Chowpatty) is a beach that's famous for its snack stalls. People meet there in the evenings to watch the sunset over the Malabar Hill skyline, and munch on their favorite bhel puri, pani puri, and pav bhaji.

    The beach really comes alive during the annual Ganesh Festival, when some of Mumbai's biggest idols are immersed in the water there.

    • Where: Girgaum, at the northern end of Marine Drive, in south Mumbai.

    Continue to 3 of 9 below.

  • 03 of 09

    Shivaji Park

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

    Dinodia Photo/Getty Images.

    Shivaji Park, the largest park in Mumbai, has a long history. It was created in 1925, during the reign of the British Raj. The Britishers named it in honor of the 17th century warrior king of the region, Chhatrapati Shivaji. A large bronze statue of him riding his horse can be found to the north of the park. The park has hosted many gatherings of freedom fighters, and was the base for the struggle for the formation of the state of Maharashtra after Independence.

    These days, Shivaji Park is the perfect place for people watching. On weekends, it can be difficult to find a spare place on the bench that runs around the edge of it. People of all ages come to the park to play sport (especially cricket) and other games, exercise, or simply relax and chat. Plenty of snack stalls are there to feed hungry tummies.

    • Where: Dadar, in central south Mumbai.

    Continue to 4 of 9 below.

  • 04 of 09

    Worli Seaface

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

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    Worli Seaface is another of Mumbai's renowned promenades where people like to go for walks and sit in the evenings. It's one of the top places to experience the monsoon in Mumbai, as huge waves thrillingly rise up and onto the roadside during high tide. The Worli Seaface also offers a view of the Bandra Worli Sealink, which starts a little to the north of it.

    • Where: Worli, in central south Mumbai.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.

  • 05 of 09

    Bandra Bandstand

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

    Vinay Nair/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Bandra Bandstand got its name from the old glory days of bandstand culture, when bands used to provide entertainment by playing outdoors there. It's characterized by an amphitheater set high on a hill above the ocean, and the remains of a Portuguese fort built in 1640.

    Popularly known as a lover's point, at low tide, young couples like to sneak out onto the rocks below to spend some time alone. Unfortunately, some are known to get trapped there when tide comes in, and have to be rescued.

    Famous Bollywood actor Sha Rukh Khan's house, Mannat, is located opposite the old Sea Rock hotel at Bandstand.

    • Where: Near the landmark Taj Lands End hotel, Bandra West, Mumbai.

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.

  • 06 of 09

    Carter Road, Bandra

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

    Paula Guinto/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    North of Bandra Bandstand, you'll find Carter Road promenade. It's a relatively new one kilometer stretch of seaside promenade, opened in 2002, much of which is bordered by mangroves. Projects to beautify it have been ongoing over the years.

    Apart from the walkers and joggers, Carter Road also attracts the cafe crowd, as it has a culinary strip full of fashionable restaurants and coffee shops. Numerous Bollywood stars live in the area. There are also fishing villages at both ends.

    • Where: Near Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai.

    Continue to 7 of 9 below.

  • 07 of 09

    Juhu Beach on a Sunday

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

    Paul Nevin/Getty Images.

    On Sunday afternoons, Juhu beach becomes carnival-like with everything from market stalls to monkeys. It's crazy and crowded. Balloons, kites, trinkets, sand sculptures, and snacks make it a fun beach day out — Indian style!

    Juhu beach is located in one of Mumbai's most exclusive suburbs that's home to many celebrities. Stay at one of the top beachfront hotels in Juhu to have a relaxing time, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    • Where: Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai.

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.

  • 08 of 09

    Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

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    Sanjay Gandhi National Park is the only protected forest to be located within the limits of a city in India. It receives thousands of early morning walkers, as well as families and couples during the day. The various attractions include trekking, a toy train, boating on the late, and a tiger and lion sanctuary. However, what's really worth seeing are the hand-cut Kanheri Buddhist caves. There are 109 of them in various sizes, scattered over a hilltop and carved out of volcanic rock. The largest has a deep chamber for worship and towering sculptures of Buddha.

    • Where: Near Borivali East train station, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Mumbai city center.
    • More Information: Sanjay Gandhi Borivali National Park Visitor's Guide

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.

  • 09 of 09

    Powai Lake

    9 Mumbai Hangout Places to Visit

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    Man-made Powai Lake was created by the British in 1799. The lake is rich in biodiversity including several types of migratory birds as well as crocodiles. Although it had been neglected in recent years, extensive restoration and beautification works have been carried out. The lake now has a two kilometer long paved jogging track/walkway, musical fountain, and children's play area.

    Powai Lake is bordered by Hiranandani Gardens, a planned township, on one side and the luxury Renaissance Hotel on the other. The Renaissance offers lovely views and popular Sunday brunch.

    • Where: Powai, in the north eastern suburbs of Mumbai.

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12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in South India

02 of 12

Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal, Karnataka

12 Top Tourist Places to Visit in South India

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The heritage sites of Badami (formerly Vatapi), Aihole and Pattadakal are a worthwhile side trip from Hampi. They're rich in monuments, temples and ruins from the Chalukya empire, which ruled there between the 4th to 8th centuries. The renowned Chalukya style of architecture originated in Aihole and the village is filled with around 125 stone temples, which unfortunately don't get the attention they deserve. Badami is one of the top places to see caves in India, with four sets of magnificent ancient rock-cut cave temples. Pattadakal is smaller, with one impressive temple complex.

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A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

  • 01 of 11

    Living in Mumbai Apartments

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

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    In a city of over 20 million people, space is understandably at a premium in Mumbai. For the working class, daily life in Mumbai is commonly played out in what are called chawls — multi-level tenements with single small rooms, which usually accommodate a whole family, often with a shared bathroom for each floor. There's little privacy but the benefits are a strong sense of camaraderie and support.

    Read More: Why You Must Go on a Tour of Dharavi Slum (it's not the negative, depressing place you'd expect).

    The burgeoning middle class live in mass-produced apartments of various shapes and sizes, ranging from around 450 square feet to 1,400 square feet. Most have one or two bedrooms, which again accommodate whole families including grandparents. It's not uncommon for family members to sleep in the lounge room or even the kitchen. Prices are ridiculously expensive, even more so than New York!​

    You'd think that living in such an environment would be very restrictive but it's surprisingly the opposite (once you get used to the lack of space!). Apartment complexes, especially the newer ones, are usually built with a great range of facilities including gyms, clubhouses, gardens, and playgrounds. Residents organize social occasions throughout the year and celebrate festivals together. The children have an almost endless array of playmates, and often get together for games of cricket or to ride their bikes.

    The property market in Mumbai has just gone through a massive boom, and towering apartment complexes are popping up all through the suburbs. Below them, you'll find that life goes on as usual, with small shops and markets doing their day to day trade.

    Continue to 2 of 11 below.

  • 02 of 11

    Morning Worship (Puja)

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

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    Performing puja (worship) is a big part of people's lives in Mumbai, and in fact everywhere in India.

    Many Hindus get up at sunrise and do the Surya Puja. This very popular daily puja worships Lord Surya, the Sun God (also known as the god of the enlightened mind). An important part of the ritual is the offering of flowers to the god.

    All around the city, you'll find small stalls selling flowers and garlands for puja. In addition, Mumbai has huge flower markets, such as phul galli (flower lane) outside Dadar railway station in central Mumbai. This area is awash with the eye-catching colors of flowers, which surround the rows of flower sellers on the pavement. It's a really pretty sight.

    In the evenings as the sun sets, Hindus also commonly do another form of puja — Lakshmi Puja. This puja invites Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity) to enter the house. As the lights are turned on inside homes, incense is lit to welcome her.

    Read More: 15 Religious Places to Visit in Mumbai

    Continue to 3 of 11 below.

  • 03 of 11

    Commuting in Mumbai

    a look at daily life in mumbai 3 - A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

    Peter Adams/Getty Images

    Mumbai roads are shockingly congested and poorly maintained. In addition, the majority of residents don't own a car. As a result, the train is the most popular and quickest way of commuting in Mumbai. Mumbai's local railway transports an astonishing eight million commuters per day!

    Unfortunately, everything you've heard about local trains in Mumbai is probably true. They are extremely overcrowded, the doors constantly have passengers hanging out of them and never close, and people even travel sitting on the train roof. Do injuries occur? All the time! It's a common occurrence for passengers to fall out of, or get pushed out of, trains in Mumbai.

    The Mumbai local train network has three lines — Western, Central, and Harbour — which deposit commuters into the city. The trains themselves have separate carriages for women and disabled passengers. There are also first class carriages but they aren't any more luxurious than the other carriages. The higher price of tickets merely keeps the majority of travelers out, therefore providing more space.

    Want to try riding the Mumbai local? If you travel during non-rush hours, it's not as bad as you'd expect. Plus you'll be guaranteed a fascinating glimpse into what makes Mumbai tick. This guide on how to ride the Mumbai local will help get you on your way.

    A distinguishing feature of transport in Mumbai is that unlike most other cities in India, taxi and autorickshaw drivers generally do go by the meter.

    Read More: Mumbai's Landmark Infrastructure

    Continue to 4 of 11 below.

  • 04 of 11

    Work and Mumbai Offices

    a look at daily life in mumbai 4 - A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

    Peter Adams/Getty Images

    The offices of Mumbai's main business districts are located in and around Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade, in south Mumbai, and also Bandra (particularly the Bandra Kurla Complex), and Andheri. In addition, many call centers are based in the growing outer western suburb of Malad.

    The working days and weeks are long and unenviable. Although many people don't arrive in the office until around 10 a.m., they also don't leave until well into the night. 12 hour working days are considered quite normal, as are six-day working weeks (although sometimes Saturday can be a half day). The concept of a weekend is quite foreign in Mumbai and India, with Sunday often being the only day off.

    The sad reality is that there are so many people striving to get ahead and make ends meet, and so much competition for jobs, that if someone doesn't want to work such long hours, another person readily will.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.

  • 05 of 11

    Lunch Served by Mumbai Dabbawalas

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

    Lou Jones/Getty Images

    A unique and fascinating fixture in the daily routine of Mumbai's office workers is the dabbawala.

    Dabbawala, meaning a person who carries a container, is the term given to the thousands of men responsible for transporting and delivering around 200,000 containers of freshly cooked food to the city's office workers every day for lunch. Incredibly, most of these delivery men are illiterate.

    Mumbai's dabbawalas first started delivering lunches to meet the needs of British rulers. However, the concept has continued on to service Indian businessmen who can't travel home for lunch, or don't want to eat in a cafe or restaurant every day. Their wives make their lunches and pack them in tiffins (metal containers), which they give to the dabbawalas for delivery. Alternatively, there are companies that supply home cooking in tiffins to the dabbawalas. After lunch, the dabbawalas return the exact tiffins back to their individual owners.

    This incredible system can be witnessed in operation at Churchgate railway station from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., as the dabbawalas unload the tiffins from the trains and get ready to take them to their customer's offices. You can join them on this Lunch Like a Local experience offered by The Four Seasons hotel. This is an indication of just how famous the humble Mumbai dabbawala has become!

    Continue to 6 of 11 below.

  • 06 of 11

    Shopping at the Mall

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

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    Retail in India has undergone a dramatic transformation since the early 2000s and the shopping malls in Mumbai are among the best in the country. As well as this, Mumbai has huge hypermarkets, such as Hypercity next to InOrbit Mall in Malad, where the choice of goods all under one roof is mind-boggling. And then, there's the organized chaos of the discount department store known as the Big Bazaar.

    Shopping in India has never been easier or more convenient, and for the people who can afford it, shopping malls are the place to hang out. In Mumbai, people head to the malls to check out the latest fashion, eat, relax, be entertained, and have fun — as well as shop.

    Most malls are open seven days a week from around 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. The busiest day is Sunday, when there's hardly room to move.

    Continue to 7 of 11 below.

  • 07 of 11

    Buying Food from the Market

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

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    Although supermarkets are providing their share of competition, take a walk around most residential neighborhoods in Mumbai and you'll find a range of small traditional stores selling vegetables, groceries, and fresh live meat. Yes, choosing your chicken for tonight's dinner while it's still flapping its wings in a cage remains the preference in India. At least it's undeniably fresh!

    Many of these small shops close in the afternoon for lunch and the nap that follows. They reopen in the evening when the housewives flock there to buy vegetables and other food items to prepare the evening meal.

    Mumbai's local markets are definitely not the places to have a leisurely browse. They can get very crowded and lively, and to avoid confusion you'll want to know at least a bit of Hindi.

    Continue to 8 of 11 below.

  • 08 of 11

    Eating Evening Snacks

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

    Lou Jones / Getty Images

    The last meal of the day is eaten late in India, and particularly so in hectic Mumbai where dinner times of 10 p.m. onwards are common. Hence, people love to munch on snacks (referred to as chaat) in the evening.

    As the sun sets, people pour out onto the streets and throng the snack stands. Vada pav (spicy fried mashed potato in a bread roll) is one of the most popular snacks in Mumbai. So are all the different types of puri — bhel puri (made with puffed rice), pani puri (made with spicy water), and sev puri (made with spicy vermicelli). Another local favorite is pav bhaji (a vegetable curry with bread). Made freshly in front of you at the food stalls on Juhu Beach, it's very tasty.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.

  • 09 of 11

    Taking an Evening Walk

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

    Christer Fredriksson / Getty Images

    You'll often see people going for an evening walk in Mumbai, no doubt to burn off all the snacks they've eaten!

    One of the best places to spend the evening is Marine Drive Chowpatty (beach), located at the northern end of the famous stretch that's affectionately referred to as the Queen's Necklace for its sparkling semi circle of lights.

    The Chowpatty comes alive with a dazzling assortment of vendors peddling everything from snacks (of course) to strange children's toys. It's a fun place for children, with no shortage of amusement rides to entertain them, but also attracts plenty of love-struck couples in the mood for a romantic stroll. A quintessential Mumbai experience that's not to be missed!

    Read More: 9 Iconic Mumbai Hangout Places

    Continue to 10 of 11 below.

  • 10 of 11

    Seeing a Bollywood Movie

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

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    New Bollywood movies are shown every week in Mumbai, so a popular thing to do at night is to head to the cinema. Fridays are particularly busy because that's when the movies are released.

    Plush modern cinemas can now be found all over the city but old favorites still remain, such as the Metro cinema near Churchgate railway station. It was recently renovated​ but was originally built for Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1938.

    Another cinema to open in 1938 was the Eros cinema, located directly opposite Churchgate railway station. Today, it's renowned for its wonderful Art Deco style.

    Not to be overlooked is the Regal Cinema in Colaba. The first of Mumbai's Art Deco cinemas, it opened in 1933.

    Continue to 11 of 11 below.

  • 11 of 11

    Nightlife in Mumbai

    A Look at Daily Life in Mumbai

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    Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India and also one of the safest for women.  It's common to see progressive young females partying through the night, glammed up in skimpy western outfits.

    Mumbai's diverse pubs, bars, and clubs play everything from live music to underground techno.  Unfortunately, the city does have a 1.30 a.m. curfew. However, establishments at luxury hotels are allowed to stay open later, until around 3 a.m.

    Mumbai is remarkable for having India's highest rooftop bar — Asilo on the 38th floor of the Saint Regis Hotel. This hot new bar surpassed the fashionable Aer, on the 34 floor of the Four Seasons Hotel.

    Read More: 6 Unforgettable Mumbai Bars and 6 Popular Mumbai Hangouts with Cheap Beer

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10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

  • 01 of 10

    Madurai, Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

    Sharell Cook

    Ancient Madurai in Tamil Nadu is home to the most impressive and important temple in South India — the Meenakshi Temple. If you only see one South Indian temple, this temple should be it. The temple complex covers 15 acres, and has 4,500 pillars and 12 towers — it's massive! Most astonishing of all is its many sculptures. The 12-day Chithirai Festival, featuring a reenacted celestial wedding of the temple's god and goddess, is held in Madurai during April each year.

  • 02 of 10

    Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    Thanjavur emerged as the stronghold of Tamil culture in the eleventh century, with Chola King Raja Raja I at the helm. The Cholas built more than 70 temples in Thanjavur, with the most outstanding one being the Brihadeswara Temple (known as the Big Temple). Its importance is acknowledged by the fact that it's now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple, which turned 1,000 years old in 2010, is a symbol of the unrivaled power and might of the Cholas. It's also one of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in India. Constructed solely out of stone, its dome rises to over 60 meters, and the passage around the sanctum is adorned with Chola frescoes.

  • 03 of 10

    Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    The town of Kumbakonam, located just over an hour northeast of Tanjore, has 18 temples! It's a fabulous place for temple hopping. If you only have time to see a few, Sarangapani Temple (dedicated to Lord Vishnu) is the most impressive, with a shrine in the form of a horse-drawn chariot. However, just west of Kumbakonam you'll find the 12th-century Airatesvara Temple. This Great Living Chola Temple is renowned for its temple art, particularly the exquisite stone carvings. It's smaller than the Tanjore Big Temple, and Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple (another Chola Shiva temple worth visiting nearby), but the detail is much more intricate.

  • 04 of 10

    Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    Popularly known as a “City of a Thousand Temples”, Kanchipuram is not just famous for its distinctive silk saris. Located around 2 hours southwest of Chennai, on the main road to Bangalore, it was once the capital of the Pallava dynasty. Today, only a 100 or so temples remain, many of them with unique architectural beauty. The diversity of temples is particularly special. There are both Shiva and Vishnu temples, built by various rulers (the Cholas, Vijayanagar kings, Muslims, and British also ruled this part of Tamil Nadu) who each refined the design.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.

  • 05 of 10

    Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    The special feature at Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameshwaram is its astonishing pillared hallway, regarded as the longest in India, lining its perimeter. The seemingly endless rows of carved pillars have a mesmerizing painted ceiling. The temple is located only 100 meters from the sea (Agni Theertham) and pilgrims take a bath there first, before going inside the temple and bathing in its 22 wells. The water is considered to be holy and purifying to mind and body. Rameshwaram, located on a small island at the tip of the Indian Peninsula, holds a special place in Hindu mythology as it's where Lord Rama built a bridge across the sea to rescue Sita from the clutches of the demon Ravana, in Sri Lanka.

  • 06 of 10

    Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    Chidambaram is off the tourist trail and people mainly head there to visit its Nataraj Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva performing the cosmic dance. This ancient temple is quite unusual because it follows Vedic rituals, set by the sage Patanjali, unlike other Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu whose agamic rituals are based on Sanskrit scriptures. The Vedic rituals are centered on fire, and yagna (fire sacrifice) is performed every morning as part of the puja in the Kanaka Sabha (Golden Hall). Non-Hindus can see it. Get there around 8.00 a.m. The temple priests, known as Podu Dikshitars, were said to be brought from the abode of Lord Shiva by Patanjali himself! The nearby Pichavaram mangroves make an interesting side trip.

  • 07 of 10

    Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

    Michael Freeman/Getty Images

    Arunachaleswar Temple sits at the base of holy Mount Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai, about 4 hours southwest of Chennai. It's another large temple complex, with nine towers and three inner courtyards, and Lord Shiva is worshiped there as the element of fire. Pilgrims flock to the town every full moon, to walk around the mountain. Numerous shrines and sadhus (Hindu holy men) and can be found along the path. Once a year, during the Karthikai Deepam Festival on the full moon between November and December, a huge fire is lit on top of the mountain and blazes for days. This holy town has a strong spiritual energy about it, especially some of the meditation caves that can be found in various spots up the mountain.

  • 08 of 10

    Tiruchirappalli (Trichy), Tamil Nadu

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    Tiruchirappalli, or Trichy as it's informally called, is home to the largest temple in India — the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to a reclining form of Lord Vishnu. This temple occupies a mammoth area of 156 acres and has 21 gopurams (towers). The main tower, which is 73 meters high, is the second tallest temple tower in Asia. Also, don't miss the Rock Fort Temple, built by the Nayaks of Madurai in spectacular style on a rocky outcrop 83 meters (237 feet) above the city. As is to be expected, it affords a panoramic view. If you get tired walking up the 437 rock-cut steps to the Rock Fort Temple, stop at Thayumanaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva on the way.  Vinayaka Temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh, is worth visiting at the top as well!

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.

  • 09 of 10

    Belur, Karnataka

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    One of the top places to visit in Karnataka, Belur is home to the captivating 12th century Chennakeshava Temple, built by the ruling Hoysala dynasty to commemorate their victory over the Cholas and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It took a long 103 years to complete and is adorned with some of India's most celebrated sculptures. You'll find many other temples belonging to the Hoysala Empire in Belur, as their capital was located there before its downfall from Mughal attack in the 14th century.

  • 10 of 10

    Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh

    10 Places to See Magnificent South India Temples

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    Extremely popular with pilgrims, the sprawling temple complex of Lord Venkateswara (Lord Vishnu) is situated above Tirupati in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh. Those who are able can walk the 4,000 steps up the hill to the temple, which takes two to four hours. Otherwise, it's easier to go by bus. The temple is one of the most visited and wealthiest in India, as can be seen by its gold-plated dome. It's been patronized by all the various rulers and kings over the years. In recent times, Bollywood stars Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai prayed at the temple after their marriage in 2007. However, there are a number of challenges when visiting Tirupati Temple, including huge crowds, making it best visited by serious pilgrims only.

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See What’s Up for Grabs at Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar

  • 01 of 13

    Chor Bazaar (Mutton Street) Mumbai

    See Whats Up for Grabs at Mumbais Chor Bazaar

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    Mumbai's Chor Bazaar, which literally means “thieves market”, has a fascinating history that spans more than 150 years. Apparently, it was originally called Shor Bazaar, meaning “noisy market”, but “shor” became “chor” because of how the British mispronounced the word. Eventually stolen goods started finding their way into the market, resulting in it living up to its new name! These days it's famous for antique and vintage items.

    To find Chor Bazaar, you'll need to venture right into the thick of Muslim Mumbai. It's located on Mutton Street, in the busy market area between S V Patel and Moulana Shaukat Ali Roads, near Mohammad Ali Road in south Mumbai. The closest local railway station is Grant Road.

    The area is full of crowded streets and crumbling buildings, and can be a little overwhelming. Don't be daunted though, it's quite safe but do be careful of pickpockets.

    The shops in Chor Bazaar are open from 11 a.m. until 7.30 p.m., every day except Friday (which is Muslim prayer day). However, the area is still worth a visit on Friday when it comes alive with the Juma Market. This is the real thieves market. From sunrise on Friday morning, vendors cram the lanes selling all kinds of goods, many of them stolen. You'll have to get there early to get the best stuff though.

    Prices at Chor Bazaar are very fluid and will depend on how good your bargaining skills are (or aren't!). The usual tips for bargaining at India's markets apply, and you should only aim to pay around half the price initially quoted for the goods. Shop keepers are very savvy and will quote ridiculously high prices to unsuspecting tourists.

    One other thing to keep in mind is that the area is a conservative Muslim area, so do dress in loose clothing that covers your legs and shoulders.

    Browse the following pages for a photo tour of what's up for grabs at Chor Bazaar.

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    Handicrafts at Chor Bazaar

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    Looking for old handicrafts and antiques? You'll find a colorful variety at Mansoori Curio Shop, at 32 Mutton Street.

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    Little Stuff Trinkets

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    Near Moulana Shaukat Ali Road, Little Stuff, at shop 107/A Mutton Street, is aptly named. It's full of — stuff! You'll find trinkets of all types there. Many items are made out of bronze.

    A look around the shop reveals interesting collections of bronze bells, horns, milk pails, and vintage kettles. There's even a vintage bird cage.

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    Bronze Statues at Chor Bazaar

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    Keeping with the bronze theme, there are a number of shops in Chor Bazaar that sell bronze statues of various gods and goddesses, and other bronze sculptures. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are quite old and ornate.

    If you're interested, have a hunt around in the shops in the vicinity of 95-120 Mutton Street.

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    Gramophones at Chor Bazaar

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    Interested in huge vintage gramophones? You'll find them at Chor Bazaar as well!

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    Bollywood Posters

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    One of the most popular items that shoppers seek in Chor Bazaar are vintage Bollywood posters.

    There are a few places that sell them. Try A-One Corner at 99 Mutton Street. The owner has a storeroom full of Hindi film posters! Name any and he will most likely have them.

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    Trash and Treasure at Chor Bazaar

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    They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and that certainly seems to be the case in Chor Bazaar! You'll find many bric-a-brac stores in the street.

    However, the shop located at 117 Mutton Street sells all kinds of items that wouldn't look out of place at a rubbish dump. Think old wheelchairs, a decrepit baby's cot, and plastic blue toilet seat. Who knows what treasures are tucked away inside the shop!

    Does your chair have a missing or broken wheel? Chor Bazaar is the place to come for a replacement. You'll be able to choose from trays overflowing with them. It's not just spare wheels that are available in Chor Bazaar. Plenty of shops sell spare parts, including those for vehicles, machines, and even old phonographs/gramophones.

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    Lamps at Chor Bazaar

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    Another sought after item at Chor Bazaar is lamps. Some are old and some only look old, some are replicas and some are the read deal, however there are plenty of unique styles to choose from.

    Popular items include antique colonial-era lamps, kerosene hurricane lamps, crystal chandeliers, and glass lamps in an array of eye-catching colors.

    The Anwar Lamp Shop at 121 Mutton Street is just one shop in Chor Bazzar with an extensive collection of lamps.

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    Clocks at Chor Bazaar

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    You'll never wonder what the time is at Chor Bazaar with so many clocks on display.

    Serious clock collectors will be delighted with items including art deco clocks, grandfather clocks, and antique Smiths clocks (although not all of these are authentic).

    The shop pictured can be found at 133 Mutton Street.

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    Cameras and Vintage Miniatures

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    Vintage camera collectors will love rummaging though Chor Bazaar! Some of the shops there specialize in selling all sorts of vintage cameras, from box cameras to 8mm movie cameras.

    The Camera House at 137 Mutton Street also stocks an eclectic range of vintage miniatures — cars, trucks, motorbikes, planes, and signs are some of the things that can be found there. The shop also has a collection of old biscuit tins.

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    Spare Car Parts

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    Yes, Chor Bazaar has car scrappers too! Hunt around and you'll come across sorts of car parts at cheap rates including wheels, motors, gearboxes, turbos and steering wheels. Often, the desired part will be removed from the car while you wait!

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    Power Tools at Chor Bazaar

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    Need a power tool? Head to Chor Bazaar!

    At 150 Mutton Street you'll find the Parda Tools Center, filled to the brim with power tools of all description. The tools that aren't stacked inside the shop are hanging by their cords from the ceiling, and piled up on a table out the front.

    On the off chance that you don't find what you want there, check out one of the neighboring shops that have similar items on offer.

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    Hardware at Chor Bazaar

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    Heading along further towards SV Patel Road, around the vicinity of 170 Mutton Street, you'll enter the territory of Chor Bazaar's hardware stores.

    Here you'll find rows of stores specializing in cutting tools, including chisels and drill bits. Many are fixed price stores, so no need to bargain.

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