Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Beyond Taj Mahal, 10 Fabulous Reasons to Visit India

Is it completely an irrational thought that India has only one reason to offer when it comes to visiting the splendid land, and that is the Taj!

Well, Taj only begins to define the magic that India holds in the intricate spots spread far and wide across its length and breadth. There is so much more to this sub-continent that spells scenic beauty, picturesque landscapes, intriguing history and endless tales of delectable food.

Indian civilization is an interesting subject in itself to explore, which was laid 5000 years back and it is worth to study and understand the legacy. Some of the travelers find it mesmerizing and give the due to the ambience that they receive from India by spending months in the thorough learning of the country. And as we all know that today India an enthralling mix of modern and traditional societies which creates a distinct USP for the nation and is worth a mention.

Here I have tried to give you 10 compelling reasons for traveling to this enigmatic land, keeping the magnificent Taj aside.

The Magical Capital – Delhi
From times immemorial, Delhi has carved a niche for itself when it comes to world history. Being the capital of the nation, it grabs all the attention from the travelers across the globe and welcomes one and all with an open heart and the warmth that it has to offer. The intriguing streets of Chandni Chowk, magnificent historical monuments such as Lal Qila, Qutub Minar and Purana Qila , the modern heritage sites like Lotus Temple, and Akshardhaam Temple, the modern shopping malls presenting fine examples of architectural brilliance, all present more than ample reasons to visit this city of magic. The mouth-watering diverse cuisines from Mughlai to Chinese to typical north Indian delicacies, food adds on to the magic. Shopping cannot be more enjoyable as it is Delhi, considering a hoard of local bazaars offering goodies at throw away prices.

Forts and Palaces of Rajasthan
If Taj Mahal was built by a Mughal ruler, there are many other forts and palaces which lace the western landscape of India defined as Rajasthan. The artistic genius displayed in these historic splendors is sheer eye tonic and it translates as a paradise for those who love exquisite craftsmanship. The most popular forts of Rajasthan that tourists frequently flock are Amber Fort, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, and Ranthambore Fort. The list seems to be endless. One has to get to this land of Rajwahdas to experience them all.

Image courtesy : www.arzoo.com

Heart Warming Kashmir
A Kashmir Tour makes you explore the most celestial destination of India which is synonymous to paradise on earth. Its incredible scenic beauty and engrossing adventure sports facilities make it a big hit with both national and international tourists. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that if you have not seen Kashmir, you have not seen India. Although there are several enchanting destinations in Kashmir but the most famous ones for beauty and adventure are Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Drass. Come to Kashmir and liven your senses.

Image courtesy : www.makeindiajourney.com
Camel Safari in Deserts
Deserts of India are another exciting reason to visit the nation because they offer thrilling desert safari trips. This is one thing which the visitors love to do while vacationing in the sandy dunes. Steering Thar Desert while holding onto the hump of camel is an enthralling experience in self! And to watch the traditional villages on the go is just like adding cherry to the caramel pie. Desert Safaris give you a brief picture of the authentic culture and lifestyle of the places. Unlike the cities, the villages in India carry the essence of the traditions followed by people over the ages. One must experience them once in a lifetime.

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Khajuraho Temples
If you are planning to visit India, this has to be one of the reasons. Included in World Heritage Site, Khajuraho temples are supposed to be one of its kinds in the world. Erotic sculptures beautifully ornate the walls of the temples and reflects the ideology of the famous book “Kamasutra". Relive the magic of love and romance while wandering amidst the ancient edifices.

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Palace on Wheels
Traveling this train on a Delhi-Rajasthan route is an experience in itself. The royalty it exudes with the ideal hospitality makes it popular amongst the foreign travelers. This is one of the most fashionable and expensive way of travelling through a train as the locomotive is adorned in luxury and style exhibiting the traditional Rajasthani culture. A must try!

Image courtesy : www.luxpresso.com

The Healing Ayurveda
As old as Indian civilization itself, Indian Ayurveda is not taken as a medicinal therapy but as holistic science which rejuvenates mind, body and soul. These healing therapies simply use the most basic herbs and exercises. Kerala and Rishikesh are amongst the top rated ayurvedic destinations in Indian. To rejuvenate the mind, body and soul, one must visit the Ayurveda Destinations. One fabulous reason to be in the country!

Breathtaking Himalayas
Himalayas shadows India, it protects India and is indispensable part from its landscape. The region gives a major boost to tourism which includes many adventure activities which one can explore. Picturesque towns in the foothills of Himalayas are the grandest reasons one can spend the holiday of a lifetime here. Many unexplored small yet beautiful villages hold all the treasure one must experience while on a serene getaway.

Marvels of Kerala Backwaters
This one is one of my favorite reasons to be in the country. Kerala offers enigma! I get transported to another zone altogether. It indisputably is an abode of blue waters, with quaint coconut trees lined up to make picture postcard look. You must experience the intoxicating beauty of Kerala backwaters on your visit to one of the most interesting places of Southern zone, while cruising the waters on a traditional snake boat and relishing the fresh coconut water directly from a coconut kernel.

Image courtesy : www.keralafamilytour.com

Wild Life at Jim Corbett National Park
Oh yes. One of the most popular reasons to be here! This is one of the celebrated national parks of India. Based in Uttranchal, it comes under Project Tiger Scheme and is a World Heritage Site as well. Corbett is a paradise for birdwatcher too with around 580 different species of birds. Folks who keep keen interest in wild-life cannot do without being in this park once in the lifetime. It offers ample opportunity to explore and understand the wild nature at its best.

So folks, these are my favorite 10 reasons to be in the mesmerizing country of heritage and culture, to live the magic it presents every moment. What are yours?

Image courtesy : www.indiatravelblog.net

LGBT Tours in India: A Land That Welcomes All With Equaled Compassion

India, the beautiful land of art, culture and historic splendor is a generous country that has a lot to offer to all kind of visitors. Each and every type of holiday maker wishes to capture the earthy magic of this part of the planet once in a lifetime. So does the LGBT community. As such gays are considered to be quite compassionate and that gives them all the more reasons to visit India and experience the warmth and passion, which it holds in its offerings.

From snowcapped Himalayas to bright sunny beaches, from breathtaking historical monuments to traditional bazaars, every corner seems inviting. LGBT tours in India include an assortment of opportunities from thrilling adventure to calming rejuvenation. India is known for its unique focus towards spirituality and natural healing techniques, therefore, a gay vacation makes all the more sense for those who are looking for peaceful surroundings to spend some time in solitude and attain clarity on priorities. Being at such spiritually focused vacation joints reawakens the spiritual centre and facilitates a connection with self and loved ones.

The multidimensional characteristics of the country also allocate promising LGBT tours that emphasize on exploring the sacred, pre-historical and culturally inclined sites to enhance the devout senses. Trekking through unscathed backwoods, strolling in traditional bazaars, window shopping in high-end boutiques, learning the life in rural villages by spending good amount of time with the natives and guilt free indulging in lip-smacking local cuisines, everything is a gratifying activity in itself and revives the individual completely.

Yet, it is not easy to find a noticeable LGBT community in India even in the most modern areas. Reason is the latest Supreme Court ruling where they imposed Section 377 of Indian Penal Code and reinforced 148-year-old law still on the books from when India was a British colony. This antiquated law prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and includes same-sex intercourse, as well as some heterosexual sexual acts. Delhi Highcourt tried to overturn the law in 2009 and decriminalized same-sex relations. But the ruling was negated by Supreme Court on 11.12.13.

Many LGBT and Human Rights Activists groups are trying to fight against the ruling and rectify it, but those who look for LGBT tours in India must be aware of the facts. There are many LGBT people residing in the country and they do have some common gathering places and frequently cruised areas like other countries. With progressive thinking and liberal attitudes of the modern society towards gay relations, India is becoming a promising place for an astounding gay travel.

LGBT travelers usually report no issues during their holidays in India. Yes of course, one way to ensure that your India gay vacation in the place is a rewarding, secure and becomes a remarkable trip to remember is to approach a trustworthy, well-established travel company, which holds sound experience in organizing exceptional trips and LGBT tours across the nation.

Opting to travel in India with a LGBT tour group is an admirable way to ensure calming pleasure. You have the ample prospect to enjoy India's most fascinating tourist places, invigorate the spirits at sacrosanct temples and experience life-altering moments during this outstanding travel.

LGBT Rights in India: An Endless Debate That Needs to Be Addressed Sensibly!

LGBT (Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender) Rights have always been an issue of serious debate in our nation. Especially among the youth! Homosexual intercourse is considered a criminal offence under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code since 1860. Yet, mental, physical, emotional and economic violence against LGBT community in India prevails shamelessly. Lacking support from family, society or police many gay rape victims stay silent.

Supreme Court brutally chose to throw the 2009 ruling of Delhi High Court out of the window where Gay Sex was legitimated because it was concluded that 377 was a direct violation to the Basic Fundamental Rights provided by the Constitution of India. But the irrational judgment passed by Supreme Court on 11th December 2013 (11.12.13), instigated unyielding reactions from lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender communities from across the nation. After this stern verdict where the authorities decided the fate of homosexuals in the country behind the closed doors, things have worsened further.

The question remains that in the worldwide celebrated land of Kamasutra where sexuality in whatever form it may come is fĂȘted, how gay sex between two consenting individuals becomes a crime?

Youth of the nation have especially been disappointed at this meaningless ruling. World’s largest democracy which speaks of and endorses fundamental rights in strident voice, denies the fulfillment of basic physical needs to a certain section of the society just because they do not fall in the lines of law laid down by the nature. Why are we still holding onto the British Colonial Law when Britain also decriminalized homosexual liaison between two consenting adults in a remarkable judgment way back in 1967?

Here in India there was never any law dubbing homosexuality a punishable offense before section 377 of the Indian Penal Code came into existence, banning 'carnal intercourse against the order of nature'. LGBT Rights came to a huge question mark after this section was imposed forcefully. I feel this is a black spot on the democracy and human rights of every homosexual individual in India. We must stop ranting about the human rights and start believing in Hitler-Raj!

Image courtesy : www.epthinktank.eu

Such a regressive and oppressive decision has not only pushed the LGBT community in a corner, but it also meant that we are clearly denying a respectful life to the certain members of the society where the decision making thought process is based on age-old phony biases.

How foolish it sounds that Supreme Court of India will decide who one should fall in love with! It’s clearly seen that the judgment will instigate more suicides and nothing else. We all anticipated 11.12.13 to be a day to remember, but now the LGBT community will always remember it as a black day. Who and what gives anybody a right to criminalize an individual’s sexual orientation?

India is pronounced as world’s largest democracy where citizens feel privileged to offer shelter to refugees from other countries, we are known to be the most tolerant nation of all and yet we stand against the basic fulfillments of our own citizens’ rights and enforce the highest court of law against them to give such a regressive decision? The decision has turned the tables for now. But, there might be a revolution and the LGBT community will surely fight back.

In fact a food for thought experiment could have been brought to the surface if Supreme Court had delivered a progressive verdict. AT least 18 former colonies of Britain who still follow the archaic law would have taken the inspiration and dissolved any such rulings detrimental to the society as a whole.

Someone has to take a lead somewhere!

Onir, a brilliant film-maker born in Samchi, a small town in Bhutan on the 30th April, 1969, a graduate student of Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University in 1989 took the initiative and made a remarkable film in 2004 that showcased the complete gay scenario intensely! "My brother Nikhil" became the first Indian main stream film that addressed the issue of homosexuality apart from dealing with issues of Human rights and HIV AIDS. Yash Raj Films released this film on 25th March, 2005.

The film fetched many international awards:

Saathi Rainbow Film Festival , Kolkatta (Best Director)
Audience Choice Award, Leceister (UK)
2nd Audience Choice Award, Hamburg LGBT Film Festival
2nd Audience Choice Award, Bremen LGBT Film Festival
Winner Jury Award, Best Film

These accolades clearly portray that law is trying to suppress something which can be celebrated if legalized and much damage to the modern society can be evaded.

We have to accept that LGBT is a reality today. It is acceptable and is very much accepted too. It is not to be marginalized, mocked, revered or feared. When it is so omnipresent, isn't it completely reprehensible to criminalize it? If someone prefers yellow roses to red, could that be criminalized? Or if they prefer ice cream over cake, is it criminal? Sexual preference and orientation is a thoroughly personal matter and no one other than the involved parties has the right to know or comment on it. The choice to share this information about oneself is individual and being privy to this information does not give any outsider a right to pass judgment on it or label the person in derogation.

Life is enriched by differences and time has come to embrace the rainbow.

Wake Up India!

Kullu Dussehra Festival: Triumph of Good Over Evil

Kullu is a beautiful hilly town in India’s northern state Himachal Pradesh. People in this cool land are as cool as the surroundings. They live life and celebrate it to the core. One of such celebrations that symbolize triumph of good over evil is Kullu Dussehra Festival. It is one of the most popular events of Himachal and a derivative of the far spread Navratri Festival.

Kullu Dussehra is a grand manifestation of victory over immorality, which is festooned with huge pomp and show throughout the town. People immersed in exhilaration take out a colorful procession of gold and silver idols of Hindu deities. These idols are prepared well in advance in the remote villages of Kullu by the locales, especially for the occasion. Massively garlanded and placed in overtly decorated vehicle, the deities are paraded on the streets of Kullu form one corner to another. Music, colors, folk singing and local dances accompany the procession till the end.

Kullu, lying peacefully in the foothills of Himalayas, is often referred to as the Valley of Gods. Its original name was Kulanthapitha, which means “end of habitable world”. Kullu’s ancient history dates back to as old as 1st century AD. Travelling form one century to another the capital of the region shifted three times, from Jagatsukh to Naggar and then again relocated to Kullu during the reign of Britishers in Himachal.

Kullu Dussehra showcases a history dating back to 17th century when the local king of the district Jaganand established an idol of Lord Rama, popularly known as Raghunath in those days, on his seating throne which symbolized his penance towards the lord. After that day, the Raghunath idol was considered the ruling deity of the Kullu valley. From that day onwards, during the festival, approximately 250-300 Raghunatha idols made by the locales from all across the valley and the adjoining Mandi district, join the grand procession to pay obeisance to Lord Rama, who is considered to be the presiding deity of Kullu Dussehra. Locales that carry these idols during the procession are paid good incentives by the State Government which varies from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 70,000.

Image courtesy : www.phototravelings.blogspot.com

The gorgeous Kullu Valley, and to a relatively smaller extent Parvati Valley, which runs parallel to it, have been popular for  decades, among travelers who are keen to get a taste of India’s prehistoric culture and enjoy the stunning mountain panorama. This is the reason that in 1972 the Kullu Dussehra festival was declared an international event and since then its popularity has grown hugely. These days, many cultural troupes from various countries also take part and perform during the festivities.

On the first day when the Dussehra fair begins, the idol of Raghunth ji( Lord Rama) bejeweled in a gaily attired Rath is pulled from its fixed place in Dhalpur Maidan, to another spot across the ground by big ropes held by the local people. The village gods who more than a hundred in number mounted in colorful palanquins attend this fair. The week-long celebrations also comprise of generous drinking and crazy dancing. At night Dhalpur Kala Kender buzzes with activity when an international dance festival is held to commemorate the festival. This dance festival lends a stage to great local and international cultural activities. Thousands of people witness the show in the mesmerizing open theater.

On the 6th day, the assembly of Devtas takes place. All the village gods attending the fair with their followers and band of musicians participate in the assembly. It is an outstandingly impressive and rare scene to witness. Devtas sitting together in colorful attires around the camp of Raghunathji, make a spectacular sight to watch.  Conclusion to the festival is brought together on the last day with a series of sacrificial ceremonies that culminate in the assassination of a buffalo, a rooster, a lamb, a fish and a crab. At the same time a huge bonfire is set alight in a pile of thorn bushes, symbolizing the burning of Lanka, the island fortress capital of legendary King Ravana, which comes from a mythological story featuring in the great Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Then finally the Rath is brought back in a procession to its original place. Raghunathji is carried back to his temple at Sultanpur. The attending gods return to their abodes and so do the exhausted but satiated people.

Kullu Dussehra is full of grandeur and festivities. It is a well-organized fair that provides entertainment business opportunities, fun and frolics to all.

Pushkar Camel Fair: The Rendezvous of a Kind

Rajasthan is a beautiful land of color and culture. The air in the state feels so different and unique that one can actually breathe life in this enchanting land of. Pushkar, a sacred town of Rajasthan adds to all the vibrancy and invites the visitors for some authentically exceptional experiences. One of them is Pushkar Camel Fair; the biggest and most awaited cattle fair across the world.

Pushkar stands right in the middle of golden sandy desert. A drowsy yet charismatic little place in the city of Ajmer, Pushkar defines the truest Rajasthani flavors. It is also the home to only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma in India. As per a mythological tale, they say that Lord Brahma was roaming around in search for a pious place to perform a holy ritual. While passing throw this town a lotus fell from his hand on the earth. Where it touched the ground, holy water sprouted form that place and soon it took shape of a lake. This is what makes Pushkar a pilgrimage town for Hindus across the nation.

Coming to the Pushkar Camel Fair, one has to agree that it is one of the grandest and most magnificent events one can experience in a lifetime. It is held every year on the occasion of Kartik Purnima (new moon day). On this day Pushkar seems like a bee hive swarmed with people from all the possible directions. Tourists, culture enthusiasts, photographers, cattle traders from all over north-west India reach the town during this fair. Traders find it the most appropriate opportunity to negotiate lucrative deals for their prized cattle like camels, horses, coes, goats and sheep. The able government of Rajasthan has a major role to play in the organization of this event which bring hoard of business opportunities for the natives and outside traders alike. The total population of 15,000 in Pushkar swells to approximately 2, 00,000 only for this fair. One can easily imagine the magic of the event that casts a spell on all.

Image courtesy : www.zipmytravel.com

This event cannot be concluded as a cattle trading affair. It has a brighter side to it too, which is brimming with colors, music, dance and hilarity. It comes across as a huge cultural phenomenon during those hours of vivacious activity across the town. Atmosphere comes alive with colorfully dressed devotees, live musicians, magical acrobats, splendid folk dancers and laughing comedians. This is the reason Pushkar Camel Fair has transformed into a major tourist attraction for the national and international visitors. They all hop in to relish the flavor of Rajasthan during this fair. Rajasthani cuisine is free flowing during the celebrations and it becomes a paradise for the foodies to savor every bit of the offerings.

Vibrant bazaars, foot tapping folk music, finger licking food and camel sports add on to the liveliness of the event.

On the last day of the fair, people make it a point to visit the bathing Ghats and take a holy dip while they chant religious mantras to please their gods. During the dusk, thousands of beautiful earthen lamps are lighted and floated in leaf boats in the placid Pushkar Lake. This is a picturesque sight not to be missed which commemorates the end of the Pushkar Camel Fair.

Once in a life time experience, Pushkar Camel Fair will surely enliven all your senses.

Snake Boat Races in Kerala – An Exhilarating Experience

Kerala, dotingly known as God’s own country, is the land of exotic beauty. A heaven in its own right, it invites each one to experience its rich culture, fascinating architecture, health boons, lip smacking food, enigmatic art forms and well-educated hospitable people. Kerala’s colorful dances, intriguing history, healing ayurveda and enchanting festivals hold equal importance of their own.

Kerala is a land of many festivals around the year such as Onam, Vishu, Thiruvathira, Thrikarthika, and Thrissur Pooram. All the festivals are celebrated with revived enthusiasm and fervor every year, which attract a great number of tourists form all across the globe.

One of the major festivals celebrated with pomp and show in this God’s own country is Snake Boat Race, thanks to the amazing backwaters that line the state. These backwaters provide ample venue for the splendid Snake Boat Races in Kerala which translates into an absolute exhilarating experience. Something not to be missed while one is on a tour to the state.

This boat race festival has other significances too, apart from the pure entertainment it offers. These races are organized to strengthen the team spirit, integrity and harmony of the natives. The snake boats unusually is a very long boat managed by four helmsmen, 25 folk singers and about 100-125 oarsmen who row the boat in unison keeping with the fast rhythm of the vanchipattu, a musical instrument. This whole arrangement presents a heart-stealing sight and one gets mesmerized by the spirit and music floating in the air.

There are various Snake Boat Races organized during the festival. Some of them are:

Image courtesy : www.travel-ideas.makemytrip.com

Nehru Trophy Boat Race:
This is the most popular snake boat race, which is held annually on the Punnamada Backwaters of Alappuzha district on 2nd Saturday of August month every year. More than 16 snake boats or Chundans participate in the race. Women are also invited to participate in the race and separate boats are offered for women races.

Aranmula Boat Race:
It is another most famous event of Kerala, held every year, on the Pampa River near the Sree Parthasarathy Temple. It is a vital part of Onam celebrations. The snake boats are known as Palliyodams. The whole atmosphere comes alive in the cheering sounds of race lovers and encouraging songs of the folk singers.

Payippad Boat Race:
This race is also known as Payippad Jalotsavam. It is held in the memory of the installation of the deity at Haripad Subrahmanya Temple and has a very high religious significance. Snake boats during this race are referred as Chundanvalloms. It is an absolute delight for the spectators coming in from all the directions.

Some of the famous snake boats used during these races are:
  • Payippad Jalotsavam
  • Aaranmula
  • Indira Gandhi
  • Champakulam Moolam
  • Orchirakali

Friday, 27 June 2014

Tour Guides in India

India is a vast country offering innumerable holiday destinations in the nukes and corners of various states. It is an experience in self to explore the exact flavour of Indian soil in its most earthen form. This nation, hence, is undeniably, one of the most promising tourist destinations of the world. It is a magical land that reverberates with rich history and glows with a promise for tomorrow. The magnificent monuments, rich colourful history, cultural treasures and heritage temples of India are quite overwhelming while one is on an expedition to India.

Importance of a Tour Guide

One of the important factors for a successful tour to India is to choose the right tour guide. You can choose from hundreds of tour guides in

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India but only few select ones can make your trip so special that your vacation becomes a memory to cherish for a long time. Most of them are really friendly, yet, exceptional assistance, warm hospitality, excellent knowledge about the location make some of them stand out and make a trip worth.

If you are the one planning a holiday to discover India, you would definitely be willing to visit the locations those are popular for that given region. But, if you do not have much information about the area, you would need a tour guide to direct you along the way. So what if you would have to pay to receive a tour guide’s services, but it would certainly help to have someone who knows the place, the roads and the streets around the area, the local language of the place, historical significance of the monuments, and the essence of each tourist attraction. Well, these all is what a tour guide is trained for. Usually, the tour guides in India are appointed locales who know the beautiful hidden treasures in and out.

Finding the Perfect Tour Guide

Finding the right guide to make your holiday a pleasant one is not all that difficult. You just need to make sure that you do a perfect job when you look out for one.

Image courtesy : www.aathitya.com

Contact a Reliable Travel Agency

The best way to find a travel guide is by contacting a renowned travel agency local to the area, as they would have plenty of guides working under them. They would be able to set you up with someone based on what you would like to see and do as each guide would probably be focused on a particular kind of touring experience. Tour operators in India offer different tour packages including beach tours, cultural tours, adventure tours, festival holidays, backwater tours, heritage tours, wildlife tours, religious tours and even Ayurvedic and rejuvenation tours. Make sure you mention the nature of your holiday and the purpose of visit to the local places so that they can offer you the right tour guide.

It is always good to check out if the travel agency is accredited with various international and national distinguished bodies in travel and tourism industry. This will strengthen your faith in their services.

Government Run Tourist Locations

Many places worth a visit in various states of India are still under government management. The managing tourism department always makes a provision of hiring tour guides from local tourism offices.

Visit Tour Guide Websites

There are plenty of websites that are set up specifically by tour guides of the particular areas so that you can find them easily. If you know your destination all you need to do is Google your place plus tour guide and you would find a long list of possibilities. Choose the one that has a long history of being in business. But, make sure that you schedule an appointment with your tour guide well in advance as they tend to get really busy during the peak holiday seasons.

Ask Your Friends

It's very likely that a few of your friends have travelled to the same destination and used the services of a tour guide. If that's the case, it is all the easier. All you would need to do is ask them which touring agency they used and there you are! Hire your tour guide from there.

One thing to look out for when hiring a tour guide is their credentials. Check all the permits and papers. Make sure that they are actually guides and not someone just looking for a chance to rob you of your money.

A good tour guide knows how to gratify a tourist and that is what makes him stand apart. It is important to research and choose a good tour guide in India if you want to explore this magical land in a unique, hassle-free manner. You must hire a tour guide who can make each and every moment of your visit worth every penny.