The outstanding aroma of India is not only the strong scent of jasmine
and roses on the warm air. It's also the aroma of the spices
very important to Indian cooking – particularly to
preparing curry. The word ‘curry’ is an English
derivative of kari, meaning spice sauce, however,
curry does not, in India, come as a powder. It is the subtle and
delicate blend of spices such as turmeric, coriander, cardamom,
nutmeg, ginger, and poppy seed.
Like an artist’s palette of oil paints, the Indian cook
has about 25 spices (freshly ground as required) in order to
mix the recognized combinations or masalas. Several of these
spices are also known for their medicinal qualities, and, like the
basic ingredients, vary from region to region.
Although not all Hindus are vegetarians, vegetable dishes are more
widespread than in Europe, especially in southern India.
Meat dishes are more common in the north, particularly, Rogan
Josh (curried lamb), Gushtaba (spicy meat balls in yogurt)
and the delicious Biryani (chicken or lamb in orange-flavored
rice, sprinkled with sugar and rose water). Mughlai cuisine is creamy,
rich, deliciously spiced and liberally sprinkled with saffron and
nuts. The ever-popular Tandoori cooking (meat, chicken, or
fish marinated in herbs and baked in a clay oven) and kebabs are
also northern cuisine.
In the south, curries are primarily vegetable and tend to
be hotter. Specialties to look out for are Bhujia (vegetable
curry), Raitas (yoghurt with grated cucumber and mint), Dosa,
Idli and Samba (rice pancakes, dumplings with pickles,
and vegetable and lentil curry). Coconut is a primary ingredient
of southern Indian cooking.
The west coast has a wide variety of fish and shellfish:
Mumbai duck (curried or fried bombloe fish) and pomfret
(Indian salmon) are just 2. Another specialty is the Parsi Dhan
Sak (lamb or chicken cooked with curried lentils) and Vindaloo.
Fish is also a staple of Bengali cooking as in Dahi Maach
(curried fish in yogurt flavored with turmeric and ginger) and Malai
(curried prawn with coconut). One regional difference is that, whereas
in the south rice is the staple food, in the north this is supplemented
and often times substituted by a wide variety of flat breads, such
as Nan, Pooris, and Chapatis.
Common throughout India is Dal (crushed lentil soup with
various other vegetables), and Dahi, the curd or yogurt,
which accompanies the curry. aside from being delicious, it is a
good ‘cooler’, more effective than liquids when things
get too hot.
Sweets are mainly milk-based puddings, pastries and pancakes. prevalent
throughout India is Kulfi, the Indian ice cream, Rasgullas
(cream cheese balls flavoured with rose water), Gulab Jamuns
(flour, yogurt and ground almonds), and Jalebi (pancakes
In addition to an exquisite choice of sweets and sweetmeats, there
is an abundance of fruit, both tropical – mangoes,melons and
pomegranates – and temperate – apricots, strawberries
and apples. Western confectionery is available in major centers.
It is common to complete the meal by chewing Pan as a digestive.
Pan is made of spices such as aniseed and cardomom wrapped in betel
Besides the main dishes, there are also endless irresistible snacks
at the ready on every street corner, such as Samosa, Dosa, Fritters,
and Vada. Western cuisine is also available, Indeed,
the best styles of cooking from throughout the globe can be experienced
in the major centres in India.
drink is tea (or chai) and many of the varieties are
enjoyed throughout the world. It often comes ready-brewed with milk
and sugar unless ‘tray tea’ is requested. Coffee is
also gaining popularity. Nimbu Pani (lemon drink), Lassi
(iced buttermilk) and coconut milk straight from the nut are refreshing
and cool. Soft drinks (usually sweet) and bottled water are widely
available, as are Western alcoholic drinks. There's also a wide
variety of excellent Indian beer,. Indian-made gin, rum, wine and
brandy. Bottled water, essential for visitors, is available everywhere
in India, but be sure the bottles are properly sealed.
Restaurants have table service and, depending on the area and establishment,
will serve alcoholic beverages with meals. Most Western-style hotels
have licensed bars. Visitors can be issued All India Liquor Permits
on request by Indian Embassies/High Commissions, Missions or Tourist
Offices. Various states enforce prohibition but this may change;
check with the Tourist Office for current information. In almost
all big cities in India certain days of the week are observed as
dry days when the sale of liquor is not prohibited. Tourists may
contact the nearest local tourist office to obtain the prohibition
laws/rules that apply in any given state where they happen to be
travelling or intend to travel.
India has generally little nightlife as the term
is understood in the West, however, in major cities a few Western-style
shows, discos and clubs are being developed. In most places the
main attraction will be cultural shows featuring Indian music and
The Indian film industry is the largest in the world, now
producing 3 times as many full-length feature films as Hollywood.
ai and Kolkata (Calcutta) are the country’s
2 ‘Hollywoods’. Nearly every large town has a
cinema, many of which will show films in English. Music and dancing
are an important part of Indian cinema, mixing with several other
influences to produce a rich variety of film art. Larger cities
may have theatres showing productions of English-language plays.
crafts have been perfected throughout the centuries, from traditions
and techniques handed down from generation to generation. Every
region has its own specialties, each town its own craftspeople and
its own particular skills. Spices, Silks, jewellery and many other
Indian products have long been acclaimed and are widely pursued;
merchants traveled thousands of miles, suffering the hardships of
a long journey, in order to make their purchases.
Nowadays, the marketplaces of the subcontinent are a mere eight
hours away, and for fabrics, carpets, silverware, antiques and leatherwork;
India is a shopper’s paradise. Bargaining is expected,
visitors can check for reasonable prices at state-run emporia.
1 of India’s main industries is textiles. Its cottons, silks,
and wools rank amongst the best in the world. Of the silks,
the brocades from Varanasi are among the most prominent;
other major centres include Patna, Kanchipuram Murshidabad, and
Surat. Rajasthan cotton with its distinctive ‘tie
and dye’ design is brilliantly colorful, while Chennai
cotton is well known for its attractive ‘bleeding’
effect after a few washes. Himroo cloth, a mixture of silk
and cotton, can be found throughout the country and is often decorated
with patterns. Kashmir sells beautiful woollens, particularly
India is 1 of the world’s largest carpet producers,
and many examples of this ancient and beautiful craft are on display
in museums throughout world. Each region has its own specialty;
such as the distinctive, brightly colored Tibetan rugs, available
mainly in Darjeeling.
Clothes are inexpensive and can be quickly tailor-made in
some shops. Cloth includes cottons, silks, himroos, chiffons,
brocades, and chingnons.
Jewellery is typically heavy and elaborate. Indian silverwork
is world-famous. Gems include diamonds, lapis Indian star rubies
lazuli, star sapphires, aquamarines and moonstones. Hyderabad is
a leading pearl center.
Each area has its specialty; these include bronzes, brass work (often
inlaid with silver), pottery and cane work. Woven rugs and papier
mâché (some decorated in gold leaf) is a characteristic
Kashmir craft. alabaster and inlaid marble are specialties of Agra.
Rajasthan is known for its colourful silks and fabrics. Leatherwork
includes slippers and open Indian sandals.
Carvings made from sandalwood from Karnataka, rosewood from Kerala
Spices, Pickles, perfumes, Indian tea, handmade paper, soap, Orissan
playing cards and musical instruments.
Monday-Saturday 09:30-18:00 in most large stores.
There is a veto on the export of antiques, and art objects more
than 100 years old, animal skins and objects made from skins.
For additional information, contact the Government of India Tourist
Office (see Contact section).
Below is a selection from the hundreds of Indian festivals celebrated
Kalachakra Initiation (religious ceremony), Bodh Gaya; Bikaner
||Goa Carnival; Desert Festival, Jaisalmer.
||Holla Mohalla (ancient Sikh
festival), all over the Punjab.
||Ramnavami (anniversary of Lord
Rama’s birth), nationwide.
||Buddha Purnima (celebration
of the birth of Lord Buddha), nationwide.
||Summer Festival, Mount Abu.
||Birthday of the Dalai Lama,
||Ganesh Chaturthi (festival
of the elephant God Ganesh), nationwide.
||Navarati (Hindu festival of
||Dussehra (Hindu festial), nationwide.
||Deepvali (Hindu festival of
||Pushkar Camel Fair, Ajmer;
Ganga Mahotsava (washing in the Ganges River), Varanasi.
||Christmas Parties (beach parties),
In addition to the above listed festivals there are hundreds of
fairs and festivals of regional significance, which are celebrated
with equal pomp and color.
The most authentic of these are the following:
The Temple Festivals in southern India; a listing is often available
at Government of India Tourist Offices.
Festivals at Ladakh, in Kashmir.
Festivals in Rajasthan; a visitor will be unlucky to visit Rajasthan
when a festival of some kind is not either happening or about to
take place. The visitor may also be lucky enough to witness dancing
at a private wedding or a village festival.
The traditional Indian Hindu greeting is to fold the hands and tilt
the head forward to Namaste.
Indian women usually prefer not to shake hands.
All visitors should remove footwear before entering places of religious
worship. Most Indians remove their footwear before entering their
houses. Because of strict religious and social customs, visitors
should show the utmost respect when visiting someone’s home.
Many Hindus are vegetarian and many, particularly women, do not
Parsees and Sikhs do not smoke.
Small gifts are appreciated as gestures of gratitude for hospitality.
Women are expected to dress modestly. Short skirts and tight or
revealing clothing is not acceptable even on beaches.
Businesspeople are not expected to dress formally unless attending
meetings and social functions.
English-speaking guides are available at fixed prices at all important
tourist centers. Guides speaking French, Italian, German, Spanish,
Japanese, or Russian are available in some cities. Contact the nearest
Government of India Tourist Office. Unapproved guides are not allowed
entrance to protected monuments. Tourists are advised to request
guides who have certificates from the Ministry of Tourism or India
Tourism (see Contact section).
Formalities mainly apply to protected monuments and the wildlife
sanctuaries. Special permission from the Archaeological Survey of
India, New Delhi, is required for the use of a tripod and artificial
light to photograph monuments. Photography at numerous places is
allowed with a prescribed fee, which varies. Please contact the
nearest Government of India Tourist Office.
Taxis and restaurants don't expect tips however, hotel and airport
porters should be tipped about Rs20, and guides and drivers Rs100
per day where service is not included (equaling roughly 10% where
||upcoming festivals in India
||guide to vegetarian restaurants