The Do's and Don'ts of Traveling in India
Take a Yoga class
India is famous for its Yoga, and you will find classes available in almost every place you will visit on your India tour. The most popular forms of Yoga are hatha yoga, pranyama yoga and ashtanga yoga.
I am not really into yoga myself but I did sign up for a course while I was in Mt. Abu and I am glad I did. It was a great experience and I loved the peacefulness of the class while also looking over some of the most spectacular views I had ever seen. One thing I did not enjoy though, was the 6am starts!
Try the food
One of the highlights of my India travels is getting to try all the delicious, wonderful foods on offer. I am a vegetarian and India is a great country food-wise for me as almost half the population are vegetarians meaning I have a fantastic choice of food! One of my favorite Indian foods is the South Indian masala dosa. This is a savory pancake made from rice batter and black lentils and is filled with an onion and coconut curry, it is so delicious. This is the first food I seek out whenever I travel around India and I can not get enough. It is meant to be a breakfast but I eat it at any time of the day!
In Kerala, seafood is highly popular and most dishes will have fried seafood or curried seafood in it, usually cooked with coconut oil or milk. A lot of the food is served up in banana leaves which makes it delicious and nice to look at.
Another dish I love is the thali which literally translates as plate. It is a dish that comes from central, northern and western India and the contents vary from region to region. It usually comes as a metal tray with a few different compartments which are all filled with different foods. Typically you will find your thali filled with rice, dhal (lentils), vegetables, roti (bread), poppadums and curd (yogurt). They are very inexpensive and readily available at local restaurants and a great way to try different foods if you are not sure what to order.
See a Bollywood movie in Mumbai
Bollywood is big news in India there are more than 900 Bollywood films made a year and the worldwide audience for Bollywood films is about 3.7 billion compared to 2.6billion for Hollywood. I have traveled to Mumbai quite a few times and have even appeared as an extra in quite a few Bollywood films. I got approached to appear in some films by a Bollywood agent in Mumbai. It was a lot of fun, it meant I was able to visit the studios and see how the films were made and I also got to meet some Bollywood stars like Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra.
During my India travels, I went to a Bollywood movie at one of the many cinemas in Mumbai and it was a fantastic experience. The film was in Hindi but it did not matter as there was so much singing and dancing and I could generally understand what was going on. However, the film I went to see was the first film where the male and female lead kissed on the lips so I was not prepared for all the excitement that it would cause – everyone got up and started cheering and dancing. A crazy experience to say the least!
Play with monkeys
Monkeys have lived side by side with humans in India for many years and there are many towns and cities where you will see them (or be overrun by them). Seeing monkeys running around and being cute is great, especially as we are not used to them living in the wild in the UK. However, it's important to be aware that they are not always so cute. So, try to avoid getting too close (especially to babies and their protective mothers). You can watch the monkeys and take photos but I would recommend always keeping at a safe distance during your India trip.
Give money to beggars
When you arrive into a big city in India one of the first thing that you will notice is the many child beggars which can come as quite a bit of a shock. It is natural to feel sorry for them and you might be tempted to give them money but I would strongly recommend not doing so on your India trip.
Most of the time the child is not working alone and is in fact begging for adults or family members who do not have the child's best interests at heart and it is illegally they will even see any of the money. Children are used as a marketing ploy as they have more awareness potential than adults and are often exploited for this reason.
Therefore, if you are looking to donate money then I would advise going through a reputable charity like Pratham, a charity for children in India or SOS children's villages where you can actually sponsor a child in India.
Wear revealing clothes
Women should be careful about wearing revealing clothes in whilst traveling in India as it is likely to attract a lot of unnecessary attention from men which can get a bit annoying. The more flesh you tend to show the more likely you are to get lewd comments or guys staring. If you cover up you will get more respect and it is also compulsory to cover up when visiting sacred sites anyway.
You do not have to cover yourself in full head to toe dress, but be respectful of local custom and do not wear tank tops or tops showing your underwear or skirts that are too short.