The Definitive Guide to Exploring India
When to go: High season in India is from October to March, when the weather is cooler and more pleasant. However, these months attract the most tourists. If you are used to humidity and don’t mind the occasional monsoon shower, August and September are ideal; just pack plenty of mosquito repellent. Avoid April-July (Indian summer) which is unbearably hot.
Getting around: If you’re travelling between cities, the Indian railway system is surprisingly efficient and comfortable (be sure to go for 2nd or 1st Air Conditioned classes when booking). But for longer journeys it’s best to take a domestic flight. Most cities have Uber, so you can take a cab to get from A to B, which is usually cheaper than an auto rickshaw.
Attractions: Avoid guides hustling outside attractions. More often than not they will just be touts and not government approved. Bear in mind that there tends to be a separate fee for foreigners at attractions in India, and usually a separate queue too. Many places do not allow photography, so make sure you check the rules before snapping away!
Tipping: A service charge is usually added to the bill at restaurants, although not in every case. Remember that everything is considerably cheaper in India, so smaller tips are the norm, but too small a tip can be considered insulting. Government tax is a legal requirement in shops so there is no need to tip here.
India is essentially a colossal hub of different faiths, lifestyles and creeds. Four of the world’s dominant religions originated here: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Religion underpins Indian society, providing guidance, a sense of belonging and purpose in life to Indian people. A visual image of the importance religion holds in India is the omnipresence of sadhus (holy men), who wander from place to place living off the kindness of others until they pass into the next world. Today in India more religions than ever co-exist peacefully (for the most part).
The oldest religion in India with the highest following by a huge majority is Hinduism. Hindu temples, new and old, can be found on nearly every street in India. What is believed to be the oldest functioning temple in existence is the Mundeshwari Devi Temple in Bihar. The prevalence of Hinduism has had a huge impact on the history, culture, language and philosophy of India, a nation whose name is derived from Indus, the river near which the ancient Hindu people originate. Indian Hinduism that we know of has been developing since 3300-1700 BCE. The many phases of Hinduism include the Vedic period, the Second Urbanisation, Classical Hinduism, Puranic Hinduism, Modern Hinduism and Contemporary Hinduism. Nowadays, Hinduism serves not only as a belief system in India, but has gained political significance and has become a source of national identity.
The Hindu ‘caste’ system (which is now outlawed but remains present in society) classified people into groups which then determined their name, where they could live, their profession and fundamentally, how close they were to God. Though there are many in India who still believe and practice traditional Hinduism, there are lots of modern branches of the faith, such as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which famously brought Hindu teachings to the west. The ISKCON temple in Mumbai is a mind-blowing temple with extravagant décor, singing and music and huge idols enrobed in gold in full view. Akshardham temple in New Delhi is an architecturally flawless recent build, but is similar to Mumbai’s ISKCON temple in its decadence, and is an absolute must-visit attraction, a breath of fresh air in India’s chaotic capital. To experience a traditional Hindu temple, visit Jagdish Temple in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The intricately carved temple is usually bustling with devotees coming to worship. At the bottom of the steps there will undoubtedly be elderly women making pretty flower garlands to offer to the Gods. The Brahmins who maintain the Jagdish temple also make a living by creating beautifully intricate silk paintings in traditional Rajasthani style. The poor are also welcomed to Jagdish, where donations are collected and used to provide meals for the less fortunate.
Though Buddhism originated in India thousands of years ago, only a small population of Indian people identify as Buddhist. This is largely due to mass Buddhist conversion to Hinduism during the fall of the Gupta Empire. Despite this, many Hindus in India still partake in Buddhist practices like meditation and resonate with Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism in India is concentrated in the northern states of Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, near the borders of Nepal and Bhutan; however there is also a strong Buddhist presence in Maharashtra, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. It is clear to see that thousands of years ago Buddhism was a major part of Indian society. If you know where to look, there is Buddhist architecture in India far more impressive than any Thai temple. In the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, some 300km east of Mumbai, are the Ajanta and Ellora caves.
The Ajanta caves are a horseshoe shaped crescent of monolithic Buddhist caves. They were discovered by accident, covered in silt and rubble in 1819 by English officer John Smith who was hunting tigers. In the years following the discovery of the first cave, the excavation revealed that there were 25 caves in total. The caves, now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were quarried over an extensive period between 200BC and 500AD and incorporate different strings of Buddhism, the earliest being the Hinayana tradition and the subsequent caves being of the Mahayana tradition. Some of the caves would have served as temples for meditation and worship, others as monasteries, where nomadic Buddhists would take shelter during the monsoon. Whilst in the caves the monks painted murals on the inner walls, depicting scenes featuring the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and impressions of everyday life at this time. These paintings were likely created with vegetable dye and then fixed with a preservative, which explains how so many of them have survived thousands of years. Some paintings are fainter than others, but there are many in which you can clearly see the images of monks, elephants and people.
The Ellora caves are also based in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district. What is striking about these caves, is that Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves all stand on the same plot. Ellora features the world’s largest monolithic rock excavation and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over 100 caves at Ellora, which were also carved over a considerable period. The earliest caves are believed to have been built during the reign of the Vakataka, Traikutaka and Kalachuri Hindu dynasties. The Buddhist caves were subsequently built. Entirely fascinating, are the sculptures of gods and goddesses that adorn the caves’ exteriors; it is a total marvel that people during this time of civilisation had the tools and ability to design and create work this detailed and uniform.
Islam is the second largest religion in India after Hinduism, though it did not originate in India. Traders from Arabic countries came to India’s west coast as early as the 7th century. From then, Arabic and Persian trading communities began to settle in Gujarat and by the 12th century there was a strong Islamic presence in northern India.
However, the most significant period for Islam in the Indian subcontinent was the reign of the Mughals, which spanned from 1526-1857 (with a short break during the Sur dynasty) and is considered to be ‘India’s last Golden Age.’ In fact, under the reign of the Mughal Emperors, India became the world’s largest economic power and the leading global manufacturer. This affluence is reflected in the Mughal architecture that India is so famous for. Mughal ruler Shah Jahan is infamous for his extravagance, having built India’s most famous construction, the ostentatious Taj Mahal at Agra, as a place of rest for his wife. It goes without saying that if the opportunity arises, the Taj Mahal– one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – is a must-see place, but Agra (former Mughal capital) has some other, lesser-known sites of Islamic significance. Firstly, Agra Fort, which is where Shah Jahan resided up until his death, when he was laid to rest alongside his wife in the Taj Mahal. Although Agra Fort lacks the grandeur and enormity of Delhi’s Red Fort, it is rather beautiful. Specifically, the white marble Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), which was reserved for the Emperor’s harem of ladies, is architecturally flawless, perfectly preserved and mesmerising.
Delhi, (another former Mughal capital) is also home to many sites of Islamic significance. In the manic, dusty streets of Old Delhi is the Jama Masjid, (Friday Mosque) another impressive construction commissioned by Shah Jahan. This is India’s largest mosque and is definitely worth a visit; its courtyard has a capacity of 25,000. Constructed of red sandstone, the courtyard is framed by three towering gates and two minarets that stand at 40m (130 ft.) high. Also worth visiting in Delhi is the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayan, which is a structure typical of Mughal architecture and is very similar to the Taj Mahal, albeit much smaller and built in red sandstone.
Although Sikhism is much, much newer a religion than Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, it is the fifth largest religion in the world. Sikhism began in India after the birth of Guru Nanak, and is concentrated in Punjab, though there are healthy Sikh populations across the states of India. The Sikh community is very well represented in Indian politics and society.
Sikhism suffered a turbulent past during the Mughal reign. Religious persecution of Hindus and Sikhs was rife but the Sikhs encouraged religious freedom, a testament to the peaceful co-existence of faiths in India today. Sikhism, as well as Hinduism and Buddhism, relies heavily on meditation as a form of worship. Though Sikhism was traditionally personified in a Guru, after the 10th Guru’s (Guru Gobind Singh) death, the religion has lived on through the religious scriptures known as the Guru Granth Sahib.
Unlike other religions, Sikhs do not generally go on pilgrimages, as the religious teachings state that serving God and others is of greater significance than the act of pilgrimage. The place of worship for Sikhs is a temple known as a Gurdwara. It is not uncommon to hear the singing of mantras accompanied by instrumental music when visiting a Gurdwara. The only requirement in a Sikh temple is that the Guru Granth Sahib is located on a platform under a canopy and the Sikh flag flying atop the building. The most impressive and well-known Sikh temple in the world is located in Amritsar, Punjab. The Sri Harmandir Sahib, more commonly known as the ‘Golden Temple,’ is a mesmerising sight, particularly during the night when it glows wondrously. The temple is open to people from any faith to come and worship, all of whom can take a free meal cooked inside the temple itself. This act of kindness is common in Sikh temples all over the world, and reflects the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib to recognise people of all faiths and backgrounds as equals.
India’s inspiring sense of community is typified by its dedication to coming together in celebration during festivals and holidays. Some festivals are unique to particular faiths but others are celebrated by all. Festivals in India represent successes, traditions, memorials, holidays, and significant religious and cultural events. Indian festivals are a great metaphor for the cultural diversity and flamboyance of the country as a whole.
Originally a Hindu festival, this fun celebration is enjoyed across India by people of all religions, notably Hindus and Sikhs. Holi is celebrated in March on the day of the full moon, or phalguna purmina. Holi is an all-encompassing celebration, but the main aspects of the festival are colours, love and unity. It is an ancient festival that was originally celebrated to encourage good to prevail over evil. Nowadays it still has religious significance but is mainly a chance for communities to come together and enjoy the day. People show their acceptance of and affection towards others during Holi by offering gifts, sweets and cards to friends and relatives. Friendship and togetherness is a deeply rooted concept in Indian culture, and Holi is a cacophonous celebration of this.
The culmination of the festival is a spectacular coming together of attendees where friends and strangers will embrace and fling, splatter and sprinkle vibrant abir (coloured powders) onto each other. This lively festival is charged with love and happiness, and to experience it would be unforgettable; Holi can restore anyone’s faith in the generosity and kindness of humanity. Holi is celebrated all over India (big celebrations are concentrated in the north) and each different state has its own twist on the celebrations.
For an extravagant, regal affair, Rajasthan is the place to be. The royal family of Udaipur invites guests to celebrate at the palace, and in Jaipur parades course through the pink walls of the old city with lots of folk dancing. For a heart-warming Holi, head to the Dharavi Slum in Mumbai. Dharavi, though worlds apart from the sleek, upmarket city of Mumbai, is a lively, happy place to be, especially during Holi. The proceeds made by tour companies go to Dharavi outreach programmes, and this will be an experience like no other, breaking barriers and focusing on what truly matters. If the thought of a huge festival in the midst of an already chaotic metropolis is a worrying prospect, experiencing traditional folk Holi in a remote part of West Bengal may be the answer. Around six hours from Kolkata, in the Purulia district, locals celebrate Holi with rustic art, music and dancing, which visitors are encouraged to take part in.
India could finally say it had successfully won the fight for independence at the stroke of midnight on 15 August, 1947. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru famously said “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”
This annual national holiday is celebrated on 15 August to commemorate India’s independence from the British Empire in 1947. On this auspicious day, the Prime Minister addresses the nation from Delhi’s huge Red Fort, flying the Indian flag. Indian patriotism reaches fever pitch on Independence Day, as the national anthem and patriotic songs echo over the nation, with men, women and children dancing and celebrating.
The celebration, though a happy day, has a bittersweet tinge, as the people of India remember those who sacrificed their lives for their country. However, on a happier note, a spectacular sight can be witnessed if in India during the independence celebrations. People all over the country fly colourful kites in celebration and commemoration of their homeland.
Meaning ‘festival of light,’ Diwali is one of the most significant holidays in the Hindu calendar. Similarly to Holi, Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil, using the symbol of light to represent good. The whole of India is totally transformed during Diwali, with millions of lights glowing over a period of around five days. Diwali night falls on the night of the new moon where the night is darkest during October-November.
Diwali is highly anticipated by the Hindu communities in India, who spend time adorning their homes with beautiful decorations like rangoli (floor art made from powdered rice and flowers), dress up and prepare a delicious feast. Diwali is made up of a series of different rituals, performed on each day of the festival. Day one is Dhanteras, where families set to work on decorating their homes and celebrating the birthday of Lakshmi. Day two is Nakra Chaturdasi or Choti Diwali. This signifies the killing of the demon Narakasura by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. Women decorate their hands with Henna and begin preparing mithai (sweets). Day three, Lakshmi Puja, is the most significant day of celebrations, where families light candles and diyas (oil lamps) and pray to Lakshmi goddess of prosperity. After the puja (prayer) celebration ensues with fireworks, exchanging gifts and a family feast. The fourth day, Padwa, is a celebration of love between husband and wife where gifts are exchanged between spouses. Padwa also marks the start of a new trading year for merchants. Finally, day five is Bhai Dooj, a celebration of sibling love. Women perform a prayer for the wellbeing of their brothers, and once again gifts are exchanged and delicious food is enjoyed. Traditionally on this day, brothers would travel back to their family home from afar to see their sisters, and share the harvests of their labour with them.
Diwali has also become synonymous with peace in India. Though its ancient roots lie in Hinduism, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh communities come together to celebrate Diwali as a marker of kindness and peace, a reminder to love, care for and be charitable towards others. The best way to experience Diwali is to be together with an Indian family and join their celebrations, although if this is not possible, the holy city of Varanasi holds a spectacular firework display over the Ganges River, which is a magical sight indeed.
The Islamic calendar is packed with holidays, but the most highly anticipated in India (and indeed the world) is Eid-ul-Fitr, the culmination of Ramadan, where Muslims end their month-long fast. On this day, the Muslims of India show their sense of community by gathering together in prayer at various mosques before the celebrations begin.
Families, friends and neighbours wish each other well on this long-anticipated holiday, which begins early in the morning at the mosque where special Eid prayers are offered. There is a special dish that is prepared to commemorate this day, sheer korma, which is a rich and sweet combination of vermicelli and dried fruits with milk. A spectacular sight on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr is the droves of Muslims coming together in worship at significant locations, such as the Taj Mahal and Jama Masjid.
Eid-ul-Fitr in India is a celebration of generosity, where non-perishable foods or money are given by the Islamic communities to the less fortunate. It is also becoming increasingly common for families and friends to exchange gifts with each other on this holiday. As with any celebration, people dress in their best clothes and decorate their houses. Interestingly, the exact date of Eid-ul-Fitr is not known until the eve of the day itself; only when the new moon, known as the Eid moon (signifying a new month) is seen, can the festivities begin. Agra, Delhi and Hyderabad are all swarming with joyful devotees on this day; however it may not be wise to visit India during this time, as it is right in the middle of summer and the crowds will be very difficult to navigate in the blistering heat.
India’s balmy climate and rich blend of cultures make for a colourful cuisine. Though each state has its own interpretation of Indian cuisine, north Indian and south Indian cooking styles have a number of distinctive dishes and delicacies. The food is one of the best things about India; the fruits and vegetables are ripe and fresh, the aromatic spices are of the best quality and the overwhelming majority of ingredients are sourced locally. There is a different masala (spice mix) to complement different meats, fish and vegetables. Most Indians will have their own secret masala that they add into their recipes to give them an authentic flavour.
The most common styles of cooking in northern India are: Mughlai (developed during the Mughal period), Kashmiri and Punjabi. Spices commonly used in north Indian cuisine include cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, mace and mustard.
Main courses in north India will more often than not have a sauce. The word curry was actually coined by the British who learnt that the Hindi term karee meant ‘gravy.’ Curries in India are generally medium-spicy, but you can always ask for a dish to be hotter or milder. The sauces are made with ghee (clarified butter), which makes them very rich and creamy. Dairy products are a staple in north Indian cuisine; freshly made yoghurt often accompanies meals, and paneer (curd cheese) makes up the bulk of vegetarian curries. Seasonal vegetables are used in the majority of dishes; meat and fish are also used, but not as commonly as in the southern states.
Some popular dishes in north India include muttar paneer (fragrant curry made with cheese curds and peas), murgh makhani (butter chicken), dal makhani (creamy black lentil and bean soup), and samosa (spiced vegetables or meat and potatoes wrapped in pastry and fried). Interestingly in the northern states of India, rice is not as popular as bread in terms of accompaniments. More commonly enjoyed are tandoori roti (breads cooked in a tandoor), and paratha (bread stuffed with spiced onions and vegetables).
Must try dish
Navratan Korma: Navratan means ‘nine jewels.’ In this Mughlai dish, nine vegetables, fruits and nuts are cooked in a sweet and spicy, rich and creamy sauce.
The exotic climate of southern India with its warm monsoon rains is perfect for growing spices, fruits and vegetables. The coastal states on the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea also benefit from freshly caught fish and seafood, which features heavily in south Indian cookery. The five southern states use some of the same spices as the northern states do, but south Indian cookery has its own distinctive taste due to the use of ingredients like ginger, tamarind, fresh green chillies, asafoetida, black pepper and coconut.
Curry dishes are less common in southern Indian cooking – perhaps out of convenience as eating with your hands is the norm down south – but the dishes are just as aromatic and delicious. Commonly eaten at breakfast time is the dosa (thin, crispy pancake) filled with lightly spiced potatoes, onions and other vegetables. To accompany the dosa is asambar (a spicy vegetable and lentil soup) and one or two other chutneys. Another favourite dish native to south India is uttapam. Large, flat and round, these are a sort of pancake, but they are made with finely chopped vegetables, onions, chillies and seasoned well. There are lots of variations on the classic uttapam, a personal favourite being coconut. These will also be served with soups and chutneys for dipping.
Southern India is the home of thousands of rice paddy fields, so it is no surprise that the internationally known rice dish biryani originated here. Each south Indian state has its own version of biryani, a lightly spiced and flavourful, versatile dish that can include meat, fish or vegetables. As we mentioned previously, fish and seafood are favourites, particularly in Goan and Keralan cookery. Common dishes include Goan-Portuguese fusion dish, tangy prawn balchão and the famous, fragrant meen kuzhambu (fish curry),which are both heavily spiced and quintessential of south India. Most dishes are accompanied with rice and commonly a coconut raita or chutney to offset the spicy flavours of the main dish.
Must try dish
Chicken Chettinad: A classic dish that showcases the spices of south India, originally from Chettinad, Tamil Nadu. The base of the dish is a marinade made with a variety of spices and gingelly oil.
Mumbai, India’s most populous state, is the home of street food. Busy Mumbaikars want to grab and eat their lunch quickly but don’t want to compromise on flavour. The idea of eating street food in India is a no-go to some people, but minds are usually changed when the aromas from the stalls hit, and Indian customers can be seen crowding the stalls hoping to be the next to have their order taken (Queuing in India is absolutely not a thing).
The most popular street food dishes in Mumbai include pani puri (small round, crispy fried breads hollowed out and served with a selection of flavoured waters to pour in), vada pav (a fried spiced potato patty served in a bread roll with various sauces), and pav bhaji (thick, spicy vegetable curry fried on a hot plate and served with a bread roll).
What is special about the street food of Mumbai is its positive impact on the social issues in the 20 million-strong city. People break down the dated barriers of class that have caused a huge divide in this enormous city in the name of good food. The vendors provide affordable food and jobs for the less prosperous inhabitants; meanwhile the wealthy city workers who come every day for lunch provide the stall owners with a livelihood and unknowingly serve as advertisements for the stalls.
Must try dish
Bhelpuri: Puffed rice mixed with vegetables and topped with a sweet, spicy sauce.
SWEETS AND DRINKS
Indian sweets (mithai)have a prominent place in the country’s cuisine but are not eaten on an everyday basis; they tend to be enjoyed as part of the celebratory Diwali feast, at weddings, on birthdays and so on. There is an abundance of sweet shops in India that sell these tasty treats, but some families still make their own for special occasions.
The jalebi is an Indian sweet popular during Diwali, it is a bright orange sweet prepared with saffron to give it its vibrant colour. Maida (highly refined wheat flour), sugar and ghee also go into the mix. The mixture is then squeezed from a piping cone of sorts into a vat of hot oil. Jalebis are then coated in sugar syrup. Gulab jamun, small fried balls of sweet dough made with khoya (evaporated milk), dipped in sugary syrup are the most popular Indian sweet. Laddu is a sweet made from chickpea flour, semolina, ghee, sugar and spices. They are very rich and dense so need to be eaten sparingly, but they are a true Indian delicacy.
Sugar cane is still a huge product in India and is also a fundamental cooking ingredient (the war on sugar hasn’t quite reached Asia yet). Blocks of crystallised sugar cane and date palm called gur (jaggery) are widely sold on the streets and in supermarkets in India and are included in lots of dishes. Also popular is gannā, (sugarcane juice) as well as a variety of sweet beverages such as masala chai (spiced tea) and falooda (rose syrup, tapioca pearls and vermicelli mixed with milk or ice cream). These drinks, though worth sampling, are laden with sugar and are not the healthiest choices. India has coconut trees in abundance so why not try fresh coconut water, nariyal pani, for a refreshing, sweet beverage instead?
Must try dish: Barfi: A fudgy, dense sweet available in a variety of flavours made from sugar and khoya, which are then glazed and decorated.
When considering a nation so vast and culturally diverse as India, ‘wellness’ is an umbrella term that encompasses a host of different meanings. There are hundreds of branches of wellness in India, including yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic medicine. People from all over the world have flocked to India in search of wellness for decades, in pursuit of physical healing, spiritual awareness and emotional wellbeing.
India is the birthplace of yoga. Yoga to you and me may just be a form of physical fitness, doing the splits and headstands, but it is a fundamental pillar of Indian society. There are many definitions of what yoga is, but the ancient Sanskrit word is synonymous with connection. This has been interpreted over centuries by Hindus, Buddhists and westerners alike to mean a connection between mind and body; a connection between the self and the outside world; a connection between the soul and the souls of others.
The International Yoga Festival is held every year in Rishikesh, in the northern state of Uttarakhand. The holy Ganges River flows through the city and its banks are home to hundreds of ashrams, temples, monasteries and places of worship. The snow-capped Himalayas standing majestically in the distance, their coppiced foothills a winding path to Rishikesh town, makes it seem almost certain that this place is a product of divine creation.
However, faith or no faith, yoga can serve as a calming, restorative therapy for the mind and body, whether or not you know your chakras from your asanas. The International Yoga Festival attracts thousands of yogis of all abilities each year who seek wellness and relaxation. For one week, every day between the hours of 4am and 9pm visitors practice yoga, attend workshops and lectures and end the day with a light ceremony, singing and dancing.
If this seems a little too intense, every place you could visit in India, no matter how remote, will have an offering of yoga classes; daily practice is extremely common among Indian people. Kalpana Yoga in Jaipur, India’s ‘Pink City’ in regal Rajasthan is a fantastic, friendly yoga studio run by experienced Yoga Guru, Kalpana Sethi at her home. Kalpana’s home is also listed on Airbnb, so guests can attend her 7am morning yoga teaching sessions during their stay. I use the term ‘teaching’ loosely; it doesn’t feel like being taught, it feels like a guided exploration of the self. Kalpana Yoga Homestay is a hidden gem just minutes away from vibrant Jaipur; a far cry from the hectic bazaars lining the nearby streets.
Meditation has its roots in Hinduism and was introduced to the masses in India as something everyone could do after the Buddha (Shakyamuni Gautama) reached enlightenment during a meditation under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya in northern India sometime between the 4th and 6th centuries. Though Buddhism fell into sharp decline following the fall of the Gupta Empire, many of its practices, including meditation, remained strong in India.
India is seeing an increase in health tourism, particularly since mindfulness has steadily grown in popularity in the west. Droves of people visit India every year to stay in ashrams on meditation retreats, to reconnect with themselves, overcome sadness and trauma, and find peace. The north-eastern state of Dharamsala in India is a popular destination for these kinds of retreats. Dharamsala is where His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama currently resides in exile from Tibet. Tushita Tibetan Buddhism Retreat, located here, offers a series of programmes including an introductory course, and more immersive courses for experienced practitioners. Though mindfulness can have many health benefits, a course like this is not for the faint-hearted, and can be psychologically challenging as well as physically tiring.
Ayur = life, Veda = science/knowledge. Ayurveda is an ancient medical practice and science native to India that has been active for some 5,000 years. Ayurveda encapsulates a range of different wellbeing treatments and exercises, including sattvic (pure) diet and nutrition, exercise and relaxation treatments. Most well-known by non-Indians are the Ayurvedic massages; treatments that use essential herbs, oils and restorative techniques to alleviate poor health symptoms in the body and mind.
Sāmyatava (Sanskrit term for balance) in the body leads to good health, and therefore is what Ayurvedic practices set out to achieve. Ayurvedic Doctors in India can offer holistic treatments for a host of ailments, such as chronic pain, depression and anxiety, gastric problems, skin and hair conditions and lots more. In terms of health tourism, people from across the globe venture to India on Ayurvedic retreats, where they stay in an Ayurvedic ‘hospital,’ to undergo a range of treatments and participate in yoga and meditation exercises daily. Tourists without any particular ailment who are just looking to relax can easily find reputable Ayurveda practitioners and experience one of many Ayurvedic massages. After the treatment you will feel calm, rejuvenated and healthy.
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