India is more diverse than you think:
As with most countries, to the rest of the world, India has just a few “staple” personas. It’s difficult to truly understand a nation as complex and diverse as India. The number of ancient civilizations, religions, and traditions that have mixed on this blended continent has lead to an amazing mix that is still visible today. Every 200 kilometers, the local culture and cuisine in India completely changes. There are so many cultures and groups to explore. The terrain in India also vastly varies. There is no “typical” Indian landscape or community. As a tourist, it’s hard to experience this properly without having a local guide to explain to you the influences and cultures you’re seeing. Knowing the “why” behind India’s unmatched diversity is part of the experience.
Home-cooked Indian food is a must:
There are countries around the world that love and celebrate Indian cuisine. But to experience the real thing in its origin is unmatched. For the most authentic experience, you’re going to want to have a local bring you to the best locations. On all of our tours, we stay immersed in the local community. We stay in locally-run homestays where traditional meals of each region are prepared the authentic way. It is a completely different experience. Even if you love Indian food at home, there will likely be plenty of dishes you have never heard of. This is also a great way to support local economy and agriculture which has for years sustained communities in rural parts of India.
Local religion and myth is a huge part of your experience:
Everything in India, from the calendar to the daily way of life, is closely influenced and still connected to belief systems and traditions. There is no way of separating traditional beliefs from the history or way of life in India. To understand this is to understand the essence of India. India is not just one religion, background, or cultural group. Having a local guide to explain the intricate connections and histories of the regions you’re exploring helps bring the myths and traditions to life. You will develop a deep understanding of the communities you’re visiting that you would miss out on otherwise.
The best is off the grid:
Like with most place, what you see on the “tourist” side is not the best experience. What are the most authentic, moving experiences are found outside of the typical. In a place as diverse and chaotic as India, having a local guide to show you the best parts of their region is the best way. Without this, you are missing out on life-changing experiences. On our tours, we take small groups to places where we have local connections and know the most incredible sites. We aim to give our groups an authentic, local experience – not just the same few tourist sites.
Local economies need support:
India, as well as many other countries, has experienced an influx in tourism and foreign interest as a result of a much smaller world. As a result, the communities that have long thrived on local industry and agriculture have been overrun and altered by tourism. Growing cities are shifting the economy and leaving behind small communities. Locations that have been “discovered” by tourism have been overrun and not explored and displayed in a sustainable way. It is causing problems for local economies. There is a need to preserve local culture and economies for the future. Traveling with a local guide is supportive of these efforts. You will learn and experience culture in a way that is respectful and sustainable.
India’s biodiversity and terrain needs protection from mass tourism:
Unknown to a lot of the world, India is a biodiversity hotspot. The terrain in India varies drastically across the country, supporting hundreds of endangered species. In India’s Western Ghats, there are several important research centers dedicated to the study and preservation of endangered species like the King Cobra, an Indian icon. We visit this and experience a night trek with local researched on one of our tours. In addition to biodiversity, there are many historical sites across India that are important to not only Indian history but world history. India is one of the birthplaces of civilization and many world beliefs and cultures. There are many UNESCO World Heritage sites across India. Traveling in a guided tour will ensure you not only don’t miss these amazing sites but visit historical and environmentally important locations in preserving and respectful way.
India’s culture and scenery go hand in hand:
Some places in the world tourists travel to for some nice Instagram photos. India is not and shouldn’t be one of those destinations, although it does look stunning in photos. India’s culture and scenery are intertwined as they should be during your entire experience. To travel India and look without understanding is to miss a huge part of the story. So much of India is an enigma and mysterious to those who do not understand it on a cultural level. Having a local guide to explain to you what you’re seeing and the deeper importance in a cultural sense will change the way you experience India and the impact it has on you.
Do not just “visit”, experience. Choose a guide company that takes cultural, economical, and environmental sustainability into account when they build you an experience of a lifetime. Travel the unventured way.