I never realized why they called it incredible India until I have seen for myself. Imagine a country; rich in spirituality with amazing colourful temples everywhere you go, the people are full of magical rituals and traditions, it has beautiful landscapes with jungles, mountains, rivers and backwaters, and long white sandy beaches, it is a true paradise. Below is a list of incredible things I have encountered there, good or bad they are incredible things that distinguished India from all other countries.
1. Incredible people - The locals in India
Its people is what makes India so special and incredible. Indians are friendly, spiritual people full of culture and love, they Namaste to everyone which is a respectful Hindu greeting, in which they bow. The people make you feel in another world, dressed in their colourful saris, traditional bindis attached to their foreheads, charming smiles and their special rituals and customs, is what makes India so magical. However spitting it is an incredible bad habit, they do it as often as they breath. The locals swivel their head toward their shoulders from right to left that means yes or they are agreeing with what you are saying. This is a hard custom to get used to since it is very similar to our no! Indians have an incredibly sweet accent too, you might need to get used to their F pronouncing it a P like, ‘would you like coppee?’, or vice versa, the P pronouncing it an F, ‘would you like to try our fresh frawns’ :)
2. Incredible for your self esteem - Be prepared to feel like a celebrity
You not only feel at home with their warm welcome but Indians actually make you feel like a celebrity. You have all experienced locals in some countries refusing to take photos! The reality in India is completely different. Most of them beg you to take photos of them, or ask you to take a photo with them, being on digital comes across as good luck apparently. Others who have a smart phone make sure they take pictures of you in every pose, it is like some sort of entertainment for them. On a different note, be aware of the pervs, do not stand too close they might actually grab your boob or ass, depending which area is the most convenient for them to grab. (Athirappilly Falls, Kerala)
3. Incredible vibe - Smile it's worth it
You can never stop smiling in India, their friendliness and smiles are contagious. They give such a positive vibe, they are literally what I call shiny happy people. Just like we kiss when we greet each other, guys have the habit of holding hands in India, so do not assume they are gay This does not make them gay. It is simply how friends show affection.
4. Incredible moo - Cows in India
Cows in India are highly esteemed as they are considered sacred by Hinduism, and in fact Hindus do not eat beef. Cows are found everywhere you turn. If you are sunbathing on the beach, do not expect deckchairs and umbrellas, the likely hood is that you will have cows sunbathing with you. If you go shopping its normal to find cows waiting in queue to go in the shop too, and if you are eating street food, it is very normal to have them staring at you. Even though it might be unusual to have cows freely on the beach and streets, make sure you treat them with respect and be very attentive when driving you do not want to run down their sacred animal. (photos taken in Goa)
5. Incredible service - Alcohol and Service in India
Some states in India prohibit the sale of alcohol. Even though some states allow the consumption of alcohol some restaurants do not have the license to sell, however it doesn't mean that they would not serve it. Imagine after you would have been longing for a nice cold beer and they tell you of course we have! But do not be shocked when you are served beer in a tea pot and you have to drink it from a teacup, as a way to hide the fact that they are serving alcohol, do not forget you are in incredible India where anything is possible.
Dear Chocoholics, when asking for a nutella crepe, do not get your hopes up. In a formal and proper restaurant I was served a pan cake, and a bottle of coco powder! What was I supposed to do with coco power! So before your mouth starts to drool over a tasty nutella crepe, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into when ordering this.
6. Incredible representations - Elephant as one of the Gods
Elephants represent wisdom in Hinduism. Ganesha is one of the Hindu Gods represented in human form with the head of an elephant. Ganesha is the God of Good Fortune who provides prosperity, fortune and success. In Hindu temples elephants are used as a symbol to represent Ganesha, and it is traditional to be blessed by the elephants trunk.
7. Incredible rituals - The art in India
The streets in villages are decorated with beautiful art work in front of people's homes. They are not graffiti! As mentioned above Indians are very spiritual people. Art is part of their culture and it brightens the streets with the beautiful designs and colours they draw. These drawings are drawn using rice powder and new ones are done daily since they are normally washed out by the rain or blown away with the wind. They are used differently; depending on the shapes, colours and size would have different meanings. It could be a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence with other creatures like insects, they can be used as profound expressions of desire, they could be used to protect their homes, worship a God, bring good luck or celebrate something.
8. Incredible beliefs - Their belief in Reincarnation
Indians believe in reincarnation, meaning that they believe that the soul lives on forever in another organism. Depending on how good they have lived their lives their soul would live on in animals or insects. Hence they do not kill anything not even a cockroach or rat as to them they might be the soul of an ancestor. No one would like to kill their uncle! Maybe this sounds ridiculous to you, but if you are a catholic you believe that the Holy Mary is a virgin - every religion has it's own elements of faith! So who are we to judge their peaceful beliefs to coexist with other creatures in harmony.
9. Incredible architecture - Temples
Hindu temples in India are truly stunning spiritual places where Hindus can connect to their Gods. They are very colourful and full of sculptures of different Gods with their designs that reflect their beliefs and values. They consist of a network of incredible sculptures and statues that not only displays the Gods but also exhibit important principles of human life like prosperity and wealth, pleasure and dignity as well as self-knowledge.
10. Incredible Religion - So Many Gods
India has to be Incredible, having so many Gods. Truly and really Hinduism believes in one absolute Brahman, however, it does not advocate the worship of any of the Gods. Believe it or not there are thousands or even millions of Gods in Hinduism, all representing the many aspects of Brahman. However, the most fundamental of Hindu Gods is the Trinity of Brahma; the creator, Vishnu; the preserver and Shiva; the destroyer.
11. Incredible Colours - Colourful India
India is a dream land, a vibrant country with so many colours all around. Colours that awaken your imagination to reality. Wherever you go in India, be it on a boat, train, tuk tuk, in a temple, on the market, at the food stalls or in shops the colours are always there to brighten your day. Indians spice it up with colours too at one of the main feasts called Holi, the feast of colours - which is still on my bucket-list.
12. Incredible Celebrations - Feasts in India
Being highly spiritual who worship thousands of Gods, there is always a good reason to celebrate in India. Festivals and feasts are at the heart of their lives and culture. They use music, colours and flowers to spice up the party, while roaming the streets of the neighbourhood!
13. Incredible Smells - Spicy India
The food in India is what makes it incredible too. If your taste buds do not like spicy then I suggest you practice eating it before heading there to get them in tune with the spicy local food. They have a variety of spicy dishes, you will never get bored of eating the same food. The smell! Smell of spices everywhere. After 6 weeks of being there, even your sweat starts smelling spicy. It is a love and hate relationship.
14. Incredible Massages - Ayurvedic Oils
Even their Ayruvedic oil is incredible, as it is used as therapy to heal the body, mind and soul. It is a great massage which helps you to de-stress and relax at amazing prices.
15. Incredible Prices - The Rupee
India is such a great place for backpackers on a low budget. It is super cheap especially if you visit in the low season or shoulder season (the only peak season in June-July and December). You can easily do it on 10EUR a day, I did it on 15EUR daily, including everything like food, accomodation and transport, however be aware, there are many resorts and high class restaurants, if your travelling style is luxurious then expect to pay as much as 60EUR daily. Note that south of India tends to be cheaper than the north.