Smog in Dehli. Photo by Wili Hybrid.
• air pollution. In 2016 Delhi was the eleventh worst polluted city in the world, causing the death of over 10,000 people every year. In 2017 Delhi’s chief minister described the city as a ‘gas chamber’.
• Amitabh Kant, Indian tourist officer said this: ‘We have hoardings obscuring heritage sites, we have terrible roads, we have sewage and solid waste problems. And we have some of the lousiest airports in the world. ‘
On the other hand, a vehicle with English-speaking driver will cost not much more than a normal self-drive car, so spoil yourself, get a chauffeur!
• the huge numbers of people in the streets, trying to board buses and trains, on beaches, wandering the great sights can feel claustrophobic, especially if they’re all staring at you.
• the food suits some but not everybody and western food outlets are not found widely.
• beggars can be loud and demanding or severely crippled and depressing, or frequently all four simultaneously.
• women traveling alone may be troubled by male attention at best and in danger at worst.
India’s best tourist destinations
Kerala backwaters in southern India. Photo by Rainer Haefner.
Boating on the Kerala backwaters is one of the most relaxing and delightful activities a tourist can enjoy in a mostly hectic India.
The backwaters are a series of calm natural lagoons and lakes, partially salty, that have been connected by canals to form a waterway stretching hundreds of kilomtres along half of Kerala’s length. On either side of the backwaters rural Indian life drifts quietly on, fishing, duck, coconut and coir farming, while foreign travellers chug by.
Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Karnataka state. Photo by Ashwin-Kumar.
Hampi village is situated inside the extensive, monumental ruins of the capital city of the Vijayanagara empire which controlled much of southern India from 1336 to 1646.
This is a little-visited UNESCO World Heritage Site, a delightful change from most of the historical India tourism, a place where wandering in calm contemplation is actually possible (apart from affluent begging kids! ). Try that in Agra, Jaipur, or Varanasi!
Khajuraho, erotic temples in a green and remote UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo by Aminesh Arya.
Khajuraho village is a bit off the beaten track but well worth a trek 600 kms (385 miles) south-east of Delhi in Madhya Pradesh state. It’s a magnificently calm UNESCO World Heritage Site of gorgeously proportioned and fascinating Hindu and Jain temples.
Khajuraho temples were built around 1, 000 AD and 25 remain out of 80 – many were destroyed by Muslim invaders in later years – in an area of 21 sq kms (8 sq miles).