Sunday, March 25, 2007

Discovering India the right way

The Sunday NYT tells how to have a satisfying short tourist trip to India. Pragmatically, they don't advice the tourist to pack everything there is to see in India within 2 weeks. Instead, the model should be to sample the richness of a particular region.

"FOR the first-time visitor to India, the sheer vastness of the country — more than a million square miles — all but defeats the romantic notion of seeing all that this place has to offer in anything approaching the usual time frame of a normal vacation. Retirees no longer punching the clock, college students who want to take a couple of semesters off, backpackers on a global journey of exploration: these are the kinds of travelers that India seems made for.

But what about the rest of us who are limited to one or two weeks of vacation a year? Is India completely beyond our grasp?

In a word, no. Even sampling the tiniest geographical crumb of India over a period of 7 to 10 days can be a satisfying travel experience.

Quite rightly, no one wants to miss the Taj Mahal, especially on a first visit, so our suggested route pivots around that Platonic ideal of tourist attractions. Spending a couple of days first in the nearby capital of New Delhi — a strange patchwork of imperial Mughal monuments, bustling urban villages, leafy British Raj-era avenues and expanding middle-class housing colonies — is bound to give you a good taste of urban India. Still, some two-thirds of Indians live outside the nation's cities. With that in mind, this route, after passing through Agra, site of the Taj, and the ruins and palaces of Gwalior, culminates in Orchha, a riverside village well-stocked with palaces, tombs, Hindu temples and ordinary village life.

Rajasthan? That fascinating, tourist-infested merry-go-round has been deliberately omitted, though it is a place worth coming back to when you have time to explore its less overdeveloped pockets. The hiking trails of the Himalayas and the beaches of Goa? Next time.

Read the rest of the article here.

Picture: Available on Wikipedia with a GPL license.

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