MAJOR FAQ-INDIA

Internship in Argentina

ABOUT INDIA INTERNSHIP PROGRAM (IN GENERAL)
How long has IFRE been working in India ? Whom do you work with? Where are you located? What are IFRE program?

IFRE has offered internship projects in India since 2006 years. We have multiple interns placed in India each month. IFRE is currently focusing on 5 major internship service projects in India : work in an orphanage, teaching English, medical/healthcare, AIDS/HIV and women development projects. IFRE partners with many local NGOs orphanages and community projects to offer meaningful and valuable placements for our interns.

IFRE has a homebase established in Guan Gao, a growing metropolitan area near to Delhi . This homebase is a safe, 4-bedroom apartment where interns stay during the Language and cultural Immersion program. Many interns will continue their stay here for their internship projects. The homebase is accessible via local transportation, the office is located near attractions such as the famous mall of Delhi, internet cafés, McDonald's as well as an assortment of other wonderfully-interesting, Indian and western restaurants.

APPLYING FOR THE INDIA INTERNSHIP PROGRAM?
How can I apply? What happens when I apply? Do you guarantee placement? How long does it take to receive confirmation?

Please read IFRE's 4-step application process:

•  There are two options for applying to participate in our internship in India programs. You can apply online ( http://www.ifrevolunteers.org/apply-now.php  ) or you can simply download an application form, fill it out and mail it into IFRE's offices. Participants are required to submit their application with a $349 application fee plus the program fee for the number of weeks you choose. However to simply start the placement process, all that is needed upfront is a $200 deposit which will be deducted from the final invoice. This non-refundable deposit from you is required to validate and initiate the application process.

•  Once IFRE receives your application, we immediately forward it to country coordinator for processing. The in-country coordinator reviews the application carefully to determine the most optimal project for you while you intern in India . Decisions pertaining to room and board are made at this time - depending on the location of the project. The vast majority of participants stay in fully immersed in-home stays.

•  IFRE receives the details of the participants' placements from the in-country coordinator.

•  The information is then passed on to the prospective participants along with a final invoice. Final payment is due six weeks prior to departure and, in expedited cases, as soon as possible. The placement details contain local contact information to be used when applying for a visa and/or to get in touch with the local staff and host family.

Preparation for your internship vacation in India should include reading about travel to India , immunization, acquiring a travel visa and booking airfare for your internship journey to India . If you face any problems, IFRE's Program Manager is always available for any assistance.

IMPORTANT: Once participants purchase airline tickets, we request flight information be forwarded to IFRE's U.S. office by fax or by email. Participants' flight information will then be forwarded to the in-country coordinator in India , who will then arrange an airport pick-up.

AIRPORT AND ARRIVAL INFORMATION
Who will meet me in the airport? What should I do if I get delayed or miss a flight? When should I arrive?

Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is your destination and arrival point for your internship travel to Kenya , so please book your flight to Delhi . Even if participants are joining a program elsewhere in the country, IFRE suggests participants arrive in Delhi as the Language and Cultural orientation programs only take place within our Delhi offices. One of IFRE's representatives will await your arrival at the airport. Participants should ensure pick-up by sending their flight information to IFRE's offices - a follow-up call is suggested as your departure date draws closer.

If interns are delayed or miss their flight, it is highly recommended that you call our offices or your coordinator and make alternative arrangements with them. In the event that an intern gets lost, our general suggestion that they go to the specific contact hotel (provided within the pre-departure package) using a pre-paid taxi service. There is an office offering pre-paid taxi services inside the airport. Please do not use outside taxies. Once participants make contact with IFRE's representative or in-country coordinator, they will then be transferred to IFRE's respective offices/hostel.

Interns traveling to India are suggested to arrive one day before the start of program. The program fee will cover expenses beginning of the first day of the program (Usually first or third Monday) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program and/or stay beyond the last day of the program, expenses will be the responsibility of the intern (usually $30 per day for room/food at the homebase).

VISAS
Interns must secure a visa before departing for India . Interns can apply for tourist visas from the Indian Embassy or Consular Office in their home countries. If interns plan to visit a neighboring country such as Nepal , later re-entering India , a double/multiple entry Visa should be obtained.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These procedure often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian. If you are traveling with a minor, having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may better facilitate entry/departure.

HEALTH AND SAFETY
Interns should be aware of all health and safety information before traveling to India . We suggest the following websites for information about health and safety abroad:

WHO website for international travelers ( http://www.who.int  )

WHO India ( http://www.who.int/countries/ind/en/  )

General Health Tips for interns in India

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly or fizzy) drinks in sealed cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes.
  • Buy bottled water from respectable outlets to guard against upset stomach. Some of the better known brands are Bisleri, Kinley, Aquafina. Make sure that the seal of the bottle is intact.
  • Watch out for spicy dishes, especially at the beginning of your trip. Avoid eating food from road-side stalls.
  • Always use an insect repellent if you find yourself in a mosquito laden area. Keep in mind that not every place is always mosquito-infested, as low temperatures in winters (when most tourists come to India ) kill most bugs in the northern plains and hills.
  • If traveling in scorching heat, remember to drink enough water, wear hats, sunglasses & SPF/sunscreen. Stay out of the intense mid-day sun.
  • In case you need to see a doctor for a specific condition, ask for help from your in-country coordinator or project director.
  • If you take any prescription drugs, bring enough for the duration of the trip. It is advisable that you carry a small health kit, which should include upset stomach/digestive tract remedies, antiseptic cream, mosquito repellant spray, sunscreen, etc.
VACCINATION
We suggest vaccination against public health threats and other communicable diseases.

Please refer to CDC website:  http://www.cdc.gov/

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to South Asia . Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need. Hepatitis A  or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.

  • Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Japanese encephalitis  , if you plan to visit rural farming areas and under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis.
  • Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription anti-malarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see  Malaria Information for Travelers to South Asia  .
  • Rabies, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, like camping, hiking or bicycling or various occupational activities.
  • Typhoid  , Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or food sold by street vendors Vaccination is particularly important because of the presence of Salmonella-typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics in this region. There have been recent reports of  typhoid drug resistance in India and Nepal  .
  • As needed, booster doses for  tetanus-diphtheria  and  measles  and a one-time dose of polio  for adults.
MONEY MATTERS
What is the exchange rate? Where should I change my dollar? Can I use debit card and/or credit card? Should I bring traveler's check?

Exchange Rate of Indian Rupee (INR) info is available at:  http://www.xe.com/ucc/

The local currency is the Indian Rupee. You can change your money upon arrival inside the Delhi International Airport . There are many banks inside the Delhi International Airport . We suggest you exchange only $200 in the beginning as you can change money in any bank (some banks are near to IFRE's office). To exchange Rupees back to US Dollars (during departure), you need to show receipts from authorized banks to document these exchanges.

Debit cards are the best way to spend money and there are ATMs available close to our Indian office. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in some of the large stores and hotels in larger cities but may not be widely accepted in smaller cities.

How much money you bring depends on your personal spending habits. IFRE covers most costs associated with your program, but do bring some spending money to help you to explore India in your free time and for your personal use.

Do ensure you notify your bank of your intent to travel and expected arrival/departure dates. This will save you the hassle of your account being flagged with fraudulent activity.

FIELD SUPPORT AND SUPERVISION
How does IFRE help me when I am in the field? How can I maintain communication? Does IFRE visit interns?

Once your internship program begins, our local staff members stay in constant touch with you. Interns staying at the Delhi homebase see our coordinators and staff daily. However, if you are staying far from the homebase, our staff will visit interns every 2-4 weeks (if possible) and you are always welcome at the office. We recommend that the interns stop by the office once a week, if they are staying/working in the local area, to give feedback on their home stay and project. Many minor issues can be avoided with a just little extra communication before they develop into major issues. Your project will have local staff members in addition to our in-country coordination staff. If your project is located a great distance from our offices, then our local staff communicates by either email and/or phone.

We are available for you at the local office via email and phone for your entire trip. It's our job to make sure that you are safe and healthy.

COMMUNICATION
How do I communicate with my family? IFRE staffs? Is there internet?

Interns are requested to bring their UNLOCKED mobile phones. Upon arrival in India , participants can purchase and change SIM cards and use it. This is the perfect way to stay in touch with your family and IFRE's offices in Delhi . There is internet in our office, you can use it (please pay market rate for service). Internet cafés are available in most areas of Delhi . However, if you work in Jaipur, you need to travel 2 KM for international telephone services and 30 KM for internet services. You will receive this information in your personal placement sheet.

CLIMATE OF INDIA
Yahoo Weather forecast ( http://weather.yahoo.com/  )

India has three major seasons - winter - summer and the monsoon. Winter months (November-March) are bright and pleasant, with snowfall in the northern hills. Summer time (April-June) is hot in most parts of India including Delhi and Jaipur. During the monsoon, rainfall is heavy along the West Coast between June and September and along the East Coast between mid-October and December.

Please see the summary of (1) Maximum Temperature in Celsius (2) Minimum Temperature in Celsius (3) Rain fail (milliliter) in Delhi , Jaipur, Ladakh and Bangalore

TY

 

 JAN 

 FEB 

 MAR 

 APR 

 MAY 

 JUN 

 JUL 

 AUG 

 SEP 

 OCT 

 NOV 

 DEC 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BANGALORE

1

27.0

30.0

32.0

34.0

33.0

29.0

27.0

27.0

28.0

28.0

26.0

26.0

 

2

14.0

16.0

18.0

21.0

20.5

19.0

19.0

19.0

18.5

18.0

16.5

15.5

 

3

6.0

7.0

10.0

41.0

106.0

73.0

100.4

126.5

169.0

149.0

68.0

11.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAIPUR

1

23.0

25.0

31.0

37.0

41.0

30.5

35.0

33.0

34.0

34.5

30.0

20.0

 

2

8.0

10.0

13.0

20.0

25.0

27.0

26.0

24.0

23.0

18.0

13.0

9.0

 

3

11.0

8.0

9.0

4.0

14.5

57.0

197.0

205.0

82.0

12.0

4.0

8.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW DELHI

1

21.0

24.0

29.0

36.0

40.0

29.0

35.0

34.0

34.0

34.0

28.0

23.0

 

2

6.0

10.0

14.0

20.0

26.0

28.0

27.0

26.0

23.0

18.0

14.0

7.0

 

3

25.0

21.0

13.0

8.0

13.0

77.0

179.0

184.0

123.0

10.0

2.5

11.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

itemS TO BRING:
Most everyday items are available in India at a significantly cheaper price. However, we suggest interns to pack/bring the following items:

•  Camera 
•  Mobile phone
•  Sleeping bag 
•  Mosquito repellents 
•  Insect repellents 
•  Sunscreen 
•  Info books on India  
•  Map of India ( Delhi or Jaipur, too) 
•  Toiletries
•  First-aid kits 
•  Flash light 
•  Electricity adapter/converter
•  Sunglasses 
•  Walking shoes (for work and travel) 
•  Towel

WHAT GIFT SHOULD I BRING FOR MY PROJECT and/or host family?
It is a common courtesy to bring a small gift for your hosts. You are not required to do so, but if you choose to bring a gift, it can simple. We suggest a box of chocolates, a t-shirt with a hometown/country logo, pictures of your family and local post cards.

If you want to bring gifts for your project and if you are working for an orphanage or a school, please bring pencils, pens and paper, art supplies like markers and construction paper pads, as well as games for the children to enjoy. Remember that every child will need these items so you may wish to bring enough for a number of children.

MORE ABOUT INDIA

CULTURE AND RELIGION

India probably has the most religious diversity of any country in the world. It's the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. It's among the few places in the world to have a resident Zoroastrian population. The Syrian Christian Church is well established in Kerala; the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, old churches in Calcutta and Delhi , synagogues in Kerala. Temples abound from the tiny to the tremendous: stupas (dome-shaped shrines erected by Buddhists), gompas (Ladakhi term for monastery buildings), the Bodhi tree, the Ajmer Sharif and Kaliya Sharif in Bombay, all reflect the amazing multiplicity of religious practices in India. Merge all this with a range of animist beliefs among tribal people in the northeast, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat who practice forms of nature worship and you have astounding and near mind-boggling religious diversity.

Since religion touches every aspect of Indian life - social, political or economical - it's worth a traveler's time to do a little prep reading about the drastically different religions in practice in India . The following capsules present a glimpse of the major religious traditions of India . One must keep in mind though, that the principle of secularism (“ dharmanirapekshavada” in Sanskrit) is enshrined in the Constitution.

Hinduism  is the religion of the overwhelming majority of Indians, is as much a “way of life” as a formal ritualized, institutionalized religion. It has no single sacred text but a range of scriptures. The four Vedas form the backbone of Hinduism with the earliest of these, the Rig Veda, being the most important. It is believed that the Vedas are the product of the direct communication between the gods and the  sadhus  (holy men).

The pantheon of Hindu gods is matched in size (and often in character too) by those of the ancient Greeks and Romans. These revered figures may represent natural phenomena like wind (Varun), thunder and rain (Indra), fire (Agni) and the sun (Surya). Alternatively, they may be quasi-mythical characters that appear in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Shakti, which literally translates into energy, is represented as a female form and worshipped in the forms of many goddesses. Of these, Kali and Durga are the most commonly worshipped. Lakshmi and Parvati, the goddesses of wealth and learning respectively, are important. At the centre of this enormous pantheon are the three central figures of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is revered as The Creator, Vishnu as The Preserver and Shiva as The Destroyer.

Like every major religion, Hinduism has also been sought to be reformed of excessive ritualism and the stranglehold of the priestly class, the Brahmins. The Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj are two of the most influential of such reform movements.

Muslims  are the largest religious minority in India . Islam came to India when trade links were established with the Arabs in the 8 th century AD. In the 12 th century, the Mamluk Turk Qutbuddin Aibak became the first Muslim to rule any part of India . A succession of Muslim dynasties came to rule thereafter, predominantly in north India but sometimes even south of the Vindhya Ranges as in the reign of the Mughal king Aurangzeb. The influence of Islam grew as many people adopted the religion of their rulers, resulting in a culture that is characterized by beauty. New forms of architecture, a new language - Urdu, developments in dress and design, the arts of cuisine, music, painting and sculpture bloomed especially in northern India , but also in the South, because of Islamic influence.

Siddhartha Gautam was born in the early 7 th century BC in the town of Lumbini (in present day Nepal ), not far from the Indo-Nepal border. Born a prince of the Sakya clan, exposure to suffering caused Siddhartha to renounce home and family and set out in search of enlightenment. He attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya in Bihar , India and came thereafter to be known as Buddha or The Enlightened One.  Buddhism , whose central tenet is Dharma or Truth, proposes the Middle Path.

Buddhism gained its popularity in the subcontinent gradually, as monks and nuns who were taught in  viharas  or monasteries spread its teachings. It received a great boost when the Mauryan emperor Ashoka embraced the religion. Today, the religion is no longer as popular in the land in which it was born, as it is further southeast. It's flame is kept burning in India today mainly by Tibetan Buddhists for whom the country has become a refuge and by Dalits (or lower caste Hindus) who rejected the Hindu social creed of a rigid caste system and adopted the egalitarian Buddhist philosophy.

Established by Vardhaman Mahavira around the same time as Buddhism,  Jainism   takes its name from the word  jina  for conqueror. It preaches simple living and absolutely disallows hurting another living being. Jains, then, are strict vegetarians. Many keep their mouths covered by a piece of cloth lest they breathe in an insect or germs and kill it. Jainism has a large following in India , especially in the western Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat .

Both Jainism and Buddhism have contributed greatly to Indian culture. The magnificent Jain Dilwara Temples in Rajasthan and the Mathura and Gandhara schools of art inspired by the Buddha are only a few examples.

Christianity  came to India as early as the arrival of the apostle Saint Thomas . The earliest Christian missionary though, is thought to be Saint Xavier who came to India in 1542. India 's colonial experience ensured the spread of Christianity, which was propagated by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Protestants, Catholics and Syrian Christians, mainly from the southern state of Kerala, make up the Indian Christian community.

Sikhism , another major religion born in India , evolved out of the effort of combining the best of Hinduism and Islam. Founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15 th century AD and influenced by Sufi Islam, Sikhism has ten gurus or teachers and, like Islam, a holy book - the Guru Granth Sahib . The concept of God in Sikhism is very monotheistic and is symbolized by “Ik Onkar” ( one God ), this a central rule of Sikh philosophy. Sikhism flourished particularly in the Punjab in north India to the extent that it became a thorn in the side of orthodox Muslims. Its persecution in Mughal times led to the formation of the Sikh army called the  khalsa. Sikh men wear the symbols of their faith on their person; these are the  kachchha  (under shorts), the  kanga  (comb), the  kirpan  (sword), the  kada (steel bangle) and  kesh  (long hair). Of these the most obvious is their long hair, which is tied up in a turban.

Many Persians migrated to India in the 8 th century AD and brought with them the ancient religion of Zarathustra or  Zoroastrianism . Legend has it that their leader requested the Hindu ruler Jadhav Rana for permission to settle in this great land, promising that Parsis would be like sugar dissolved in a bowl of water; India being like the bowl of water and the Parsis like sugar, dissolving unobtrusively and yet suffusing the nation with their sweetness and spirit. They were allowed to stay. The Parsis worship fire as a symbol of Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord.

HISTORY

Nearly five thousand years ago India 's first major civilization flourished along the Indus River valley. The twin cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa (now in Pakistan ) were ruled by priests and held the rudiments of Hinduism. These civilizations are known to possess a sophisticated lifestyle, a highly developed sense of aesthetics, an astonishing knowledge of town planning and an undecipherable script language. The Indus civilization at one point of time extended nearly a million square kilometers across the Indus river valley. It existed at the same time as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Sumer but far outlasted them. Surviving for nearly a thousand years the Indus valley civilization fell to tectonic upheavals (earthquakes) in about 1700 BC, which caused a series of floods.

The coming of the Aryans around 1500 BC, gave the final blow to the collapsing Indus Valley civilization. At the dawn of Vedic ages the Aryans came in from the North and spread through large parts of India bringing with them their culture and religious beliefs. The Four Vedas or the important books of Hinduism were compiled in this period.

In 567 B.C. the founder of the Buddhist Religion, Gautama Buddha was born. During this time there lived Mahavira, who founded the Jain Religion. The Indian subcontinent is full of caves and monuments devoted to these religions and are worth a visit.

Two hundred years later, in the 4 th century B.C., Emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest Kings of Indian history, led the Mauryan Empire to take over almost all of what is now modern India . This great leader embraced Buddhism and built the group of monuments at Sanchi (a UNESCO world heritage site). The Ashoka pillar at Sarnath has been adopted by India as its national emblem and the  Dharma Chakra  on the Ashoka Pillar adorns the National Flag.

They were followed by the Guptas in the north, while in the south part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s.

Christianity entered India at about the same time from Europe . Legend has it that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52 A.D. Even earlier than that, people of the Jewish religion arrived on India 's shores.

In approximately the 7th century A.D. a group of Zoroastrians or Parsees, landed in Gujarat and became a part of the large mix of religions in India today, each of which adds their own important and distinctive flavors.

In the 15th century, Guru Nanak laid the foundation of the Sikh religion in Punjab .

In 1192, Mohammed of Ghori, a ruler from Afghanistan , came into India and captured several places in the north including Delhi . When he went home, he left one of his generals in charge who became the first Sultan of Delhi. During this time, Islam was introduced into a major part of Northern India . It may be mentioned that even before that, just after the period of the prophet, Islam was brought to the western coast of India by Arab traders and flourished in what is now Kerala.

The Delhi Sultanate gradually took control of more and more of North India over the next 200 years, till Timur, who was called "Timur the Lame" or "Tamberlane" came from Turkey in 1398 to attack India . He and his army stole all the valuables that they could carry and left again and after that the Delhi Sultanate was never so strong again. Soon the Mughals, who were from Iran , came in and took control of the north.

In the meantime south, in 1336, the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire was set up and became very strong.

The Europeans - Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British - started arriving in the early 1600s. All of them held territories in India and made friends and enemies among India 's rulers as they got more and more involved, with the Indian politics, but it was the British who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it one of their colonies.

India got its independence from Britain in 1947 after a long struggle led mostly by Mahatma Gandhi. In the process of becoming independent, India became two countries instead of one. In the years since independence, India has made significant progress and coped with great problems and has developed its industry and its agriculture and has maintained a system of government which makes it the largest democracy in the world.

GEORGRAPHY

India is set apart from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas , the highest, youngest and still evolving mountain chain on the planet. The subcontinent as it is rightly called, touches three large water bodies and is immediately recognizable on any world map. This thick, roughly triangular peninsula defines the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian Sea to the west and the India Ocean to the south. 

India holds virtually every kind of landscape imaginable. An abundance of mountain ranges and national parks provide ample opportunity for eco-tourism and trekking and its sheer size promises something for everyone. From north to south India extends a good 2000 miles (3200 km), where the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be squeezed out of India like a great tear, the synapse forming the Gulf of Mannar . 

Himalayas, the world's highest mountain chain and Nepal as its Neighboring country dominate India 's northern border. Following the sweeping mountains to the northeast, its borders narrow to a small channel that passes between Nepal , Tibet , Bangladesh and Bhutan , then spreads out again to meet Burma in the "eastern triangle". Apart from the Arabian Sea, its western border is defined exclusively by Pakistan . 

North India is the country's largest region begins with Jammu and Kashmir , with terrain varying from arid mountains in the far north to the lake country and forests near Srinagar and Jammu . Moving south along the Indus River , the North becomes flatter and more hospitable, widening into the fertile plains of Punjab to the west and the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh and the Ganges river valley to the East. Cramped between these two states is the capital city, Delhi . 

The states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and part of the massive, central state of Madhya Pradesh constitute West India . Extending from the Gujarat peninsula down to Goa, the west coast is lined with some of India 's best beaches. The land along the coast is typically lush with rainforests. The Western Ghats separate the verdant coast from the Vindya Mountains and the dry Deccan plateau further inland. 

India is the home of the sacred River Ganges and the majority of Himalayan foothills. East India begins with the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar orissa, which comprise the westernmost part of the region. East India also contains an area known as the eastern triangle, which is entirely distinct. This is the last gulp of land that extends beyond Bangladesh , culminating in the Naga Hills along the Burmese border. 

India reaches its peninsular tip with South India, which begins with the Deccan in the north and ends with Cape Comorin . The states in South India are Karnataka Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, a favorite leisure destination. The southeast coast, mirroring the west, also rests snugly beneath a mountain range---the Eastern Ghats .

CUISINE

The Indian cuisine boasts of an immense variety not restricted to only curry. An authentic Indian curry is an intricate combination of a stir-fried Masala - a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes; various spices and seasonings with which meat; poultry, vegetables or fish is prepared to produce a stew-type dish. Note: the word Masala also means spice.

Food in India is wide ranging in variety, taste and flavor. Being so diverse geographically, each region has its own cuisine and style of preparation. Indian cuisine, renowned for its exotic gravies seems complicated for any newcomer. The Mughlai cuisine of North differs sharply from the preparations of the South. The Wazwan style of Kashmir is luxurious but the same can be said about Bengal's Macher Jhol, Rajasthan's Dal Bati, Uttar Pradesh's Kebabs and Punjab 's Sarson Ka Saag and Makki di Roti. In India , recipes are handed down from generation to generation.

The unique and strong flavors in Indian cuisine are derived from spices, seasonings and nutritious ingredients such as leafy vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes. Most of the spices used in Indian cooking were originally chosen thousands of years ago for their medicinal qualities and not for flavor. Many of them such as turmeric, cloves and cardamoms are very antiseptic, others like ginger, are carminative and good for the digestion. All curries are made using a wide variety of spices.

In Indian cuisine, food is categorized into six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. A well-balanced Indian meal contains all six tastes, not always can this be accomplished. This principle explains the use of numerous spice combinations and depth of flavor in Indian recipes. Side dishes and condiments like chutneys, curries, breads (naan, roti and daahl) and Indian pickles contribute to and add to the overall flavor and texture of a meal and provide balance needed.

PEOPLE AND LIFESTYLES

In a country as diverse and complex as India , it is not surprising to find that people here reflect the rich glories of the past, the culture, traditions and values relative to geographic locations and the numerous distinctive manners, habits and food that will always remain truly Indian as they consistently pay homage to five thousand years of recorded history. 

From the eternal snows of the Himalayas to the cultivated peninsula of far South, from the deserts of the West to the humid deltas of the East, from the dry heat and cold of the Central Plateau to the cool forest foothills, Indian lifestyles clearly glorify the geography. The food, clothing and habits of an Indian differ in accordance to the place of origin. 

Indians believe in sharing happiness and sorrow. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. The whole community or neighborhood is involved in bringing liveliness to an occasion. A lot of festivals like Diwali, Holi, Id, Christmas, Mahaveer Jayanthi are all celebrated by sharing sweets and pleasantries with family, neighbors and friends. An Indian wedding is an occasion that calls for participation of the family and friends. Similarly, neighbors and friends always help out a family in times of need. 

Ethnically Indians speak different languages, follow different religions and eat the most diverse varieties of food all of which add to the rich Indian culture. The beauty of the Indian people lies in the spirit of tolerance, give-and-take and a composition of cultures that can be compared to a garden of flowers of various colors and shades of which, while maintaining their own entity, lend harmony and beauty to the garden - India !

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