India has always offered a wealth of treasures to its visitors. The stunning Mughal architecture, incomparable natural beauty, and exceptional food have drawn travelers for centuries. India’s recent emergence as a technological and economic world power provides new and compelling reasons for travel as well. Keep reading to find out why India is the hottest destination in the world.

Technological Boom

The Indian technology and services industry is on track reach $225 billion in revenue by 2020, and it will change the economic face of the country. India has quickly emerged as the second largest mobile phone market in the world, and there’s still plenty of room for growth: Almost 20% of the population (800 million people) still lack internet access.

India technological boom

Facebook’s Internet.org recently started offering free mobile internet service to many in India who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Both startups and tech giants are increasingly interested in India as a new market base, and many are using it as a testing ground for new software and features.

Mark Zuckerberg himself is also invested in India’s technological growth and deepening the connection between India and Silicon Valley. When Facebook was floundering in its early stages, Zuckerberg took the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs and visited a temple in India. The trip inspired him to double down in his efforts, much as Jobs’ seven month Indian excursion inspired him to launch Apple in 1976.

Would-be tech entrepreneurs looking to recreate the success of Facebook and Apple will be drawn to India, and it’s never been easier for them to make the trip. India’s strong and lasting connection with Silicon Valley will be cemented with a recently announced direct flight from San Francisco to New Delhi. Operated by Cathay Pacific, the flight will run three times a week, and in the words of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, it will unite “two great cultural and economic centers of the world.”

Travel Boom

The new flight is part of a general increase in Indian travel: India welcomed 7.68 million visitors in 2014 and expects more this year. Indians themselves are also traveling more frequently. In 2014, 9.6 million Indians traveled internationally, up from 3.5 million only a decade ago. Part of the growth is due to the rise of travel agencies designed exclusively for women. Groups like Women on Wanderlust organize women-only groups that travel within India and internationally, providing a safe and supportive community of female travelers.

Women dressed in traditional Indian clothing

India is also experiencing a huge expansion in air travel that will making getting around the country vastly easier for both residents and visitors. Over 20 airlines are currently operating in India, six of which have started flying in the last year alone. The proliferation of options has led to lower fares, making it very cost-effective to travel around India by plane. Domestic air travel is up 19% from last year, giving India has the highest growth in domestic air travel in the world.

It’s also easier to get a visa to India as of this August. Over 100 new countries, including the United States, are now eligible for e-Visas to enter India. Rather than waiting in long lines to apply in person, visas are now accessible online. Processing time has been reduced from two weeks to four days, and the fee has been reduced to $60. The new visa system is part of an initiative by Prime Minister Narenda Modi to incorporate more technology into government and education.

Wellness Boom

In 1968, The Beatles made a pilgrimage to an ashram in Rishikesh to study Transcendental Meditation. Their trip helped to introduce Eastern spirituality to the West and opened up the idea of India as a destination for enlightenment and spirituality. Since then, travelers seeking a holistic mind/body experience have come to India to practice yoga, pray at temples, and embrace meditation and mindfulness.

Yoga at the temples of Rishikesh, India

The explosion of yoga’s popularity has also helped to fuel travel in recent years. Yoga originated over 5,000 years ago as an eight-fold path to spiritual enlightenment, and asana, the series of postures that make up its physical branch, is now a $27 billion industry in the United States with more than 20 million practitioners.

To capitalize on the demand, many ashrams are offering packages for yogis to experience their discipline in its homeland. Sivananda Yoga Vedanta, for example, has put together a Yoga Vacation that involves two weeks of silent meditation, lectures, and yoga classes with vegetarian meals provided.

Now there’s no excuse not to book a trip to India. Flights are cheap, visas are easy, and there’s never been more to see and do in this fantastically beautiful country. Get a visa, book a flight, and prepare to experience travel nirvana.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on October 16th.

Published in India

Do you find traditional hotels and resorts uninteresting when out on a vacation? Avid adventurists and nature lovers will say ‘yes’ to this question, and this attitude is the reason why the camping culture around the world is on rise. Camps help you to experience nature at close quarters. Be it on mountains, in deserts or be on beaches, camping is an ideal way of exploring the beauty of nature. India and its diverse geography offer a variety of camping sites where you can spend the night under a moonlit sky, sitting with your friends around a bonfire enjoying the beauty of nature. HoliDaze picks from the top camping sites in India include:

Camping in Rishikesh, one of the top places in India for camping

Rishikesh

  Uttarakhand

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is a tourist place with deep spiritual connection where tons of adventures await. The place is one of the most sought after camping sites due to its awesome natural beauty and various adventure destinations. Living by the banks of the River Ganga is a great experience for anyone. July to September is the best time for enjoying camping in Rishikesh and perfect for adventure lovers.

Camping in Spiti Valley, one of the top places in India for camping

Spiti Valley

  Himachal Pradesh

Located in the Trans-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti Valley is described as “a world within a world” by the famous English poet Rudyard Kipling. Camping here gives you a wonderful opportunity to get close to nature and explore this stunning valley. Spiti Valley is also a well-known adventure destination amongst Indians but has yet to truly catch on with foreign tourists -- all the more reason to visit now, before it does! Camping here in May or June gives you relief from the heat of late summer.

Camping in Mussoorie, one of the top places in India for camping

Mussoorie

  Uttarakhand

Adventure lovers and campers gather in Mussoorie to enjoy the thrills of camping and return home with memorable experiences. You will feel like you are in a different world soaking in the splendid views of the white capped Himalayan peaks from the comfort of your camps. Mussoorie, also known as the gateway to Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines, is the favorite spot of trekkers due to its rugged terrains and scenic beauty. March to June is the ideal time for enjoying camping in Mussoorie.

Camping in Jaisalmer, one of the top places in India for camping

Jaisalmer

  Rajasthan

Camping near to the Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer gives you the opportunity to enjoy local Rajasthani food, cultural dances and more. The camps are lit by Mashaals and campfire to provide a truly royal feel of the bygone era. If you are yet not satisfied, watching stars at night from the deserts of golden city is an experience of a lifetime. You can also enjoy camel safaris in Jaisalmer. Needless to say, winter is the best season to enjoy camping here.

Camping in Ladakh, one of the top places in India for camping

Ladakh

  Jammu and Kashmir

Camping is truly an exciting experience in the land of high passes. Enfolded by the arid mountains, Ladakh offers a variety of camping sites for campers of all types. The banks of Pangong and Tsomoriri lakes are ideal camping sites where you can explore the beauty of Ladakh. Of course some other travelers prefer camping in Markha Valley, another favorite destination among trekkers. July and August are the best months to enjoy camping in Ladakh.

Camping in Chandertal Lake, one of the best places in India for camping

Chandertal Lake

  Himachal Pradesh

Also dubbed as ‘the lake of moon’, Chandertal Lake is an ideal camping site. Located at an elevation of 4300m (14,107 ft) in Lahaul and Spiti Valley, Chandertal Lake offers you a great camping experience right in the lap of nature. A stay in the camps here will surely mesmerize you and bewilder your senses. However, altitude sickness may be an issue.

Camping in Anjuna Beach, one of the best places in India for camping

Goa

  Goa

Known for its beautiful beaches, Goa offers campers a variety of camping sites. Spending a night at a camp on one of the Goa’s most popular camping locations allows you to experience the happening culture and nightlife of Goa. Agonda beach, Ashwem beach, and Anjuna beach are a few of the best camping sites here. You will get to experience something new with a beach party while camping in Goa. And be honest, who doesn't love beach parties?

Arguably the best way to enjoy the serenity of nature, camping is one of the best outdoor activities that anyone can enjoy without intense training or practice. It allows you to escape the city and modern life, and provides an opportunity to explore the unexplored countryside. The next time you are in India, be sure to take some time off the beaten tourist trail to enjoy a little camping.

See More       India Unexplored: 24 Incredible Offbeat Destinations   India HoliDaze Guides

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Having a great significance among the devotees of Hindu, Chardham Yatra is a famous Hindu pilgrimage tour in Uttarakhand. It is believed that the yatra washes away all the wrong doings and sins of the devotee and opens the door to salvation. It is certainly a must-visit destination for all the travelers who are spiritual at heart.

Large numbers of devotees frequent this holy and auspicious yatra and pay homage to these shrines every year from all round the globe. There is a belief among the devotees that visiting these shrines removes all the sins a person has committed, including even those of the past life as well. The Yatra renders the tourists a sense of belongingness, purity of heart, and act of self-realization in life.

Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand comprises visiting four sacred pilgrimage sites including Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. This yatra is highly popular and can be covered in 10-11 days. Let us give you the details and explain the importance these pilgrim sites commonly known as the Char Dham.

Yamunotri   Yamunotri is the originating point of the river Yamuna, which sanctifies scores of pilgrims and travelers who take a dip in its holy waters. It is positioned in Uttarkashi at an altitude of 3164 meters. Yamunotri is the place where a traveler can experience both hot and cold environment. The environment of Himalaya is purified and gets frozen because of the cold tides of the glaciers in the Yamuna River. The bordering sides of the region are kept warm by the thermal springs that are also known as Kunds of Goddess Shakti.

It takes a complete one-day tour from the major towns of Uttarakhand to reach Yamunotri. These major towns include Rishikesh, Dehradun and Haridwar. It is a 13km trek from the town of Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri. Moreover, there is also a 6km walk from Janki Chatti. The months of September to November and then May to June are best for exploring this sacrosanct shrine.

Importance of Yamunotri   It is the originating point of the sacred Yamuna River. Moreover, the temple of Goddess Yamuna is also situated in Yamunotri.

Gangotri   Gangotri is the originating point of the holy River Ganga. It is believed that King Bagirath performed prayer to make Ganga come down to earth and bless humanity. Gangotri lies at an elevation of 3200 meters above sea level in the district of Uttarkashi. Hordes of Hindu devotees visit this place to wash their sins and acquire moksha. The sacred Gangotri Temple was built in the 18th century. This 20-feet long structure is made of white granite. The devotees can visit this pilgrimage during the months of September to October and May to June.

Importance of Gangotri   The Ganges is said to be the source of purity and thus, prior to visiting the shrine, devotees take a consecrated plunge in this great river.

Kedarnath   Kedarnath Temple is positioned in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. It lies at an elevation of 3584 meters above sea level. The region is bordered by the Mandakini River. Kedarnath is said to be the most sacred abode of Lord Shiva. It is also among the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. This Jyotirlinga were dropped at the Mandar Hills where the temple is perched.

The temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya and was named after King Kedar, who was the emperor in Satya Yug. The area experiences heavy rainfall during the winters and thus, the shrine is open only between the April-end and Kartik Purnima. The idols of Kedarnath Shrine are brought to Ukhimath during winters and these idols are worshipped in Ukhimonth for the next six months.

Importance of Kedarnath   The well-known Jyotirlinga shrines are must-visit places where Lord Shiva emerged as a blazing column of light. For this reason, scores of pilgrims visit this sacred place to look for blessings of Lord Shiva. This shrine of Lord Shiva is among the Panch Kedar shrines as well.

Badrinath   Badrinath Temple is certainly an ideal insignia of devotion of humankind and humanity. It is positioned at an elevation of 3415 meters in the Garhwal Hills on the shores of the river Alaknanda. This famous shrine of Char Dham is devoted to Lord Vishnu. As per mythology, Lord Vishnu meditated at this spot for thousands of years under the Badri tree. Thus, the place is given the name Badrinath.

The idol in this shrine is made of Shaligram Statue and is shown in a thoughtful pose. This pilgrimage destination is an ideal place for Vaishnavites. It is supposed that Adi Shankaracharya built this sacrosanct shrine in the 9th Century. The devotees can easily access this place from Rishikesh, Kotdwar and Haridwar.

Importance of Badrinath   The temple of Lord Vishnu, also known as Badri Vishal, is located in the region. The great saint Adi Shankaracharya attained moksha in this region. Thus, Badrinath holds great significance among the Hindu devotees.

An important pilgrimage circuit in Uttarakhand, Chardham holds a significant place among the Hindus. A trip to these shrines renders tourists a spiritual and tranquil experience and leads them to emancipation.

See More       India Travel Guides

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Rishikesh a small town located on the banks of Ganges River is the most sought after destination for white river rafting. The town is very small and is marked by lots of hotels and resorts, though all very basic in nature some will give standards but luxury here is ruled out. Option of camping near the river banks is also possible, only you should have booked it before.

Rishikesh Laxman Bridge
Rishikesh Laxman Bridge

Rishikesh is located near Haridwar and is approx 240 kms from Delhi airport, though the nearest airport is Dehradun, I opted Delhi for the sake of convenience. You can further take a cab/taxi (not self driven) to reach the small town. It is the gateway to the Himalayan range.

Road to Rishikesh
Road to Rishikesh

I have visited Rishikesh twice once in my childhood and once again now in 2011. The place has changed a lot and river rafting has come fast as a good option for adventure lovers. Camping near the river is a great fun that I really enjoyed a lot, in my recent trip. Camping cost would be for $ 20-60 per night per person, I took it for $30 and it was really an amazing experience that could really not be overwritten by my memories of other travel destinations. I will definitely return back when my kid grows up.

View of Ganges River banks and camps
View of Ganges River banks and camps

White river rafting was the main reason why I had opt for this place, it's really an amazing experience. I will say just go and do it rather using words to elobrate the fun and experience you have while doing it.

The town has a wildlife sanctuary nearby (approx 17 kms) it where you can spot animals like leopard etc. The Rajaji wildlife sanctuary is one of the largest park in the Himalayan region.

Meditation is also something one can opt for here. There are various ashrams and temples to do the same. There are many yoga classes taken by group and individual instructor. The pleasing environment of the place makes it a favourite destination among the meditators. I took one and it refreshed me not only mentally but also physically.

Ashrams and Temples along the Ganges River in India
Ashrams and Temples at the river side

For lodging we preferred the government operated hotel which is on the banks of the Ganges river, a nice basic hotel with one of the best locations.

Garden view from our room
Garden view from our room


Getting ready for adventure

  Overall a nice experience and rate it 3.5 on a scale of 5. For more info on India please tweet me @hotelsavi or simply visit us at Hotel Savi Regency.

Published in India

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