India, the land of the people of the Indus has over time grown in the 20th and 21st century to become a tourist destination thanks to the geographical variations in the country. From the icy cold Himalayas in the north to the hot and humid Goan coast in the west to the backwaters of Kerala in the south and the wild-life of the Eastern part of the country, many have come and travelled the length and breadth to encounter the incredible places and people here.
In the 1960s and 70s the hippies from America and Europe travelled to India and Nepal to experience a life that was different from the fast-paced, industrial and status-quo based lifestyle followed in their home country. Cheap travel by hitchhiking and public transport along with stays in cheap lodging and home stays was a hallmark of the hippie way of life in these Southeast Asian countries.
This trend has now been resurrected by many people who travel on a shoe-string budget as they experience the real India which doesn’t exist on many maps. A chance to see new things, meet interesting people and the thrill for an insane ride of your life is what attracts many backpackers to India.
With its low economic status in comparison to the West and the easy availability of marijuana in many parts of north India at cheap rates as well as yoga and herbal oil treatments in south India—the country has become a hub for foreign backpackers. However, it is also true that a number of city-dwellers in India have recently started visiting the interiors of the country to experience a different India and so the trend of backpacking is slowly and steadily picking up pace among youngsters in modern Indian cities.
While deciding where to backpack to a number of options creep up but it is advisable to carry out a research online of the place before going there. Reading information about places nearby, culture, etc always proves to be handy.
Carrying a valid identity proof while travelling to and around India is a must. Also a number of permits are needed and so it is wise to carry a number of passport-size photographs along to filling in all these papers.
India is broadly divided into four quadrants—north, south, east and west. Though geographically varied each of these places have their own distinct beauty and charm. The metropolitan cities of Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata are more like their fellow metros New York, London and Paris than the villages in the Himalayan belt or the western and eastern coasts of India.
Backpackers prefer the calm and serenity of rural India with the rivers, mountains, animals and historical monuments in the wilderness. The interiors of India are mystic, mysterious and untouched lands where nature comes alive and the human symbiosis with the environment can be experienced.
A backpacking trip to India allows the common Indian farmer, the village girl who tends the sheep, the housewife who cooks meals and the village elders under the banyan tree to seize being characters in an old Bollywood film but to come alive as people with names, faces and personalities.
Backpacking across India is an experience that offers thrills but the vastness and geographical changes along the way makes the trip a challenge. While backpacking it is advisable that the person be physically and mentally tough.
Surely not a walk in the park, a backpacking trip through India allows for an experience of a slice of life that is an amalgamation of the modern and rural.
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