People all over the world flock to India every year in search of the same thing: fulfillment. These seekers often hope to find themselves, find God, find enlightenment. There are many paths to gratification, and we touch on a few below:
India is rife with Ashrams open to foreigners hoping to get their Zen on. While they range in style from luxurious retreat to centers requiring a commitment to ample hard work and humility, it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that suits your needs. We’ve listed three ashrams to consider. It is advised, however, if you are seeking an authentic spiritual experience, to consult with a guru to find a location that isn’t in it for the monetary gain.
The famous Osho Meditation Resort in Pune includes a pool, luscious gardens, marble pathways and comfortable guesthouses. You can sample meditation classes, many of which focus on personal healing from deep emotional wounds.
Another great option for foreign travelers is the Art of Living International Center in the Panchagiri Hill. Its mountainous setting, serene lake, and hiking trails offer a rich natural experience along with the organic farms lining the outskirts. As with many ashrams, participants are encouraged to partake in Karma Yoga, in which they volunteer to help with the upkeep like cooking, cleaning, and gardening.
The Isha Foundation in Tamil Nadu describes itself as dedicated to raising human consciousness and foster[ing] global harmony through individual transformation (source: isha.sadhguru.org). Their offerings include a guided meditation program called Inner Engineering, which aims to encourage a profound internal shift in perspective. If you are truly dedicated to making a dynamic change in your life and committing to practice, Isha may be the place for you.
The Indian culinary scene is vastly diverse and specific to region. India is home to the world’s largest population of vegetarians, so prepare yourself to sample some fabulous vegetarian cuisine. With Hinduism being a common religion, you will be hard-pressed to find any beef, excepting some restaurants in southern India where you will find higher numbers of Christians and Muslims. The cow is considered a holy animal in Hinduism. Pork is also a rarity.
Indian street food: Thali, Chaat, and Tandoori, to name a few of many delicacies available from vendors on the streets of India. Many travelers avoid street food, fearing foodborne illness, but abundant rewards await those willing to take the risk.
Mutton: Most mutton in India comes from a goat, as they are more common than sheep. Try mutton in a burger form, as a savory galouti kebab in Lucknow, a city famous for its culinary scene, or in mutton masala, a delicious mild curry.
Tea: India is world-renowned for its tea. Try sipping a tasty masala chai or tulsi basil chai, both traditionally brewed with steamed milk and soul-warming spices.
Buffalo milk: Milk from buffalo is higher in fat and thicker than cow’s milk, but lower in cholesterol. It contains significantly more calcium, iron, and protein than its bovine counterpart. Cheese made from buffalo milk boasts a better consistency than that made from cow’s milk, ideal for traditional Indian dishes such as paneer.
Those on the lookout for an adrenaline rush in India won’t be disappointed. The continent boasts a broad range of offerings, from killer white water rapids to excellent rock climbing.
Head to the beach: The word surf originated in India, so you can expect to find some excellent waves here. Check out the famous Kovalam Beach for easy accommodations or venture to nearby Varkara for rapid surf. Or venture to Pondicherry to join the community of local and expat surfers in the water.
Rock climbing: India boasts a unique opportunity to boulder among ancient ruins in Hampi in southern India from November through February. Pick up the guidebook Golden Boulders to learn about the 1400 developed routes, with many more waiting to be developed.
Take on the rapids: The River Ganga is a world-class whitewater destination. With rapids ranging from class I to IV, the wild river has something to offer everyone. Or for those looking for a truly extreme challenge, the river to explore would be the Barapole River, with rapids ranging from class IV to VII.
Trekking in the Himilayas: The Indian region of the Himalayas offers a multitude of vast natural beauty to partake. Experienced mountaineers can plan their trip, but those with limited experience can benefit from the broad availability of guides available to those wishing to venture to new heights.
Indian culture is steeped in tradition, and love is no exception. The majority of Indian romance entails arranged marriages, and gender roles, dowries, and the caste system all play into the complexities of romance in India. So unless you are an incredibly persistent individual willing to jump through many, many hoops, it may be a better bet to stick with foreigners such as yourself. If you do fall into the former category, your best bet is to check out an Indian chat room or meet an eligible bachelor/bachelorette through an acquaintance.