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Destination of the month: India

Fri 07 Dec, 2012 // Firstnumber Team
visit India

India is often referred to as the ultimate destination for a spot of soul searching, and that it truly is. A country with such cultural diversity, so many sounds, colours and flavours, so many opportunities for adventure is the ideal setting for an escape from routine.

What to do in India

In India, you can try something new every day, from food to yoga to an adrenaline-packed inner city rickshaw ride. One day you could find yourself soaking up rays on the beach in Goa and the next you could be trudging through the snow-peaked mountains.

Try to visit India during a festival. Fortunately, this isn't difficult as there are so many of these. From Pongal harvest festival in January to Pancha Ganapati winter solstice in December, every month sees some areas of India revel in cultural or religious festivities. Head out to the streets and join the party! You're likely to see vast amounts of flowers, candles and glowing incense sticks.

No journey to India is complete without savouring some of the very many exotic flavours and dishes that form its local cuisine, known and praised throughout the world.

Food in India has traditionally been influenced by culture and religious beliefs, which is one of the reasons why vegetarianism is so widespread.

Regionally, cuisine varies significantly, which is also to do with the country's geographical diversity and availability of ingredients.

Common features are the staple foods such as rice, gram, lentils, chickpeas and other pulses. The spice range is also quite similar among regions, boasting spices such as chilli pepper, ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, coriander and garlic.

Popular dishes include curries or stews made with a vegetable, meat or seafood base and served with bread (naan, chapati, roti, paratha) or rice. Marinated seafood and meat are often served grilled with accompaniments on the side.

Vegetarian meals often feature paneer, a particular type of fresh cheese, as well as spinach.

Indulged in a few too many curries and chapatis? You're in the perfect location to try your hand at yoga, an ancient spiritual and physical discipline, mostly known as a form of exercise in the Western world. Yoga retreats are common in India and are a great way to cleanse your mind and body, and improve your general well-being and flexibility.

To find inner peace without the exercise, visit one of India's many temples. Here, the atmosphere is made for self-reflection and philosophising.

Before heading home, be sure to venture to an Indian market to stock up on some of the beautiful handmade craft items on sale. Tapestries, woven baskets, shawls and slippers are bound to please your friends and family back home.

Quirky facts about India

The popular game of chess originated in India as far back in history as the 6th century AD.

India boasts the world's largest postal network, with over 155,000 post offices. However, it's not unusual for letters to take a very long time to arrive at their destination.

The city of Bangalore, India's tech capital is home to more Grade A offices than Singapore. Available office space has increased six-fold since 2006.

In terms of ticket sales, the Indian film industry or Bollywood is the largest film industry in the world.

Two Indian mathematicians, Kusumapura and Aryabhata, are credited with developing the Arabic numerals system. These are the numbers most of the world uses to count and to dial a phone number.

Call your friends and relatives in India today, or better still use our cheap calls to India service to help arrange the holiday of a lifetime.

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