The region of Northern India, composed of the city of Chandigarh and the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, is an essential stopping point on a trip through India. Northern India is home to some superb monuments, such as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in the city of Agra, and magnificent landscapes, notably in the Himalayan Mountains and along the river Ganges. Northern India is rich in culture, with a strong Hindu faith that can be seen in the many religious temples in Varanasi; an artistic blend of Hindu, Muslim and Mughal in Allahabad; and an impressive split between tradition and the Western spirit of Chandigarh. Just a day's flight from London, you will have the opportunity to discover the land of Gandhi in all its splendour.
Surface area : 400200.0 km2
Population : 380600000 inhabitants
Time difference : The UK is four and a half behind northern India in summer and five and a half behind in winter.
Shopaholics will be pleased to hear that neither clothing nor souvenirs are lacking in Northern India. The main souvenir shops can be found in Uttar Pradesh, the most touristic state in India. In Chikan you can find handmade embroidery and women's saris. Saree Bhawan in Fatehpur Sikri, for example, has some beautiful fabrics. For those who love beautiful objects, the artisanal shops in Chandigarh sell marble ornaments set with precious stones, but the prices are sometimes a bit high.
Meat is more widely consumed in Northern India than in the rest of the country. Tandoori chicken is an internationally known dish, and can be found in all the restaurants in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Biryani, a rice-based dish with meat and spices, is popular among tourists.
Always use your right hand to eat and shake hands in India. According to Indian tradition, which makes a distinction between the two hands, the right is used for eating and for 'noble' gestures like shaking hands or waving to someone, while the left hand is used for other 'impure' tasks, such as taking off your shoes and cleaning things. It is a fundamental rule to remember to avoid offending anyone.
The official language of Northern India is Hindi, although each region has its own official language. English is spoken by 5% of Indians and in tourist areas, but we recommend buying a pocket dictionary and learning the basics in Hindi!
Don't hesitate to haggle and fiercely negotiate with taxi drivers and Indian shopkeepers, you'll always win.
With regards to vaccinations and boosters, it is recommended to have cholera, typhoid fever, hepatitis A and B, malaria and dengue fever (a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes) vaccinations before leaving.
To avoid being scammed in the tourist trap areas, wearing saris, turbans and other local clothing will help you blend in.
When travelling by car, watch out for cows and goats that may cross the road without warning.
Lastly, there are 5, 9 or 10-day treks available in the Himachal Pradesh region. Depending on the destinations, there are departures leaving from Shimla, the capital city of the region, to the town of Malani, with incredible views of the Rohtang Pass. Don't hesitate to find out more information on these types of excursions.
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