These two regions in the northwest of the country are also called "the breadbasket of the Indian Union", thanks to their fertile soils. They have contrastingly rich historical sites. While Punjab suffered from its split between India and Pakistan, Haryana is peaceful and the Sikh religious community welcomes tourists with amazing friendliness and tolerance.
Surface area : 50362.0 km2
Population : 39500000 inhabitants
Indian handicraft is very rich. There are silk, copper, bronze and silver objects, musical instruments, perfumes, incense, tea, dye, carpets and a wide variety of spices. Women should think of getting silk saris which are sold by weight and by the metre. Visit government shops offering fixed prices. In Chandigarh, visit the immense shopping centre at Sector 17. In the big cities, shops open between
10:00 AM and 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM, Monday through Saturday and close on Sunday and public holidays.
It is forbidden to export fur, snake skin, antics and to import any ivory-made object to Europe.
The wide variety of dishes depend on the State, origin of the population and their respective castes. What they have in common: rice and tea. The Dhal, a type of soup with lentils is the most widely-eaten dish. Curry powder forms the base of several dishes. Punjab and Haryana, India's breadbasket, offer several types of bread like the chapatis. Among northern specialties, you can treat yourself to tandoori chicken (macerated in spiced yoghurt and cooked in a clay oven), biryanis (mixture of meat and rice that is sometimes spiced up with almonds and dry fruits), rogan josh (lamb curry), samosas (meat or spiced vegetable balls), chutneys (macerated vegetables or fruits). Our advice: Avoid empty stands and restaurants.
Hinduist India is a violent culture shock. Human relationships are governed by the hierarchical system of castes, in which each individual has a specific role. The cow is a sacred animal. The Sikh religion is very different; and egalitarian. Shoes and uncovered heads are not allowed in Sikh temples and mosques. Make sure visitors or women are admitted during prayers before entering the mosques. Cover your arms and legs and avoid sloppy clothes.
When eating with your hands, only use your right hand since you use the left for personal hygiene. Arranged marriages between two families still exist.
In Pendjab, do not miss the sun rising or setting on the Amritsar Golden Temple, Sikhs' holy ground. It sparkles in the heart of the ancient city.
Visit Chandigarh's contemporary architecture, India's "small Brasilia", painted by Le Corbusier.
Take part in spectacular baths in Kurukshetra pools during solar eclipses, a place of purification that attracts close to one million pilgrims.
To get to Chandigarh from Delhi, take the Grand Trunk Road and meet a highly busy, enjoyable and colourful road.
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