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Incredible Culture: Pilgrimage Sites Rural Pleasures Indus Valley Great Food Year Of India In Canada 2011 A Destination Guide Supplement To The January 2011 Issue Of


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2.25 x 10 Canadian Traveller Magazine

Celebrate

India

Lose yourself. First Class Private Suites.

Yes, celebrate India. Its culture. Its faiths. Its history. Its people, its places. Its food. Celebrate it all in the pages of this destination guide and with fellow Canadians during The Year Of India In Canada 2011 celebrations. Within these pages learn about the many beliefs held by Indians and their sacred places and festivals. Learn about the ancient civilizations along the Indus Valley, and the contrasts of Andhra Pradesh where Hyderabad anchors India’s software industry, and early Buddhist sailors embarked to spread the word. Learn to bargain, learn to appreciate Indian cuisine. Most of all learn to love this complicated, beautiful, exciting, serene country.

During the Year Of India In Canada 2011 celebrations, look for trade shows and festivals in the city near you. Turn to page 14 for a schedule.

Stay up late. First & Business Class onboard Lounge.

For more information on travel to India, contact Indiatourism, Toronto at info@indiatourismcanada.ca or visit www.incredibleindia.org. For more information on the Year Of India In Canada 2011 celebrations, visit www.yearofindiaincanada2011.ca

INCREDIBLE INDIA – A DESTINATION GUIDE SUPPLEMENT TO THE JANUARY 2011 ISSUE OF CANADIAN TRAVELLER Published 12 times a year by Cover: IndiaToursim.

Contents © 2011 by ACT Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved. ISBN 1207-1463

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Sleep in. Business Class with lie-flat beds.

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Having Faith Discover India’s Kaleidoscope of Sacred Sites and Beliefs by Judi Lees

It is a misty morning on the Ganga River in Varanasi. As the sun sheds its early golden glow we sit in a boat to float a small candle and flower in the dark, wide water. Ghats – places of worship – border the shoreline and hundreds of Hindus are on wide steps or waist deep in the water chanting the Gayatri Mantra, an important and ancient Hindu prayer that some believe dates back 6,000 years. Eighty-three per cent of India’s population of 1.15 billion people are Hindus, however, there are also followers of Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism and many more faiths in this culturally rich country. Since visiting sacred places is a burgeoning market in tourism today, here are some highlights of India’s major religions and pilgrimage sites.

Hinduism Hinduism is based on the four Vedas, the world’s most ancient scriptures. Hindus believe in karma, that each individual creates his own destiny and they believe in reincarnation. The religion encompasses every aspect of daily life. Pilgrimmage Places: Allahabad, Haridwar, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Puri, TirumalaTirupati, Katra-Vaishno Devi Temple, Rameswaram, Dwarka, Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram, Tanjore, Trichy, Madurai. Festivals: Holi, Dussera and Diwali.

Photos: India Tourism

Buddhism Believed to be the worlds oldest religion, it is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha. The basics of Buddhism include the Middle Way (following a path of moderation) and the Four Noble Truths (the fact that life means suffering and how this should be handled) and meditating to reach Nirvana. Today between 360 and 500 million people are followers and about three per cent of Indians are Buddhist.

Pilgrimage Places: Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Kaushambhi, Nalanda, Shravasti, Kushinagar, Rajgir, Vaishali Festivals: Buddha Poornima

Christianity The roots of Christianity run deep in Indian culture, dating from 52, when St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, arrived and spent 12 years preaching the word of God. The apostle arrived in southern India and even today the majority of Indian Christians – about 2.3 per cent of the population – live there, however, there are many places of worship of all denominations throughout India. India’s most famous Christian, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa, was born in Albania but became an Indian citizen and made her life work in Calcutta. Pilgrimage Places: Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of St Cajetan, Church of the Sacred Heart, Santa Cruz Basilica, Cathedral Church of St Thomas, Little Mount, Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health Festivals: Easter, Christmas

Jainism

are the master of your own destiny. They believe in karma and meditation as means to enlighten and free the soul however, because of stringent rules such as celibacy, the “great vows” are utilized by monks and “limited vows” are prescribed for ordinary citizens. Pilgrimage Places: Palitana, Ranakpur, Sravanabelagola, Dilwara Temple, Khandagiri Caves, Undaygiri Caves Festivals: Festival of Navpad Oli, Diwali

Islam With a history dating back to the 12th century in India, there are close to 150 million devotees of Islam. Their beliefs are based on the Quran; there are six Articles of Faith – the first stating that Allah is God – and they follow the Five Pillars of Faith, rituals that must be adhered to as part of their religion. Islam is the second-most practiced religion in India, with more than 13.4 per cent of the population adhering to its beliefs. Pilgrimage Places: Jama Masjid-Old Delhi, Ajmer Sharif, Haji Ali-Mumbai, Fatehpur Sikri, Moti Masjid-Bhopal Festivals: Ramadan

One of the many doctrines of Jainism is to regard every living being as you do yourself – in other words, be kind to others. The members of this faith – 3.2 million in India – that dates back to the 6th century believe in nonviolence, controlling your mind and senses and that you

The Ghats, Varanasi, one of Hinduism’s holiest places.

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Christianity came to India in 52, with St. Thomas, one of the apostles.

Sikhs consider the Hari Mandir, or Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of their faith.

Sikhism This unique Indian religion was founded by Guru Nanak in northern India some 500 years ago. The followers live under the guidelines of the Holy Granth, the writings of 10 gurus who followed Guru Nanak. Sikhs, easily recognized by the turban-wearing men, believe in one God, karma and reincarnation. They negate the caste system of the Hindu belief and they do not go on pilgrimages or fast and take part in rituals. About two per cent of India’s population is Sikh, mostly living in Punjab. Pilgrimage Places: Hari Mandir (Golden Temple), Five Takhts, Anandpur Sahab Festivals: Baisakhi, Hola Mohalla

Zoroastrianism Parsis, followers of Zoroastrianism, number around 90,000 in India and most are settled in Mumbai. Founded perhaps as early as the 6th century in Persia (Iran), the religion believes in one God.

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It teaches that fire, water, air and earth are sacred and therefore the dead are not buried or cremated but simply left in a high tower – Tower of Silence – to disintegrate. While this sounds heathen, many Parsis have been instrumental in developing modern Indian industry. Pilgrimage Places: Sanjan Festivals: Sadeh

Judaism Jewish traders arrived on the southeast coast about 2,500 years ago, first settling in Cranganore. Today, the majority live in Mumbai, Mizoram and Manipur. The Manipur Jewish community consideres itself to be the descendants of the Manasseh (Menashe) Tribe, one of the 10 lost tribes. Pilgrimage Places: Synagogue of Mattancherry, Pardesi Synagogue, Tifereth Synagogue, Magen David Synagogue, Neveh Shalome Synagogue

January 2011

Festivals: All of the traditional Jewish festivals are celebrated

Animism Not a religion itself, Animism can be found in the believes of many religions around the world. In India the tribal cultures, found mainly along the Himalayas, in the hilly areas of central India and scattered throughout western and southern India believe spirits live not only in humans, but in the natural world around us. For more information on pilgrimage travel in India, contact Indiatourism, Toronto at info@indiatourismcanada.ca, or visit www.incredibleindia.org

Three per cent of India’s population follows the teachings of the Buddha.

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Digging Through Time The Cradle Of Indian Civilization Slowly Reveals its Secrets By Mark Sissons

India’s history begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, which dates back to around 3000 BC, and rivals Sumer and Egypt as humanity’s oldest. In fact, all the ancient Egyptian mummies that have been excavated have been wrapped in Indian cotton – indications that the Indus Valley Civilization could be older. In its prime this early society spread from the present borders of Iran and Afghanistan to Kashmir, Delhi and southern Gujarat, covering an area larer than its contemporary civilizations Sumeria, Egypt and China. Hailed as the land of urban culture, the Indus Valley has captured the imaginations of generations of historians, Today, visitors to India can visit some of its excavated cities and explore the mysteries that continue to surround its origins, culture and decline. A Civilization Lost & Found The Indus Valley Civilization was a prosperous and literate society, importing raw materials from regions as far west as Egypt and trading ornaments, jewelry and cotton cultivated in the fertile delta plains. Each town was almost identical, with separate areas for the ruling elite and the workers. A uniform system of weights and measures, corresponding almost exactly to modern ounces, was also used, as well as complex, efficient drainage systems unmatched by any other pre-Roman civilization. Despite its technological advances, the Indus Valley Civilization began to decline around 1900 BC; initially due to a series of heavy floods that swept away the towns and villages in the delta regions of major rivers in Sind, Saurashtra and southern Gujarat in India. Until the mid-19th century the Indus Valley Civilization was “lost” or forgotten, even by the peoples who lived in the vicinity of its sand-covered ruins. Then, in the late 1850s, workers digging a railway line along the Indus Valley for their British rulers uncovered a number of artifacts, including several soapstone seals imprinted with various carvings, beads, animal bones, gold, silver, terracotta ornaments, and the figure of a bull inscribed with a strange script. A British general and future

head of the Indian Archeological Survey ordered a fullscale excavation of what came to be recognized as one of the earliest and most mysterious of all human civilizations. Well-planned, sophisticated settlements dating back to 2500 BC were first discovered in 1924 on the banks of the River Indus in present-day Sind (in Pakistan), at Mohenjo Daro (which means “mound of the dead” in Sindi). Further excavations in 1946 on the banks of the River Ravi in Punjab revealed the city of Harappa, dating from the same era, on which archeologists based their knowledge of the entire Indus Valley Civilization. To this day, the Indus Valley Civilization is commonly known as Harappan, after its most important city. Today the script still has not been deciphered and much of the original mystery remains. But decades of extensive excavation at the original site and hundreds of other sites throughout the Indus Valley have uncovered a huge complex of cities and villages that made up the first civilization in South Asia.

Modern Connections Although much about this complex society remains unknown – including its impenetrable script – similarities do exist between the Indus Valley Civilization and presentday India. While its most important deity appears to have

istock

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Lothal is one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilization.

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A naturalistic bird motif on an uncleaned and unrestored pot, circa 2400BC.

been a horned god, there was also a strong custom of worshipping a mother goddess, in the same way as Hindus do today. The peepal tree was revered as it is by Buddhists today. There is also evidence of phallic worship, still strong among Shaivites. Altars bearing the remains of animal sacrifice have been discovered, and in every settlement, large baths suggest a belief in the purifying quality of water.

Ancient Indus Valley (Harappan) Sites Of the hundreds of settlements and towns that flourished across the vast breadth of the Indus Valley Civilization between 3500 and 1700 BC, many were lost or destroyed by shifting river paths. Others are probably buried under modern towns. What does seem clear is that the important sites were commercial centres. They are on rivers or near the coast. Various specialized manufacturing facilities also suggest that they were heavily involved in trade with each other and far outside the region. Various tour operators can arrange visits to several of the Indus Valley civilization’s most important excavation

sites throughout northwestern India. Among the most fascinating are:

Dholavira: Located on Khadir Beit, an island in the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat State, this site has only been excavated since 1990. One of the largest Harappan sites in India, Dholavira has some of the Indus Valley Civilization’s best-preserved architecture. It is also thought to have been a highly literate society because of seals, tablets, pottery, bangles and copper tools discovered on the site. A tantalizing signboard (circa 3000-1500 BC, and possibly the world’s oldest) with Indus script has also been discovered, as well as some of the world’s oldest stadiums and five Great Baths. Natural disasters, namely earthquakes in 2800 BC, 2500 BC and 2000 BC are widely believed to have caused the decline of Dholavira. Lothal: At the top of the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat, near the Sabarmati River and the Arabian Sea, this is the most extensively researched Harappan coastal site. A bead factory and Mesopotamian seal have been found here, like many sites on the Gulf of Cambay. Gola Dhoro: Excavation began in 2004 on this site in Gujarat. A unique ancient Indus seal was found here, as well as extensive evidence for the sudden evacuation of this tiny town with very concentrated manufacturing facilities. Daimabad: Near Mumbai in Maharashtra, this controversial site was discovered in 1958. Some suggest that the pottery and

A Significant Discovery

V.V.Krishnan

R.S. Bisht pointing to the Indus inscription engraved on a sandstone at Dholavira in Gujarat

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single shard with Indus Valley signs on it is definitive of Harappan settlement; others say the evidence is not enough. A unique hoard of exquisite bronze chariots and animals that may or may not be of Indus Valley style was also found here. Kalibangan: On the bank of the dry bed of the Ghaggar River in northern Rajasthan, the third excavated city of Harappan sites and the earliest town destroyed by earthquake was first excavated between 1960-61 and 1968-69. It’s name comes from two words: Kali, meaning black, and bhangan, which means bangle. Kalibangan was, in fact, named after the myriad pieces of terracotta bangles excavated here. What’s New: Archaeologists expect Khirasara, near Kutch, to be the next important site for Harappan civilization. Discovered in the early 1960s, rediscovered in the ‘70s, excavation began in late 2009 and has turned up pottery, weights, spouts and other items that have turned sedate archeologists into excited schoolchildren. A rock engraving found in the Edakkal Caves in Kerala has linked Indus Valley civilization to South India. “There had been indications of remnants akin to the Indus Valley civilization in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but these new findings give credence to the fact that the Harappan civilization had its presence in the region, too, and could trace the history of Kerala even beyond the Iron Age,” says historian M R Raghava Varier. For more information on the history and culture of the Indus Valley, contact Indiatourism, Toronto at info@indiatourismcanada.ca or visit www.incredibleindia.org

“The inscription on stone is unique because it is the first of its kind [in the Indus civilisation area]. It is the first inscription on a stone slab. But only part of it was found,” said Dr. Bisht, , former Joint Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, who led 14 field excavation seasons at Dholavira between 1989 and 2001. “It was a natural limy sandstone cut into shape and then engraved with an inscription,” he said. The script has three large Indus signs, running from right to left, and there appears to be a fourth sign, too. “The inscription must have run longer, but the stone was broken into pieces,” said Dr. Bisht. He surmised that the stone with the script must have been used as a lintel of the doorway of an underground chamber so that people could notice it. The inscription could have stood for the name of the house, its owner or an incantation. “It is a closed book,” he said. (The Indus script has not been deciphered yet).

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&

Temples, Stupas Ancient Spendour

Communing With History In Andhra Pradesh Sitting on the Bay of Bengal in southern India, Andhra Pradesh on the Deccan Plateau is a land of grand temples rising from hillocks, spectacular Buddhist Stupas and the excavated splendour of an ancient university. Visitors hear tales of power and patronage from a glorious past, learn about the amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim influences and wander along 1,000 kilometres of coastline.

Charminar , Hyderabad’s most enduring emblem. Inset: Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka and Myanmar from Andhra Pradesh.

The Buddhist religion spread to Sri Lanka and Myanmar from the bustling ports of Andhra Pradesh, and one of India’s richest Buddhist sites, Nagarjunakonda (known as Sri Parvata in ancient times) now lies almost entirely under the waters behind the Nagarjunasagar dam. However, the monasteries and chaityas were taken brick by brick and reconstructed on top of a hill called Nagarjunakonda that rises from the middle of the dammed lake. The island takes its name from the Buddhist monk, Nagarjuna, who lived around the turn of the 2nd century and was the exponent of the philosophy of ‘sunyata’ (Void). And Konda in the Telugu language means hill. Nagarjunakonda is about 150 kilometres southeast of Hyderabad, and is reached by a regular ferry service. Remains of a Buddhist University have been relocated to Anupu, four kilometres from here and the Ethipothala waterfalls are nearby. Amaravati (ancient Dhanyakataka) is about 38 kilometres from Vijayawada and can also be reached at Guntur 35 kilometres away. An emissary of the Emperor Ashoka who went to propagate Buddhism in the region in the 2nd Century B.C. laid the foundation of the Great Stupa at Amaravati. There is an Archeological Museum here.

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

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Left: Laad Bazaar, part of the old city around Charminar. Right: Golconda Fort, one of India’s most famous.

Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh lies on the banks of the Musi River across from its twin city Secunderabad. The city was founded in 1599, after a water shortage in Golconda. Hyderabad is also known as the “City of Pearls” for its flourishing pearl trade. These days it is a major hub of India’s software industry. Hyderabad’s most enduring emblem is the Charminar, meaning literally four minarets. You can enjoy breathtaking views from the top of the minarets without climbing up via tele-robotic cameras controlled by touch screens in kiosks on the ground. The Old City around Charminar is worth exploring. Don’t missed Laad Bazaar, the famed bridal-ware market and do not leave Hyderabad without sampling its signature biryani. Savour the untold wealth of Hyderabad’s Nizams at the Nizam’s Museum, and the wonders of arguably the largest one-man collection of artifacts and antiques from around the world at the Salara Jung Museum. Mecca Masjid is one of the largest mosques in India, so called because the bricks used to make the central arch came from Mecca. Visits to Qutb Shahi Tombs, Hussain Sagar and Osman Sagar lakes, and, Ramoji Film City are must-dos. Golconda Fort is one of India’s most famous forts. Originally built of mud in the 12th century, it was later the capital of Qutb Shahi’s Dynasty from 1518 to 1687. The diamond vault here once held the Koh-i-noor and Hope diamonds. The fortress is famous for its acoustics, palaces, ingenious water supply system and Fateh Rahben gun. A son-et-lumiere show is held daily. Prasantinilayam, the abode of peace and home of Satya Sai Baba in 33 Canadian Traveller

Puttaparti is world renowned. Places of historical interest like Penukonda and Rayadurgam forts and religious places like Lepakshi (famous for the Veerbhadra Temple) and Dharmavaram are all in the district of Anantapur. Another reason to visit is Thimmammma Marrimanu, an amazing 550-year-old banyan tree that has even made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. Andhra Pradesh also offers a wealth of rejuvenation experiences through health tourism. Hyderabad is famous for its fish medicine – a miracle cure for asthmatics disbursed free of cost, where a secret medicine is stuffed into a live fish, which the patient has to swallow whole. One of India’s most prosperous and vibrant temples, attracting millions of visitors from around the globe, is the Tirupati Lord Venkateswara Temple popularly known as Tirupati, the name of the town. The Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Sanctuary, 130 kilometres from Hyderabad, is one of the biggest successes of Project Tiger. Birdwatchers can head to Manjira Sanctuary just 50 kilometres from Hyderabad.

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The beaches of Andhra Pradesh are in Visakhapatnam, the second largest city. The beach at Rishikonda is ideal for wind and water surfing. Bheemunipatnam, or Bhimli, was once a Dutch settlement and the Dutch Cemetery is worth a visit. Machilipatnam, known for its Kalamkari art (art of printing on fabric with vegetable dyes), also has a beach. There are Hill Stations like Horsely Hills at an elevation of 1,265 metres, and Araku, a valley at 975 metres. The rail journey to Araku passes several waterfalls and numerous tunnels. Borra Caves boasts stalactites and stalagmites millions of years old that are well illuminated. For shopping, Hyderabad is famed for pearls, excellent Bidriware and lacquer bangles embellished with semi-precious stones; Pembarti for sheet metal art; Cheriyal Village for scroll painting, batik wall hangings, Nirmal paintings and Kondapali toys. For more information on the amazing culture of Andhra Pradesh contact Indiatourism, Toronto at info@indiatourismcanada.ca or visit www.incredibleindia.org

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PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

A Gift of

the Gods

Spices, the heart of Indian cuisine.

Indian food is indescribable. With no unified cuisine – just a vast array of regional specialties based on local climate and agriculture – the diversity of Indian food is what makes it so exciting.

S

pices provide the link. No self respecting cook is ever without her/his blend of spices (masala) prepared to a personal formula. No dish is ever served without that pungent aroma which is derived from a judicious addition of spices. These spices – ginger, long pepper, black pepper, turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin and chilli – are the foundation of Indian cooking. Their original use was as a preservative (in the tropics food decays rapidly), medicinal (the Ayurveda, the indigenous system of medicine, is littered with

references to the curative properties of spices) and, of course, for flavouring. The authentic cook painstakingly prepares powders and pastes for each dish. So no two dishes will ever taste alike as the proportions and combinations of the spice paste or powder vary. Spices change from region to region, and, from cook to cook – all part of the exquisite surprise and delight of Indian food.

An Elaborate Affair

Typically an Indian house features an open courtyard surrounded by corridors

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with pillars and large rooms with wooden doors. One of the rooms is the kitchen and the open corridor beside it is the dining area, so the food is served piping hot. Indians maintain a high level of personal and household hygiene. The dining area is washed and cleaned elaborately. Diners are expected to bathe and change their clothes before dining on thin individual wooden blocks/ pedestals/stools on the bare floor of the corridor. The food is served on a polished circular metal tray known as thali containing small bowls known as katoris. The rice or roti (leavened bread) January 2011

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A collection of curries

So Many Flavours, So Little Time

A great way to see something of the country and be sure you’re getting a taste of as many regional dishes as possible, I discovered, is to take a culinary tour. I chose a 12-night tour visiting Southern India, and our guide offered fascinating insights on how history, religion, traditions, and climate have influenced the diet. Indian food (at least on my trip) is always prepared with fresh, local ingredients, so recipes are not exact – they vary according to local produce and preferences. Mysore was our first major stop, famous for its silk, rosewood carvings, and its palace, modest compared with some other Indian national treasures, but nonetheless impressive. So was Ooty, or Uthagamandalam, home of the best-known hill station built by the British. These high peaks (the highest, Doddabetta, is 2,623 metres) host numerous tea plantations.

Dinner in Ooty featured dishes of the Nilgiris area (following a how-to demonstration), and I swear I can still taste the Nilgiri Chicken Korma. Its mild, sweet, flavour comes from coconut, mint, and coriander. Delicious. Something I couldn’t get enough of was a sweet with the dubious name of barfi. It’s made from condensed milk (ubiquitous throughout India) cooked until solid. Too sweet for some on our tour, I unashamedly took their share. Ditto gulab jamun, another sweet made from fried milk balls (really) in a sweet syrup flavoured with cardamom and rosewater. And while we’re talking dessert, you’ll find rice puddings and bread puddings can actually taste exotic!

We talked food a lot, of course, and our tour included meeting people in the know from housewives to professional chefs. People like Nalini Verma, cooking instructor and author of four cookbooks. Her specialty is Kerala cuisine and one of the area’s best-known festive meals is the sadhya, a traditional vegetarian banquet eaten off banana leaves. Three or more rice courses form the base, with side dishes of vegetable and pulse stews. The flavours are piquant and delicious. And my sweet tooth was pleased with the Keralan dessert – payasam – wheat cooked in sweetened milk with spices, pistachios and raisins. – Christine Potter

is placed in the thali, while the vegetarian and non-vegetarian preparations are placed in the katoris. The thali with the katori is placed in front of the diner and it is refilled as required. Food is served directly from the cooking pots/utensils using ladles. Each prepared food is kept in separate vessels or utensils. Indians eat with their hands or rather with their right hands. Usage of the left hand is frowned upon. There is a rigid etiquette involved eating with hands, it takes practice but once accomplished it becomes incredibly easy. Please note that beef is taboo to Hindus and pork is taboo to Muslims. Many Hindus and all the Jains are vegetarians. Modern living has dramatically changed the lifestyle of Indians but cooking Indian cuisine has remained unchanged. It is said “food is a gift of the Gods.” In other words “to eat is a divine necessity”. For a copy of our cuisine brochure please contact Indiatourism, Toronto at info@indiatourismcanada.ca; it is available in both English and French.

Dining on a thali.

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Orissa is renowned for its silver craftsmen.

As in all aspects of India, shopping is an experience full of contrasts and steeped in local cultures, traditions, and materials. From the exotic – bazaars, medieval shops down narrow lanes – to the most modern – gleaming malls teeming with the latest fashions and electronics – shopping in India is exhilarating, it’s contradictory, most of all it is yet another way to experience the real India.

Shops & Bazaars Are Another Place To Discover The Real India Think India and images of silk, spices, saris, brassware and jewels come to mind. But there is so much more to buy here. Satin embroidery, cotton, carpets, woodwork, pottery, enamel work, copper leather goods, even the roadside kitsch of grotesque masks, brass idols and ropes of beads and bells vie for attention. The government-owned Cottage Industries Emporium in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kokata, Bangalore and Chennai are a good place to start. All display works from every state in India and offer fixed prices, for those not bold enough to bargain. Look for representations of the ubiquitous Ganesh, God of Prosperity, in a wide range of materials, from leather, to clay to wood to precious metals. Jewels from Rajisthan, silver from Orissa and pearls from Hyderabad share display space with brasswork from Jaipur and Aranmula and cotton from West Bengal and carpets from Kashmir.

What To Buy & Where To Buy It

Silk: Varanasi, Mysore, Kanchipuram, Assam, Kashmir Cotton: West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh Carpets: Kashmir, Mirzapur, Bardoi, Warangal, Eluru Metal Work: Moradabad, Mirzapur Jewelry: Rajasthan, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Ferozabad Woodcraft: Saharanpur, Mainpur, Kashmir, Rajasthan Shawls & Scarves: Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Uttaranchal Marble: Agra Textiles: Udaipur, Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chennai Furniture: Mumbai, Jodhpur, Udaipur Leathergoods: Chennai, Kolkata, Pondicherry Papier Mache: Kashmir Pottery & Stone Craft: Rajasthan, Bihar, Vrindavan, Hamirpur, Agra Ikat & Patola Woven Goods: Orissa, Gugarat Phulkari Embroidery: Punjab Paintings: Delhi, Udaipur, Himachal

Shopping 411 r Check with your hotel about shopping hours and closing days r Outside major centres India does not have a culture of large supermarkets and department stores r Major cities have government emporiums with fixed prices and quality goods r Every city has a local bazaar, where bargaining is routine r When bargaining: never insult the merchant; let the seller make the first offer; use odd numbered amounts (like 550 rupees); start with a 40% discount from the asking price, then offer 35% – the seller will probably counter with a 20% discount

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Photo: Indiatourism

You Want It, We Got It


Rural

Delights

Head Out Of Town & Discover The Other India India’s many great and historic cities are the draw for most visitors. But the sights, sounds, cultures, cuisine and monuments can sometimes overload the senses of unwary tourists. Sure you can spend time in a spa retreat, head to the hills for a trekking excursion, or flop on the beach, but why not try a rural experience that will bring you a little closer to the local cultures and a little

Photo: Indiatourism

downtime as well?

Festivals are a great way to get involved in local communities. And in India, they celebrate everything. Like the births of Gods and Goddesses, saints and prophets, historic events, battles, seasons, New Year…. It all involves music, dance, costumes, food, processions, pilgrimages and everyone is invited. Dussehra, in Milap near Varanasi features royalty riding elephants, a procession of horse, camel and elephant riders, music, dancing and a reenactment of Lord Rama’s defeat of the Demon King Ravana. Bharat Milap takes place the next day, with a procession of Lord Ram and his reunion with his brother all in the presence of Kashi Naresh (former king of Varanasi) and his entourage. One of India’s newest, and most intriguing festivals is the Cherrapunjee Indigenous Festival, that highlights the culture, food, crafts, arts and everyday life in Cherrapunjee, “The World’s Wettest Place”, in Meghalaya State, “Home of the Storm Cloud”. The Festival, first celebrated in December, 2010, features traditional folk tales, displays of traditional clothing and ornamentation, demonstrations of indigenous games, sports, arts and crafts, local songs and dance, and of course, plenty of local food. The people of the area are renowned for their hospitality and etiquette, as well as producing acclaimed honey and fruit, and growing, yes growing, bridges from roots than can last hundreds of years. Tourism India’s ExperienceRuralIndia.org website is an excellent resource for discovering all the rural pleasures of the country. You can search by destination, by craft, by area. The Browse by Circuits section offers sample itineraries throughout India and each one highlights local communities, their tourist attractions, handicraft specialties, local culture and even the local accommodation that is available. There is a Showroom that displays featured crafts and contact details of the artisan; a Monthly Highlights section that spotlights different destinations; and a News & Events section that chronicles rural experiences all over India and lists upcoming festivals and fairs.

India’s festivals are a celebration of faith and life and everyone is welcome.

37 Canadian Traveller

January 2011

INDIA tourism, Toronto – celebrating 50 years of tourism in canada 13


Year of India

India Celebrates Its Rich Culture Across Canada

2011 is the Year Of India In Canada, and what a year it will be. A five-month festival of cultural and travel events will make its way across Canada, enticing would-be travellers with music, dance, food and plenty of information on why India really is incredible. The whole celebrations kicks off in Quebec City on April 17, then makes its way through Ontario stopping in Waterloo April 30; London May 8; Hamilton May 14; and Ottawa June 18. In June the show hits the prairies and visits Winnipeg June 20; Regina June 22; Saskatoon June 24; Edmonton June 28; and Calgary June 28. Victoria (June 30) and Vancouver (July 2) host the festival

before it swings east to Toronto (July 10) and Montreal (July 15), finishing in Halifax on September 2. Festival performances showcase the talents of international and Canadian stars and up-and-comers in Indian arts like vocalists Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Ramneek Singh, Sudeshna Basu and Devarti Ghosh; musicians Pandit Tejendra Narayan

14 INDIA tourism, Toronto – celebrating 50 years of tourism in canada

Majumdar (Sarod), Alam Khan (Sarod), Arup Chattopadhyay (Tabla) and Hindole Majumdar (Tabla); and dancers Hemant Panwar, Vaishali Panwar, Sudeshna Maulik. For more information on the Year Of India In Canada, contact Indiatourism, Toronto at info@indiatourismcanada.ca or visit www.yearofindiaincanada2011.ca January 2011

Canadian Traveller 38


Important India Travel Info Getting There

r Air India: offers daily service between Toronto and India via Heathrow; four flights to Amritsar in Punjab; and three flights to Delhi. r Emirates: Canadian passengers fly from Toronto to Dubai, where they can board one of 215 flights per week that connect to 10 destinations in India. Flights to Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Khozikode and Kochi offer executive and economy class seats, while flights to Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai feature, first, executive and economy seats. r Etihad: Operates three flights a week from Toronto to Abu Dhabi and 38 connections to India.

Getting Around India

r Kingfisher Airlines: Flies to 67 destinations in India.

Visas

Visitor Visas: will normally be granted effective from the date of issue. Tourist visas are nonextendible and non-convertible. Student Visas: can be obtained on furnishing

39 Canadian Traveller

January 2011

Photo: Indiatourism

Fast Facts

proof of admission to recognized universities/ institutions in India. Employment Visas: can also be obtained upon furnishing proof of employment with companies in India. Business Visas: are normally granted for three or six months. Permits: Some places in the north and northeast of India require special permits for travel. Find out about these places and complete the paperwork necessary to travel to such places. Most permits are easy to obtain. Airport Departure Tax: There is a departure tax of 500 rupees upon leaving India. If flying to Nepal, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, the tax is 250 rupees.

Money Currency: The Indian rupee is divided into 100 paisas. There are coins of 50 paisa, one rupee, and two and five rupees. The notes are in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 rupees. Before changing money, check the notes carefully for any damage. Traveller’s Cheques: A transaction fee is deducted each time you convert traveller’s cheques, so bring larger denominations Credit and ATM Cards: Visa and MasterCard are increasingly accepted in India, although street vendors and small shops will not accept credit cards. Some places accept American Express.

For More Info

Indiatourism Toronto 1003 - 60 Bloor Street West Toronto, ON M4W 3B8 Tel: (416) 962-3787 Fax: (416) 962-6279 Toll Free: 1-800-97INDIA E-mail: info@indiatourismcanada.ca Website: www.incredibleindia.org

INDIA tourism, Toronto – celebrating 50 years of tourism in canada 15


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January 2011 India Destination Guide  

India’s history begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, which datesback to around 3000 BC, and rivals Sumer and Egypt as hum...

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