When choosing where to go on your Gap Year, you’ve probably got some key things that a country needs to offer, whether it’s blissful beaches, full moon parties, world famous monuments, epic trekking, life-changing volunteering projects or, quite simply, really cheap beers. Want all of the above? Pfft, no problem. We’re now going to convince you, in 7 simple points, that India is the place to travel on your gap year.
1. India is a proper culture shock
When someone tells you to think of India, it’s hard not to imagine the hot, dusty, city streets congested with old buses, rickshaws and cows. For the cities, this is accurate. In honesty, you can never be fully prepared for the shock of your first arrival in Delhi! But there’s so much to see in India, from the royal palaces of Rajasthan to the mighty Himalayas, the palm-lined beaches of Goa to the majestic Taj Mahal. Gap Years are all about experiencing new cultures, and India will certainly give you that.
2. The Rupee Factor
India is a great place to travel on a tight budget, often being even cheaper than other parts of Asia. Living costs are extremely low, with hearty meals costing less than £2 and the price of a beer often not much more than a quid. Sleeper class trains aren’t for the faint hearted, but hard-core backpackers can really make their money stretch by travelling in the packed out local carriages. But if you don’t fancy those long nights awake on the train, bus passes that cover the length and breadth of the country are another awesome way to see India.
3. Make the most of your year out
We hate to state the obvious, but India is huge. It’s the seventh largest country in the world, and whilst you can cover some tourist trails like the Golden Triangle in 10-14 days, you’ll see so much more with a few months. Spend your gap year seeing the main sights of India, but also visiting some of the hidden gems. What about going rafting in the Ganges? Or on a camel safari in Rajasthan? Make most of your time in India and see the country in its full glory!
4. The food
The Indian food in India will change your life forever. Never again will you look at a Tikka Masala or an onion bhaji in the same way. With the majority of India being vegetarian, the cuisine is hugely different to what we’re used to getting at our local takeaway. From the hearty daals and hot paratha breads in the North, to spicy masala dosas and exotic thalis in the South Indian food is as colourful as the country it comes from.
5. “Find yourself” on a yoga retreat
OK, it’s a little cliched, but where better to experiment with meditation and find your inner peace than in the birthplace of yoga? Practice your Sun Salutations and Downward Dogs in the peaceful surroundings of Goa, or book yourself a truly spiritual retreat in Rishikesh, the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’.
6. Holi – India’s answer to Full Moon
There are plenty of Indian festivals to get involved in whilst you travel, but the real showstopper is Holi festival. Usually held somewhere between end of February and March (on the Full Moon day), the Hindu Festival is a celebration of love and colour. Like all festivals, this is a great opportunity to get involved with the local culture and interact with the people. Holi is celebrated in all major cities as well as in popular tourist areas.
7. Volunteer with kids
It’s important for a lot of Gap Year travellers to do some voluntary work. Despite being a constantly developing country, India still has vast amounts of poverty. By volunteering in India you can give something back to the communities that you visit. You can volunteer with children and local communities in many places around India, including Goa, Rajasthan and in the Himalayas.