' I LOVE this experience in chitwan for though short period! '

Xue Ying Fiona Wang

India FAQs

Disclaimer: The information given in this FAQ's page is generic. You should verify critical information such as visa-related issues, health and safety, customs and transportation with the relevant authorities prior to traveling. Please be aware that information given in FAQ's may change at any time. In effect, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. For the latest updates, please contact us or our in-country coordinator(s).

General Information

The founder of RCDP has been involved in volunteer abroad business for the last 10 years. During this time, he has worked with more than 2000 volunteers and more than 200 universities, colleges, and schools groups.

Working with inspiring college students and humanitarian volunteers was very motivating as well as very enjoyable and presented many exciting learning opportunities. This experience encouraged him to start his own volunteer abroad program where affordable prices, premium programs and meaningful contributions to deprived communities would become the key components of the programs.

With this in mind, while setting up volunteer and travel abroad organization, we have selected many safe and culturally rich destinations where volunteers can make meaningful contributions, immerse in local culture, and get enriched from volunteer abroad experience. In each destination, we have carefully selected projects, host families, travel coordinating staff, and placed local support staff. We have provided them with extensive training to manage the program with professional services that will be delivered with care and respect for all volunteers. We are now proud of our coordinators, host families, host projects, and staff as all of them have at least 4 years of working experience with international volunteers. To meet your expectation, they are committed to working hard to meet your expectations, delivering professional services, and turn your volunteer abroad experience into a memorable journey.

Local Partner

RCDP works with many local NGOs, orphanages and community projects. Working with them we try to offer you many meaningful volunteer projects.

RCDP Location

RCDP is located in Guragao, a growing metropolitan area near Delhi. We have a 4 bedroom apartment where volunteers will stay during their cultural and language training program. The place is accessible via local transportation and malls, internet cafes, even McDonalds are located nearby. You can also choose to dine in many Indian and Western restaurants nearby.

Projects

Currently, RCDP is focusing on 4 major volunteer service projects in India (work in an orphanage, teaching English, health, AIDS/HIV, and women development projects).

Information on Application

Starting application

There are two options available to those applying for volunteer positions in the India programs:

You need to deposit $199 also.

After submitting application

Once RCDP receives your application, it will be immediately forwarded to India for processing. Our India in-country coordinator will then carefully review your application to ensure you get placed in the project that matches your criteria and your qualifications. Your placement will also depend on the accommodation and meal you want during the project.

Duration of the application process

Once the India In-Country coordinator finalizes and forwards us the detail, we will immediately send it to you. The whole process normally takes 1-2 weeks. However, this can sometimes take longer.

You will also find an invoice requesting you to pay the program fee along with the placement details.

Preparation

Once you receive the placement details, you can even call our India office directly and speak to our In-Country coordinator and any questions that you might need to prepare for the trip.

Preparation for an Indian trip includes: reading about India, vaccination, visa arrangement, booking tickets. If you experience ANY problems, please call RCDP office.

Once you purchase air tickets, they should immediately submit the flight details to BOTH RCDP and offices.

Information on Airport and Arrival

Arrival Airport in India

You'll arrive at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India.

In the arrival lounge in Indira International Airport, one of our representatives will be waiting to pick you holding a placard with your name on it. The representative will be waiting for you without fail if you have passed on your travel itinerary to our office. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can call your Delhi office and talk to our In-Country coordinator.

Flight Delayed or Missed

If your flight gets delayed or if you miss your flight and book yourself on a later flight, please let us know immediately by either calling our office. You must try to call first and then email the details if possible. Look at your placement details for all the contact information.

If you cannot make any contact and no one receives you at the airport, look at your placement details, hire a taxi and go to the hotels recommended on it. In the airport in Delhi, you will find an office that arranges pre-paid taxies. Use their services. Do not hire taxis from outside.

Let the In-Country coordinator know your whereabouts after your arrive at the hotel or the next day. The coordinator will arrange a pick up for you.

Arrival Day

Volunteers coming to India are suggested to arrive one day before the start of the program. If volunteers arrive more than one day earlier or remain after the close of their program, they will be responsible for their own for providing their own accommodation and meal.

Information on Accommodation and Meal

Stay during project work

In most of cases, volunteers will stay with a host family. You will be provided with a separate room. You will enjoy what the host family will cook and you will be provided 3 meals a day. Host families do not offer laundry services. Indian cuisine includes: Nan bread, Curry, Lentil soup, Curry, and Pickle. RCDP serves only vegetarian diets.

Information on Visa

Volunteers are required to acquire their Visas before departing for India. You will not get any visa at the airport in India. So please get a Tourist Visa before departing for India. The Indian Embassy or Consular Office in your home countries will issue tourist visas. If you plan to visit a neighboring country such as Nepal and re-enter India, please apply a double/multiple entry Visa.

Visa requirements

You must have a passport that is valid for at least six months. You'll also need to pay correct visa fees. You'll also need to submit two passport-size photos. You'll also need to submit completed application form and present all the supporting documents, where necessary.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These procedure often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may better-facilitate entry/departure.

Information on extending visa

For extending the Visa, volunteers must apply for a letter of permission from:
Ministry of Home Affairs
Lok Nayak Bhavan, 1st floor
Khan Market, New Delhi 110003
Phone: 24693334, 24612543, 24617649

which will then be presented to the FRRO.

The Foreigner's Regional Registration Office (FRRO) is located at:
Hans Bhavan
Tilak Bridge , New Delhi
Phone: 23319489, 23318179
Hours of Operation: 9.30 am to 1.30 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm
(closed weekends and national holidays)

Information on Health and Safety

Please be aware of all health and safety issues before traveling to India. Visit websites mentioned below and learn how health and safety can be practiced abroad.

Information on general Health Tips

  • Avoid Tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes and drink only bottled or boiled water or drink from cans or bottled carbonated drinks. You can also use iodine tablets to filter the water.
  • Be war of fake bottled water and only buy from proper outlets. Make sure seal is not broken and ask from genuine brands like Bisleri, Kinley, Aqua Fina and Himalaya.
  • Don't eat from stalls found on the roads. You'll instantly be ill. Eat fruits you can peel and go to good restaurants and hotels if you want to dine out.
  • Always use an insect repellent if you find yourself in a mosquito infested area.
  • Drinking plenty of water when traveling in scorching heat. Wear hats, sunglasses & UV lotions (sunscreen). Do not venture out in the mid-day sun.
  • Pharmacies or chemists are available in every little town and village and you can buy medication. In case you need to see a doctor for a specific condition, ask for help from your hotel (most have doctors on call) or your tour operator/In-Country coordinator. The cost of visiting a doctor is fairly low (less than a dollar) compared to western countries.
  • In India, most modern medicines are available in drugstores, but it is wise to some stock you're you when traveling. If you take prescription drugs, bring enough for the duration of the trip. It is advisable that you carry a small health kit which should include medicines for stomach upsets, some antiseptic cream, mosquito repellant spray, sunscreen/UV lotion and water purifying tablets.

Information on Vaccination

Your safety should be your utmost concern. Vaccinate prior to your arrival in India and travel around without any worries. Please refer to CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/indianrg.htm#vaccines
RCDP’s recommended Vaccinations and medications for prevention
For your travel to South Asia, following vaccines are recommended. You must also discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling. 
  • Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants. 
  • Japanese encephalitis, if you plan to visit rural farming areas and under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis. 
  • Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription anti-malarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to South Asia.
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid: Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors. Vaccination is particularly important because of the presence of S. typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics in this region. There have been recent reports of  typhoid drug resistance in India and Nepal.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and  measles , and a one-time dose of polio for adults.

Information on Monetary Issues

Exchange Rate

Exchange Rate of Indian Rupee (INR) info available at: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Indian Rupees is the currency of India. If you want, you can change your money upon arrival inside the Delhi International Airport. There are many banks at Delhi International Airport. We suggest you to change $200 in the beginning. If you need to change more, banks can be found everywhere, including few near RCDP office. To exchange Rupees back to US Dollars (when departing), you need to show receipts from authorized banks stating the money exchanged from US Dollars to Indian Rupee.

ATM, Debit Card, Credit Card

Debit card usage is the best way of acquiring money as ATM vendors are available near our office in India. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in some of the large stores and hotels in larger cities but may not be widely accepted in smaller cities.

Required money

Depends. Your program fee covers 3 meals day and accommodation during the project but if you want to shop, extend your stay and travel, you need to bring more.

Information on Field Support and Supervision

When volunteers start their projects, our local staff will be constantly in touch with the volunteers. In every 2 weeks, our staff inquires with the volunteers. We'll communicate by email or phone if your project is far.
In addition to that, all our volunteers will have mobile phone numbers of our In-Country coordinator and they can contact the coordinator anytime they want. We also reply to our emails promptly from Delhi office.

Information on Phones/Internet Services

Bring your mobile phones with you. In India, change into local SIM-card and use the local phone. This is the perfect way to stay in touch with your family and RCDP offices in Delhi.
Our office is equipped with internet. Use the service by paying for it. If you want internet in the city, you'll find plenty of cyber cafes in Delhi. In Jaipur, the international telephone services are about 2 km away. Your placement sheet will contain all this essential details.

Information About The Climate

Check Yahoo Weather forecast ( http://weather.yahoo.com/forecast/INXX0038.html )
And for more: ( India Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.ernet.in/section/nhac/dynamic/today-weather.htm )

India has three major seasons: winter, summer and monsoon.

November to March is winters. The days are bright and pleasant during that time.

Summer starts from April until June. This period is very hot in most parts of India including Delhi and Jaipur.

During the monsoon (July, August, September), rain is incessant.

Please see the summary of (1) Maximum Temperature in Celsius (2) Minimum Temperature in Celsius (3) Rain fail (milliliter) in Delhi , Jaipur, Ladakh, and Bangalore

TY Bangalore Jaipur New Delhi
. 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3
Jan 27.0 14.0 6.0 23.0 8.0 11.0 21.0 6.0 25.0
Feb 30.0 16.0 7.0 25.0 10.0 8.0 24.0 10.0 21.0
Mar 32.0 18.0 10.0 31.0 13.0 9.0 29.0 14.0 13.0
Apr 34.0 21.0 41.0 37.0 20.0 4.0 36.0 20.0 8.0
May 33.0 20.5 106.0 41.0 25.0 14.5 40.0 26.0 13.0
Jun 29.0 19.0 73.0 30.5 27.0 57.0 29.0 28.0 77.0
Jul 27.0 19.0 100.4 35.0 26.0 197.0 35.0 27.0 179.0
Aug 27.0 19.0 126.5 33.0 24.0 205.0 34.0 26.0 184.0
Sep 28.0 18.5 169.0 34.0 23.0 82.0 34.0 23.0 123.0
Oct 28.0 18.0 149.0 34.5 18.0 12.0 34.0 18.0 10.0
Nov 26.0 16.5 68.0 30.0 13.0 4.0 28.0 14.0 2.5
Dec 26.0 15.5 11.0 20.0 9.0 8.0 23.0 7.0 11.0

Information on Materials to Bring

  • Camera
  • Mobile phone (you can use mobile phones after changing sim cards)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Mosquito repellents 
  • Insect repellents
  • Sunscreen
  • Volunteer hat (if you are joining conservation or construction project)
  • Some books of India
  • Map of India
  • Toiletries
  • First-aid kits 
  • Flash light
  • Electricity adapter/converter
  • Sunglasses
  • Walking shoes (for work and travel)
  • Towel

Information on Bringing Gifts for Project

It will be a nice gesture if you bring items like books, pencils, color pens, toys and games, especially if you are volunteering in schools and orphanages.

You can also bring things like chocolates, CD, T-Shirts to the host family.

More about India

Information about culture and religion

India is a very diverse country. The country has given birth to religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. It's probably the only country to have a resident Zoroastrian population. The Syrian Christian Church is well established in Kerala; the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, old churches flourish in Calcutta and Delhi, and synagogues still do the landmark in Kerala. Temples, mosques, stupas all exist side by side. All this reflect amazing multiplicity of religious practice in India. Add to this a range of animist beliefs among tribal people in the northeast, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat who practices various forms of nature worship. All this is an astonishing diversity indeed.

Since religion permeates every aspect of Indian life, whether social, political or economic, it's worth reading about it prior to your travel. The following capsules present a glimpse of the major religious traditions of India. One must keep in mind though, that the principle of secularism is enshrined in the Constitution.

Hinduism: The religion of the overwhelming majority of Indians. The religion is a way of life. It has no single sacred text but a range of scriptures. The four Vedas form the backbone of Hinduism with the earliest of these, the Rig Veda, being the most important. It is believed that the Vedas are the product of the direct communication between the gods and the sadhus (holy men).

The pantheon of Hindu gods is matched in size (and often in character too) by those of the ancient Greeks and Romans. These revered figures may represent natural phenomena like wind (Varun), thunder and rain (Indra), fire (Agni) and the sun (Surya). Or they may be quasi-mythical characters that appear in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Shakti, which literally translates into energy, is represented as a female form and worshipped in the forms of many goddesses. Of these, Kali and Durga are the most commonly worshipped. Lakshmi and Parvati, the goddesses of wealth and learning respectively, are important. At the centre of this enormous pantheon are the three central figures of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is revered as The Creator, Vishnu as The Preserver and Shiva as The Destroyer.

Like every major religion, Hinduism has also been sought to be reformed of excessive ritualism and the stranglehold of the priestly class, the Brahmins. The Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj are two of the most influential of such reform movements.

Muslims are the largest religious minority in India. Islam came to India when trade links were established with the Arabs in the 8th century AD. In the 12th century, the Mamluk Turk Qutbuddin Aibak became the first Muslim to rule a part of India. A succession of Muslim dynasties came to rule thereafter, predominantly in north India but sometimes even south of the Vindhya Ranges as in the reign of the Mughal king Aurangzeb. The influence of Islam grew as many people adopted the religion of their rulers, resulting in a culture that is characterized by beauty. New forms of architecture, a new language - Urdu, developments in dress and design, the arts of cuisine, music, painting and sculpture boomed especially in northern India. The south received the trickle down effects.

Buddhism: Siddhartha Gautam was born in the early 7th century BC in the town of Lumbini (in present day Nepal), not far from the Indo-Nepal border. Born a prince of the Sakya clan, exposure to suffering caused Siddhartha to renounce home and family and set out in search of enlightenment. He attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya in Bihar, India, and came thereafter to be known as Buddha or The Enlightened One. Buddhism, whose central tenet is Dharma or Truth, propounds the Middle Path.

Buddhism gained its popularity in the subcontinent gradually, as monks and nuns who were taught in viharas or monasteries, spread its teachings. It received a great boost when the Mauryan emperor Ashoka embraced the religion. Today, the religion is no longer as popular in the land it was born as it is further southeast. Its flame is kept burning in India today mainly by Tibetan Buddhists for whom the country has become a refuge, and by Dalits (or lower caste Hindus) who rejected the Hindu social creed of a rigid caste system and adopted the egalitarian Buddhist philosophy.

Established by Vardhaman Mahavira around the same time as Buddhism, Jainism takes its name from the word jina for conqueror. It preaches simple living and absolutely disallows hurting another living being. Jains, then, are strict vegetarians. Many keep their mouths covered by a piece of cloth lest they breathe in an insect or germs and kill it. Jainism has a large following in India, especially in the western Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Both Jainism and Buddhism have contributed greatly to Indian culture. The magnificent Jain Dilwara Temples in Rajasthan and the Mathura and Gandhara schools of art inspired by the Buddha are only a few examples.

Christianity came to India as early as the arrival of the apostle Saint Thomas. The earliest Christian missionary though, is thought to be Saint Xavier who came to India in 1542. India's colonial experience ensured the spread of Christianity, which was propagated by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Protestants, Catholics and Syrian Christians mainly from the southern state of Kerala mainly make up the Indian Christian community.

Sikhism is another major religion that came from India. The religion, evolved out of the effort of combining the best of Hinduism and Islam. Founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15th century AD, and influenced by Sufi Islam, Sikhism has ten gurus or teachers and, like Islam, a holy book - the Guru Granth Sahib - as a symbol of God. Sikhism flourished particularly in the Punjab in north India to the extent that it became a thorn in the side of orthodox Muslims. Its persecution in Mughal times led to the formation of the Sikh army called the khalsa. Sikh men wear the symbols of their faith on their person; these are the kachchha (under shorts), the kanga (comb), the kirpan (sword), the kada (steel bangle) and kesh (long hair). Of these the most obvious is their long hair, which is tied up in a turban.

Many Persians migrated to India in the 8th century AD, and brought with them the ancient religion of Zarathustra or Zoroastrianism. Legend has it that their leader requested the Hindu ruler Jadhav Rana for permission to settle in this great land, promising that Parsis would be like sugar dissolved in a bowl of water; India being like the bowl of water and the Parsis like sugar, dissolving unobtrusively and yet suffusing the nation with their sweetness and spirit. Needless to say, they were allowed to stay. The Parsis worship fire as a symbol of Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord.

Information about history

The first major Indian civilization started nearly five thousand years back in the Indus River valley. The twin cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa (now in Pakistan) were ruled by priests and held the rudiments of Hinduism. These civilizations are known to possess a sophisticated lifestyle, a highly developed sense of aesthetics, an astonishing knowledge of town planning and an undecipherable script language. The Indus civilization at one point of time extended nearly a million square kilometers across the Indus river valley. It existed at the same time as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Sumer but far outlasted them. Surviving for nearly a thousand years the Indus valley civilization fell to tectonic upheavals (earthquakes) in about 1700 BC, which caused a series of floods.

The coming of the Aryans around 1500 BC, gave the final blow to the collapsing Indus Valley civilization. At the dawn of Vedic ages, the Aryans came in from the North and spread through large parts of India bringing with them their culture and religious beliefs. The Four Vedas or the important books of Hinduism were compiled in this period.

In 567 B.C. the founder of the Buddhist Religion, Gautama Buddha was born. During this time there lived Mahavira, who founded the Jain Religion. The Indian subcontinent is full of caves and monuments devoted to these religions and are worth a visit.

Two hundred years later, in the 4th century B.C., Emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest Kings of Indian history, led the Mauryan Empire to take over almost all of what is now modern India. This great leader embraced Buddhism and built the group of monuments at Sanchi (a UNESCO world heritage site). The Ashoka pillar at Sarnath has been adopted by India as its national emblem and the Dharma Chakra on the Ashoka Pillar adorns the National Flag.

They were followed by the Guptas in the north, while in the south part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s.

Christianity entered India at about the same time from Europe. Legend has it that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52 A.D. Even earlier than that, people of the Jewish religion arrived on India 's shores.

In approximately the 7th century A.D. a group of Zoroastrians, or Parsees, landed in Gujarat and became a part of the large mix of religions in India today, each of which adds their own important and distinctive flavors.

In the 15th century Guru Nanak laid the foundation of the Sikh religion in Punjab.

In 1192, Mohammed of Ghori, a ruler from Afghanistan, came into India and captured several places in the north including Delhi. When he went home, he left one of his generals in charge who became the first Sultan of Delhi. During this time, Islam was introduced into a major part of Northern India. It may be mentioned that even before that, just after the period of the prophet, Islam was brought to the western coast of India by Arab traders and flourished in what is now Kerala.

The Delhi Sultanate gradually took control of more and more of North India over the next 200 years, till Timur, who was called "Timur the Lame" or "Tamberlane" came from Turkey in 1398 to attack India. He and his army stole all the valuables that they could carry and left again, and after that the Delhi Sultanate was never so strong again. Soon the Mughals, who were from Iran , came in and took control of the north.

In the meantime south, in 1336, the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire was set up and became very strong.

The Europeans - Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British - started arriving in the early 1600s. All of them held territories in India and made friends and enemies among India's rulers as they got more and more involved, with the Indian politics, but it was the British who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it one of their colonies.

India got its independence from Britain in 1947 after a long struggle led mostly by Mahatma Gandhi. In the process of becoming independent, India became two countries instead of one. In the years since independence, India has made significant progress and coped with great problems, and has developed its industry and its agriculture, and has maintained a system of government which makes it the largest democracy in the world.

Information on Geography

India is set apart from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas, the highest, youngest and still evolving mountain chain on the planet. The subcontinent as it is rightly called, touches three large water bodies and is immediately recognizable on any world map. This thick, roughly triangular peninsula defines the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian Sea to the west, and the India Ocean to the south.

India holds virtually every kind of landscape imaginable. An abundance of mountain ranges and national parks provide ample opportunity for eco-tourism and trekking, and its sheer size promises something for everyone. From north to south India extends a good 2000 miles (3200 km), where the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be squeezed out of India like a great tear, the synapse forming the Gulf of Mannar.

Himalayas, the world's highest mountain chain and Nepal as its neighboring country dominate India's northern border. Following the sweeping mountains to the northeast, its borders narrow to a small channel that passes between Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh and Bhutan, then spreads out again to meet Burma in the "eastern triangle." Apart from the Arabian Sea, its western border is defined exclusively by Pakistan.

North India is the country's largest region begins with Jammu and Kashmir, with terrain varying from arid mountains in the far north to the lake country and forests near Srinagar and Jammu. Moving south along the Indus River , the North becomes flatter and more hospitable, widening into the fertile plains of Punjab to the west and the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh and the Ganges river valley to the East. Cramped between these two states is the capital city, Delhi.

The states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, and part of the massive, central state of Madhya Pradesh constitute West India. Extending from the Gujarat peninsula down to Goa, the west coast is lined with some of India's best beaches. The land along the coast is typically lush with rainforests. The Western Ghats separate the verdant coast from the Vindya Mountains and the dry Deccan plateau further inland.

India is the home of the sacred River Ganges and the majority of Himalayan foothills, East India begins with the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, which comprise the westernmost part of the region. East India also contains an area known as the eastern triangle, which is entirely distinct. This is the last gulp of land that extends beyond Bangladesh, culminating in the Naga Hills along the Burmese border.

India reaches its peninsular tip with South India, which begins with the Deccan in the north and ends with Cape Comorin. The states in South India are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, a favorite leisure destination. The southeast coast, mirroring the west, also rests snugly beneath a mountain range---the Eastern Ghats.

Information on local cuisine

The Indian cuisine boasts of an immense variety not restricted to only curry. An authentic Indian curry is an intricate combination of a stir-fried Masala - a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes; various spices and seasonings with which meat; poultry, vegetables or fish is prepared to produce a stew-type dish. Note: the word Masala also means spice.

Food in India is wide ranging in variety, taste and flavor. Being so diverse geographically, each region has its own cuisine and style of preparation. Indian cuisine, renowned for its exotic gravies seems complicated for any newcomer. The Mughlai cuisine of North differs sharply from the preparations of the south. The Wazwan style of Kashmir is luxurious but the same can be said about Bengal's Macher Jhol, Rajasthan's Dal Bati, Uttar Pradesh's Kebabs and Punjab's Sarson Ka Saag and Makki di Roti. In India, recipes are handed down from generation to generation.

The unique and strong flavors in Indian cuisine are derived from spices, seasonings and nutritious ingredients such as leafy vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes. Most of the spices used in Indian cooking were originally chosen thousands of years ago for their medicinal qualities and not for flavor. Many of them such as turmeric, cloves and cardamoms are very antiseptic, others like ginger, are carminative and good for the digestion. All curries are made using a wide variety of spices.
In Indian cuisine, food is categorized into six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. A well-balanced Indian meal contains all six tastes, not always can this be accomplished. This principle explains the use of numerous spice combinations and depth of flavor in Indian recipes. Side dishes and condiments like chutneys, curries, daals and Indian pickles contribute to and add to the overall flavor and texture of a meal and provide balance needed.

Information on people and lifestyles

In a country as diverse and complex as India, it is not surprising to find that people here reflect the rich glories of the past, the culture, traditions and values relative to geographic locations and the numerous distinctive manners, habits and food that will always remain truly Indian as they consistently pay homage to five thousand years of recorded history.

From the eternal snows of the Himalayas to the cultivated peninsula of far South, from the deserts of the West to the humid deltas of the East, from the dry heat and cold of the Central Plateau to the cool forest foothills, Indian lifestyles clearly glorify the geography. The food, clothing and habits of an Indian differ in accordance to the place of origin.

Indians believe in sharing happiness and sorrow. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. The whole community or neighborhood is involved in bringing liveliness to an occasion. A lot of festivals like Diwali, Holi, Id, Christmas, Mahaveer Jayanthi are all celebrated by sharing sweets and pleasantries with family, neighbors and friends. An Indian wedding is an occasion that calls for participation of the family and friends. Similarly, neighbors and friends always help out a family in times of need.

Ethnically Indians speak different languages, follow different religions, and eat the most diverse varieties of food all of which add to the rich Indian culture. The beauty of the Indian people lies in the spirit of tolerance, give-and-take and a composition of cultures that can be compared to a garden of flowers of various colours and shades of which, while maintaining their own entity, lend harmony and beauty to the garden - India!

NOTE: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is generic information and should not be used as a definitive travel guide. Travel information and situations abroad change constantly. Participants should consult RCDP or travel advisors to verify this information.