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aGRA iNDIA
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Que. Who designed the Taj Mahal?

Ans.
That question has never been answered. Countries from Persia and Turkey to France and Italy have claimed credit. The chronicles of the time mention only one Ustad Ahmed Lahori as the Mimar-i-kul or chief architect. But this was traditionally, merely a supervisory post. An inscription on Lahori's grave at Aurangabad says that he was the builder of Taj Mahal and the Jama Masjid in Delhi.

Taj Mahal is ultimately the culmination of two centuries of evolving designs of Mughal tombs, beginning with Humayun's Tomb in Delhi.

Que. What is the coolest time to visit India?

Ans.
The coolest weather lasts from November to mid-March, with cool, fresh mornings and evenings and dry, sunny days.

Que. I hear Indians are a more conservative lot especially compared to people in Western countries. What kind of clothes would be acceptable here?

Ans.
Shorts, minis and tank tops are unadvisable unless you're on a beach. In small towns and cities especially, people may tend to stare if you expose too much skin. Safe clothing would be trousers, peddle pushers, capris, skirts, tops and shirts. India has some good cottons which are trendy and affordable. Buy yourself some. Women could try wearing a salwar kameez which is very cool and comfortable and could even improve the attitude of people towards them.

Que. What is the best thing to do if pestered by beggars and street urchins?

Ans.
Well, you can start by ignoring them completely and if they get too persistent give them a stern look. If you must give them something, let it not be more than 1 to 2 rupees only.

Que. What are the important Hindi words I should know when I'm in India?

Ans.
Well, there are many phrases and words in Hindi that could come in use. We would advise you to look at our 'Useful Hindi Phrases' page in Useful Stuff.

Que. Can I hire a mobile phone in India?

Ans.
You can pick up a mobile phone connection from most departmental stores and often even at small roadside stores. The service provided by these private companies is on par with the best in the world.

Que. How safe is drinking water in India?

Ans.
If you are from a foreign country, you may not be used to drinking the water here. Hence we advise that you pick up a bottle of mineral water which is cheap and widely available and usually provided in flasks in hotel rooms. Order the same when you are at a restaurant. As far as possible, avoid drinking any kind of water or juices from roadside carts and vendors.

Que. How should I tip waiters at restaurants / hotels?

Ans. In tourist restaurants or hotels a 10% service charge is often added to bills, in which case there is no need to tip. In smaller places, where tipping is optional, you need only tip a few rupees, not a percentage of your bill. It is customary to tip waiters, porters, guides and drivers.

Que. How safe is it to eat non-vegetarian food in India?

Ans.
India, being a primarily Hindu country, beef is rarely served. Pork is also not easily available. Eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants. What you get in smaller places is generally of dubious quality though tastes quite yummy, thanks to concoctions of Indian spices and masalas.

Que. Are there pubs and discotheques in India?

Ans.
Yes, definitely. Though these are concentrated only in metro cities and big towns. In places like Mumbai and Bangalore you are likely to find several cocktail lounges and coffee bars as well. Most pubs and discs have state of the art sound equipment and an experienced DJ to provide you with good music. Do try the spicy chaats and snacks with your Pina Colada.

Que. How best can I get the flavour of a particular destination I visit in India?

Ans.
We would love you to try using the local transport. But this is not advisable in crowded cities like Mumbai. However, do take a ride or two in a state transport bus or tram whenever you have the opportunity. It would be better to take an Indian friend along.

Try and interact more with the locals of the area. There will be a language problem but many people in small towns are quite fluent in English and a few other foreign languages.

Buy a handicraft or souvenir which is typical of the place. It would be better to wear a piece of clothing from the place you are visiting. E.g A sarong in Goa, a baandhani dupatta in Rajasthan. You would blend in well with the local people.

 

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