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
Taj Mahal is ultimately the culmination of two centuries
of evolving designs of Mughal tombs, beginning with Humayun's Tomb
What is the coolest time to visit
Ans. The coolest weather lasts from November to
mid-March, with cool, fresh mornings and evenings and dry, sunny
I hear Indians are a more
conservative lot especially compared to people in Western countries.
What kind of clothes would be acceptable here?
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.
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.
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
Hindi Phrases' page in Useful Stuff.
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.
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.
How should I tip waiters at
restaurants / hotels?
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
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