Christmas Celebrations in Delhi

Christmas is not the most feted day of the year for most people in Delhi, but it definitely does not go by unnoticed. Author Margot Bigg discusses holiday celebrations in India.

Where is the best place to go for a taste of traditional Indian life?

Anywhere in rural Rajasthan will give you a good idea of what traditional Indian—or at least Rajasthani—life is all about. Pushkar is touristy but is also a major religious pilgrimage site, and it's a good place to learn about Hinduism. If you're visiting Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra by car, make sure to stop off in some of the smaller villages in between your destinations.

—Margot Bigg

What advice would you give female travelers to India?

Dress modestly and be wary of your behavior with men. In certain circles, especially in big cities, women sometimes hug their male friends, but this is more the exception than the norm in India. Short skirts and cleavage-bearing tops are perfectly fine in most Delhi nightclubs but are inappropriate in Rajasthan. Finally, be very careful after dark and don’t be afraid to tell someone off if he or she is behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

—Margot Bigg

What are a few handy Hindi phrases to remember when traveling in India?

Bus, which means “stop” or “that’s enough,” is one of the most useful Hindi words I know. You can use it to halt a rickshaw at your final destination or to tell a waiter that you don’t want a second helping of curry. Theek hai is another phrase that people pick up quickly—it means "okay." Kitna, or “how much,” is also useful if you're shopping. However, most people in Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra speak English to varying degrees, some with native-level fluency.

—Margot Bigg

The Taj Mahal is obviously a must-see tourist attraction, but what other historical sites should visitors not overlook?

Delhi's Qutb Minar complex is one of the most interesting historical sites in town and contains centuries' worth of structures, some dating back to as early as the fourth century. In Jaipur, don't miss the City Palace, the home of the city's royal family and an interesting mix of Mughal, Rajasthani, and European architectural elements. Pushkar's Brahma Temple is another must-see, and is one of the only temples dedicated to the creator god in the world.

—Margot Bigg

Do you recommend visiting India by train? Any tips for train travel?

I think the train is the best way to see India, and Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra are well-connected by rail. If you’re traveling by train, bring plenty of drinking water, as it’s not always readily available onboard. Hand sanitizer and toilet paper are also a must. Note that the air-conditioned carriages can get very cold, so it’s a good idea to bring a shawl or sweatshirt with you.

—Margot Bigg

What are the differences between Delhi and Jaipur?

Delhi is a lot bigger than Jaipur and is essentially a conglomeration of neighborhoods and villages that have merged together over the centuries. Delhi is also a bit of a pan-Indian melting pot, and its residents hail from across the country. Jaipur is a planned city and is a bit easier to get around, with more continuation between neighborhoods. In terms of accommodations, Jaipur definitely has more traditional digs, and if you get a chance, try to stay in a converted haveli (townhouse) hotel.

—Margot Bigg

The Call of the Wild in Northern India

The Golden Triangle is home to some of India’s most spectacular national parks, some of which are also home to wild tigers. If you’re more interested in Mother Nature than in monuments, Northern India won’t disappoint.

Agra, Delhi, and Jaipur: Like Nowhere Else on Earth

The North Indian cities of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) are collectively known as India’s Golden Triangle. Even a brief visit to this region will give you a good feel for the country’s regal past, not to mention plenty of amazing memories of your own.