News and views from the worlds of food, drink and travel
AN INDIAN SUMMER
To celebrate 70 years of India’s independence, 2017 has been designated the UK-India Year of Culture. It’s a magical, mystical country where no two trips will ever be the same.
While you might not be able to predict exactly what will happen when you visit, you can be certain that it will be an experience. This colourful country has infinite cultural quirks. There are the Standing Babas, Hindu men who don’t sit down for 12 years, and 84.4 million people who still live tribal lifestyles in the most remote corners of the land. Mysticism and superstition are woven into the fabric of everyday life. Bunches of fragrant lemons and chillies dangle above doors for luck, while babies’ faces are daubed in dusky kohl to ward off the ‘Evil Eye’. Perch on one of the ancient ghats in Varanasi (pictured) and you’ll see pilgrims dipping into the river Ganges to cleanse their souls after trudging thousands of miles to reach this sacred city.
This year, there are a host of activities to celebrate the anniversary. On 15 August, Independence Day, the entire country grinds to a halt and looks up to the sky for ceremonial kite displays. Expect a major military march in Delhi, rousing speeches by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and patriotic songs such as Vande Mataram to blast out all over.
Ideal for a first-time visitor, India’s Golden Triangle includes the ancient cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Explore all three with Travelsphere’s travelsphere.co.uk ten-day tour, as well as spotting tigers in Ranthambore and visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Can’t make it to India? You can immerse yourself in its unique culture right here in the UK. Until the end of the year, the BFI in London is showing Indian films in its cinemas and online, while the Daksha Sheth Dance Company will be touring Birmingham and Edinburgh from 24-30 September. London’s Science Museum is also launching a season of exhibitions called Illuminating India from 27 September.