Domestic tourism involves millions of travelers. As many as twelve million people visit the Ganges River to purify themselves in its waters.
It is difficult for a Westerner to realize the desperate poverty of the average Indian. Per capita income averages about $190 a year. (The U.S. figure is over $11,000.) Seventy percent of India’s vast population lives and works in some 421,000 villages not connected by good roads. According to one study, 60 percent of rural transport of goods and passengers depends solely on bullock carts. The people are too poor to improve the carts with such items as ball bearings, brakes, or shock absorbers.
When the British governed India they wisely took to the hills during the periods of extreme heat, and the hill stations are still favorite destinations for Indians and visitors alike. Trekking and climbing are favorite hill and mountain country experiences. Some say that there is no quarter of the globe that can compete in beauty with the âœRoof-of-the-Worldâ quality of places like Kashmir and Ladakh, which lie alongside Tibet and China in the north. A fourteen-thousand-foot-high pass must be crossed to reach the more hospitable valleys.
Wild animal hunting by camera is another reason for visiting parts of India. The Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary has its buffalo, elephants, and tigers. It also has the onehorned rhino, which is rapidly disappearing because the horn is believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. About the only way it is seen is from an elephant’s back; the sixteen-foot-tall elephant grass makes other locomotion virtually impossible. Also the rhinos have a reputation for their tempers. In Northern Uttar Pradesh, the Lake District of the Krimaon Hills, is Corbett National Park. It extends over some 125 square miles and is home for a variety of wild animals including elephants, tigers, leopards, and black bear. The Ganges has its origin in this high region. Fish are quite tame here because they are regarded as sacred.
India is said to be a paradise for the railway enthusiast. The British started an extensive rail system which has some sixty-three thousand miles of track. Unfortunately there are four separate railway gauges which necessitate trans-shipments and different sets of equipment. The major cities are linked by âœmailâ trains, normally faster than the others. There are special expresses. The one from Bombay to Delhi covers the distance in five hours.