The best time to visit India is between October and March. Once the monsoon season has passed, the milder weather is perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Discover the best places to go in India this winter with our Big 15 must-dos.
1.See the wildlife
See animals native to India on a wildlife tour
or tiger safari. Some of the best national parks in India include Ranthambore National Park, Kaziranga and Gir. As well as the native Asiatic lion and Bengal tiger, look out for Indian elephant and one-horned Indian rhinoceros
2.Try street food
Much of the best food in India is found outside of the city’s hotels and restaurants. Head to the streets of Mumbai
to try delicious pav bhajis and other traditional Indian food or enjoy fresh parathas in Delhi’s Chandi Chowk
3.Visit a temple
It’s impossible to travel here without seeing some of India’s famous temples. With over two million temples in India, you’ll be stumbling over impressive monuments whichever region you visit. Marvel at the Meenakshi Temple
which stands on the banks of Madurai’s Vaigai River, or explore the four gates of Jagannath Temple in Pur
4.Spend a night on a house boat
Stay overnight on a Kerala houseboat
for a relaxed introduction to life on the backwaters. See paddy fields, village life and a myriad of birdlife from a traditional thatched houseboat as you slow down to the relaxed pace of southern India.
5.Walk or cycle through Rajasthani villages and meet the locals
Leave the chaotic streets behind and take to winding backstreets on foot or by bike to get closer to the communities that live within them. Cycle through remote Rajasthani villages
to get a close-up glimpse of daily life in this region. Or discover the hidden sights and lively street life of Agra and Jaipur on a walking tour
that takes in this region’s historic cities, remote villages, hills and deserts.
Visit Bodh Gaya
, the site of the enlightenment of Buddha, for an understanding of Buddhism. A place of pilgrimage, Bodh Gaya is the most holy place for Buddhists, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
7.Sail along the world’s most sacred river, the Ganges
Join a Ganges River cruise
to observe the unique daily rituals of the villages that flank this sacred river. Travel through the timeless landscapes of the Ganges by traditional sail boat and set up camp on the beaches of the river
– an unforgettable experience.
8.Try a traditional Indian curry
Try different Indian curries depending on the region you’re visiting. Biryani in Hyderabad; hot meat curries in Rajasthan or thukpa (a noodle soup) in Ladakh.
In southern India, mildly-spiced vegetarian and fish curries come fresh and wrapped in banana leaves.
9.Ride in a rickshaw
Travel like a native, and whizz through Kolkata
on a tuk-tuk, or pootle the streets of Old Delhi on a rickshaw
. More commonly powered by bicycle than pulled by man these days, traditional rickshaws can still be found in the cities of Delhi and Kolkata. For a more exhilarating ride, take to an auto-rickshaw or tuk-tuk.
10.Visit a festival
India's busy calendar of colourful events and festivals means that you’ll find colour and celebration whenever you visit. On the edge of the Thar Desert, Pushkar is most famous for its annual livestock fair, Pushkar camel fair
, where hundreds of thousands of people gather every November to trade camels, cattle and horses. Or visit Orissa in January when the annual Adivasi Mela
fair brings together people from most of the area’s 62 tribes.
11.Take a train ride
Rail journeys are synonymous with travel in India, and the country is world-renowned for the scale and efficiency of its rail operations. Take a sleeper train from Amritsar to Delhi on our Indian Rail Odyssey
, or see the Himalayan Foothills from the window of the Toy Train
12.Visit the majestic Taj Mahal at sunrise or sunset
The story of the Taj Mahal, built by emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favourite wife, is a romantic one and there is no more romantic time or light in which to see this monument of love than at sunrise or set. Arrive before or after the bulk of the day’s crowds, and see the Taj as it changes colour.
13.Relax by the coast
While not known for its beaches, India has plenty to offer – particularly on its west coast. The best beaches in India includethe palm-fringed sandy beaches of Goa
and the crescents of Kovalam
.. Alternatively, why not add an extension to your India trip and explore the sandy stretches of Sri Lanka or the Maldives?
Kolkata’s New Market
, the Johari Bazaar in Jaipur, the Antiques market in Kochi’s Jew Town
… wherever you go in India, the shopping opportunities are plentiful. As for what to buy in India – fabrics are a must. Rugs, silks, pashminas and shawls abound in vibrant colours and intricate patterns. Antiques, jewellery and of course spices are other sought-after souvenirs. Top tip: leave some space in your suitcase for your return (or take a spare!).
15.Live like a Maharaja (for the night
Some of India’s best hotels occupy historic forts andpalaces, preserved as they were as houses of Maharajas. Our Land of the Maharajas
trip through Rajasthan means staying in forts and palaces most nights, while the Tribes and Temples of Orissa
trip includes an aristocratic homestay with a current Maharaja.