India’s diversity is staggering - a true visual treat, alive with colour, charm and culture. Where modern high-rise buildings tower over low-level slums, cool hill stations offer respite from steamy backwaters, cities buckle under the weight of the human population compared with simple village life of tapping toddy, ploughing seed and tilling soil. India is an explosion on the senses. Here are just a few reasons for exploring India...
India’s festivals are world-renowned, why not try and include one on your holiday – Pushkar Camel Fair is held each year in November, coinciding with the full moon, the fair attracts up to 300,000 people. Camel, cattle and horses are still traded in their thousands and the fair is also home to countless craft stands. Holi Festival of Colours in February or March is one of India’s most chaotic, colourful and fun festivals involving huge amounts of paint powder being thrown all over town in street parties. Diwali or the Festival of Lights takes place in November, marking the end of the harvest; lamps, torches and fireworks light the night sky in order to help Rama find his way home – the best places to visit during this time are Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi and Jaipur.
The landscapes found in India are massively diverse; there are a number of scenic colonial hill stations used by the British with rolling green hills, lakes, snow-capped mountains and tea plantations. Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is the starting point to explore the great Thar Desert, where you can enjoy a camel safari, sleep under the stars and visit local tribal villages. Kerala’s calms backwaters and canals are the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere. Or why not unwind on one of Goa’s many beaches.
The accommodation in India is as varied as it can get. You can chose from a traditional haveli – a converted private house usually set around a courtyard, or an ornate maharajah’s palace with an indulgent four-poster bed; float on wooden house boats in Kerala and Kashmir or overnight on a luxury, heritage train with typical Rajput décor; camp under the stars in the desert or stay in a modern and contemporary hotel in Mumbai. Contact our tailor-made regional specialists to find the perfect nights’ sleep for you.
India’s spiritual sites are huge in numbers with Hinduism being the country’s main religion, gaudy temples dedicated to the many gods can be found all over the country. Daramsala is home to the exiled Dalai Lama, while Bodghaya is where Buddha found enlightenment and further south, near Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora caves offer 2000 year-old Buddhist paintings in the rock-hewn shrines. The holiest of all Sikh shrines can be found in Amritsar where the granthis read from the Holy Book from dawn until late evening. Goa has many Catholic churches and cathedrals built during the Portuguese rule. Islamic design can be found at mosques dotted around India, the most famous and largest being Jama Masjid in Delhi. It is possible to include a stay at an ashram, a spiritual haven where a typical day is based around meditation and yoga.
One of the most famous heritage sites in India is undoubtedly the Taj Mahal but the country is littered with fine examples of historical and colonial architecture. Ranthambore and Orcha in the north have a number of great forts and palaces that cannot be missed; Calcutta and Mumbai have many British built monuments and public buildings, while Hampi, Mysore and Chennai in the south have beautifully engraved temples well worth visiting.
India is one of the best places in the world to see the endangered Bengal tiger. Ranthambore National Park is one of the finest tiger reserves in the country, but also worth a visit are Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks, home to a huge number of bird species, sambar deer, crocodiles, sloth bear, leopard, wild boar, wild dogs and much more.