Where to go in India
India is so fast it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start and where to stop once you’ve started! Of course, one obvious place would be the iconic Golden Triangle: a journey that takes in Delhi, India’s capital city; the Iconic Taj Mahal, her white marble shimmering in the early sunrise; and Jaipur, famed for its magnificent City Palace and bustling bazaars. The Golden Triangle is also the gateway to Rajasthan with its open-air art galleries, forts, step-wells, wildlife, colorful villages, and famed cities such as Jodhpur and Udaipur.
Head to the lower Himalayas for wonderful trekking, rafting, villages, extraordinary mountain views, and hill stations. Central India offers the opportunity to venture out on safari in search of the majestic Bengal tiger or leopard, an unforgettable experience.Read More
Best places to go in India
Our guide to India’s principal destinations is below. You’ll find there’s a lot to see and a great deal of variety on offer! Please speak to our specialists if you’d like more information on any of these locations.
The Golden Triangle
Jaipur, the first city of Rajasthan, is a fascinating juxtaposition of forts and palaces. Visit the Amer Fort, where you can lose yourself for half a day. Imagine the opulence of a life gone by as you explore the City Palace with rare photographs. Jaipur is a shopper’s paradise and a walking tour through the streets of the old city.
Start and end this trip in Delhi, India’s capital. Old Delhi has one of the largest mosques in Asia, chaotic streets, and an excellent spice market; and New Delhi, the much less crowded former British capital designed by Lutyens.
Vast deserts are interspersed with domed chhatris, ancient step wells, flashes of brilliant color from the saris of the women, and the turbans of the men, as they navigate life in this harsh terrain, yet magnificent terrain.
Rajasthan also has extraordinary wildlife, including tigers in Ranthambore and Sariska and the leopards of Jalandhar and Jawai, regions where safaris are not restricted by the closure of the parks, making them possible all year round. But it’s in the more rural and offbeat destinations where one can visit the villages: a different world entirely from the cities but an authentic India that is as humbling as inspiring.
Kerala’s central city, Cochin, is famous for its Chinese fishing nets and the Old Fort, where you can lose yourself in cafes, art galleries, and antique shops. Take a houseboat trip on the unique backwaters; we recommend a more leisurely two-night cruise stopping off at little villages along the way and meeting people with the warmest smiles you’ll find in all of India.
In the hills, you’ll find old British hill stations and tea plantations. A trip to Periyar is to venture into a world of sultry spices and wildlife, elephants, otters, and perhaps even a tiger. A fantastic way to end a trip to Kerala is to relax on one of its beaches, Marari or Neeleswaram, where waves lap against the shore, accompanied by beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the occasional dolphin playing in the waves.
Central India's National Parks
Imagine early morning at park gates where 4×4 jeeps gather, and the people in them share an air of expectation. Once in the park, you are immersed in the sounds of the jungle; the sun rises, dispersing the morning mist and revealing the deer and monkeys, all watchful and alert for a tiger or a leopard slinking through the jungle. Look out for jackal and wild dogs, always on the prowl, or the occasional foraging sloth bear, possibly with its cubs on its back.
Evenings are spent around campfires discussing the day’s sightings. Here, no one minds an early night, with the promise of heading out again into the wild the following morning.
Each city within India has its own distinct style, character, food, and culture. Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world; stroll along the ghats, take a boat ride on the Ganges and witness people lost in prayer and ancient puja ceremonies that haven’t changed through millennia. Lucknow is a city of fine culture, fine craft, and the finest cuisine, a food tour here is a must, the chikan kari embroidery work is beautiful, and the Bara Imambara is the only structure of its kind in the world. The Residency, the site of the first Indian Uprising in 1857, still has cannon shot dents in its walls.
Khajuraho is famous for its erotic temples but look beyond that to the exquisite craftsmanship and incredible architecture, both extraordinary feats for their time. Close by is Panna National Park making this a great place to combine culture with a safari. The Gwalior Fort and the Scindia Palace Museum showcase the extraordinary wealth and quirks of the former royal family. In the early 1890s, the Maharaja not only built a private railway in the palace grounds but also had a solid silver train built specifically to take the condiments around his dining table!
The Western Foothills, Uttarakhand & Himachal Pradesh
Uttarakhand has always been known for its more spiritual destinations of Rishikesh and Haridwar, and a visit here to experience intense spirituality, and yoga, see the Beatles Ashram, and witness the evening aarti is a must. Beyond that are mountains, picturesque villages, wild rivers, and rich and varied wildlife in the national parks of Corbett and Rajaji, all of which combine to make it an excellent adventure destination.
Take a ride up into the hills on the toy train, and you’ll see why the British chose Simla in Himachal Pradesh, with its spectacular snowy peaks and plunging river valleys, as their summer capital. It has now become a busy city, but the outlying areas show what it must have once been like. Manali, the gateway to Ladakh, the highest state in India, is a magnet for backpackers lured by chilled-out vibes and mountain beauty. Head to the Dalai Lama’s home-away-from-home, McLeod Ganj, with its Tibetan Buddhist influence, and you might wonder whether you’ve inadvertently stumbled into Tibet!
Calcutta, Darjeeling & North East
Bengal, considered India’s cultural center, has produced countless authors, poets, artists, and filmmakers. It is easy to be captivated by Calcutta, the former capital of British India, with its crumbling colonial architecture, fascinating history, hand-pulled rickshaws, centuries-old markets, and leisurely sunset boat rides on the Hooghly River.
The champagne of Darjeeling, also known as tea, made this hill station famous, and its lower slopes are blanketed with emerald-green bushes. In colonial times it was the favored summer retreat of the East India Company, and this faded colonial elegance, and spectacular mountain views, particularly in winter.
India’s far northeast states are known as the seven sisters, the most famous of which is Assam. It has a culture made up of countless tribes, Tibetan as well as British influences, a rich heritage of art and craft, and unique wildlife with heart-warming conservation stories.
Karnataka & Tamil Nadu
Karnataka has Hampi’s UNESCO World Heritage site, fantastic wildlife in Nagarhole National Park, timeless temples, and its beaches are virtually untouched. In the cool highlands of Kodagu (Coorg), the lush coffee and spice plantations provide spectacular scenery and beautiful treks along paths trampled by migrating elephants. The Royal City of Mysore has a stunning palace and an internationally renowned yoga center.
Tamil Nadu is the temple state of India. You will witness single-minded devotion and wonderfully rich culture in whichever temple you visit, some of which are mini-cities in themselves. Historic Pondicherry, a former French enclave, is fascinating. Mahabalipuram, famed for its stone sculptures, is where you can combine the UNESCO sites with time on the beach.
Western India Mumbai & Goa
As a former Portuguese colony, the tiny state of Goa retains a different character from the rest of India. Beaches are interspersed with attractive villages and charming small towns. The old capital Fontainhas has brightly colored houses, whitewashed churches, and palm-lined plazas. Goa is also a hot spot for the Indian party set, with a dizzying choice of bars and restaurants. However, Goa is also developing as a soft adventure and birding destination.
North and south Goa have totally different atmospheres. The northern resorts offer a taste of the bohemian lifestyle, complete with weekly flea markets, while the southern shores provide peace and privacy in larger, resort-style hotels. Mumbai has a frenetic energy, but the city’s heart contains incredible colonial-era and art deco architecture. Explore more and uncover unique bazaars, hidden temples, hipster enclaves, and India’s premier restaurants and nightlife.
Brahmaputra and Ganges Rivers
India’s largest rivers hold great importance to the country as both an economic lifeline and a spiritual aura. The Ganges is India’s longest river and is revered as a goddess whose purity cleanses the sins of the faithful. The Brahmaputra is the only river in India with a male name. The origin of the Brahmaputra River is the home of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Therefore, as with the Ganges, the lands and towns along the Brahmaputra River have mythological importance.
However, the life on the banks of these rivers also makes a journey down either extraordinary. For the Brahmaputra: this is wildlife and tea gardens, tiny villages, country towns, and a diverse variety of ethnicities and cultures along its course. For the Ganges: holy cities and culturally significant towns with palaces and temples surrounded by lush countryside.
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