"How do you even begin to describe a country like India? This is a land of mind boggling diversity, home to over a billion people speaking more than 100 different languages."
Touring in India
How do you even begin to describe a country like India? This is a land of mind boggling diversity, home to over a billion people speaking more than 100 different languages. Scratch the surface and you’ll find a society where a rigid caste system is still enforced and poverty is widespread, but seeing life in the raw is all part of the experience. India is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism - and spirituality is ever present; this has long been the destination of choice for those seeking to ‘find themselves’ in an incense-scented haze.
Delhi may be a chaotic introduction to India, but it’s also utterly enthralling, home to spectacular monuments such as the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutb Minar. The Golden Triangle, which links Delhi with Agra and Jaipur, is the most popular itinerary for first time visitors, but India’s patchwork of religions, cultures and landscapes offers so much variety that there really is something for everyone. The pace of life in the big cities can be a little overwhelming at times, but there are oases of meditative calm to be found if you head off the beaten track, from the lofty peaks of the Himalayas to the languid backwaters of Kerala. The simple truth is that once you’ve had your first taste of India, you’ll most likely want to return again and again.
Touring Highlights of India
- Without question India’s most instantly recognisable landmark, the Taj Mahal is even more beautiful than you imagined. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, this extraordinary edifice is a true work of art.
- A tour of Rajasthan features on the itinerary of most first time visitors to India, and the graceful pink-walled palaces of Jaipur, the colourful regional capital, are a real highlight.
- Take the time to see both New and Old Delhi and appreciate the many layers of history, from the soaring monuments of the Mughal emperors to the elegant British colonial architecture of the Raj.
- Head out on safari into the vast wildlife reserve of Ranthambhore National Park, the best place in Rajasthan to spot tigers in the wild.
- The southern state of Kerala is a world apart from the bustling north, and the lush tropical landscape is best appreciated from a houseboat cruise around the languid backwaters.
- Mumbai is perhaps India’s most compelling city, a cultural melting pot where Bollywood stars live side-by-side with slum dwellers. Marvel at the Gateway of India, dine at India’s best restaurants and witness the amazing spectacle of the outdoor laundry at Dhobi Ghat.
- The river Ganges is the lifeblood of north east India, and one of the Hindu faith’s holiest cities, Varanasi, sits on its banks. This intense, colourful city lives long in the memory, a place of pilgrimage and very public rites of birth, marriage and death.
- Up in the Himalayas, where the air is cooler and the mountain vistas are nothing short of spectacular, you’ll find some of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the world.
- The city of Amritsar, in the north western state of the Punjab, is home to the magnificent Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest site.
- India offers many options for a spot of relaxation after a busy touring itinerary, from the beaches of Goa to the little visited Andaman Islands, closer to Myanmar than they are to mainland India.