Glittering palaces and temples, snow-capped hill stations, exquisite forts, fabulous wildlife, and an intoxicating mix of vivid colour, aromas and landscapes assault the senses in India - probably the most enigmatic and life-affirming place on the planet. From the icy peaks of the Himalayas to the lush greenery of Kerala, a holiday here intrigues with an intense fusion of religious sites, verdant backwaters, timeless customs, vibrant street markets, rich regional cuisine, and exceptionally friendly people.
There are fewer places more culturally engaging than India, a country that defies definition and fires the imagination with shimmering palaces, lush tea plantations, colourful Hindu festivals, the mighty Himalayas, and ancient and modern architectural marvels that never cease to amaze.
Head north for the Himalayas to enjoy an up-close encounter with the elusive snow leopard, majestic views and some of the best hiking on the planet. Another northern highlight is visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar, along with the spectacular closing ceremony at the Wagah Border. For cultural splendour in the desert-state of Rajasthan, travel the Golden Triangle. Here you can explore the Red Fort and Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, be wowed by the glistening Taj Mahal in Agra, and see the rose-hued façade of Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) in the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. More northern highlights include sailing past Hindu pilgrims bathing on Varanasi’s ghat steps at the holy River Ganges and seeing the 21 exquisite stone-carved temples at Khajuraho.
Rajasthan is the India that most imagine, complete with camels sauntering through the desert, majestic palaces, and women dressed in colourful saris. Here you can experience rural India at its best staying at majestic old forts like Deogarh Mahal maybe even meeting the Royal Family! You can visit the amazing Mehrangarh Fort in the blue city of Jodhpur and marvel at the sunset views of the Lake Palace and Aravali Mountains in the city of Lakes, Udaipur.
More adventure awaits in central India, home to the Vindhya mountain range and five superb tiger reserves. Hit the colourful markets in India’s commercial hub of Mumbai, wonder in amazement around Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, and stake out around one hundred tigers and much more at Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks - ranked as India's best wildlife reserves.
Journey south for miles upon miles of lush tea plantations and sublime hill stations. Marvel at floating houseboats as you cruise the idyllic backwaters that meander through Kerala, relax at three crescent beaches at Kovalam, and explore the fortified city of Cochin. Also trip-worthy is Periyar National Park for wildlife, Madurai for the surrealist-looking Meneekshi Temple, Tamil Nadu for yet more temples, and Chennai for enlightening artistic and religious traditions.
Only after stepping foot in India will you realise that Indian cuisine, as you know it, just doesn’t exist. To paint both the delicate and punchy flavours of India with the same broad brushstroke overlooks the smorgasbord of dishes on offer from north to south. Tried and tested recipes balance coriander, cumin and cardamom with almost scientific precision, guaranteeing a culinary experience you will never forget.
India is a magical country which welcomes travellers with a chaotic and colourful assault on the senses. Never is this more prominent than during one of the many festivals. Below we have listed the dates for the major festivals in India in 2017. Speak to one of our specialists about incorporating one of these into a tailor-made itinerary.