Watch our video to see why our specialists love Rajasthan...
India is an intriguing yet overwhelming place. It is a melting pot of several religions, several hundred languages, and several million people. Due to its staggering size, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip there. Luckily a helping hand isn’t far away. We’ve stripped India back to basics, compiling a list of India’s highlights and more importantly, how, where and when to see them. Exploring the nooks and crannies of its cities, discovering its ancient charm, experiencing its age old rituals, and falling under the spell of India’s irrepressible charm makes for an adventure you will never forget.
From the glittering Golden Triangle and the romance of Rajasthan, to the enchanting backwaters of Kerala, the incredible wildlife of its national parks and spectacular Himalayan landscapes, India is brimming with unique experiences and accommodation options, just waiting to be discovered.
The Golden Triangle
Thoughts of India conjure up images of glittering temples, chaotic cities and a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours and the Golden Triangle has them all. Starting in the buzzing city of Delhi, navigating its bustling streets, dipping and diving between taxis and trucks, livestock and locals for the perfect introduction to India, in all its colourful, chaotic glory. Travel southbound to India's most revered showstopper attraction, the Taj Mahal in Agra and witness it twinkle at first light before rounding up the trip in the state of Rajasthan, in the pink city of Jaipur. Golden by name and nature, the Golden Triangle is a perfect way to scratch the surface of the sheer magnificence of India.
Rajsathan is considered India’s most romantic state. A dusty sandscape of palaces, forts and desert, interspersed with the pastel pinks, blues and various golden hues of Jaipur and Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. This is the land of the Kings, it is shaped by a regal past, steeped in the legacy of warriors and emperors and at every corner you are reminded of its spectacular heritage. Taking up almost a quarter of its footprint are gardens and palaces, elsewhere in its vibrant cities, you’ll find old bazaars, an emporium of street eats, lavish architecture and much, much more.
Kerala is a serene escape from the hustle and bustle that India is so renowned for. Drift along the backwaters of Alleppey on a houseboat, ogle at the swathes of rice paddy clad hills, visit local temples, and marvel at the vast array of plant and animal life which thrive in this verdant landscape. The cities of Pondicherry and Cochin are an eternal reminder of the colonial era, elegant French buildings rub shoulders with brilliantly adorned temples and street names hark back to the age old influences of Europe. Tuck into a croissant as you roam the elegant streets of ‘Pondy’ or witness fishermen jostle for business by the gargantuan Chinese fishing nets of Cochin.
The national parks of India are famed for harbouring the majority of the world’s tiger population. The revered Ranthambore is a playground for the big cats and by spending a couple of days exploring the park, you are likely to see the majestic tiger on the prowl. Further south in Madhya Pradesh, the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is one of India’s most prolific parks and tigers can be spotted roaming between Sal trees. Also located in Madhya Pradesh are Pench National Park and Kanha Tiger Reserve, both of which are home to the elusive Bengal Tiger and a host of other flora and fauna. The little known Satpura Tiger Reserve in the central highlands is one of India’s best kept secrets. The striking terrain of the park with its towering peaks and plunging ravines, is the perfect backdrop for an off the beaten track tiger safari.
Himalayas and the Foothills
Within a day, you can leave behind the hubbub of India’s thronging cities and arrive in the tranquillity of the Himalayan foothills. The snow-capped peaks of the mountains are the spectacular backdrop to historic hill stations, world class hiking trails and the spongey slopes of endless rice paddies. Witness an aarti ceremony on the banks of the River Ganges, visit Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama, wander the temples and ashrams of Rishikesh or marvel at the Golden Temple in Amritsar to soak up the spiritualism of the region.
Getting under the skin of India makes for a truly unforgettable adventure. Immersing yourself in its big, bold and beautiful culture by meeting its people and encountering their customs allows you to experience the true essence of the country and take home memories that will last a lifetime. Take a walk with a local tribe in the Aravalli foothills, cook with a local family, learn the ancient tradition of Koftgari or soak up the regal history of Rajasthan with dinner in a 6th century stepwell.
Homestays and Havelis
Become fully ensconced in daily life by staying at a homestay or a haveli during a trip to India. There are few better ways to really understand the nuances of Indian culture than being welcomed into a family home, eating delicious local cuisine and exploring a world off the beaten track. Furnished with cosy touches, homestays are the perfect home-away-from-home, offering an authentic insight into real India. We've handpicked a few of our favourite properties across the country for an authentic stay in India.