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.
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.
With millions of passengers on the move every day, travelling on some 71,000 miles of track, India's intricate network of railways are the arteries of the country, connecting its bustling cities with its sleepy villages and everywhere in between. The sprawling rail network reaches the nooks and crannies of India which are otherwise impossible to find. Amongst the country's miles of train tracks are some of the most picturesque rail journeys in the world, most notable of which are its famed toy trains. Whilst perhaps not the most efficient way of getting from A to B, the experience is an absolute must to add to your India itinerary.
Enjoy a sneak peek into daily life in India by staying at a haveli or in a homestay. If only for a few nights, you will be shoehorned into a family, enjoying traditional Indian hospitality, sampling home cooked food and exploring the path less travelled. Staying at one of these unique lodgings will give you an incredible insight into real India, and you will be welcomed with open arms by hosts whose wealth of local knowledge knows no bounds. Coming in all shapes and sizes, from plantation bungalows to historic houses, majestic forts and charming cottages, a short stay in one of these unique properties allows you to immerse yourself in India rather than simply visit it.
Discover a completely different pace of life in the Western Himalayas. Explore the holy city of Amritsar and its spectacular Golden Temple, before loosing yourself in the charming hill stations that dot the landscape of verdant valleys and snow-capped peaks. Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism all have a strong presence in the region, forging numerous festivals, monasteries and ceremonies to uncover.
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Begin with a visit to Amritsar and the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine in India. It is famed for its glistening, indulgent exterior however, the real treat is the heart-warming welcome you receive exploring the interior of this working temple.
Venture further into the Himalayan mountains to visit the historic hill town of Shimla. The terrain of Shimla is hilly and covered by dense green forests, spilling over the steep slopes of a 12km ridge and situated about 2200m above sea level, it offers a refreshingly cool climate. Located in the town’s centre, The Mall offers a great variety of shops, bars and restaurants, as well as the famous Gaiety Theatre. No visit to Shimla would be complete without visiting Jakhu Temple, the most famous temple in the region and dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The temple sits on top of Jakhu Hill – Shimla’s highest peak – and as such offers some excellent views of the surrounding mountains.
Further North, Dharamsala is built along a spur of the Dhaula Dhar range, and boasts a glorious mountainous backdrop. Upper Dharamsala, or McLeodganj, is the headquarters of the Dalai Lama, who often leads the prayers when he is in the residence. Thousands of Tibetans have made McLeodganj their temporary home, and therefore the town has a strong Tibetan influence, with monks in deep red a common sight.
Our Asia specialist Cherylle has travelled extensively in India, but until recently, the Himalayan kingdom in the north of the country was an enigma to her – a magical land she had heard so much about, but not yet had the chance to visit. We decided to put this right and send her off on an exploration to this wonderful part of the country. Here she tells us all about it.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Did you know?
The Himalayas continue to move microscopic amounts each year as they move towards Asia.
Did you know?
The name Himalaya means home or abode of snow, it is the combination of two Sanskrit words "hima" meaning snow and "alaya" meaning abode.