A journey to India leaves lasting impressions of an ancient land populated by an eclectic people whose rich history and traditions are still ingrained in daily life.
Northern India is dominated by the state of Rajasthan, which means Land of the Rajas (or Kings) and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions in India. The magnificent palaces are simply breathtaking, while the impressive forts evoke vivid images of medieval India.
India’s Golden Triangle that takes in Delhi, the ‘pink city ‘of Jaipur with its palaces and bustling markets, and Agra, home to the world’s most extravagant monument to love (the Taj Mahal) is a favorite amongst foreign travelers. Whilst a little further afield is Udaipur, often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’ and one of the most romantic cities in India.
The southern slice of the Indian subcontinent is equally as magical as the north. The further south you journey, the more you can expect a tropical, laid-back flavour to the landscape and its inhabitants. From the energy of Mumbai – home to the largest movie industry in the world – to the former Portuguese colony of Goa, with its golden beaches and delicious Indian-Portuguese fusion cuisine, southern India is a hugely rewarding destination.
The Himalayas rise through peaks and valleys of incomparable beauty, to some of the loftiest summits in the world. Nestled amongst the foothills, the subtropical valleys, alpine meadows and forested hills provide exceptional terrain for walking, fishing and birdwatching. The hill stations of Shimla and Darjeeling recall the days of the British Raj, while further west is the sparsely populated region of Ladakh, a Buddhist stronghold locally known as ‘the last Shangri-La’. Throughout India Mughal monuments, elaborate Hindu temples and imposing colonial architecture contrast with a rural patchwork of villages and towns making this an inspiring and unique country to explore.
Places To Visit
Delhi is a magical city, capital of the largest democracy in the world and with a history that stretches back thousands of years to the time when Hinduism was first founded. Split into New Delhi and Old Delhi, the city is crowded with people, markets and sacred cows, which wander the roads unperturbed. The vast Red Fort and the Jama Masjid Mosque (one of the largest in India) remain central to the city’s old structure and are a wonderful introduction to the vast architectural splendours in northern India. It is a fast-changing city, suffused with the aroma of spices and packed full of historic sights – one of those places that everybody should visit at least once in a lifetime.
Less than two hours flight from Delhi is the holy city of Varanasi that lies along the banks of the sacred river Ganges. Peacefully absorb the daily lives of the Varanasi people and experience the spiritual atmosphere filled with the scent of sandalwood and incense, from the gentle movements of a river boat.
The colourful desert state of Rajasthan shows its mighty Mughal influence in its architetural array of achievements that convey the historic wealth and power of the region. The ‘pink city’ of Jaipur is capital of Rajasthan, a fascinating city of medieval forts and palaces. At the city’s heart lies the City Palace, now a museum of woven costumes, weaponry and vintage vehicles, whilst only a short stroll away you will find the Palace of the Winds and the Jantar Mantar observatory. Just outside of Jaipur don’t miss a visit to the impressive 17th century hilltop Amber Fort, home to the richly decorated Maharaja’s apartments.
One of the world’s most recognised monuments to love is the Taj Mahal in Agra. Inlaid with black marble and semi precious stones it is an amazing sight at any time of the day. Agra is home to three World Heritage sights, including the Agra Fort and the ruins of Fatehpur Sikri, once Emperor Akbar’s former capital which can be reached en route from Agra to Jaipur.
The highly impressive city of Udaipur, which is set at the southern end of the Aravelli Hills is home to the world famous and magical Lake Palace, on Lake Pichola, that appears to float on water. The city which is still ruled by a much respected Maharaja has much to offer those keen to test their haggling skills at the city’s many market stalls, or as a place to unwind at the sides of the lake.
Along the banks of the Betwa River, set in a forest is the sleepy 16th century town of Orchha, four hours drive from Khajuraho and can easily be explored on foot. It is definately worth visiting the elegant Lakshmi Narayan Temple, walking long the remparts of the Jehangir Mahal Fort Palace or watching the sun set behind the pink and gold Ram Raja Temple.
The vast fort of Gwalior gives some of the most impressive views across the Indian countryside. Although it dates back to the 8th century, much of the fort was constructed in the 15th century and this is evident in its architectural variations that were influenced by the Tomars, Lodhis of Delhi, Mughals and Marathas.
From the flat expanses of the Thar Desert rises the golden city of Jaisalmer. Within the thick walls of the fort you will find a maze of narrow streets lined with elaborately carved havelis and revealing a way of life that has remained unchanged for years. Go outside of the city for a camel ride under the desert stars – an impossibly romantic experience.
Local Weather & Useful Info
English, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, Punjabi and Pahari
Best combined with
Indira Gandhi International Airport
Malaria, hepatitis, typhoid
Taj Lake Palace
The Oberoi Amarvilas
Bandhavgarh National Park