A TASTE OF THE EXOTIC
Alive with colours, smells, sights and sounds, people and activity at every turn, the energy here is palpable. India holidays offer something for everyone, whether natural, spiritual, cultural or historical but it is the people you meet along the way that make any trip to India unforgettable.
From the world’s highest mountain range to the arid desert, jungles teeming with wildlife to idyllic beaches, the landscapes here are as varied as they are unique. While the culture dates back to prehistoric times it somehow remains current.
Ancient and modern culture is so intertwined that India possesses a living history, evident in the day to day lives of its people. And despite the diverse languages, cultures and backgrounds as you traverse this great land, it seems as if the locals all share a common bond of friendliness, curiosity and candour.
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Delhi has many different faces, from the chaos and colour of Old Delhi to the colonial charm and greenery of New Delhi. Tackling the busy streets by rickshaw is a thrilling introduction to the city. Visit the regal Red Fort, Jama Masjid, and Humayun's Tomb before retiring to the opulence of one of the heritage hotels. Delhi is also a fabulous place to eat in India. Join in a local feast, or enjoy Moghul-inspired delights in lavish surroundings.
Agra is the gateway to the Taj Mahal, the famous monument to love. Described by some as the most beautiful building in the world, the elegant white marble glows most radiantly at dawn or dusk. Built as a memorial for his third wife, Shah Jahan was overthrown soon after its completion and spent the rest of his days gazing upon his creation from the red sandstone Agra Fort nearby.
Ranthambore National Park
One of India's most famous parks, Ranthambore is home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger as well as Sambar Deer, antelope, jackal, honey Badger, wild boar, Indian Python and elusive leopards and caracals. The wild jungle is backed by rocky outcrops and a 10th Century fort lies at its heart.
The gateway to Rajasthan bustles with excitement and the Pink City glows with its signature hue. The renowned bazaars are filled with silks, leather, jewellery and bangles, while the architecture displays an exotic mix of Rajput and British design. Discover Jaipur's extravagant royal history at the City Palace, the celebrated Palace of the Winds and the dramatic Amber Fort, or perhaps during a stay in the lavish Rambagh Palace.
Jodhpur is known as the Blue City for the vibrant blue-painted houses. Jodhpur's lively bazaar is one of India's best and the imposing Mehrangarh Fort affords panoramic views over the city. This teeming desert city has a fascinating history and is one of Rajasthan's finest.
With its stunning lake framed by rugged desert hills, this shimmering whitewashed city of narrow lanes is brimming with colourful shops and markets, perfect for endless discovery. Stately palaces and the greatest royal abodes fill the streets alongside wondrous temples, and the Lake Palace seems to float on glimmering Lake Pichola.
The temples at Khajuraho showcase some of the finest temple art in India, most famously their erotic sculptures. Built around 1000 years ago, they are dedicated to both Hinduism and Jainism but fell into neglect during the many Muslim dynasties. It is reported they were secretly used throughout those years by local Hindus and were brought to international attention once more in the 1830s.
Amidst the crowds and the chaos of Varanasi, lies one of the most spiritual cities in India. Built along The Holy River Ganges, most of the activity takes place at the ghats – large steps leading down to the river. Here you'll find the devout washing away their sins, women doing laundry, kids playing cricket and ritual cleansing and cremations.
Dive into the clamour of India's most cosmopolitan and multicultural city. Mumbai pulsates with its own rhythms and style, with bustling streets and markets and sparkling skyscrapers alongside ramshackle street stalls. See the iconic dhaba wallahs then wander the evening food stalls at Chowpatty Beach. For centuries, both Indians and foreign settlers have stamped their style on this tantalising city.
Best known for the grand Mysore Palace, the official residence of the Wodeyars that ruled for nearly six centuries. The busy and colourful Devaraja Market sells flowers, food, spices and brightly-coloured pigments making it a feast for all the senses.
Under French rule until the middle of the 20th century, the French quarter in Pondicherry is filled with European mansions draped with greenery, quiet cobbled lanes, courtyard cafes serving fusion cuisine and trendy shops selling boho-chic clothes and carefully curated antiques. The ashram of Sri Aurobindo is central to the city, spiritually if not geographically, and the experimental township of Auroville nearby is an offshoot.
The cultural heart of Tamil Nadu, most visitors come to see the Meenakshi Amman Temple. This hectare complex hosts 12 gopurams that are covered in intricately-carved brightly-painted gods, goddesses, demons and heroes. Madurai is one of India's oldest cities and its cultural heritage is central to the history of Tamil Nadu.
Cochin is an intoxicating mix of Syrian, Jewish, Dutch, Portuguese and Indian influences. Once the centre of the Indian spice trade, the melting pot of cultures here has left Chinese fishing nets, a 400-year-old synagogue, remnants of the British Raj and a fascinating culinary tradition. A centre for Keralan arts, take the time to see a Kathakali show.
Kumarakom & the backwaters
Tropical Kumarakom languishes on India's largest freshwater lake, Vembanad Lake. Lush plant, fish and bird life burst from the fertile landscape and a bird sanctuary attracts migratory species. Indulge in Southern Indian cuisine featuring the freshest local seafood. A houseboat ride through Kerala's charming backwaters, a maze of tropical waterways, is a peaceful way to spend a day or two.
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See the Taj Mahal at dawn
With fewer tourists and the most magnificent colours, dawn sees the sublime Taj Mahal emerge from the darkness.
Spot an elusive Bengal Tiger
A safari in one of India’s rugged national parks reveals exciting wildlife and the possibility of sighting an elusive Bengal Tiger.
Stay in a heritage hotel
Staying in heritage accommodation, you can become a part of India’s living history whether you choose a maharaja’s palace or a country-style guesthouse, backwater bungalow or colonial tea estate.
Heritage walk in Cochin
With history around every turn, this ancient spice trading town is a melting pot of cultures including Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and Indian. Discover historic buildings telling the story of this diverse town on a walking tour to get amongst the city and its people.
Discover the cuisine
Whether learning family recipes on the rooftop terrace of a Rajasthani palace or wandering through the food markets of Old Delhi, the cuisine of India is as delicious as it is varied.
A rickshaw ride through Old Delhi
Hurtling through the bustling streets of Delhi by rickshaw is a sure-fire way to get amongst the action like a local.
Watch pilgrims bathing in The Ganges in Varanasi
Watching pilgrims bathe in The Holy Ganges is a magical sight, especially at dawn when the light is soft and the thronging crowds have not yet arrived.
Visit a traditional milk market in Jaipur
Watch turbaned farmers and buyers banter over the quality and value of this Indian staple.
Temple towns in Tamil Nadu
Explore the ancient and riotously colourful temple towns of Tamil Nadu in India's tropical south.
An overnight cruise on the backwaters at Kerala
Let all your worries float away when you spend the night cruising on the tranquil waterways of the Kerala backwaters. Pass local children playing by the banks surrounded by tropical gardens and soaring birds, for an idyllic escape.
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