India is one of those nations that lures travellers year after year. It’s so vast and the experiences you can have are so diverse that, when planning trips here, it’s hard to know where to begin! For a little inspiration, read on to discover our top five Indian experiences.
Discover urban India
If you’re planning an India tour, you’ve got to make sure you hit at least one of the country’s urban areas. Since it’s the capital city, Delhi is a popular place to choose – and it’s particularly interesting thanks to the blend of Old Delhi (which was the capital of Islamic India) and New Delhi, created as the new seat of government by the British.
What will hit you first when you come here is the dizzying amount of traffic – people, cars and animals seem to be everywhere. Top things to do include visiting some of Old Delhi’s historic sites (like Jama Masjid, the country’s largest mosque), perusing the colourful bazaars and getting a taste of New Delhi in its modern cafes and restaurants.
Head out of the cities
While India might be famous for its urban buzz, there’s heaps to discover when you head out of the big cities. Unsurprisingly, given India’s size, there are a lot of places to choose from, depending on what exactly you want to see.
If you’re after a total contrast to the cities, try to spend some time in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. You can book camel rides here that’ll take you deep into this quiet expanse – and you can even camp under the stars.
Alternatively, head to Kerala and explore the famous Kuttanad backwaters by boat. The best way to do this is by converted rice barge, which are often luxuriously refurbished these days, meaning you can float past rice fields and lagoons in comfort.
Of course, India’s a very spiritual country and it’d be a shame to visit without experiencing this side of it. There are a number of ways you can do so, such as by getting Ayurvedic treatments. This is a traditional form of Indian medicine, and you can indulge in things like massages that are meant to be good for both the body and mind.
Alternatively, head to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand and see Ganga Aarti – praises sung to the River Ganges – performed in the evening.
Visit the Taj Mahal
Another thing that’s got to be on your to-do list is seeing one of India’s famous buildings – and there’s none better known, or more beautiful, than the Taj Mahal (which you’ll find in Agra). It’s an image most of us are familiar with, since it’s one of the world’s most prized buildings. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it dates back to the 16th century, when it was created by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Go wildlife spotting
It’s hard to think of India without images of exotic animals, such as tigers and elephants, springing to mind. So, while you’re travelling, one of the best experiences to have is to see these creatures living in the wild. The country is home to lots of conservation areas, including Ranthambore National Park, which is regarded as the best place to see tigers in the wild.
To spot the rare Asiatic lion, you’ll need to head to Sasan Gir National Park in Gujarat. This is actually the only place left where you can see them in the wild, so doing so is a pretty incredible experience.