INDIA

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An intoxicating medley of colors and cultures, art and architecture, languages and landscapes, wherever you go in India and whatever you want to experience, a journey here is guaranteed to leave an indelible mark on you.

Its remarkable size and diversity means there is a vast range of experiences to choose from - journeys to suit everyone. Travelling with the family provides a cultural, fun-filled break for children; watch their faces light up at colorful festivals, or atop a magnificent elephant. If it's a special break for you and a loved one on your honeymoon, treat yourself to the most luxurious and romantic hotels in the world and stir the soul at India's many spiritual sights, like pink-tinged Jaipur at dusk.

Wildlife-lovers are catered for in abundance; drift up the dreamy bird-filled backwaters of Kerala on your private houseboat, or glimpse rare Bengal tigers on an exciting jungle safari. For those seeking a relaxed pace, the white-sand beaches of Goa, with hammocks strung between swaying coconut trees, offer total tranquillity, or simply rejuvenate at the spa and learn more of the healing qualities of an Ayurvedic herbal massage.

There is a dazzling array of experiences in India to choose from and a unique itinerary for every inquisitive traveler.

Ladakh

Surrounded by spectacular mountains is this Buddhist kingdom. The Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, whitewashed stupas and meditation mani walls with mantras engraved on it, dots the rocky region. The fluttering prayer flags add colour to the valley and spread their spiritual messages.

Ladakh’s remarkably well-balanced traditional society has much to teach the West in terms of ecological awareness. While most Ladakhis are are not financially well off, their mud-brick homes are large, comfortable and self-sufficient. Be it fuel and dairy products, organic vegetables and barley used to make tsampa (roasted barley flour) and chhang (barley booze) they have it all. Such self-sufficiency is an incredible achievement given the very limited water supply.

Ladakh is walled by the majestic himalayas. This makes for picturesque landscapes. But road access requires crossing high passes which is not always accessible, subject to snowfall.

Dharamshala

Dharamsala in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range. Oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill station and it is possible to trek to snow point with an early morning’s start.

In 1905, tragedy struck Dharamsala when an earthquake levelled it completely. After its reconstruction, Dharamshala flourished as a quiet hill destination.

Since 1960, when it became a temporary residence of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dharamshala has risen to international fame as “The Little Lhasa in India”.While lower Dharamshala is consists of untidy market place, upper Dharamshala or McLeodganj is a busy tourist town and the starting point of the treks.

Amritsar

The land of Amritsar collars memoirs of British imperialism. The bright colours at fairs and festivals, mouthwatering food and largehearted people. Solace at the famous Golden Temple situated at the heart of the city, walk through the bylanes of Amritsar and unravel the mesmerizing heritage of havelis, and frescoes at mandirs or temples, and hatties.

At Amritsar, start your day by visiting the Gurdwara early in the morning. Open your life to the spiritual upliftment by the welcoming melodious voice of Granthi (ceremonial reader of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib).

The life at Amritsar revolves around spiritualism, markets, food and endless conversations. wandering around the Golden Temple, and making your way to the marketplace. In the older part of the city, walking around is the best option. Visit the heritage sites at Jallianwala Bagh and kataras (by lanes).

Unleash the shopper in you as you walk through the marketplace. Filled with bright colours of luxurious carpets, pashmina shawls and the handicrafts and apparels with phulkari work, you will find some good deals here. Phulkari, a popular Punjabi art which entails intricate flower embroidery. But it's not just handicrafts and apparels you would find here. Treat your tastebuds as well. Indulge in delectable paranthas, jalebi, samosas and chai along with some intriguing conversations.

Delhi

The city of Djinns, Delhi has remains of relics and monuments scattered all over. While the older part of the city has narrow lanes, busy streets and crowded markets, the newer part on the other hand has wider roads, up market hotels and shopping malls.

The city is known for its vices, but if you look past them, you might just fall in love with the place. The gardens of Humayun’s Tomb, the Djinn’s temple in Feroz Shah Kotla, Qawwali in Nizamuddin, early morning walk in Lodhi Garden or simply boating in the lake of Purana Qila. Apart from these there are obviously the well known, mainstream tourist destinations.

But Delhi is not just about its monuments. There are umpteen number of places here where you can try foods of various cuisine. Be it the local street foods or Mughlai kebabs and biryani or international cuisines.

Agra

Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Agra has got much more of interest than just the Taj Mahal. The city being the capital of the Mughal dynasty for over a century. The emperors have left behind some fascinating forts and mausoleum.The bustling markets, busy streets, it's an experience in itself. The famous petha (sweet), salty snacks and marble showpieces, walk through the markets and see it all.

Away from the main city of Agra is the ruined city of Fatehpur Sikri. The red sandstone structure looks amazing during the sunset. Also, visit the colourful market of Fatehpur and the village of Sikri.Another attraction not far from Agra is the Hindu pilgrimage destination, Mathura and Vrindavan. Mathura is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The peaceful atmosphere and the beautiful sculptures are a much welcomed change after a stay in Agra.The ideal time to visit Agra is on a full moon night. The Taj Mahal looks like its lit from with, under the moonlight.

Rajasthan

The culturally rich state of Rajasthan stands as a witness to its bygone era. Abounding in the tales of heroism, chivalry and romance, Rajasthan is unlike any other state. It is also the birthplace of the brave and chivalrous Rajputs. The architecturally fascinating Rajasthan weaves magic on its visitors. Rajasthan has no parallel in the world as far as its heritage and culture are concerned.

Rajasthan offers you a wide variety ranging from sand dunes to lush green forests to the rich wildlife. Moving across Rajasthan, you will find the Aravali Mountains providing an interesting background to the otherwise barren topography. It was in these hills that the Rajput hero, Rana Pratap kept marshalling his resources to take on the mighty Mughals.

Be it the feeling of royalty while ascending the Amber fort or the mystique charm of Pushkar, we plan to unravel every bit of Rajasthan for you!

Varanasi

Varanasi is one of the most colourful and chaotic city in the country. The pilgrims come here to wash their lifetime of sins in the holy water of river Ganga. It is considered a particularly auspicious place to die. Considered as the beating heart of the Hindu universe since dying here offers Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life). A boat ride along the ghats will show you the most intimate rituals of life and death that takes place in public. The sound, the smell and the sight around the ghats are not for the faint hearts.

The city consists of alleys and lanes too narrow for traffic. Confusing they can be at times, but if you ever lose your way, eventually you will land up in one of the ghats. From where you can find your way back. T

he walk along the ghats during sunset makes an excellent picturesque setting.

Khajuraho

Situated in the heart of Central India, Khajuraho is a fascinating village with a quaint rural ambience and a rich cultural heritage. Constructed between 350 and 1050 AD, these temples represent the expression of a highly matured civilization of Chandela Rajputs.Built in North Indian ‘Nagara’ style, originally there were 85 temples, of which only 22 remain. Rediscovered in the last century, these temples were restored and granted the recognition of World Heritage Monuments.

If the temples of Khajuraho can be said to have a theme, it is woman. A celebration of woman and her myriad moods and facets - writing letters, applying kohl to her eyes, brushing her hair, dancing with joyous abandon playing with her child.
Depicted in a wealth of detail, sharply etched, sculpted with consummate artistry. The philosophy of the age dictated the enjoyment of the delights of ‘artha’ (material wealth) and ‘kama’ (sensual pleasures) while performing one’s ‘dharma’ (duty) as the accepted way of life for the ‘grihastha’ (householder).

 

Gujarat

Straddling the mighty Arabian Sea and the arid desert plains of Rajasthan, Gujarat has a very distinctive culture despite the fact that it is far less travelled than the neighbouring states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Its landscape comprises fertile plains, forested hills, tidal marshland and desert plains, not to mention the affable island of Diu.

The capital city Ahmedabad offers superb examples of Indo-Islamic architecture and is well known as the main residence of Mahatma Gandhi where he spent twelve years at the Sabarmati Ashram. Move beyond the chaotic capital and you can find many diverse and fascinating gems.

Sacred Jain and Hindu pilgrimage sites scatter the landscapes and hilltops. The stunning, eleventh century Sun Temple in Modhera, is considered to be the finest surviving example of Solanki architecture and The Dwarkadish Temple shrouded in legend, is famed as Krishna’s capital. Just outside of Palitana is the holy hill of Shatrunjaya where over nine hundred, intricately carved marble temples stand on the hillside.

Mumbai

The capital of the state of Maharashtra since 1960, and former capital of the old Mumbai state, Mumbai has long been referred to as Gateway of India. In fact, a large ceremonial gateway was erected in 1911 to commemorate the first visit ever made to India by a British king and queen. Through this gateway the last British viceroy departed in 1947, marking the termination of almost 350 years of official British presence in India.

Mumbai has imposing multi-storeyed buildings, crowded thoroughfares, busy markets, shopping centres and beautiful tourist spots. Places worth visiting are the 19th century Jain Temple with its silver doors, the Kamala Nehru Park and the Ferozshah Mehta Gardens known as the Hanging Gardens of Bombay and the Towers of Silence where the Parsis dispose their dead. Visit Mani Bhavan where Mahatma Gandhi spent 17 years of his life working for the freedom of India. Also visit the Prince of Wales Museum, which has an excellent collection of miniatures

Goa

One of the smallest states in India, Goa was until 1961 a Portuguese colony and to this day retains its distinctive laid back Portuguese character. Situated on the Western Ghats on the Konkan Coast, this is the most famous beach resort in India for both domestic and international tourists alike.

There is a distinctive character to the Goan landscape, thick with coconut palms, terracotta earth and the ubiquitous Portuguese white washed churches that punctuate the tropical scene. Approximately two-dozen beaches span the Goan coast, where large expanses thronging with life give way to intimate coves and sleepy fishing villages.

Goan life, whilst laid back, is full of color and not just for the hippy but for the hip as well. Historically famous for its many markets such as the vibrant Anjuna flea market and the full on Saturday night Bazaar, Goa now has a new generation of artists and designers offering a very chic boutique shopping experience as well.
Goa is fast becoming known for its restaurant scene and plenty of well heeled Mumbai types flock for the weekends to experience the Miami like feel of the beach restaurants, nightclubs and luxury hotels.

Aurangabad

The ‘Tourism Capital of Maharashtra’ today is the gateway to world heritage sites like the Ajanta and Ellora caves and the mausoleum, Bibi ka Maqbara. The city’s name if translated means “Built by the throne”, after the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, who had at one time conquered a large part of the country.

A major cotton and silk production center, Aurangabad, is also where the Pathani silk had originated. Industry aside, the city also has 52 gates, from where it gets its nickname, “The city of gates”. Apart from the 3 A.D Buddhist caves, the city also has other interesting destinations to visit. Like the lake named after the bird watcher Salim Ali, a bird sanctuary and the mosques.

Aurangabadi cuisine is much like Mughlai and Hyderabadi delicacy with fragrant pulao and biryani while the meat here is greatly influenced by spices and herbs of the Marathwada region.
Mashru and Himroo fabrics are a must take-away from this place. They are weaved out of an ages old weaving craft and is unique to this place.

Kerala

Flanked by the Arabian Sea in the West, the towering Western Ghats in the East and networked by 44 interconnected rivers, Kerala is blessed with a unique set of geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. A long shoreline with serene beaches, tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, lush hill stations and exotic wildlife, are just a few of the wonders that await you once you crossover to the other side. And what's more, each of these charming destinations is only a two hour drive from the other - a singular advantage no other place on the planet can offer.

Kerala prides itself for being the flag bearer for not just how a culture can respect its past but also march forward with growth & progress as well. Hundred percent literacy, world-class health care systems, India's lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy rates are among a few of the milestones that the people of the state are extremely proud of.

TamilNadu

India’s Dravidian Hindu heartland, Tamil Nadu is true temple country. Nowhere else in India can you find so many beautiful examples of India’s famous primary colored, carved temples. Less exposed to the northern influences, over the last thousand years, Tamil Nadu was run by three powerful dynasties that helped to maintain the unique religious and political institutions, leaving a legacy of astounding towering temples throughout the state.

Considered a center of performing arts, the capital city - Chennai offers several sights of interest including the seaside Fort of St George, St Mary’s, the oldest surviving Anglican church in Asia and many grand colonial mansions
There are several sites of interest just outside of Chennai including the ancient seaside town of Mamallapuram boasting several World Heritage listed temples and carvings and the temple town of Kanchipuram famed for its hand woven silks. Continue onto the former capital of French India and discover the unique town of Puducherry.

Other landmark temples in the region include the colorful Meenaskshi Temples that tower over of the oldest cities in India: Madurai and the Great Living Chola Temples of Thanjavur. Chettinad is also well worth a visit with its multitude of unique lavish, former ancestral homes and famous spiced food.
Far from the madding temple crowds, head to the peace and quiet of the forested mountains and coffee estates of the Ghats. .

Kolkata

Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, is also known as the intellectual capital of the country. Kolkata was named the capital of British India in 1772 till 1911 when the capital was shifted to New Delhi. Richard Wellesley, the Governor General between 1797–1805, was largely responsible for its public architecture which led to the description of Kolkata as “The City of Palaces”.

Here you would find a number of old gentleman’s club, a colonial-age horserace track, Royal Calcutta Turf Club and some of the country’s best golf courses like the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. You may also walk down the chaotic lanes, take a ferry across the Ganges or visit the Sundarbans.

Friendlier than all other metropolis, today this vibrant city has an unique character. Home to St. Mother Teresa and Satyajit Ray, Dominique Lapierre contributed to its worldwide fame with his book “City of Joy”.

Darjeeling

Lying under the shadows of the mighty Kanchendzonga, this hill station is also known as the “queen of hills”. The architecture here dates back to the Raj era and is one of West Bengal’s most premiere tourist destination.
Darjeeling is also the producer of one of the finest qualities of tea in the world and you could be there living in one of the tea garden resorts, experiencing the lifestyle of the people there.

Go out exploring the architecture from the colonial era, spot a snow leopard or a red panda in the local zoo or just sit back and enjoy the majestic view of the Kanchendzonga while sipping on to a cup of Darjeeling brew.

The ideal time to visit would be October-November (Autumn) and March-May (Spring). During this time, the skies remain clear and the weather is pleasant as well. Making it a perfect time to explore the place.

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