Beaches fringed by the Indian Ocean, hectic but mesmerising cities, marble covered palaces and Kerala’s coconut coastline; holidays in India are a feast for the senses
The energy and spirit that dances through India comes from the first explosion of patchouli incensed balmy air to the second or third bizarre glimpse of a cow ambling along the road on your wild rickshaw journey into Delhi. There’s that breathtaking first sighting of the pink city of Jaipur and a spectacular sunrise view of the Taj Mahal. India holidays are all encompassing – one moment mouth-watering street food in Mumbai, the next a gastronomic feast in Udaipur; one day a cacophony of vibrant market shopping, Hindu temples and sacred statues, another a sedate afternoon cruising the Keralan backwaters. Imagine regal hotels clad in cool marble, cities built by Mughal emperors, undiscovered rural corners where you can share a cup of chai with locals and Rajasthan’s hectic but resplendent cities. Our hand-picked holidays to India take you on a journey of cultural riches from bold and beautiful sights to smaller pockets of this incredible country.
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- Experience India’s spiritual side on the banks of the River Ganges in Varanasi or the city of temples Madurai
- Seek out Asian elephants, Bengal tigers and other wildlife species in India’s National parks
- The natural landscapes range from the Himalayas in the north to the beaches of Goa and Kovalam and Kerala’s backwaters in the south
- The Golden Triangle – one of the world’s most well-travelled routes – encompasses India’s most visited cities Delhi, Jaipur and Agra
- There's such a wide range of accommodation in India from historic havelis to sprawling spice plantations allowing you to immerse yourself in authetic Indian culture.
Best time to visit India
• The climate is best from October to November and February to March, when the nights are cool and the days filled with mellow sunshine.
• Delhi is hottest May to July (up to 42°C), however prices are lower and sights can be quieter.
• Most of the rain falls between July and September.
South and Central India
• Peak season is during the winter months from November to February, when temperatures range from 23°C to 30°C.
• Monsoon season is between May and October in Goa and from June to August in Kerala.
• Summer temperatures aren’t as high as in northern India, although humidity is extreme.
• The coast benefits from some cooling breezes.
India holiday highlights
There’s the playful nature of Rhesus Macaques in the Aravalli Hills, sun-bleached beaches in Goa and soothing sand dunes in the Thar Desert. Luxurious hotels overlooking the Taj Mahal wait for soft white marble to turn shades of amber come sunset and in Varanasi – said to be the oldest inhabited city on Earth – the sacred Ganges is every visitor’s pivotal point. A world away from here, in southern India, Cochin harbour’s famous row of Chinese fishing nets appears as a translucent marvel of strength. If there’s one city to fall in love with, it’s honeysuckle hued, marble-covered Udaipur. On the banks of crystal clear Lake Pichola the opulent side of India unfold as you sail past resplendent Rajput-era palaces. India is one of our favourite countries for touring holidays and if you’re a first-time visitor, a Golden Triangle tour is a wonderful way to see the rich variety of cultures the country is renowned for.
Where is India?
India is in south-central Asia surrounded by the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. Set off from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas and land bordered by Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Burma and Bangladesh, India is the seventh largest country in the world. Its capital is New Delhi and it has a diverse landscape of coastline, beaches, jungle and mountains.
In larger cities and towns, the most convenient way to get around is by auto rickshaw, taxi or private car. Rickshaws can get hot and bumpy but offer a fantastic authentic experience. Public transport is frequent and affordable. As the meters are rarely turned on, it’s always best to negotiate the rate before embarking. In northern India travel in comfortable cars on newly built motorways and look out for the red BEST buses in Mumbai. Direct internal flights operate daily to most national cities, making it easy to get from one place to another quickly. If you prefer to travel by rail, daily Shatabdi trains can be used to travel between the most important destinations.
The heady scent of cardamom pods, the vibrant colours of saris sashaying past and street food on every corner… the markets, shops and bazaars of India are fascinating places to people watch and a shoppers dream when it comes to textiles, handicrafts and concept stores. Expect to return with scarves, shawls and vintage fabrics homespun into innovative new designs. Don’t forget that haggling is a way of life at the markets and bazaars.
Jaipur’s leather makers, weavers and jewellers have been around since the late 1700s so no wonder it’s famed as one of the best places to shop in the world. Interior designers flock here for wooden furniture, silk fabrics, leather sandals, fine jewellery and beautiful antique leheriya (traditional tie dye). Shop for exquisite marble in Agra and tea in both Darjeeling and Munnar.
Food & drink
Deliciously complex dishes vary in flavour depending on the region. Be prepared to have your taste buds tingled in a country where curry doesn’t taste at all like it does back home. Find fresh oysters dipped in coconut cream on the beaches of Goa, classic-style street food such as vada pav (fried potato wrapped in bread and chilli powder) at the markets of Mumbai and elaborate tasting menus in the grand hotels of Jaipur. Local dishes are laced with spices including chilli pepper, cardamom pods, cumin, turmeric and ginger. Southern India uses more coconut oil and northern India favours rich Naan bread and biryani dishes. In Kerala, mussels and crab are plucked fresh from the sea and cooked with delicious spices. Always make sure to drink bottled water, and no tap water or ice.
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