India is hectic, intoxicating, incredibly diverse and will leave you wide-eyed for many reasons.
India’s capital Delhi, is usually the main point on arrival. Steeped in history, it’s divided into “old” with Gandhi’s Memorial and the Red Fort and “new” with its impressive government buildings and broad tree-lined avenues. The traditional travel combination leads you south to Agra, site of arguably the most famous vision of India – the Taj Mahal, whose white marble exterior changes colour according to the time of day making it one of the most stunning buildings in the world. To complete the Golden Triangle, continue on to Jaipur, the “pink city”, which is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. Jaipur has a startling array of palaces and museums with the City Palace at its epicentre.
Venturing further into Rajasthan, you’ll find a number of fascinating cities. The lake city of Udaipur is regarded by many as one of the most romantic locations in India. High above the lake stands the imposing palace of the Maharanas and from its rooftop gardens, there are stunning views over Lake Pichola towards the Summer Palace at its centre. Take time to explore Jodhpur, the second city of the province, which sprawls around the awe-inspiring clifftop Mehrangarh Fort. Outside the city, the art deco Umaid Bhawan Palace is most definitely worth a visit. Just 26 miles north west of Jaipur, the small principality of Samode nestles among the rugged Aravalli hills and offers a superb 18th Century palace as its star attraction.
As a cultural destination, India is second to none and if you want to get to the heart of the country, then head to Varanasi and discover one of its holiest cities, which draws pilgrims from around the world to worship and bathe in the sacred River Ganga.
If your interests lie in the natural world, then India can lay claim to Ranthambore, hailed as one of its finest wildlife destinations. Now a National Park, famous for its tigers, it is one of the best places in the country to see these majestic predators in the wild.
Heading further south, you’ll come to vibrant Mumbai (formerly Bombay). This is India’s commercial capital and a city of extremes, with sparkling skyscrapers rising from the notorious slums made famous in the film “Slumdog Millionaire”. Explore Bollywood, the wealth of art deco, grand colonial relics and warrens of bazaars.
And then there are the beaches…. Goa, on the southeast coast, has a 75-mile coastline with some of India’s most popular beaches.
Wherever your travels take you in India you’ll only scratch the surface of this mesmerising country; it’s sure to get under your skin and you’ll want to return.