Whether it’s your first or 10th visit, there’s never a shortage of things to do in India. As the world’s seventh largest country, India has over 30 states and territories alone. And, though you can’t see everything in one trip, choosing just one section or state to explore at a time is a great way to get a feel for life in India, as well as have time to enjoy yourself. Here are our top picks:
See the Taj Mahal
Arguably one of the world’s most famous buildings, the Taj Mahal also makes a strong case for being the most beautiful as well. Located in the city of Agra, the uniquely shaped marble mausoleum also has an equally beautiful love story behind it; the building was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal following her death.
How to do it: Agra is a part of the popular Golden Triangle tourist route and is included in our Dreams of Taj Journey. On this Journey you’ll enjoy a private morning tour of the Taj Mahal grounds (as well as the nearby Agra Fort), where your guide will tell you details about the history of the building and how it was constructed, as well as offering ample time to take photos.
Visit the Pink City
Lesser known than the Taj Mahal but arguably just as beautiful, Jaipur – also known as the Pink City – is the capital of the Rajasthan state and was once the home of the royal family. The city's colourful nickname stems from its pink coloured buildings, which were painted as such under the rule of Sawai Ram Singh as a welcoming gesture to the Pince of Wales Edward VII in 1876. Of all of the pink buildings to see, the Amber Fort is commonly regarded as the most impressive. The opulent 16th century palace features four stories made of red sandstone and marble, and also enjoys a scenic location atop of a hill.
How to do it: Jaipur is another stop on the Golden Triangle tourist route and is included in our Dreams of Taj Journey. On this Journey you’ll enjoy a morning visit to the Amber Fort, an afternoon tour of the city and another visit to the Amber Fort at night, when you’ll enjoy a unique sound and light show.
Go shopping at the bazaar in Old Delhi
As the main international entry point into India, it’s worth spending at least a few days exploring the city of New Delhi. A modern metropolis with notable signs of the past in the form of forts and mosques, the city also offers a glimpse into a bygone era via Old Delhi, and more specifically, its bazaars. A practical rabbit warren of exotic stalls, Old Delhi is a fantastic place to explore, especially if you want to shop with everything from fabrics to jewellery, carpets, incense and food on offer within the narrow laneways.
How to do it: Due to the sprawling nature of the bazaar, it’s best to visit Old Delhi with a local guide. Tours of the area are included in a few of our Journeys such as the Glimpses of Taj and Tiger itinerary. For something unique, talk to your Expert about adding a tour of Old Delhi via rickshaw to your holiday. It’s a really fun way to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.
Go on a safari
In addition to the country’s incredible human population, India is also home to a great and varied wildlife population as well, spanning rhinoceros, monkeys, bears, crocodiles, pythons, deer, Asian elephant and a wonderfully diverse range of birds (the peacock is India’s national bird). India is also home to a healthy Bengal tiger population with 52 protected tiger reserves found throughout the country.
How to do it: There are a number of places in India where you can take part in a safari. For a convenient location close by to the Golden Triangle trail, we recommend visiting Ranthambore National Park. On our Glimpses of Taj and Tiger Journey you’ll enjoy three game drives in Ranthambore National Park, which is home to tigers, deer, monkeys, crocodiles and more. Alternatively, if you have something specific in mind, we can tailor make a safari for you to any number of national parks. For more ideas, see our tips for seeing Tigers in India.
Cruise the canals of Kerala
For the India of tea plantations, lush tropical jungles and calm beaches, you need to head south. Along the coastline you’ll find the state of Kerala, famed for its beaches, spice production and network of canals and lakes, known as the state’s backwaters. Within this lush landscape you’ll also find rousing wildlife such as elephants, exotic birds and tigers, as well as a slower pace of life compared to the cities in the north.
How to do it: To soak up the region’s beauty, the best way to see Kerala is by cruising along the backwaters on a houseboat. Our Tranquil Kerala Journey includes on night on a deluxe houseboat (which can be extended if you wish), as well as a tour of a tea and coffee plantation, and lunch with a local Keralan family.
Stay in luxury accommodation
If the Taj Mahal is anything to go by, no one does luxury quite like India! Better yet, luxury accommodation in India is actually fantastic value and will really enhance your trip. While all of the properties on our India holidays have been hand picked, some are more decandent than others, notably the Oberio properties.
For the ultimate stay in Agra, you can’t beat The Oberoi Amarvilas, which is the only hotel in the city that affords views of the Taj Mahal (even from its lobby). In Jaipur, the Oberio Rajvilas (pictured above) features villas and luxury tents spread over 32 acres, which you are free to explore on foot or via golf buggy.
How to do it: The hotels included in our India holidays are just examples of what we can arrange for you. If you’d like to upgrade your stay to an Oberoi property, or have a particular property in mind, just let your Expert know and we can arrange it for you.
For more ideas on what to do in India, see our tailor-made India holidays or talk to an Expert today.