India is a colourful country that offers a mosaic of multicultural experiences to visitors.
It’s a land of otherworldly landscapes for travel – from stunning lakes and endless rolling plains to the snow-capped Himalayas in the north. It’s also home to vibrant festivals, romantic mausoleums and some of the most frenetic cities in the world.
As the seventh largest country and one of the oldest civilisations, India stands apart from the rest of Asia.
Some of the highlights of the country include:
- Amer Fort
It has long served as the capital of Jaipur. Built as a fortified palace in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh I, the fort is carved into the hillside, and accessible by foot after a steep climb or by shuttle rides from the town below.
Highlights include Jaleb Chowk, the first courtyard, with its many decorated elephants, and the Shila Devi Temple, amongst others.
Just above Amer Fort is Jaigarh Fort, built in 1726 by Jai Singh and featuring tall lookout towers, formidable walls, and the world’s largest wheeled cannon.
- Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
One of South India’s most popular tourist attractions. Established in 1934, this beautiful park is home to numerous species of mammals, including a large free-roaming Indian elephant population, the lion-tailed macaque, otters, wild boars, and more than 20 Bengal tigers.
Bird-watching is a popular activity and you can catch a variety of species such as darters, storks, kingfishers, hornbills, racket-tailed drongos, and butterflies in their natural habitat.
- The Ellora Caves in Aurangabad
Built between the 5th and 10th centuries by Buddhist, Jain and Hindu monks, the caves make for an amazing excursion from Mumbai, some 300km to the west. This collection of 34 carved monasteries, chapels, and temples – 12 of them Buddhist, 17 Hindu, and five belonging to the Jain faith – is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The impressive structures were built in close proximity to each other, a reflection of the religious tolerance that existed during this period in Indian history.
- Mysore Palace
Also known as Amba Vilas Palace and Mysore Aramane, it is one of the most magnificent and largest palaces in India.
Standing tall in the heart of Mysore city, in the southern state of Karnataka, the grand palace attracts visitors from across the world.
The palace served as the official residence of the Wodeyar Dynasty, the rulers of Mysore from 1399 to 1950.
For a real treat, catch one of the splendid light displays held on Sundays and holidays, when the palace is illuminated by more than 90,000 lights.
- Bandhavgarh National Park
It’s home to roughly 70 of India’s national animal – the tiger. It is here that you have the best opportunity to see the legendary creature in its natural habitat. Trained guides at the reserve offer three-hour jeep safaris that kick off at dawn, as well as late afternoon. You can also go tiger-tracking on the back of an elephant.
- Alleppey Houseboats
The perfect way to explore Kerala’s gentle backwaters. The unique accommodation is a traditional thatched houseboat, where you can even choose to spend the night, whatever your budget may be. The slow, yet fascinating cruises offer lots of opportunities to take beautiful photos of the scenery, which include paddy fields, mangroves, and migratory birds.
- Darjeeling’s Toy Train
An attraction that draws rail enthusiasts from around the world. The two-hour journey between Darjeeling and Ghum on the antique steam locomotive, which has been running for more than 140 years, is considered one of the world’s most scenic train rides. Expect incredible views of towering mountains and lush forests as the train weaves through the narrow tracks.
- The Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh
The place where the famous English rock band from the 1960s spent time studying transcendental meditation and writing the White Album.
The original Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram is located just outside the yoga-focused city of Rishikesh. Although the complex is now abandoned, tourists can still explore the sprawling 14-acre ashram inside Rajaji National Park and see graffiti and murals inspired by band painted inside the meditation hall’s pathways.