From mountains to beaches, busy cities to jungles, a vacation in India promises to be one that you’ll keep with you forever. Whether you’re looking to stick to the better known tourist trail of the Golden Triangle or wander off of the beaten track, there is so much to explore in this glorious country that’s home to the second largest population in the world. A vibrant country, India will leave an imprint on you like no other; the food, the people, the buildings, the colour… even the fact that there are cows wandering in amongst traffic in major cities. It’s a place like no other and we’ve pulled together some of the top places to visit in the hope of tempting you to plan a holiday to India, whether that’s with your family, or as just adults. Read on to find out our favourite places we’ve visited and those that are still on the bucket list.
The city and national capital territory of Delhi is split into two parts; the northern, more historical area of Old Delhi, and the more modern city of New Delhi. New Delhi is India’s capital city and having been built during the colonial era has a strong colonial feel to it with wider streets and a feeling of spaciousness. In contrast, Old Delhi will take you right into parts of India that feel like they’ve come from a movie, a warren of streets, street markets and a vibrancy of life that can be overwhelming. Overall Delhi is packed full of history with the various eras of architecture pushing up against each other and whether you choose to walk around it or take a rickshaw, you’ll spend hours just soaking up India across the ages. Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque is well worth a visit, as is the Red Fort in Old Delhi, the once home of the Mughal Emperors.
Delhi is often a natural starting point for holidays in India, it’s well connected with Agra and Jaipur, both renowned tourist attractions, allowing travellers to move between the three areas in what’s known as ‘The Golden Triangle’.
Home to the Taj Mahal, Agra is well versed in tourists. Built by the Emperor to immortalise his wife after she died during childbirth, the Taj Mahal is one of the most recognisable and photographed parts of India. But be warned, the Taj Mahal attracts a huge number of visitors every year, meaning that it’s worth trying to time your visit for sunrise in order to get the best views and the least crows. For a slightly different view, head to Mehtab Bagh with gardens perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal that allow you to see it down an avenue of trees and across the river. Whilst Agra is less than two hours from Delhi and can be visited within the day, it’s worth taking the time to stay, allowing yourself those sunrise visits and add in trips to Agra Fort (their light and sound show is meant to be worth a watch) or travel further afield to Fatehpur Sikri, a beautiful heritage city that’s well worth a visit.
Often known as the pink city, Jaipur was a walled town surrounded mostly by hills, which quickly expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries. The final part of the Golden Triangle, Jaipur is known for its beauty with straight-line planning and predominantly rose-coloured buildings. Spend time visiting the City Palace with its exquisitely painted, vividly coloured walls and columns, take in the incredible architecture of interconnected layers with the Hawa Mahal or make your way to Jaigarh Fort, otherwise known as the Amber Fort. Understand the history of Jaipur’s city gates with the newest addition, the pink coloured Patrikia Gate designed to showcase the different architectural styles from Rajasthan. Visit rescued elephants, go on a food tour or just soak up everything that this fairytale-esque city has to offer.
If incredible views are what you’re looking for, look no further than the Ladakh region. Home of India’s only cold desert, Leh, the capital, is nestled in a valley within the Himalayas meaning you’ll get snow-capped peaks, bluer than blue lakes and views that will take your breath away. With so many trails available, a tour such as the Leh Ladakh bike tour is recommended in order that you make your way around the spectacular landscapes, the monasteries and more, including the World’s highest motorable pass, a route that’s been used by caravans in the silk trade for thousands of years.
Kerala is a great region to travel to if you’re looking for a slower pace of life. Whether you decide to pair it with time in some of the busier tourist areas or want to make it the entire focus of your trip, Kerala provides the perfect mix of calm oasis with insight into Indian life. With over 1,500km of backwaters weaving their way around the region, one of the best ways to explore is via boat – including staying on a house boat. Make your way up into the hills of Munnar, housing the former British hill station and take in the evergreen tea plantations with their breathtaking views and excellent walking. Fancy a bit more of a beach holiday? Kerala has beautiful sandy beaches that are perfect for watching the fisherman at work – just don’t expect calm bathing waters!