About India Travel
Mumbai: Formerly Bombay, Mumbai is the financial and commercial engine of India. The Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange of India, and many Indian and multinational corporations are headquartered here. With an estimated 13 million residents, it is the second most populous city in the world. Cosmopolitan and tropical, it has a personality that is vibrant, at times aggressive, reflecting the affluence and energy of a bustling city its size. The most western of India’s cities, it was the main port on the Arabian Sea for British India until 1947, when India gained independence. The city is also the center of India’s film and television industry, known as Bollywood. Mumbai’s business opportunities, as well as its high standard of living, attract migrants from all over India, resulting in a brilliant potpourri of cultures.
Udaipur: Udaipur is an enchanted landscape of fairytale palaces, green hills, and exotic bazaars. Here, a splendid heritage property sits on an island in Lake Pichola. In the city, the colossal City Palace features enduring frescoes, Mughal-inspired art, and 17th-century Hindu Jagdish Temple. The crafts village of Shilpgram is home to artisans, who keep the rich artistic traditions of Udaipur alive.
Jaipur: As the royalty of ages past have done, visitors reach Amber Fort on the back of an elephant. The fort features bejeweled interiors that reflect the sumptuous style of Mughal courts. At the center of City Palace is the smaller Chandra Palace and its courtyards and richly decorated rooms. A museum showcases a collection of textiles, carpets, manuscripts and costumes. An ancient observatory’s stone monoliths remain accurate even today. The elegant Palace of the Winds is a nine-story, pink sandstone structure that once served the royal harem. The city is known as a center for jewelry crafting. Tribal jewelry, modern diamond pieces, and enameled gold, Jaipur has developed an international reputation for quality.
Agra: Agra, the jewel of Mughal India, is most noted as the home of the Taj Mahal, arguably the most romantic building ever created. Begun in 1633, 20,000 workers labored for 17 years to complete this monument of glistening marble and semi-precious stones. Sunrise or sunset at the monument is one of the iconic experiences of India. Another of India’s great architectural sights is Agra Fort, an elegant synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian styles. The fort was built 1565 A.D.
Delhi: Delhi is a vibrant city of teeming bazaars, stately British-designed boulevards, and powerful Mughal palaces and forts. The many faces of India’s capital are mirrored in its modern business centers, colonial architecture, and in Old Delhi’s winding lanes. Rickshaws weave through throngs of shoppers and vendors clustered around Chandni Chowk. Mughal history comes alive at Red Fort and in India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid.
Jodhpur: This medieval fortress city rises from the sands like a dream in the Thar Desert. Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest in India, and sits on a hill 400 feet above the city. Its palaces display intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The fort stands as a testament to medieval art, weaponry and sumptuous living. Jeep safaris into traditional villages invite unique cultural encounters.
Jaisalmer: In the heart of Thar Desert, Jaisalmer was founded in 1156. Preserved mansions dot the old city and narrow lanes are crowded with finely sculptured houses and temples. On the western edge of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer was an important caravan stop. Local cultural performances keep the dance and music traditions alive. The town stands on a sandstone ridge crowned by a fort that houses a palace and several ornate Jain temples.
Manvar: This desert resort and medieval city sits between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. It seems to have escaped much of the 21st century. It is quiet, with an unhurried grace that affords the opportunity to experience desert culture and wildlife.
Khajuraho: Once the religious capital of the Chandella Dynasty, Khajuraho reached its height between 10th and 14th centuries. Temple building was a form of religious expression, and some 85 temples were erected, of which 22 remain. The temples are renowned for their sensuous and erotic sculptures.
Varanasi: There is a timelessness about this city, which dates back to at least the 6th century B.C. Revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike, Varanasi is the holiest city in India. As a result, more Indians will make a pilgrimage to this city in their lifetime than any other. Each dawn, along the sacred Ganges, hundreds of pilgrims and worshippers gather on the riverbanks to reenact centuries-old rituals and prayers. They congregate along rows of stone steps, the ghats, which stretch the length of the city. The city itself is a maze of narrow alleys, shrines and pilgrim shops.
Tiger Circuit: Asia’s extraordinary royal Bengal tigers are increasingly rare in the world they once ruled. India has set aside ‘tiger parks’ in order to help these magnificent animals survive. Four national parks – Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna – make up the tiger circuit. Although the tiger is the main attraction, these parks have impressive rosters of other animals, including spotted deer, wild boar, wild dogs, sloth bear, Indian fox, wolf and jungle cat. Hundreds of bird species also thrive here such as fish eagle, plum-headed parakeet and Asian paradise flycatcher.
Kolkata (Calcutta) & Bhubaneswar: Kolkata is a city of sharp contradictions and a powerful mix of East and West. The British fashioned it after grand European capitals, and Kolkata today still struggles to come to terms with its colonial legacy. It thrives amid seemingly impossible odds. The Indian Museum, built in 1875, ranks among the finest in Asia. The botanical gardens, circa 1786, are home to a 200-year-old Banyan tree, believed to be the largest in the world. From the late Mother Teresa’s institution to the racetrack, to the Governor’s House, this city is compelling. Once the capital of ancient Kalinga, Bhubaneswar has a long history and is today a center for commerce and religious activity. It is known for its architecture, and is often referred to as the temple city of India.
Tamil Nadu: The region of Tamil Nadu has been under continuous human habitation since prehistoric times. The history of the Tamil people is among the oldest in the world. Tamil Nadu is one of India’s 28 states, and sits on the east coast of the southern Indian Peninsula on the Bay of Bengal. By the 2nd century, the area was occupied by Tamil kingdoms. The Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar controlled the southern regions from 1336 to 1565. The British established a settlement in 1611, and ruled the area that became Madras from 1653 to 1946. Tamil Nadu is known for its rich tradition of literature, music and dance. Unique cultural features like Bharatanatyam (dance), Tanjore painting, and Tamil architecture developed here. Tamil Nadu has two biosphere reserves, five national parks and several wildlife sanctuaries. Some of the finest examples of Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture are here, and have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Kerala: An exploration of Kerala begins in Cochin, a cluster of islands and peninsulas where ancient Phoenician, Arab, Jewish, Chinese and European traders came in search of prized spices, tea and hardwoods. The blending of these customs with traditional culture created a Hindu Renaissance that is today reflected in local architecture as well as distinctive regional art and dance. Lovely, lush tea estates climb up mountain sides at elevations between 4,000 to 6,000 feet. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was one of India’s first tiger reserves. Here, too, are wild Asian elephants, sambar deer, giant gaur and monkeys. Kerala is most known for its houseboat journeys along the serene backwater canals lined with coconut palms, and dotted with snake boat docks, fishermen, villages and fields.
Darjeeling: Incomparable Himalayan vistas, traditional villages, and ancient Buddhist monasteries are part of the Darjeeling landscape. Ghoom Monastery is the oldest and most famous in Darjeeling. At an altitude of about 8,000 feet, the monastery offers wonderful views of the area. The monastery belongs to the Yellow Sect of Buddhists, and has a 15-foot statue of Buddha. Other sights include botanical gardens, tea plantations, and the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute trains mountaineers.
Rishikesh & Haridwar: Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand, where travelers begin treks into the Himalayan pilgrimage centers, including Haridwar, where the sacred Ganges River leaves the mountains and flows onto the plains. This is among the holiest sites of pilgrimage in India. Two million people a year come to bathe in the river bend known as Brahmakund, Brahma’s basin. At sunset each evening, priests perform the river ceremony of worship, Har Ki Pairi. They chant as pilgrims place burning candles in the river, and bells ring across town.
Shimla: In the northwest Himalayas, the city of Shimla, at an altitude of 6,988 feet, is surrounded by forests of pine, oak and rhododendron. Here, summers are pleasant and winters are cold and snowy. The city is famous for its architecture in tudorbethan and neo-gothic styles reminiscent of the colonial era. Railroad enthusiasts will note that Shimla is connected to the city of Kalka by one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes in India.
Suggested India Travel Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Mumbai, India
Day 2: Mumbai
Day 3: Mumbai / Udaipur
Day 4: Udaipur
Day 5: Udaipur / Jaipur
Day 6: Jaipur
Day 7: Jaipur / Agra
Day 8: Agra / New Delhi
Day 9: New Delhi
Day 10: New Delhi / Depart
Custom Tour Options
Jodhpur & Jaisalmer (5 days)
These cities thrive in the great Thar Desert, and beckon with rich and vibrant histories.
Rajasthan Desert (3 days)
Manvar offers an opportunity to experience desert culture.
Khajuraho & Varanasi (3 days)
Khajuraho was once the religious capital of the Chandella dynasty while Varanasi has long been India’s holiest city.
India’s Tiger Circuit (7-8 days)
India’s premier national tiger parks are dedicated to tiger conservation, while offering wildlife safaris.
Kolkata & Bhubaneswar (5 days)
Kolkata’s architecture blends European and Mughal styles; and Bhubaneswar is known for distinct temples.
Tamil Nadu (7 days)
The history of Tamil Nadu and the civilization of the Tamil people are among the oldest in the world.
Kerala (6 days)
Kerala’s famed scenic backwaters come alive during a journey on board a small, traditional houseboat.
Darjeeling (5 days)
Himalayan villages, tea plantations and monasteries dot the Darjeeling landscapes.
Himalayas (4- 8 days)
Here is the most stunning high-altitude scenery in the world.