If you’re visiting India for the first time, get ready to discover a wondrous country packed with things to do, see and experience. From the bustle of cities such as Delhi to the safari opportunities in the country’s many national parks, there’s something for everyone here in the Land of Diversity.
Here are just six essential travel ideas to consider for your first time in India.
Visit the Iconic Landmarks
No visit to India is complete without visiting at least one of its most iconic landmarks. From the grandeur of the Taj Mahal to the lesser-known sights such as the recently discovered Great Wall of India, there’s plenty to discover in this sprawling, beautiful country.
The aforementioned Taj Mahal is usually the go-to for tourists who want to try a spot of sightseeing; sights such as the Red Fort just outside of Delhi and Jaipur’s City Palace are also commonly visited, and for good reason. Whatever route you’re taking, be sure to consider a diversion or two should it lead to one of India’s cherished landmarks. It will be worth it.
Discover the Indian Culture
There’s no denying how prevalent the culture is in India – from the customs of the locals to the food they cook, from the architecture to the ceremonies, there’s plenty of ways to understand and appreciate the culture on offer.
Perhaps the most effective way of discovering culture is by visiting some of India’s most highly-regarded places of importance. From temples such as Delhi’s Baha’i House of Worship to the rather unique Ganges in Varanasi, where you’ll find people bathing and worshipping upon the ghats as you sail down the river, India is full of culturally important places where you’ll be able to understand the country that little bit better.
Explore a National Park or Two
You may not realise it, but India’s safari opportunities are quite literally unparalleled by any other. Choose to explore Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore or any other national park in the country and you’ll be inundated with animals roaming in the wild – India is actually the only country in the world where you’ll witness lions and tigers coexisting in the wild.
Choose to take a safari tour and you’ll discover some wondrous natural sights alongside some exciting animals – as previously mentioned you’ll see lions and tigers existing with rhinos, elephants and even deer and wild boar. This combined with the opportunity to see ancient ruins of old temples and monasteries make for some of the most otherworldly and exciting experiences in the world.
Stay With a Local Family
Did you know it’s possible to stay with a family when travelling in India? Head to Kerala for perhaps the best homestays in the country – not only for the homes themselves, but for the surrounding town and scenery that is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Depending on your desires (and your budget), there are plenty of different types of homestay here in Kerala for you to discover. Whether it’s a dwelling by the backwaters or a sprawling, luxurious farm offering heaps of hospitality, as echoed by Audley, rest assured you’ll be gaining an authentic insight into the locals’ daily lives regardless. Share stories, cook and celebrate with the family you stay with to truly understand Indian culture.
Get Lost in India’s Big Cities
Whether it’s the bustle of a city like Delhi or the striking calmness of Kolkata, India has plenty of cities for you to lose yourself in. Opt to visit Delhi in the midst of a celebration or festival in order to truly experience its energy and vibrancy – the Holi Festival is a safe bet, where locals exchange gifts and sweets under showers of powdered colours for two days.
Kolkata on the other hand is much more subdued and sensible, with a focus on art and architecture that you’ll notice immediately. Whether it’s in the sights you’ll see, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and the gorgeous Marble Palace, or the book and film festivals visited by revelers from all over the world, you’ll discover a striking diversity when exploring each of India’s cities.
Head to the Outskirts
If a city doesn’t take your fancy, you might want to escape to India’s outskirts. It’s here, after all, that you’ll discover wonders like the Himalaya mountain range; concealing hill stations and tiny villages in its huge peaks, you’ve got a very large natural playground to explore.
Darjeeling is here in the midst of the mountains – ride the toy train up to the hill station to discover the town renowned for its tea. Whilst you’re here, soak in the incredible scenery around you. The panoramas of the surrounding Himalayas are begging for an Instagram snap or two.