In terms of area and population, India is one of the largest countries in Asia. This size means that it offers tourists a choice of diverse natural and cultural destinations, from the well known to those that remain to be fully discovered and appreciated.
Indian Cities and Heritage
Built over 350 years ago as a monument of the love between Shahjahan and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal, which forms a shrine to Islamic paradise, still remains the best known attraction in India today. Architecturally, there are few places that can match the beauty and splendour of this building. Every part of the Taj Mahal and its grounds has special Islamic meaning. This includes the four beautifully kept gardens which, separated by four stretches of water, are home to a wide and rich variety of trees, fauna and birdlife. However, the historic city of Agra, where the Taj Mahal is situated, also has a number of other historical monuments, which include a Fort complex, which houses a number of palaces, gardens and mosques. Within easy travelling distance of Agra (47 km north-west) one can also visit the now deserted city of Akbar, with its unique red sandstone buildings.
Delhi is perhaps the most modern and cosmopolitan of India’s major cities. It is a place where skyscrapers, retail shopping centres, the arts and museums, as well as a hive of modern attractions and night-life dwells side by side with the historic attractions of Hindu, Buddhist and Bahai temples. For the city-break tourist Delhi therefore provides an ideal mix of the contemporary and traditional, as well as a number of beautifully kept gardens and parks. As is the case with capital cities, throughout the year the streets and other locations in Delhi are also home to a number of colourful fairs and festivals, which heighten the visitor’s experience.
The royal city of Jaipur, capital of the north-western Indian city of Rajasthan, is rich in culture and heritage, and is a great place to visit for those who simply want to visit places of historical interest. The old city, which is renowned for the pink coloured façade of all of its buildings, provides a wealth of different traditional arts and crafts, including the jewellery for which the area is well known. Surrounding the city is a number of palaces. These include the Amer, which is located high upon the rugged hillside outside the town, which provides a vantage point from which one can survey the festive activities thattake place in the city. The Jal Mahal, encircled by water on Lake Man Sagar, is another unique palace worthy of a visit.
However, for those who want to explore modern life in , the densely populated city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the place to visit. As the financial heart of India, and the capital of its Bollywood culture Mumbai, which is home to more millionaires than most other areas of the country, features the unashamed trappings of wealth. Mumbai is therefore the place for the tourist who wants pampering and luxury.
The natural and wildlife environment
Due to its size, India has a vast array of diverse natural and wildlife environments available to be explored by the nature-loving tourists. In the centre of the country can be found the Bandhavgarh National Park In addition to the white tiger population, a protected species that inhabits this park, it is also home to a host of other mammals and birdlife, as well as being rich in fauna. The Nagarahole National Park, set near the foothills of the Nilgiri Mountains, is another tropical forest location that is home to the rapidly depleting Indian Tiger and other wildlife such as elephants and birds of prey like the eagle. It has watering holes on the river where wildlife can be seen gathering in the summer months and rivers where families of otters can be found congregating of . From the many lodge sites located in the park, you can also arrange boat trips which provide some of the best views of the park and its wildlife.
Sun, Sea and Beaches
For beach holidays in India, the best known location is undoubtedly Goa. With miles of golden and pristine white sands, as well as entertainment and activities for all the family, set against a backdrop of natural beauty, locations such as Calangute beach are like a magnet for holiday makers and water sports enthusiasts. However, away from the holiday crowds there are one or two special beaches that India has to offer. Varkala Beach, in the Kerala district and the Island beaches surrounding Agatti Island are two such beach locations. Both are set in a coastal area renowned for its palm trees and other exotic fauna and vegetation and, for water enthusiasts, the clean blue waters that stretch out for miles, which can be shared with a myriad of underwater creatures. In the evening, you can relax on the sand and watch the spectacular sunset, which seems to engulf the whole of the sky. Surely, it is worth forgoing some of the normal trappings of the popular resorts and escape to the peace, quiet and beauty of these and other secret beaches that sit like jewels in India’s coastal crown.
abounds with a vast variety of travel destinations, of which those that have been described within this article represent but a very small sample. However, having experienced the attraction of these gems, the dedicated traveller will want to venture further afield to experience more of the tourism delights that India tours have to offer.