Despite of always having maintained the status of being one of the favourite destination for tourists travelling from USA and other western countries, India was never able to lure much tourists from Britain. Having ruled India for so many years; may be it was the wrong perspective of British travellers of constantly having considered the country as a land of poverty, filth and snake charmers as mentioned by a British actor in one of the scenes of the famous Bollywood movies, ‘Namaste London’. Well! if you remember the full scene, the applaudable speech given by Akshay Kumar in the movie was strong enough to bring to light, the achievements and developments of India, that today stand as one of the strongest nations in the world. India is no more a land of snake charmers but, a land of scholars, laureates, scientists and doctors who have successfully left their marks in different international fields. It is undoubtedly, the global presence of India on today’s world map that lured the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to come and witness for themselves, the accomplishments of India as a growing economy and of course, to explore the captivating beauty of the country, enjoying the true hospitality of the ever-smiling people here, who strongly believe in the mantra of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’. Today, after almost a week of the successful holiday trip of Prince William and Princess Kate to our incredible nation, a strong raise amongst British tourists flocking to India, does not come as a surprise. Bustling with stupendous scenic charms, a rich history, diverse culture and an exotic wildlife, here are few other reasons that make India a perfect destination for UK travellers and of course, for other international tourists as well.
India has been bestowed with an enchanting beauty of Himalayas that stretch from the states of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal in the North to Sikkim and Arunachal in North-East. For anyone visiting India, a trip to few of these states is a must in order to explore the country’s unmatched bounty of nature. Be it an unparalleled scenic charm of the serene Dal Lake in Kashmir, enchanting vistas of snow-capped Himalayan peaks in Ladakh, flower-carpeted alpine meadows of Himachal or the pristine scenery of Sikkim; you are sure to get awe-struck with the art of nature that has been captivating all its visors since ages. Besides the picturesque scenery, the tranquil settings, a fresh mountain air and a deep silence of mountainous wilderness of all these Himalayan regions is also sure to leave you, refreshed and rejuvenated, blessing you with a deep solace and an extreme peace of mind. The Himalayan regions in India are also a treasure trove of scores of scenic trekking & biking trails, gurgling icy-cold rivers and lofty peaks, inviting hordes of adventure fanatics from different corners of the world every year to indulge in the fun of exhilarating adventures of mountaineering, white water rafting, mountain biking and trekking. Whether it’s the hypnotising views of the frozen waterfalls on the ‘Zanskar Chadar Trek’, a thrilling ride through world’s highest motorable road at ‘Khardung La’, a heart-rending peak climbing expedition to ‘Mt. Trishul’ or a nerve-wracking experience of white water rafting in the chilling cold waters of ‘River Teesta’; when on an adventure holiday in India; you are bound to have that ‘never-before adrenaline-charged’ experience in the lap of Indian Himalayas.
Having been under a rule of several dynasties, right from Chalukyas and Cholas to Mughals and Britishers; India today boasts of its rich history that dates back to 5000 years or more. With each dynasty leaving its mark on the Indian territory in the form of many architectural marvels; a trip to this historical country remains incomplete without witnessing the beauty of these masterpieces, that today stand as the symbols of pride for our nation. Whether it’s the sheer beauty of the iconic ‘Taj Mahal’ in Agra, the eclectic opulence of the royal forts, palaces and havelis in Rajasthan, the architectural brilliance of the jaw-dropping carvings of ‘Khajuraho Temples’ in Madhya Pradesh the exceptional sculptures and paintings on the walls of the ‘Ajanta & Ellora Caves’ in Aurangabad, the outstanding architecture of ‘Konark Temple’ in Odisha, the spell-binding work of delicate carvings on the temple walls and pillars of ‘Hampi’ in Karnataka, or the architectural elegance of the monolithic rock-cut temples of ‘Mahabalipuram’ in Tamil Nadu; spread right across from the North to South in India, with a trip to these sites, you are bound to get awed with such genius pieces of country’s heritage.
Home to scores of ethnic groups, religions, languages and cuisines; no wonder why India is known as the land of cultural diversities. Right from the Indus valley civilization, the age of Aryans, Dravidians and Mughals to the much latest European colonization, India has always absorbed different religious and cultural influences that has today, turned the nation into a kaleidoscope of colours, customs, traditions and music & art forms. Whether it’s the way of dressing, the food habits, the occupations, the festivals or even languages; all these cultural elements will make their transformation be felt to the tourists as they move from North to South or East to West. Even with such a diversity, people in India live in deep harmony and welcome their visitors with a great warmth. For a surreal cultural holiday experience in India, if possible, go for one of the five luxury train tours that take you through major cultural hubs of the country, making you witness their heritage attractions, marvel on their mesmerizing folk & art forms and relish their mouth-watering regional cuisines.
India is well-known as a land of temples and holy rivers. Dotted with many religious and devout destinations, with almost all of them located amidst lofty mountain peaks and blessed by serene natural beauty; a spiritual journey in India not only provides you with an inner peace, happiness and a spiritual bliss but also gives you an insight into the spiritualistic and Vedic history of the country. To witness an unmatched spiritual experience in India, a visit to Varanasi should be on top of the itineraries of every traveller visiting from the western nations. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganga River, the tranquil settings and a vibe of divinity spread in the air of Varanasi is sure to leave you a step closer to soul consciousness. A trip to this holy land, also gives you a glimpse of true spiritual face of India. Whether it’s the sight of pilgrims taking dip in the sacred waters of Ganga and performing unusual rituals and ceremonies, the magical spectacle of the sacred Ganga aarti during sunset filling the air with aroma of incense and echoing chants, or the madness of narrow crowded streets always bustling with life, colourful people, shops and food vendors; every scene in Varanasi is a feast to eyes for those who have not experienced the exuberance and vivacity of India. For international tourists looking for a yoga and meditation holiday while their trip to India, Rishikesh makes for the best choice. Nicknamed as the yoga capital of India, you can spend few days here, amidst serene ambience and peaceful environments, learning and practising different techniques of yoga and meditation.
India is, undoubtedly, one of the most vibrant and lively destinations on earth, with its colourful festivals and celebrations being an inseparable part of the country’s cultures and traditions. Reflecting a true spirit of India, these festivals are the lifeline for people living in the nation, providing them a way to forget their worries and be lost in limitless fun, frolic and merry-making. Nowhere in the world, can you experience such a huge variety and extravagance of festivals, the way you can witness in India. Be it the exoticism and elaborate festivities of temple fairs of Kerala providing you great spectacles of huge processions of bedecked elephants, drummers and traditional dance performances, the vibrancy of ‘Ellora’ and ‘Konark’ festivals bringing back to life, the country’s classical music and dance forms, a true spectacle of Rajasthani folk culture during the annual ‘Pushkar Fair’ and ‘Jaisalmer Desert Festival’ where bright colourful costumes, acrobat performances, folk dance performances and camel races make you fall in love with the madness and vivacity of India, or the sheer extravagance of the ‘Puri Rath Yatra’ allowing you to marvel its exceptional fanfare and grandeur; being part of an Indian festivity is sure to leave all international tourists in great awe, providing them with few unforgettable and treasured memories of their lifetime.
Blessed with white sandy beaches, dotted with swaying palms and long stretches of beautiful coastline; India provides all its visitors with an exotic beach holiday experience. The picturesque beauty, azure waters and a colonial charm of Goa, is a great draw for scores of international tourists wanting themselves to witness a heavenly beauty of a stunning shoreline packed with an endless array of beach activities. One of the most popular destinations for British tourists in India, it is in Goa where they can dance and party all night right on the beach. Well! That is not all, a plethora of enthralling water-sports activities gives them that action-packed holiday adventure. For those looking for a relaxed time, a spa wellness treatment and yoga sessions in one of the luxury resorts, makes for a perfect rejuvenating experience. The ethereal beauty of a stunning shoreline of Andaman & Nicobar Islands also grabs the attention of many international travellers, especially honeymooners. A romantic walk along the pristine shore of ‘Radhanagar Beach’ witnessing a surreal beauty of setting sun, provides for the dreamiest experience to love struck couples. To make your honeymoon vacation the most unforgettable experience of your life, just go for a camping under the open moonlit sky with a bar-be-que on and a soothing music playing in the background.
A potpourri of diverse geographies, climates, ethnic groups and cultures, a gastronomy experience in India is unparalleled. With a rich diversity in varieties of cuisines ranging from sweet to spicy to tangy; an Indian palette provides you with a perfect balance of flavours. Delhi is the quintessential hub for all gastronomes and makes for the best choice to start with your culinary journey in India. Though the city is dotted with scores of high-end five-star restaurants serving Continental, Chinese, Italian and Mughlai cuisines, a culinary experience in Delhi is incomplete without gorging on its mouth-watering and irresistible street food. Loaded with a mix of spicy and tangy flavours, a bite of ‘Golgappas’ will leave you lost in a different world for few moments. For a real foodie indulgence, head to Purani Delhi or Chandni Chowk, where delicious ‘Chhole Bhature’, spicy stuffed paranthas, aromatic biryani and lip-smacking spicy-tangy chaats prove to be a real delight for true gourmets. For tourists visiting India from western nations, the spicy and tangy taste at first bite, would be little difficult to take in but, with the second bite, as you continue savouring these street delicacies, I am sure, your taste buds would start loving these flavours. Moving ahead from Delhi to Rajasthan, where the food is as colourful as its people’s costumes; the international tourists will have a lovely time savouring the state’s divine delicacies. Be it the world famous ‘Daal Bati’, the tangy ‘Kair Sangri ka Saag’ or the mouth-watering ‘Gatte ki Subzi’; you are sure to relish the aromatic flavours teeming with love and hospitality of the state’s ever-smiling people. The accompaniments of ‘Garlic Chutney’ and a hot spicy ‘Papad’ completes a traditional Rajasthani meal. A culinary experience in India is incomplete without tasting the subtle flavours of Gujarat that are a perfect blend of sweets and spices. Do devour on the blissfully sweet ‘Aam Ras’, ‘Srikhand’ and ‘Basundi’; when in this vibrant state. For sea-food lovers, the Bengali dishes, with unique flavours and aroma provide for an ultimate delight. Go for the mildly spiced ‘Machher Jhol’ (fish) or coconut flavoured ‘Daab Chingri’ (prawns), for an ultimate culinary experience in West Bengal and don’t forget to end your meal with a heavenly sweet ‘Rosogulla’.
Home to an umpteen number of wild species, exotic birds and rare fauna and flora, India provides all its visitors, an unparalleled experience of wildlife spotting and surely, that was the reason why even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could not resist themselves from trying their luck at game spotting in thick wilderness of the ‘Kaziranga National Park’, which has now become one of the favourite wildlife destinations for Britons visiting the country. Besides the Kaziranga National Park, India has in its store, an uncountable number of wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves and national parks that provide a wonderful time to wildlife enthusiast and photographers. Whether it’s the rich biodiversity of the ‘Great Himalayan National Park’ nestled in the lap of Himalayas, providing ample opportunities to spot the elusive Snow Leopards, Red Pandas and Himalayan Musk Deer roaming deep in the wilderness of snow-clad peaks, the enigma of the mysterious woods of ‘Sunderbans’ where the Royal Bengal Tigers impress the visitors with their unmatched appeal and swagger, the serene wilderness of the ‘Kaziranga National Park’ where watching the Indian one horned Rhino taking leisurely swims in the jungle swamps makes for a great feast to eyes, or the adrenaline-pumping experience of a wildlife safari tour in thick grasslands of ‘Corbett National Park’ where a tête-à-tête with the big cat standing right in front of you making an eye to eye contact, is sure to run down a chill through your spine; each wildlife expedition in India provides you with an experience unprecedented. Besides animals, the Indian wildlife parks and sanctuaries are also a treasure trove of an exotic birdlife. Ranging from local inhabitants to a variety of migratory birds, you can easily spend a day in a bird sanctuary, exploring the beauty of the park, listening to the chirping music of these colourful feathered creatures and capturing their activities in your cameras for lifetime.
The metropolitan cities of India are today bustling with high-end air conditioned shopping malls and centres but, the essence of shopping in India still lies in its crowded old markets and bazaars where a shopping experience is full of fun and excitement. With an array of open markets crammed with shops selling local fabric specialities, silver & precious jewellery, handicraft items, hand-carved & painted art pieces, carpets & rugs, pottery items – and the list can go on; you can shop in these markets and haggle to your heart’s content. After a hectic day of shopping, give yourselves a break and grab a seat in one of the eateries or restaurants to savour on the local delicacies. Compared to western nations, where shopping malls and complexes are the ultimate choices for purchasing goods; In India, even after a great development, the preferred choice for shopping still remain these lively and colourful bazaars where you can purchase anything and everything at half the prices. So, when in India, make sure, you do not miss the hullaballoo of the ‘Chandni Chowk’ in Delhi or the effervescence of the narrow shopping streets in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
A poor child of Hollywood, Bollywood is the India’s famed film industry. Generating thousands of movies both, Hindi and regional, every year, Bollywood is the lifeline for India’s population, providing them great ways of entertainment. Today, the Indian film industry is known world-wide and the likes of Bollywood actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra have got a great fan following not only in India but in many foreign countries too. The charm of the Bollywood could not even stop Prince William and Princess Kate from meeting some of the Bollywood’s biggest stars, during their recent trip to India. So, when you are in India, do visit Mumbai, the film capital of India and get yourselves a chance to witness the film celebrities of the country.
Traveling to India can be one of the most colourful, rewarding, eye-opening and interesting experiences, especially for the tourists visiting from western nations. Though many tourists love the vibrancy and the effervescence of the country, some also get frustrated seeing the chaos and hullabaloo all around at all times. If you are planning to visit India, be prepared to encounter some cultural shock and give yourselves a day or two to adapt to the ways of life in this beautiful country where norms are still little different from the western countries; especially for women. As you get comfortable with the surroundings and the locals here, who are ever ready with their smiles to help you out, I am sure, nothing would be able to stop you from loving this country.