With around one sixth of the world’s population, more than 22 official languages, and streets where cows are just as common as rickshaws and cars – India is a world in itself. If you’re planning to visit India, your first tip is to try and make your stay as long as possible – there’s simply too much to see in a brief visit!
What to see:
The Taj Mahal and Agra:
The first thing anyone’s going to ask you upon your return is if you visited the Taj Mahal – so make sure it’s on your list! A great way to see all the classic highlights is to embark on what’s called the Golden Triangle Tour – which covers Delhi, Agra and Jaipiur. In Agra you can visit not just the Taj Mahal, but Fatehpur Sikri and the Agra Fort too. You’ll also get so see plenty of street life on the way and visit some fantastic and slightly manic bazaars along the way. Try and see the Taj Mahal at sunrise for the best view and to avoid the crowds!
Wildlife experiences in Rajasthan:
The second question you’re going to be asked is whether you saw a tiger – and your best shot is at the Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan national parks. Expect to see plenty of exotic birdlife completely unlike anything at home – and enjoy the opportunity to spot wild elephants and elusive one-horned rhinos! You can even embark on a camel trek through the desert from Bikaner in Rajasthan to experience the environment in a totally unique way.
Hit the beaches in Goa – sun, sand and spices!
For the best weather, plan you trip between November and February. A notable beach is Arambol – which is not just rich in natural beauty but also offer parasailing, paragliding and other water sports as well as an enormous beach market and some great restaurants and nightlife to enjoy, including bars, casino games and cocktails – it’s also well known for having some really affordable beach cottages to serve as accommodation. The city itself is brimming over with churches and cultural attractions, so it’s definitely worth making a stop here!
Spiritual stop-off at Varanasi:
If you’re in India in the last week of November, then you have to include the annual Indian Classical Music and Dance festival in your itinerary, which takes place on the banks of the river Ganges in the city of Varanasi. The event attracts countless artists and the river comes alive with light. Ramnagar Fort and the city’s many other architectural attractions are well worth a visit any time of the year, so if you want to see the more spiritual side of India, this is the place to be!
What to know before you go:
Have your health insurance and vaccinations up to date and stay away from the tap water – this kind of climate is not kind to the average Westerner’s immune system! Only drink bottled water and make sure the seal on the bottle is intact to be 100% sure.
With so many different languages spoken here, almost all the locals know some basic English, so don’t worry too much about being able to communicate.
Joining a tour group for at least the first week is a great idea for a first time traveller, ideally in a smaller group so you don’t get rushed. Don’t try and see everything – the most common complaint of first time travellers to India is suffering burnout! You simply can’t visit every attraction, so slow down and enjoy Intriguing India at your own pace!