Luxtripper Travel Editor
Make 2020 the year you finally tick India off your bucket list!
It begins for many as a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, but India's vastness, sheer beauty and astounding regions draw travellers back again and again to unearth it's hidden secrets. India is often considered a more daring travel destination, reserved exclusively for die-hard backpackers; but this is not the case.
If you're looking for an unforgettable holiday that perfectly combines authentic and immersive culture with relaxation and indulgent luxury - you will adore India. From luxury camps in the heart of Ranthambore national park, to hotels set within palaces overlooking lakes that sparkle in the sunlight, there's something to suit every traveller. Let us show you some of our top must-visit destinations...
Rajasthan's spectacular region is India as you imagine it in your mind; the jewel in this rich nation's crown.
Landing in Delhi? Jump off the plane, straight into a tuk tuk and start discovering this eclectic city at street level! Delhi's cacophony of sounds, scents and colours wait around every corner, signalling a city steeped in history that's catapulting itself into the future.
Don't forget, India is a nation of contrasts; Jaipur's pink-hued city is home to markets with stalls heaving under treasures, and locals dressed in delicate saris. While Udaipur's lavish palaces wrap themselves around the city's huge lake, known lovingly as the 'Venice of the East'. Contrast your stay in Jaipur's 'pink city' with a visit to Jodhpur's remarkable 'blue city'! This incredibly photogenic destination is also home to beautiful palaces and some fascinating museums.
Rudyard Kipling (author of 'The Jungle Book') remarked on the Taj Mahal as '...the embodiment of all things pure'. Scholars, travellers and everyone in between have reflected on the sheer beauty, significance and impact that it left on them.
However, nothing you have seen or read in magazines or online can ever prepare you for how incredible it is to finally witness the Taj Mahal, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in real life. The Taj Mahal see's between 40-70,000 visitors a day.
This astounding mausoleum of dazzling white marble is the shining jewel of Agra. It was built between 1631-1648 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, as a lasting memory of his treasured wife Mumtaz Mahal. Don't forget, the rooms within the Taj Mahal are equally as beautiful as it's exterior. Let a tour guide show you every hidden corner for a truly fulfilling and unforgettable visit.
Stepping off the beaten path and journeying north and east reveals even more of India's sheer regional diversity and breathtaking culture.
Venture far east and you'll hit Calcutta. Once the capital of the British Raj, this historic city evokes memories of colonial times and crumbling grandeur. Fancy a spot of tea? Darjeeling's emerald-hued tea terraces sit high among misty mountains; best viewed along the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway - Darjeeling is also home to Asia's largest ropeway. If you love tea, you need to try India's Masala Chai tea; a beautifully spiced milky black tea.
If you're seeking a soothing escape high in the hills, head north to Shimla. Colonial history can be spotted in all directions, thanks to it being the former summer capital of the British Raj. Nowadays, this heavenly destination is dotted with numerous wellness escapes that feel a world away from India's bustling cities. Travellers looking for an airy and alpine alternative to Jammu and Kashmir will love Ladakh's remote setting, mountain views and unique Tantric Buddhist culture.
Coated in gold that glitters in the sunlight; it's no wonder that pilgrims journey across the world to reach Amritsar's crowning glory; the Golden Temple.
The Golden Temple is the most sacred shrine in Sikhism, and the temple welcomes a staggering 50,000 visitors a day! To accommodate for such huge numbers, the temple undergoes regular upkeep to ensure it remains beautifully preserved. Guru Nanak began the tradition of serving visitors of the temple a meal back in 1481, nowadays both permanent staff and 100s of volunteers devote their time to offer a hot and delicious meal - known as a langar - to people of any and all religions who visit the temple. The Golden Temple's gleaming exterior looks beautiful at any time of the day, however we really recommend visiting and photographing it at sunset.
Although 'The Jungle Book' may be one of the world's most loved stories set in India, it can come as a surprise to some that such a remarkable safari experience can be enjoyed here!
At 151sq, Ranthambore is one of India's largest national parks. This spectacular destination sits within Rajasthan and offers travellers the chance to embark on thrilling safari drives to see a wealth of spectacular widlife. Much like Rudyard Kipling's fabled book, Ranthambore is home to not only the Bengal Tiger that reflects Shere Khan, but also four other breeds of big cats including leopards. You'll also spot other animals such as sloth bears, wolves, pythons, deer and much more. Aside from the safari's you'll be embarking on, Ranthambore is also home to an Indian Wolf Sanctuary, and Dastkar Ranthambore is a not-for-profit that showcases colourful handicrafts all made by local village women.
Kerala is said to be so beautiful, it's known as 'God's Own Country'. Often described as one of the most incredible states in India; Kerala's enchanting landscape of river ways, spice plantations and rice terraces are unforgettable.
Everything about Kerala ultimately relates back to it's extensive backwaters. These palm-lined river ways weave through local farmer's plantations, enchanting forests teeming with wildlife and even villages whose people use the backwaters as part of their everyday life. The best way to experience Kerala is with an overnight trip on an authentic house boat; these boats traverse the waterways effortlessly and really showcase the best of this beautiful destination.
The past and the future collide powerfully in India's largest city; Mumbai. Palaces of British colonial heritage overlook towering skyscrapers in this diverse powerhouse; if you love the city, you'll love Mumbai!
Escape the bustle with a visit to Goa, this fantastically laid-back beach destination is all about golden sands and warm waters. There are also plenty of colonial buildings and heritage sites to observe while soaking up the sunshine here, as well!
Looking for something different? Pondicherry was under French rule until 1954, and it's distinct architecture certainly shows evidence of such. Pondicherry is also home to Auroville; a town of 2,500 people who have dedicated their lives to a completely self-sustainable way of living!
The Andaman's string of paradise islands are India's best kept secret.
Just 1000km from India's eastern coastline sit the Andamans; a string of around 300 islands fringed with soft white sands and pristine waters brimming coral gardens. Geographically, the Andamans actually sit closer to Myanmar and Thailand, and their remoteness has benefited them exponentially with spectacular wildlife and natural beauty. Venture this far from India's coastline and you'll be rewarded with seclusion, relaxation and incredible diving experiences.
Now you know a little bit about India's top destinations, you might be wondering when the best time to travel to India is, it can be essentially broken down as follows:
To make the most of your adventure across Rajasthan, you'll want the weather to be generally dry and not too hot. November to March is the best time to travel to this region.
Kerala & the South
All year round, Kerala see's high temperatures and bright sunny days. We recommend arriving between January and March when it's most comfortable. Avoid travel around May as this is when the monsoon seasons hits!
Himalayas & the North
Hiking and trekking season reaches it peak in August and September; this is the time to visit the more northern territories.