The Taj Mahal, vibrant colours, spicy flavours, expressive dance, stunning traditional silk clothing, lively festivals, bustling markets, spiritual pilgrimage, architectural ingenuity, and a myriad of cultural diversity - just some of the reasons India is a truly fascinating place to explore. As one of the oldest civilisations in the world, India has an intriguing culture that is markedly different from that of the western world. Many languages are spoken, including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu. Religion and spirituality are integral to the Indian traditions and way of life; Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism all originated in India, although Hinduism is the dominant religion practised there today. You will come across the unexpected – free-roaming scared cows will wander as they please, while the rules of the road (or lack of) are rather unorthodox.
Journey into a wonderland of the exotic and enigmatic, full of strange fascination - from the erotic temples of Khajuraho and the splendid Taj Mahal, to the ashy presence of Hindu holy men and the world's only official living goddess.
The cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur showcase India's rich Mughal and Rajput heritage - imposing forts, sumptuous palaces and gleaming marble temples and tombs, such as the exquisite Taj Mahal.
You are invited on this luxury heritage journey through timeless Rajasthan, where Maharajahs built forts and lavish palaces towering over desert cities.
Best places to visit
Home to one of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal - a monumental tribute of love, crafted in memory of Mughal emperor Shan Jahan’s wife - is a must-see landmark when journeying to India. With flawless marble symmetry, it is incredible to see such a master of architectural beauty considering it was built back in the 17th century. Not far from the Taj Mahal’s gardens, the Agra Fort is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that will leave you in awe of its architectural brilliance. Within this red sandstone masterpiece (spanning almost 2.5km), you will find the Royal Pavillions, stunning mosques and palaces, and the Zenana Mina Bazaar. While venturing in Agra, be sure to savour the traditional pakoras – delicious vegetable fritters with a richly seasoned batter-coating.
A trip to Delhi has to include an energising rickshaw ride to fully immerse yourself in the sights, smells and sounds of Indian culture. Keen shoppers will have a fabulous time in Chandi Chowk market; a hub of shopping activity that has existed for over 300 years. Here you will find all sorts of incredible jewellery, fabrics, perfumes, spices and souvenirs. When it comes to historical landmarks, the Red Fort Complex needs to be on your list. This 17th century palace fort exhibits striking style and design; octagonal in shape and boasting two glorious entrances – the Lahore Gate and the Delhi Gate. Also on the Yamuna River is the Raj Ghat memorial to Mahatma Ghandi, frequently decorated with beautiful flower offerings. Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque (with a capacity of 25,000 people), is a further masterwork of the same Mughal emperor responsible for the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. Consequently, it showcases awe-inspiring architecture typical of the period in which it was built. A further World Heritage Site worth your time is the Tomb of Emperor Humayun – the first garden-tomb in India and the design inspiration influencing the Taj Mahal.
The rural countryside of Jaipur will treat you to the sight of flat, green fields, abundant with brightly-coloured flowers, radiating vibrant hues of pinks, oranges and yellows. These flowers can be bought at Jaipur’s fruit and vegetable market, where you can also try your hand at bartering with the local stall vendors. Located within the City Palace complex, is the sacred Govind Dev Ji Hindu temple. If your visit is timed during one of the festival celebration periods, you will see this stunning structure lavishly decorated with flowers and lights. The Amber Fort is another iconic site, with immense terraces and ramparts reflected in the Maota Lake below. Inside, the royal halls are decorated with intricate ivory, mirrors and glass, complemented by exquisite wall paintings. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the intricate detail in the famous Hawa Mahal (also known as The Palace of Winds) and will have plenty to admire while taking in the fabulous collection of Rajasthani and Mughal Art within the City Palace, and visiting Jantar Mantar- the world’s largest stone observatory. Food-wise, definitely try the Ghewar – a delicious disc-shaped sweet that is a speciality in this fine city.
With an extensive shoreline of beautiful beaches, Kerala is the perfect location for some peace and tranquility. The area includes highlands, green hills and valleys, calming backwaters, interconnected canals and rivers, multiple waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife, in both their natural habitat and protected in conservation sanctuaries. Vaikom village, one of the oldest townships in Kerala, has many spots untouched by modernity. House boat and canoe rides are great ways of gently cruising the backwaters and taking in the scenery. Traditional crafts like pot making, weaving and toddy tapping (freshly tapped sap from coconuts used to make refreshing soft and alcoholic beverages) are very much part of community life in Kerala.
Taking in the city skyline on a cruise to Elephanta Island is a wonderful sight to behold. Situated within Mubai Harbour, Elephanta showcases a complex of ancient cave temples that are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Overlooking the harbour is the colossal Gateway of India. Built in 1924, this is a prized monument in India and the gateway used by the last group of British troops exiting India in the aftermath of World War II. One of the India’s finest art and history museums - Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India) is a fabulous place to view significant Indian sculptures and works of art. For contemporary art, the Jehangir Art Gallery holds a noteworthy collection. Aside from the art world, Mumbai offers a hustle and bustle that is bound to astonish, within famous places such as Crawford Market. If you are seeking a place to unwind, head to the Hanging Gardens to take a relaxing walk as you marvel at the topiary and immaculately kept flora.
Alternatively named the beautiful ‘City of Lakes', Udaipur’s romantic, picture-perfect scenery, with plentiful lakes, forts, palaces and temples, has been used as the setting in many movies. Combining Medieval, Chinese and European architectural influences, the City Palace complex is made up of 11 palaces - each one built by a different ruler. Within each palace, a remarkable collection of antique furniture, artwork and ornaments is displayed, as well as the buildings themselves being a piece of art to admire in their own right. The hive of activity in the markets and bazaars contrasts with atmosphere at the majestic Jagdish Temple and serene Garden of the Maids of the Honour. An evening boat cruise on the tranquil waters of Lake Pichola is a wonderful way to enjoy the sunset and indulge in some of the best Indian cuisine imaginable.
If your goal is to see a tiger in its natural habitat while exploring India, then Ranthambore National Park is the place for you. Although best known for these magnificent big cats, the park is also home to leopards, jungle cats, hyenas, deer, jackals, flying foxes, Indian porcupines, wild boars, crocodiles, lizards and cobras, among many other species. As well as captivating wildlife, lake palaces, chhatris (dome-shaped pavilions), old fortifications and the stately 1,000-year-old Ranthambore Fort can all be found within the park.
Literally meaning the ‘Land of Kings’, stunning Rajasthan is India’s largest state, within which the Ranthambore National Park is located. It also houses the Sariska Tiger Reserve, the Keoladeo National Park, the Dilwara Temples and the ancient mountain range of Aravalli. A village safari in rural Rohet will give you meaningful insights into what daily life in Rajasthan entails. Meanwhile, in Ranakpur - the temple town of Rajasthan - it is possible to explore the grandeur, elaborate carvings and classic architecture of the sprawling Jain temples, which are regarded as some of the best in the country. Rajhastani cuisine is a wonder with Laal Maas being top of the list to try. If you can handle the heat, this fiery dish will not disappoint. For those with a palate for milder tastes, Boondi Raita is much-loved, thick, spiced curd made with yoghurt, cucumber, milk and green chillies. Sweeten your taste buds with churma ladoo - a festival sweet comprised of ghee, whole wheat or rice flour and jaggerey (a type of sugar), rolled into balls, making them easy to eat and highly moreish!
Our fine collection of Luxury Gold India trips covers these incredible landmarks and a number of additional exciting Indian destinations. As travel experts, we know how to bring India to you in the best way possible; seeing the greatest sights, staying in opulent hotels and receiving exemplary service.