How to describe India? A profusion of colour, chaos, sights, sounds and smells that will assault every sense on every level. Such a rich cultural heritage spans several centuries and takes it influences from its many rulers: Rajput, Mughal. English and Portuguese layered with multiple religions, traditional beliefs and customs, music, dance, architecture and food all combined to make a destination unlike any other. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, travel in luxury staying in outrageously opulent palaces, drive deep into a national Park in search of the Tiger, or enjoy a serene cruise through the Backwaters of Kerala on a converted rice barge, World Journeys can tailor the perfect Indian experience for you.
The walled city of Old Delhi pulses with energy and colour. The hustle and bustle of thronged bazaars is laced by a maze of narrow lanes which twist and turn between tall, leaning houses. With its intricate streets, elegant mosques, forts, monuments, and bazaars that sell a variety of goods, Old Delhi speaks volumes about its Mughal past.
Agra – The Taj Mahal The Taj Mahal is truly a vision to behold as the last golden rays of light shimmer off its lacy white marble, showcasing what is, perhaps, the most perfect architectural monument in the world. It is often said that Taj Mahal changes its colours every minute depending upon the angle of sunrays, and is best seen either by sunrise or sunset. Sunrise, however, is the best time to photograph this magnificent monument under mild sunlight.
Jaipur The picturesque capital of Rajasthan and awash in pink, the colour associated with hospitality and Rajput culture. Beautiful displays of architecture attract visitors including the Palace of the Winds and the Amber Fort. Shopping in the colourful bazaars for handlooms and trinkets is great fun with friendly locals always welcoming!
The state of Kerala has nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline and known for beautiful palm-lined beaches. Soak up the flavour of quite a different India with Portuguese history of Kochi, the verdant hill stations of Munnar, and cruise the tranquil backwaters of Kerala.
A town in the state of West Bengal, Darjeeling is famous for its stunning green slopes scattered with tea plantations. Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” completed in 1881.
The best time to visit India is November to April when the weather is most comfortable. There is also a plethora of festivals during this time to add to your travelling experience. The summer can be oppressive, hot and humid making sightseeing difficult in most places with the possible exception of the highlands.
India had featured in my personal top ten places to visit ever since I was a child. I blame Rudyard Kipling of course – he painted glorious kaleidoscopic pictures in my mind of thick jungles, soaring palaces and beautiful people with shining eyes and wide smiles, adorned in shimmering saris every colour of the rainbow. I was therefore beside myself when I finally had the opportunity to experience it all for myself. The reality of this huge and populous country both delighted and overwhelmed me but thanks to Mr Kipling, I was seriously predisposed to fall in love with the whole experience. From the chaotic markets in Delhi to the inevitable traffic jam as we waited for a sacred cow to cross the road, from the ethereal play of light across the Taj Mahal at sunrise to the collision of colour, scent and sound of local bazaars, India never failed to impress me. We were lucky to travel through India in the lap of luxury staying in palace accommodation which made the journey particularly enjoyable. Many were private homes of India’s Maharajahs, the Rambagh Palace in particular was home to generations of royals for nearly two centuries before becoming the residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur from 1925 to 1957. The Rambagh Palace is feted as a jewel in the crown of all authentic Indian palaces and has rightfully earned its place amongst the most luxurious properties in the world. After a memorable week exploring Rajasthan’s Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur we headed south to Kochi (Cochin) and I felt like I had arrived into a different country! As I wandered barefoot along a beautiful beach with palm trees swaying gently in a soft sea breeze I reflected on the differences to North India. A slower pace of life in the tropical warmth is evident; men wearing loosely wrapped sarongs called mundu’s and women in their ever-vibrant saris laugh and chat as they shop or wander through the market. Cochin’s famed Chinese fishing nets line the water’s edge and rock gently backwards and forwards like oversized ‘praying mantis’. The fishermen are only too happy to give you a lesson in the primordial art of fishing and will also try to sell you some fish or lobster ‘very cheap’. I was completely fascinated by the South’s laid back way of life – the locals are so friendly and the beach resorts relaxing and full of charm! If you want a healthy, rejuvenating holiday away from it all, with a bit of yoga on the beach, followed by an Ayurvedic treatment and a delicious seafood dinner then Southern India is most definitely for you! Kate
Currency India Rupee (INR), 100 paise = 1 INR
Language India has a number of official languages including: Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Kashmiri, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu – and English is widely spoken
Why we love it India has so many faces it really does have something for every traveller. The extravagance of the Maharajahs combined with the complex tapestry of its colonial past has resulted in some truly glorious architecture with huge aesthetic appeal – all begging to be explored. You can almost see shy eyes peeping out from behind latticed windows in the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, soak in the tangible feelings of devotion in every inch of the Taj Mahal and wonder at the surreal angles and planes of the Jantar Mantar Observatory. It is easy to step back in time by joining a kettuvallam cruise on peaceful Kerala backwaters or leap into the future in the mighty metropolis of Mumbai. Explore the origins of yoga and Ayurveda or pull on your boots as you search for the elusive tiger in any one of a number of national parks throughout the country. Foodies will be well content a range of culinary experiences and of course trainspotters will delight in the 65,000 kms of railway of one of the largest rail systems in the world. India – what’s not to love?
Weather The most comfortable months for travellers over most of the country are October to March. The cooler hill stations are delightful through the early summer months of April – June. India is generally very hot and humid through the main summer months of July – September.
Social customs & quirks The Indians are a very warm, generous and hospitable race. They are also quite curious so expect to be asked lots of questions about yourself! If entering an Indian’s home, please remember to remove your shoes and appreciate that religious beliefs may well dictate certain behaviours. If you adopt a modest approach to your dress, speech and actions you will pretty much guarantee no major social gaffes.
Festivals & events India is renowned for its festivals and celebrations – each one a vibrant and colourful occasion. It should be possible to enjoy at least one festival during your time in India, regardless of the month! Diwali and the Pushkar Camel Fair are two of the most famous festivals celebrated in November each year. National holidays include Independence Day on August 15th and Ghandi’s birthday on October 2nd.
We are just completing our stay at Brunton Boatyard in Cochin. We were upgraded to a suite and as this is a lovely relaxing place to stay that was certainly an extra benefit.
Our driver Kuma is great and as he keeps telling us, is with us for 41 days so feels invested in our holiday happiness.
We have already experienced several different environments and it is back up into the hills today for a little cool again, each place has a new element that adds to our whole experience of India.
Our Safari's at Orange County resort resulted is seeing an abundance of wildlife including a tiger, and when we were at Bandipur we discovered this was because the animals migrate there for the water. So although much less to see at Bandipur we did see a bear.
We have many more exciting experiences to look forward to and we will let you know how we get on!
Heather and Graham
Favourite would have to be Oberoi Amarvilas hotel in Agra it was amazing. It must be more than 5 star, the service was unbelievable. The whole trip by car instead of the coach tour was brilliant. Compared to our friends experience on the coach (which was fine) this was way better and the
flexibility we had was great. No looking which bus to get on, the guide just phoned our driver and he arrived in minutes. I would recommend anyone to go this way! The accommodation was stunning compared to my friend's holiday doing the same with a coach tour, ours was much better hotels and service.
David & Sue
Guides were superb!
Our trip was amazing. We had the very best experiences with the hotel accommodation and the travel guides were superb. Everywhere we went the guides were punctual, very informative and extremely keen to fit in with whatever we wanted. The Jahan so exceeded our expectations. Our suite that you managed to secure for us - one of only two, was out of this world and the envy of the other passengers who weren't so lucky although all accommodation was very nice. We would highly recommend every aspect of our trip to anyone and would certainly recommend you.The Ovolo Hotel in Hong Kong worked out perfectly as an excellent value for money stay where one wanted to be in the centre of everything and wasn't planning of spending heaps of time in ones room. Thank you so much again for everything.
The Indian trip was wonderful!
The Indian trip was wonderful! Truly amazing! It was very professionally run - the hotels were excellent..all the guides very good.. everything just great! I felt that it was good value for the money. Lani was just the best â€˜tour hostâ€™ and with Steve helping her the trip had to be a success. I have never been so well looked after! I couldnâ€™t speak highly enough of their input. There were some lovely people in the group and I'm sure that I have made some life-long friends. It was all fantastic!! Thanks for your part in it all. I really appreciate all the juggling you had to do and with such good humour!
Fantastic in every way!
It was fantastic in every way! Up there with our fabulous trip to Africa. Just the right amount of time in each place, fabulous accommodation, and probably what made it even better was our guide Sunny.