Bustling yet serene and irrepressibly on the move, India dazzles and delights like no other place. Here are some tips for travelers planning their first trip to India.
Where to Travel?
The city of dreams, the city of screams. The city of riches and poor, The city of accidents and cure. Ahem! A city whose energy will only lift you up and make you want to do more. It might sound a bit clichéd to call Mumbai, the New York of India, but that is something that describes this city of dreams the best.
If Mumbai is your introduction to India, prepare yourselves for a wonderful journey and delve down deep into the city. The city with its furious energy is certainly bound to leave an indelible mark on your soul. This city, on the west coast of India is another world altogether. From exquisite colonial buildings, Portugese architecture, Bollywood and expats on one hand to slums, stray dogs, starlets, fisherfolk on the other. It’s a total maze out there. Some of its most notable places are remnants of British colonial rule, including the spectacular Victoria Terminus, the Prince of Wales Museum and the Gateway of India.
If your idea of India includes the rustic serenity of its countryside, then Kerala is a must for you. There is a lot to see here – including the extraordinary Hindu murals of the 16th-century, Sree Krishna Temple– but the main attraction here is that you can enjoy a tremendous variety of local cuisines. Luminescent paddy fields, fragrant spice gardens and verdant tea and coffee plantations are a feast for the eyes.
Udaipur & Jaipur
For monumental architecture, Agra justly steals the show with the Taj Mahal , but Udaipur to the west has its share of treasures, nestled in some of the most beautiful landscapes in India. The City Palace rises from the bank of Lake Pichola like a colorful mountain. In nearby Jaipur, Amber Fort is sprawling and spectacular, but be sure to visit the Eklingji temple complex, located outside the city. The carvings on the more than 100 shrines here have to be seen to be believed; moreover, it is a place of deep reverence and spirituality, an unmistakable part of the fabric of locals.
Agra & the Taj Mahal
If you ever worried that the Taj Mahal might not live up to the magnificence that poets and historians have applied to it, worry no longer. No photograph does the Taj Mahal true justice. It looks as if it were painted onto the sky and is both strikingly simple and graced with fine details. Visit at both sunrise and sunset, and see for yourself. Btw, Sunrise is the most evocative time to view the Taj.
This is the city with a heart. Cosmopolitan yet traditional. Delhi is the city with a heart of Rajasthan and the pulse of London. A visit here is likely to include the Gandhi Memorial, Chandini Chowk, Khan market, Rashtrapati Bhavan and Humanyun Tomb. You may also want to take a walk at Lodi Gardens.
When to Go?
Much of India’s climate is tropical, and the summer months can be too hot, so plan to travel in fall, winter or spring. The southern parts of India, including Kerala, are tropical and remain warm throughout. If you plan to travel both north and south, you need to pack for two different climatic conditions.
Who Should Travel to India?
Anyone with a love of history, culture, tradition, heritage and deep spirituality; anyone with a passion for beauty, whether natural or manmade; and anyone with the desire to meet some of the most open and warm people on the planet. In short…just about everyone should experience India, not once but every now and then.