Istock 914617344 Traditional House Boat In Kerala
Istock 914617344 Traditional House Boat In Kerala

Top 10 Indian Experiences

What To Do In India?
The young poet and playwright Kiran Millwood Hargrave said "India is a place where colour is doubly bright. Pinks that scald your eyes, blues you could drown in." It's a quote that captures the marvellous intensity of experiencing India. You’ll flit like a butterfly from a gilded palace to a sun baked fortress, to a bustling bazaar, to an encounter with a big cat, all the while drinking in the colours, sounds, aromas and the relentless energy of Indian life. That collage of glimpses will be there to savour years after you return.
  • The Big Cats of India
  • Spotting Snow Leopards
  • The Golden Triangle
  • Authentic Cultural Experiences
  • Temples, Forts and Palaces
  • Varanasi
  • Exclusive River Cruises
  • Mountain Adventures
  • The Maharaja’s Train
  • Indian Cuisine
Tiger Close 2 Ss
1. The Big Cats of India
To encounter a tiger, the world’s largest feline species, is a heart-stopping moment. A tiger’s majestic athleticism, its hypnotic eyes, its magnificent beauty and its unchallenged dominance of its environment will leave you rooted to the spot as you contemplate your inferiority. The tiger is, without doubt, the monarch of all Asian cat species, though there are others to entice any big cat lover to search India’s 500 wildlife sanctuaries and 103 national parks.

Shy, agile snow leopards roam the screes and snow fields of the Himalayas, whilst the fierce Asiatic lion prowls the scrublands of the Gir Forest, their only remaining habitat. All Asian big cats require greater patience and tracking skills than their African cousins, but all things of meaning and significance in life require more effort.
Snow Leopard Cub By Cloudtail The Snow Leopard On Flickr
2. Spotting Snow Leopards
Stealing through the highest reaches of the mountains like a shadow, an elusive snow leopard is notoriously hard to track; their camouflage is such that they can slip by unseen, sometimes only metres away. But with the right guides and expertise, we make it possible to get a glimpse of these stunning big cats as they navigate the treacherous rocky slopes, their expert balancing act aided by the wielding of a magnificent thick fluffy tail.

A realistic chance of encountering a snow leopard is something that has developed only in the last decade thanks to the work of ecologists both working to increase their numbers and also to understand their habits. You’ll stand the best chance of seeing one when you stay at the aptly named Snow Leopard Lodge in the high altitude desert of Ladakh.
Taj Mahal Julian Yu 640806 Unsplash
3. The Golden Triangle
India is a country like no other – it is wondrous, intriguing, romantic and beguiling – and a trip around the Golden Triangle gives a taste of the exotic beauty, diversity, history and complexity of a country that defies a simplistic description. Most start their adventure amidst the incredible smells, breathtaking temples, colours, crowds, crumbling buildings and general chaos of Delhi. For the last 3,000 years, the inhabitants of Delhi have been weaving a labyrinth of streets, punctuated by serene oases such as the Jama Masjid mosque.

The next corner of the triangle is the “pink city” of Jaipur, which will introduce you to the desert state of Rajasthan, a place of countless forts, palaces, temples and gardens. Then it’s on to Agra and the destination that defines India and the power of love; the Taj Mahal. Here at Journeysmiths, we recommend arriving for the glorious blushing pink and peace of dawn.
Bangalore Temple Istock By Aapthamithra
4. Authentic Cultural Experiences
Nowhere beats India for the sheer variety of cultural experiences: it is a country with more than 4,500 years of recorded history, is the birthplace of multiple world religions, and some 780 languages are spoken here. Our team of Journeysmiths will help you to experience the authentic flavours of India, from heritage hotels converted from former palaces and fortresses, along with lodges and camps which have integral links with local communities.

Nothing beats dining with the grandson of a maharaja, praying with the Buddhist monks in a gompa, or dancing into the early hours of the morning with the members of a Naga tribe. To be immersed in the midst of the Pushkar Camel Fair, a gathering of thousands of camels, horses and cattle – along with their owners – is an un-orchestrated and genuine cultural experience that bombards the senses.
Udaipur City Palace In Rajasthan Is One Of The Major Tourist Attractions In India Ss By Saiko3P
5. Temples, Forts and Palaces
The number of forts, palaces, and temples in India is uncountable. Even the tiniest town or village once had its own princely ruler, with a magnificent palace abode, as well as a fortress from which to defend his territory against covetous neighbours. Amongst these thousands of historic monuments, however, a few stand head and shoulders above the rest. The monuments at Hampi, for example, present the traveller with a dazzling array of some 1,600 medieval structures in a single place.

The erotic carvings at Khajuraho will beguile you, and you cannot fail but to be impressed by the immense size and intense colours of the Meenakhsi Amman Temple in Madurai. In Jaipur, the City Palace, Hava Mahal, and Amer Fort dazzle in the scale and beauty of their architecture, but none come close to the romance of Udaipur’s Lake Palace or the opulence of Umaid Bhawan in Jodhpur. This is truly a fairytale land.
Varanasi Ss
6. Varanasi
Varanasi was once described by Mark Twain as older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looking twice as old as all of them put together. This is the ultimate pilgrimage place for Hindus who believe that to die in the land of Varanasi is to attain salvation from the cycle of birth and rebirth and thus an end to suffering. It’s the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, it’s where Brahma lost his head, and it’s a place to wash in the mighty and cleansing Ganges.

The rituals of the pooja ceremony, the curling smoke of incense, the lights of thousands of oil lights, the floating floral tributes, the cremations and the seething devoted crowds of humanity on the ghats are best seen from the water itself. Then we suggest seeing just a handful of the 23,000 possible temples in magnificent, throbbing Varanasi.
Back Waters Kerala View Istock
7. Exclusive River Cruises
In India, every river is a god or a goddess, the most mighty of which is Ganga herself. In her valley, it is her fertile soils, seasonal flooding, and purifying presence that are the benevolence upon which more than half a billion people base their lives. From the detached and refined vantage point of a luxury cruise, you will see an ever-changing diorama of rural life, ancient temples, glimpses of unspoilt wilderness, and plenty of bustling humanity.

We also recommend taking a traditional ketuvallam houseboat from Alappuzha, the Venice of Kerala, to float gently through the labyrinth of canals, inlets, and lakes where the rivers meet the Arabian Sea.
Kullu Valleyhimachal Pradeshindia Ss
8. Mountain Adventures
Huge tea plantations, dripping jungle, stately trains, snow-capped peaks, raging rivers, swirling mists and respite from the heat and humidity of lowland cities; these are just a few of the myriad of impressions of the seven major mountain ranges of India. The mightiest of them all, the Himalayas, have always defined the very boundary of the subcontinent, ranging from the arid plateaus of Ladakh in the west, to the former summer capital of Shimla, to the terraces of Darjeeling in the east.

There are other highlands too, such as those supporting the spice plantations and tea estates in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Many are explored in style and comfort aboard the trains of India’s rail network. For the most adventurous of travellers, we recommend the unsurpassed experience of the Tibetan-style landscape and culture of Ladakh.
Mayur Mahal 4
9. The Maharaja’s Train
Designed to compete with the splendour of the Orient Express, the Maharaja Express is India’s most famous and luxurious private train, and it’s an unforgettable way to travel between India’s top cultural sites. It’s an opulent palace-on-wheels experience complete with rich tapestries, fine linens, and antique furniture: no wonder it was awarded the status of the World’s Leading Luxury Train for six consecutive years.

Whether it is on the Heritage of India Itinerary or on one of its six other routes, you will have a personal valet on hand even if you don’t opt for the four-room presidential suite.
Traditional Spices And Dry Fruits In Local Bazaar In India Ss By Curioso
10. Indian Cuisine
Any Indian will tell you that their diverse country is united by a pride in their culinary traditions. Most international travellers start with no idea of how vast the realm of Indian food is, which is why food is an ideal theme to taste (literally and metaphorically) the variety of the whole sub-continent. You’ll love the coconuts and local spices used in Kerala, and the intriguing desert vegetables of Rajasthan, but to list all the regional, local, and hyper-local themes would be an endless task.

We recommend taking a cookery class to pick up skills and ideas, such as those offered at Raas Chhatrasagar. There’s no better or more useful way to take a break from the bustle of cities and the exhaustion of safaris.
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