India is a magical travel destination with a host of fabulous things to do. Whether you prefer a relaxing holiday focused on embracing the country’s unique blend of culture or something more adventurous like exploring nature, India offers everything an intrepid traveller could wish for.
In many ways, it almost has too many great things to do! We could create a list of ideas that goes on forever, but we’ve condensed it down to our top ten India highlights. If you’re thinking about visiting India this year, or in the future, here are some of the best things to do:
Exploring Majestic Palaces
A deep royal history combined with exceptional architecture means India has a phenomenal range of stunning palaces for you to visit. The obvious highlight is the iconic Taj Mahal, famed worldwide for its outstanding beauty and design. It is one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World and took 22 years to build with a whopping 22,000 labourers working on it. You’ll find it on the banks of the river Yamuna in Agra, and there are many small replicas of it throughout the country.
However, it’s not the only majestic palace you should set aside time to see. In the Pink City of Jaipur, you have some of the grandest palaces in all of India. The royal residence City Palace is one that stands out with opulent designs and long guided tours. Over in Karnataka, Mysore Palace stands proud with its sublime green gardens and unique design. No matter where you look, there’s an Indian palace waiting to dazzle and amaze.
The fun doesn’t stop there - India has an abundance of temples and palaces to enjoy, some of which you can even stay in!
Stay On A Boathouse
Most people think of India as a very land-centric place to visit. In reality, it is full of different lakes, canals and rivers that immerse you in stunning nature, not to mention plenty of beautiful beaches. But if you’re looking for a unique travel experience during your trip, think about staying on a boathouse. There are plenty of gorgeous backwater channels to tour, that also offer a place to lay your head at night, giving you a chance to relax and focus on taking in all the outstanding wildlife and scenery around you.
We could pick a handful of places to go, but the Kerala Backwaters are right up there. You’ll experience a network of beautiful lagoons and canals in southwestern India, offering stunning views and laid-back tours around the Kerala state. Or, check out Dal Lake in Kashmir, famed for its incredible beauty and rich wildlife. Waking up on a boat every day is invigorating and offers a travel experience like no other.
Search For Tigers On A Safari
Did you know that over 70% of the global wild tiger population lives solely in India? These animals are synonymous with the country and you have a chance to spot them in their natural habitat. Many consider them the true kings of the big cat world as they’re much larger than lions. The gorgeous stripes help the tigers to keep a low profile, and may be hard to spot to the untrained eye, so India has a host of safari tours you can go on and with the help of your nature guide, you might just catch a tiger sighting
One of the best - and safest - places to go is Ranthambore National Park. Located in Rajasthan to the north of India, this is one of the largest and most open National Parks in the country. You can book countless safari tours here that bring you as close as possible to the iconic Bengal tigers found in this region of India. That’s not all; with ten different zones offering unique features, you’ll be treated to a wide range of local wildlife. Expect deer, peacocks, many bird species, leopards, sloth bears and crocodiles.
It’s a truly eye-opening experience that speaks to the diversity of India’s wildlife population and gives you a first-hand look at the country’s natural beauty.
Taste The Local Food
If you were asked to name three things India is known for, food would have be one of your answers. A vibrant and tasty cuisine that’s revered around the world is waiting to take your tastebuds on a journey. In truth, you’ve never tried proper Indian food until you’ve had it in India. Each region has its own set of iconic dishes and unique ways of cooking.
Curries and heavily spiced dahls dominate Indian cuisine, but your experience of the food will vary depending on where you visit. In northern Indian cuisine, you have very rich and bold flavours with tandoor clay ovens being extremely popular. Lots of dairy is used here, so expect rich and creamy curries with charred meat or paneer cheese.
Southern Indian food is perhaps what you’re most used to in Indian restaurants outside of India. You get a variety of curries in different textures and spices, along with fried snacks like pappadams or bhajis. If you have a sweet tooth, head to the east! This region is known for its wonderful range of sweet treats - including the delicious rasgulla.
Over in the West, you’ll find a lot of vegetarian dishes thanks to a heavy Hindu influence. You can’t spend time in this region without visiting the bustling city of Mumbai, famed for its range of street food markets. Speaking of which, if street food is your main aim, Kolkata should be at the top of your list. This Eastern city has a wide range of street food markets and stalls sampling some of the best Indian food you’ll ever put in your mouth. We’re talking homemade traditional samosa, egg rolls, dragon chicken and much, much more!
Meet The Locals
At Wild Frontiers, we strongly believe in challenging perceptions and inspiring connections. Travelling should be about more than just looking at pretty sights or doing typical touristy stuff. We like to help you focus on getting under the skin of a destination, immersing in local communities and cultures to truly get to know the people who live in the cities you’re visiting.
With our range of tours, we will help you dip into Indian culture for a more immersive travel experience. We help you see the real locals in small villages, where you can stay in guesthouses to get a true view of what life in India is really like. It’s an eye-opening experience that you’ve probably never had before.
If that’s not to your taste, then we can point you towards local companies - like the Pink City Rickshaw Company - so you still get to meet real people who make this country so great. It’s always good to support local businesses when you travel, ensuring you give back to those who help put India on the map.
Visit A Festival
The Indian subcontinent is alive with countless festivals and religious events for you to experience. Our tours visit a host of the biggest events, so you can experience them first-hand!
This includes the legendary Holi Festival, which see’s the country awash with colour every March. It’s a Hindu festival that welcomes springtime to the continent and is symbolic of new beginnings. Expect colourful powders thrown everywhere and prepare to get very messy.
he Festival of Lights (Diwali) is another great festival to check out. Many consider this the biggest Indian festival of the year and it is usually celebrated in November. It is a holy festival with a beautiful meaning attached. Many lights will illuminate villages, cities and the sky to symbolise the triumph ofgood over evil. Everyone is full of joy and there’s a powerful emotive feeling in the air throughout celebrations.
Tonnes of other important religious and cultural festivals are seen throughout the year - you’re bound to find one no matter when you visit this wonderful country. It’s often possible to combine a festival with a palace tour, so you can tick two things off your list in one go!
Ride The Train
Most of the time, riding a train is unlikely to be on your list of top things to do. Nevertheless, it’s one of the great India highlights that can’t be missed. You won’t be riding any old train here; you’ll be getting on a toy train. Named because of how small these trains are - and the fact they look like toys - these small trains are incredible.
Forget about home comforts and first class, India’s toy trains feel like a step back in time. The old-style designs make them a marvel to look at, but the real joy lies in the train journeys themselves. People are hanging out of open windows as the trains make their way around some of India’s most beautiful sites. It makes you feel like a local while introducing you to the gorgeous natural surroundings of this magnificent country.
There are only a handful of toy train lines still operational, but one that can’t be missed is the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It takes you through the Himalayas as you see huge mountain ranges on train tracks that blow your mind as you can’t believe how they’ve been built there! A perfectly picturesque route that you’ll probably want to see a couple more times before you leave.
Or, you could try another iconic line: the Kalka Shimla Railway. This one takes you through vibrant green hills with exceptional views across the region. The train goes over beautiful bridges and tremendous tunnels on a 5.5-hour journey. If you’re looking for a full-day experience, this is one to try.
Discover India’s Temples
As well as boasting some perfect palaces, India is known for its diversity of temples. The Golden Temple is perhaps one of the most well-known as the spiritual site of Sikhism. You’ll find it in Punjab and it’s hard to miss with a shiny golden design standing out amongst the white backdrop of other nearby buildings.
Rest assured there are many other temples for you to explore and pay your respects at. If you fancy a trip over 10,000 feet above sea level, head to the Badrinath temple in the Himalayas. It is a wonderfully ancient piece of architecture and one of the holiest temples in the whole country.
Badrinath is one of the four Char Dhams in India, which are considered key sites for Hindu pilgrimages. In fact, it is believed that every Hindu should visit all four Char Dhams in their lifetime. The other three are Jagannath in Puri on the east coast, Dwarkadhish on the west and Raheshwaram in the south. Each has been around for hundreds of years and features unique designs full of fantastic shrines.
Take It Slow Down The Ganges
The Ganges River is of great importance to the people of India. It has religious significance and is thought to be the holy river of Hinduism. Flowing all the way from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges offers many opportunities for a spiritual experience.
You will find many boat rides along this route that slowly take you down the river, taking in all the sights and scenes across many riverbanks. We offer incredible 14-day tours that let you experience this holy river while taking in many sights and cities along the way. Start in Kolkata and make your way to the banks of the Ganges River as you explore ancient cities and sail across the water as the sun rises and sets. It’s a magical tour that creates lifelong memories and many photo opportunities.
Sometimes, all you want to do is relax and enjoy your time away. India may be known for fantastic safari tours and beautiful temples, but it also has a series of stunning beaches and plenty of places to relax.
You can enjoy luxurious Indian holidays full of peace and quiet. Stay in five-star resorts and get pampered all day while enjoying some of the best food you’ll ever taste. Book a few simple tours if you wish before heading back to your hotel for an evening dip in the pool.
Picking out ten India highlights was a big challenge as the country still has so much more to offer. From adventurous tours to relaxing beach holidays, you can create the perfect holiday to suit your needs. If you’d like help planning your trip and booking amazing experiences, we’re more than happy to help. Check out our selection of India Tours & Holidays to create a package that puts a smile on your face.