Get lost in the ancient city of Varanasi
Varanasi is an ancient city in India that has a unique charm and flavour infused into every nook and cranny of its city walls. Besides its alluring skyline due to its location along the Ganges River, it is actually one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.
Venture beyond the ghats, stone slab embankments by the side of the river, and you come face to face with a dizzying labyrinth of cobbled streets, narrow alleys, and haphazardly signposted shops. It feels like utter chaos, but there is a certain magic in this chaos that draws visitors back to its shores again and again.
Trek in the Himalayas
The Indian Himalaya conjures up images of ancient pilgrimages and sacred sites. The western ranges, from Kashmir to Nanda Devi, boast an incredible variety of communities and viewpoints.
The Markha Valley and Hemis Festival trek is perhaps the most popular in the Indian Himalaya, offering stunning mountain scenery, the largest monastery in Ladakh, and the chance to see snow leopards.
Wander around the Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort is a stunning architectural masterpiece that sits snug on a hill 125 metres above Jodhpur in Rajasthan. It is characterised by its high fortified walls, encasing a cluster of elaborately designed palaces with sprawling gardens. The entire place is steeped in history, as evident from the imprints of cannonball attacks inflicted by attacking armies of Jaipur years ago.
To reach the fort, visitors have to pass through seven gates. The cannonball imprints can be seen at the second gate. Choose to walk up through the gates, or embark on a rickety rickshaw ride.
Stay in a houseboat
Staying in a houseboat is possibly one of India’s most unique experiences. Cruising along the backwaters in a houseboat gives you far more spectacular views than a normal hotel room can offer. This form of accommodation is especially popular in Kerala.
Feast your eyes on reflections of coconut trees in the still waters, watching as the stern of your houseboat stealthily cuts through the calm. The whole experience is therapeutic, and even charmingly rustic to say the least, passing through a couple of local villages and other houseboats bearing beaming children. The boat crew is welcoming and hospitable and, after a while, even start to feel like family.
Channel your inner Barbie at the Pink City of Jaipur
Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan. The entire city is painted a striking pink in colour in order to welcome guests, as pink signifies the colour of hospitality. True to its namesake, Jaipur is home to welcoming locals, grinning street peddlers, as well as intricate architecture all decked out in varying shades of pink.
Go wild at the colorful festivals
With its pantheon of Gods and religions, there is no shortage of festivals in India. Each region has its own celebrations too, in Kerala, for example, they observe harvest with Onam, a 10-day festival of feasting. There are kite flying and camel festivals, and an event that celebrates hornbills in Nagaland. There is no better way to immerse yourself in the country’s colourful traditions.