For those of you who are currently enjoying Indian Summers on channel 4 or followed Prince Williams and Kate Middleton's recent Indian tour you might have been inspired to go and see India for yourself as have a Indian Holiday!
India is a vast country and has so much culture to offer in terms of stunning Palaces, Evocative Temples and Historical Forts but there is also a softer side to see with exciting wildlife and wonderful areas of relaxation. To see India in full you need months, but for first time travelers to India we would recommend a 2-3 week trip with a private guide. He will not only teach you about some of India’s wonders but also steer you through the hustle and bustle and excitement that is India, so you can choose your own pace and how much you wish to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds.
For first time travelers to India the Golden Triangle Tour is a great starting place as you get to see some of the most iconic sites such as the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Tigers at Ranthambore and the many stunning palace of Jaipur, as well of course Delhi.
However having gone that far you may as well see a bit more of India ! Why not continue to Mumbai and see the famed Elephanta Caves or the rather macabre but fascinating Tower of Silence? There is no denying that even with a private vehicle and guide,(so that you are travelling at your own pace), India can be a tiring place to be. The vibrant colours, heady spices and intense noise and energy level stimulate and exhaust at the same time so a longer stay to relax on the sun-kissed beaches in laid-back Goa is always a good plan.
It’s a struggle but if you forced us to pick just one highlight in each main location we would recommend:-
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest national parks in Northern India and has a growing population of Tigers. It is one of the most famous national parks as it was the former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, and now attracts wildlife enthusiasts keen to see the elusive Tiger
The Elephanta Caves in Mumbai Harbour. These Shiva dedicated temples were created between AD 450-750 and being hewn out of the rock are some of Indias most impressive temple carving. Now protected as a Unesco World Heritage Site they are only accessible by boat.
Obviously we have no choice but to choose the Taj Mahal for this recommendation. Commissioned in 1632 by the Mugham Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, it was effectively finished in 1643. It is believed to have cost to build the equivalent in todays money of US$827 Million employing 20,000 artisans.
In Jaipur there are a few sites vying to be chosen as the top thing to see, but we will stick with perphaps the best well known – The Amer Fort, often known as the Amber Fort as it is 11km outside Jaipur in Amber. Built in 1592 in red sandstone and marble the beauty is actually inside with many pavilions and halls with influences from both the architecture of Hindu and Muslim.
Delhi is a city that bridges two different worlds. Old Delhi is a wonderful labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings.
For our highlight we have chosen the 72.5m high Qutub Minar, which is the tallest brick minaret in the world. It is the centre piece of the Qutub Complex which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower tapers with a diameter of 14.32 at the case and 9 feet at the peak with 379 steps to the top. Construction was started in 1200 AD, with 3 more storeys added in 1220. In 1369 lightning destroyed the top storey wand it was restored with a further storeys added.
These are just a top few highlights for the first time traveller to India and we would recommend you take a look at how much more you can see of evocative India on a Indian Golden Triangle Holiday. At Weekend a La Carte we specialize in Special Occasion Travel where we recommend the best places to go if you are only going to this country once.