Enjoy luxury travel on a Holiday of a Lifetime trip to India, with an expert guide to take care of the little things.
India is one of those great destinations that polarizes Globetrotters. Everyone seems to want to go, but some travellers find the country too adventurous for comfort. That’s before they even get out of the cities, as the noise, smell, and general chaos of Mumbai or Delhi overwhelm the senses. This experience is quintessential India, and must be embraced alongside the thrill of seeing the country’s incredible monuments, that first taste of real Indian cuisine, the thrill of tracking wild tigers, the friendliness of India’s people, and the endless parade of colour and sound.
Most visitors cherish memories of their trip to India, but there are some things to keep in mind to ensure you go home feeling the same way. While there’s not much anyone can do about the sensory overload of India’s big cities (so… embrace it), it is possible to avoid other potential problems, such as touts, “Delhi belly,” sometimes unpredictable transport, and accommodation of… let’s just say ‘questionable’ quality.
The easiest way to sidestep all of these pitfalls is to book the right guided India tour. Of course, there are thousands of India tours out there, and they’re not all made equal. There’s also the question of what to see. India is big and diverse enough that you could spend months there and barely see the highlights. A good Tour Director is able to put those contrasts in perspective for you on a tight, yet comfortable luxury travel itinerary that takes you to the best of the country in the allotted time. In the case of Goway’s exclusive Splendours of India Holiday of a Lifetime, that time is just under 17 days. This is just enough to see the very best of Northern India, from Mumbai to Delhi, all done under the expert eye of an experienced Tour Director who can take care of the little things.
Those “little things” make all the difference, particularly in a country like India, where there’s already so much to distract you. Let the Tour Director take care of tips, porters, and organized transportation. Feeling a bit nervous about the menu at local restaurants? Leaving India without enjoying its cuisine to the fullest would be a tragedy, so memorable dining experiences you won’t find at home are all included in this luxury travel experience. All accommodation is also of deluxe standard or better, ranging from modern high rises with all the conveniences, to beautiful resorts that block out the world’s cares.
17-Day Splendours of India: Holiday of a Lifetime
Modernity of Mumbai
India is filled with historic monuments and sights that you absolutely should see, but don’t think for a moment that this isn’t a country with its eye on the future. Mumbai, India’s largest city, is the centre of its commerce and media sectors, including Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry. It’s also a nice introduction to India for first timers, since the modern conveniences are never far away. The landmarks and sights are similarly rooted in India’s more recent history, such as Mani Bhavan, the house where Ghandi stayed during his time in Mumbai. Dominating them all is the Gateway of India, an eye-popping welcome to all who approach the subcontinent by sea. Just as impressive is the view from the Hanging Gardens of the Jain Temple, and the old city of Banganga, where the Banganga Water Tank preserves a slice of ancient India amid Mumbai’s rush toward the future.
Palatial Splendours of Udaipur
Of all India’s states, Rajasthan is one of the most popular with international visitors. It embodies India at its most colourful and offers cities packed with history and culture. Rajasthan’s somewhat drier, milder climate adds to the appeal as well. Udaipur is one of the “big three” cities that most visitors to Rajasthan usually opt to visit, and it contains the state’s most famous and impressive palace. Known simply as City Palace, it was finally completed in 1725, after 177 years of construction started by Maharana Udai Singh II.
Besides its spectacular façade, the palace preserves exquisite interiors and artwork that paint a vivid picture of Rajasthan’s historic wealth and power. It also contains a museum filled with royal artifacts. It might seem a little anachronistic that one of Udaipur’s other great attractions is a vintage car museum, but the impressive collection on display here once belonged to various Maharajas, and so are very much a part of India’s royal history. Udaipur is also famous for its lakes, which catch the gentle sandy colours of the city and offer a wonderful vantage point that visitors should enjoy at least once while they’re in town.
Vivid Colour in Jodhpur and Jaipur
Udaipur’s sandy hue hasn’t really earned it a colourful nickname, unlike Rajasthan’s other two destination cities. The electric blue colour of Jodhpur stands out on first sight from the desert landscape in a way that’s surreal and inescapably beautiful. Take in the view from Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest in India, and you’ll see the great spread of Jodhpur’s houses, almost like someone tipped over a bucket a blue Legos. The unique colour scheme does have a practical application however, in that it keeps the houses cool in the scorching heat of summer (usually April to June). It’s no coincidence that besides being the “Blue City,” Jodhpur is also known as the “Sun City.” A rickshaw ride through the old city is probably the best way to appreciate its charms up close.
Jaipur’s pink isn’t quite so immediate or vivid as Jodhpur’s blue, but it is called “The Pink City” nonetheless. Nowhere is this clearer than in the façade of the awesome Palace of Winds. Like an intricate and beautiful beehive in the middle of Jaipur, this structure was built in the late 18th century specifically for the women of the royal palace. Its perhaps dubious purpose was to sequester its residents away from public view, while its undulating architecture was designed to maximize airflow and keep its inhabitants cool. The City Palace continues Jaipur’s prevailing colour theme, but it’s the Amber Fort that attracts most visitors, with good reason. Offering spectacular views over the Rajasthan countryside, the fort itself is one of the most impressive in India.
Jaipur was also a major centre of science and knowledge, as is embodied at the Jantar Mantar Observatory. Since it’s located right beside the Hawa Mahal and the City Palace, it’s easy to do the trio together to get a real sense of Jaipur’s imperial and academic pasts. Many visitors leave remembering Jaipur as their favourite city in India. Perhaps you’ll be among them, on your luxury travel experience, particularly after catching a glimpse of the Pink City at sunset, when the afternoon light matches its buildings and sky to the name.
17-Day Splendours of India: Holiday of a Lifetime
Tracking the King of the Jungle
Lions? Please! Anyone who’s done a safari in India knows there’s only one king of the jungle. Tracking the country’s elusive Bengal tigers is an entirely different safari experience as thrilling as any on earth (and they are bigger cats than lions, we’re not making that up). Tigers of course aren’t the only animals to be found in Ranthambore National Park, which is probably just as well, because – try not to be too disappointed – sightings aren’t always guaranteed. If you’ve been looking into an India safari or tiger safari for some time, you probably already know this, but these beautiful beasts are famously elusive, and actually spotting one, even in a densely populated and well protected area like Ranthambore is no sure thing.
With that said, that elusiveness is part of what makes seeing a wild tiger a thrill without peer in the animal kingdom. Did you read or watch The Jungle Book as a child? Even if you don’t see any tigers, keep your eyes peeled for leopards, sloths, bears, deer, rhinos, buffalo, monkeys, wolves, elephants, Asiatic lions, and more beautiful bird species than you can hope to count. Hopefully you’ll catch a glimpse of those famous stripes as well. Tiger conservation is a #1 priority in India, where Indira Ghandi’s 1971 initiative, Project Tiger, was established to stabilize and protect tiger populations. It’s also extremely difficult to embark on a tiger safari without extensive planning and red tape, so being part of an organized tour that handles this for you can be tremendously beneficial.
The World’s Most Famous Monument to Love
What’s the first image everyone associates with India? What’s the one photo from your trip you absolutely will not be able to take without hundreds of other travellers being in it? It’s hoped that new restrictions on tourist numbers introduced this year will help stop overcrowding at the Taj Mahal going forward. But even the vast crowds do nothing to diminish the incredible beauty of India’s ultimate monument to love.
Taking 22 years to build, the Taj Mahal was commissioned by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, as a tomb for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The vast complex includes a mosque and guest house, and takes about a half day to see properly. The Taj is actually one of two main sights worth seeing in the area, the other being the Agra Fort, which can actually be seen nearby. In fact, the Agra Fort is the largest and most imposing structure in Agra. One of the most special places in Agra however, is Sheroes Hangout, a café run by local women who have survived abuse. Besides the obvious social contribution, the vibe is relaxed and the menu is pretty impressive too, even if you’re vegetarian.
If India has a true spiritual heart, it’s the holy city of Varanasi. Here, pilgrims cleanse their sins in the Ganges (not the best idea for foreigners – more on that in a minute), while smoky incense, bells, and the chants of the faithful fill the air. The spirit of Buddha himself looms large here, as it’s said to be the location of his first sermon after gaining enlightenment. Varanasi’s legacy as India’s spiritual centre goes back millennia, and it was the country’s centre of religious activity up until the 9th century AD.
The back streets are also fun to explore on your own. Just don’t miss sunset at the city’s ghats, where you’ll see an Aarti ceremony, a Hindu tradition of light offered up to one or more deities. You might even see a cremation ceremony. In Hindu belief, cremation on the funeral pyres by the river means bypassing rebirth and going straight to heaven. Tourists however are generally advised against a ritual cleansing in the Ganges. You won’t offend any locals by doing so, but India’s battle to clean up the holy river has not gone well. Life on the Ganges is a constant battle between spirituality and sanitation. With that said, faith is faith, and many swear by the water’s ability to grant them long life. For this reason, refrain from commenting on the state of the river when you’re in Varanasi unless invited to do so. You won’t change anyone’s mind on either side of the debate.
Ah, Delhi. The city that hits all five senses like no other. There’s more to Delhi than a chaotic capital, however. The city offers awe-inspiring monuments, and a surprising amount of well-maintained green space alongside the ramshackle charms of “Old Delhi.” The city’s most splendid structures include the Red Fort, and the Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques. The Raj Ghat memorial is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, while Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutub Minar round out the classic Delhi sightseeing route. There’s no experience more “Delhi” however than a rickshaw ride through the old city, where the sights, sounds, and smells of an area like Chandni Chowk are on full display.
As you’ll quickly discover, there are so many different sides to India, it’s no wonder people come away with such diverse emotions and opinions about the place. A swirling mass of people and sensations? Yes, it is. An ancient land filled with tradition and wonder? It’s that too. A modern country focused on its future? Correct. Which side of India resonates most depends on the individual traveller, and the trip they’re on. Each of Goway’s Holidays of a Lifetime comes with a Fun Theme, emphasizing either local cuisine, geography and history, or lifestyles and native culture. So if you’d like to shape the focus of your adventure on your luxury travel to India, simply choose a departure that best matches your interests, and discover all – or at least some of – the Splendours of India.
17-Day Splendours of India: Holiday of a Lifetime