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India is life at twice the speed and thrice the passion. It is the destination for the curious and a country that defies definition. Don’t even try to understand it. Just go there with an open mind and an appetite for the inexplicable, the picturesque and the intriguing. The culture, the chaos, the visual, the history, the people, all rolled into one extraordinary place that will stimulate your senses beyond belief.
IN A NUTSHELL
12-14 days is the best length of time for a visit
The best time to go is October – March
The shopping is absolutely fabulous!
Hindi is the official language but almost everyone speaks English
Previously known as Bombay, Mumbai is considered the New York City of India. Home to the countries financial district, sky scrapers stand tall over the city’s bustling streets- walk five yards and all of human existence is revealed. It is the city that does not sleep- the nightlife is limitless if you are a party animal. Mumbai is the complete package, with a huge variety of food, music, culture and of course, the main attraction, Bollywood.
- Visit Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai’s 140-year-old, open-air laundromat which has an estimated half a million pieces of clothing sent through it. A labour-intensive process, the dhobis (washerman) have an amazingly efficient system in place and is must-have experience when in Mumbai
- Experience behind-the-scenes action of a Bollywood tour and see the studios that have become part of the lifeblood of India
- Visit Elephant Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site with temples that date back to the 5th century
One of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi is the most popular pilgrimage point for the Hindus. In Hinduism it is believed that those who die and are cremated here get an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and re-births, as Varanasi is believed to have the power of washing away all of one’s sins.
- At Sunset take a boat down to the Ganges River past temples, abandoned palaces and the crematorium and at sunrise watch the locals as they gather on the “Ghats” for a cleansing dip in the holy river.
| Agra & The Taj Mahal
The iconic Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built from the profound love a man had for his wife is an international treasure, UNESCO World Heritage site and definite “must see” while in India.
- Take a romantic, private, full moon tour of the Taj Mahal for an unforgettable night under the stars
- Explore the Agra Fort, the residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty and marvel at its luring red sandstone.
- Stay at the Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, a luxurious resort where all rooms overlook the Taj Mahal
Jaipur is often referred to as the “Pink City” for its trademark building color. At the center of its stately street grid stands the opulent, colonnaded City Palace complex. With gardens, courtyards and museums, part of it is still a royal residence.
- Visit the City Palace and enjoy a private champagne tour of the residential and ceremonial rooms of the Palace.
- Shopping is a must in Jaipur! Take time to stroll through the famous bazaar. Explore the craft of jewellery – ranging from fabulous gems to silver and bone ornaments – all an integral part of Rajasthani culture.
Udaipur or “City of Lakes” has a romance of setting unmatched in Rajasthan and arguably in all India. Fantastical palaces, temples, havelis and countless narrow, crooked, timeless streets add the human counterpoint to the city’s natural charms.
- Visit the City Palace and afterwards walk through the Old City and see the ancient rare craft of “drawing water” and learn the secrets of Indian cooking.
- The “little piece of heaven on earth” where the domes and arches illuminated at night reflect the lake and has views of the Aravalli hills is not to be missed.