Leh / Ladakh
Remote & sparsely populated Ladakh, the trans-Himalayan region of North India, is a high altitude desert that is hugely popular with travelers from all over the globe. An awe inspiring bouquet of natural beauty its rugged brown mountains, emerald green oases villages and cloudless blue skies are complemented by beautiful Buddhist monasteries that dot its mesmerizing landscape.
Ladakh’s principal town, Leh, was once a bustling center on the Silk route between India and Central Asia and comes alive during festivals like Losar, Ladakh Harvest Festival and Sindhu Darshan.
Called ‘Paradise on Earth’ by the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan, and the immense & captivating natural beauty of Kashmir lives up to its high title.
The region is a mosaic of lush forests, splendid gardens, flowering meadows, meandering waterways and pristine lakes all encompassed by the towering & majestic Himalayan mountains.
Kashmir is also popular for various adventure sports that it offers. Skiing, golf, trekking, river rafting, paragliding, camping among other sports draw travelers from far & wide.
Amritsar, in the agriculturally rich state of Punjab, is home to the beautiful Golden Temple, the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion.
This important Sikh shrine attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal with more than 100,000 visitors on week days alone! A short distance from the temple is the infamous Jallianwala Bagh, where hundreds of unarmed demonstrators were massacred on the orders of British General, Rginald Dyer in 1919 and which has now become a pilgrimage site for Indians.
A visit to this fascinating historical city is incomplete without watching the evening ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony at the Indo-Pakistan Wagah border post where it’s played out in full fanfare by the armed forces of both countries.
Delhi, the capital of India, is a unique amalgamation of 7 cities which flourished during different eras.
It is the marriage of a modern cosmopolitan with antiquity. Elegant restaurants, imported cars, gleaming shopping malls, glitzy discotheques and a world class Metro, testimony to India’s rising status in the world, share space with the monuments of a bygone era. The city is a melting pot of people from different parts of the country which adds to its diversity and character.
Delhi can easily be divided between Old & New. While the Old part still retains its charm with its narrow lanes, beautiful havelis and majestic Mughal monuments like the Jama Masjid & Red Fort, New Delhi was built largely by the British who landscaped it with tree-lined wide avenues, beautiful boulevards, and spacious colonial buildings.
Seat of the mighty Mughal Empire during the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra boasts of some of the finest architectural splendors in the world and is known as the home to one of the 7 wonders of the New World, the mesmerizing Taj Mahal, which was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in 1653 A.D.
This exquisite monument in white marble is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal and in fact human architecture and along with the Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site drawing millions of visitors every year.
Varanasi, also called ‘City of Light’, is one of the oldest living cities in the world, with a history dating back to more than 3,000 years. The city has been the Spiritual Capital of India and even today it retains much of the allure of the ancient world where millions come seeking penance & enlightenment.
Many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians have lived here and Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath which is located close by.
The city’s centuries old temples and shrines on the Ghats of the mighty Ganges River reverberate day and night with the sound of religious practices & hymns.
The ‘City of Nawabs and Kebabs’, Lucknow, was capital of the Avadh Empire and is today also of Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s biggest states.
In the past Lucknow has been a great cultural center with its society known for their etiquette, refined manners & tastes. Its rulers were big patrons of the arts - dance, music, poetry and architecture flourished during their reign in the 18th & 19th centuries.
This intriguing city is a blend of old world charm, warm hospitality, courteous people, gastronomical cuisines, beautiful buildings and a rich heritage.
Known as ‘Queen of the Hill Stations’, Shimla was once the summer capital of British India and is set amidst snow-peaked mountains & beautiful apple orchards. Its old bungalows, neo gothic buildings , gabled roofs and beautiful gardens set in picturesque surroundings still retain an old world colonial charm making it an ideal place for a leisurely vacation.
Set amidst greenery, snow-capped peaks, and cascading waterfalls, Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh is a quaint hill station that was established by the British.
Modern Dharamshala’s claim to fame is that its upper part, Mcleodganj, serves as the temporary capital of the Tibetan Government in Exile & is home to His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, and a large Tibetan population earning it the nickname ‘Little Lhasa’.
Ideally situated at the foothills of the Himalayas at the confluence of River Chandrabhaga and River Ganges, Rishikesh marks the starting point of the Hindu pilgrim route, Char Dham.
It is well known as the ‘World capital of Yoga", and is home to numerous Yoga schools & ashrams which attract people from all over the World. Rishikesh is also a very popular destination for Adventure sports like white water rafting, hiking and bungee jumping.
Jaipur, aka the “Pink City” because of its prominent buildings washed in this color is the capital of the colorful state of Rajasthan. It was established by the Kachhawaha dynasty of Rajputs when they moved from their ancient capital of Amber in the 18th century.
It is India’s first planned city and the modern fabric is complemented with its massive fortifications, beautiful havelis and fascinating bazaars. Apart from its magnificent monuments built over the centuries by successive rulers, Jaipur also showcases intricate works of art, exquisite handicrafts and spectacular jewelry. Along with Agra & Delhi it encompasses the famous Golden Triangle of North India.
Called ‘Venice of the East’, Udaipur is a cool oasis in the heart of the desert state of Rajasthan. Surrounded by the Aravali hills its pristine man - made lakes and shimmering marble palaces bring to life the grandeur of an enchanting land.
Udaipur was the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar after its rulers migrated from their legendary fortress of Chittor and its skyline is dominated by the massive City Palace, which overlooks Lake Pichhola. Its small island palaces, beautiful havelis and scenic locations are a marvelous sight and often serve as a backdrop for Destination weddings & movie shoots.
The hunting grounds of the erstwhile Maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park is famous as the abode of the Royal Bengal tigers and is one of the best places in India to see these majestic predators in the wild. Its teeming wildlife is truly a wildlife enthusiast’s and photographer's dream.
The national park is dotted with numerous ruins of monuments from a by gone era with the majestic Ranthambhore fort, built in 10th-century, towering over the entire park area as a sentinel and adding character to the enchanting landscape.
Located in the heart of sand dune country, midway between Jodhpur & Jaisalmer, Manvar is an ideal base to explore the Great Indian Thar desert while staying in luxurious tents.
Once a major trading town on the ancient caravan route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, Jaisalmer retains its medieval & picturesque charm surrounded by the Thar Desert.
The town standing on a ridge of yellowish sandstone houses several ornate Jain temples, colorful bazaars, beautifully adorned havelis & splendid palaces. Its mesmerizing fort, built in the 12th century, is straight out of the Arabian Nights fable.
Jaisalmer also hosts the hugely popular Desert Festival in the month of February every year which showcases its rich history & culture.
Located in the North East part of Rajasthan, Shekhawati is known for its plethora of painted havelis (traditional houses), dating from 18th century to the early 20th century. So varied and architecturally rich are the havelis that this region is dubbed as the "Open art gallery of Rajasthan".
At every thikana (Barony) in Shekhawati, there was a fort-palace. More than 50 forts and palaces dot this colourful landscape, many of which are today converted into beautiful heritage resorts.
Lying in the north of the desert State, Bikaner founded in 1486 A.D., retains the medieval grandeur that permeates its lifestyle. Also called ‘Camel country’, the city is famous for having the best riding camels in the world that are bred at the Camel Research Farm, the only one of its kind in Asia.
The city is also known for its intricately carved Jharokas (Screens) made of red sandstone which are found on the windows of the Junagarh fort, temples and havelis.
Bharatpur was the capital of the Jat kingdom, and is most famous for its bird sanctuary, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The wetlands of the park which are man-made attract a large variety of indigenous and migratory birds including the rare Siberian crane and is widely regarded by ornithologists as the best spot in the world to see so many species of birds.
Separated from Ajmer by the Snake mountain the charm & beauty of this sleepy, lakeside settlement so captivated the great Indian poet, Kalidas,that it found a place in his classic, Abhigyan Sakuntalam.
Pushkar has the only temple in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma and is one of the five sacred pilgrimage sites for devout Hindus. In modern times it has been famous for its annual camel fair, a photographer’s delight, held in November and the largest of its kind in the world.
The capital of the ancient kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur sits at the edge of the endless Thar Desert and is home to the fiery Rathore clan of Rajputs.
Its majestic Mehrangarh Fort towers over the city with its colorful bazaars, opulent havelis & palaces. Jodhpur is also known as the ‘Blue City’ due to the vivid blue-painted houses around the fort and boasts of the largest private residence in the world, Umaid Bhawan Palace, part of which has been converted into a spectacular uber luxury hotel.
The erstwhile rulers of Jodhpur were big patrons of Polo and even today Polo enthusiasts from all over visit the city to participate in the various equestrian events that are held here.
Jim Corbett National Park, named after the famous shikari (hunter), is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. Situated at the foothills of the mighty Himalayan Mountains it was also the first park to come under the Project Tiger initiative.
An ecotourism destination, it has been a favourite haunt of wildlife & nature enthusiasts for decades.