India: Where Ancient Traditions Flow Through Diversity
From imposing Himalayan mountains to beaches caressed by the sun, from sweltering bazaars to exclusive designer boutiques, from sedate temples to lively festivals, from rural villages to torpid cities with avant-garde designs, it is hardly surprising that India has been considered the most multidimensional country in the world.
This vast territory is home to more than one billion people and its eclectic mélange of ethnic groups. For those looking for an enriching spiritual experience, India presents a wide variety of sacred sites and inspiring philosophies. Meanwhile, fans of outdoor activities can rejoice in the sparkling waters of the southern beaches framed by palm trees, mount on elephants and spot big cats in the jungle, or simply breathe the scent of wildflowers during a rejuvenating walk through the forest.
India is a country that overwhelms for its size and diversity. Nothing turns out to be exactly as planned, so the only thing you can expect is the unexpected, which comes in several forms and always sit next to the traveler.
Rajasthan is a parched land of vivid colors, soaring forts, and fairy-tale palaces that fulfills a visitor’s most exotic dreams. This land created the image of the maharaja hunting, fighting, dallying with his princesses, and dripping in pearls, emeralds, and diamonds. Whether you palace-hop from one fairy-tale historic hotel to the next or indulge in India’s most luxurious contemporary leisure hotels, be sure to spend time in the bazaars to find brightly colored textiles, folk art, and costume jewelry. From the “Pink City” of Jaipur to “Golden City” of Jaisalmer to the white marble havelis alongside calm lakes of Udaipur to the indigo-hues old homes of Jodhpur, Rajasthan is vibrant – and not just in colors.
The capital of India has been of the most prominent cities in the world in the past 1.000 years. Today, Delhi has transformed into a modern metropolis spilling out of its geographical boundaries. Ancient monuments that just 50 years ago were surrounded by jungle or farmland have been enveloped by urban sprawl and some are occupied by squatters or dwarfed by modern developments. Among the monuments for which this city is famous are no less than three entirely separate UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the early Sultanate Qutb Minar, Humayun’s Tomb from the early Mughal period and the later Mughal Red Fort-as well as dozens more major ruins and monuments.
Renowned for Taj Mahal, the emblem of India, Agra was the center of cultural and imperial Mughal kingdom. Explore the ancient culture and history, palaces and gardens. Here you’ll find beautiful marble objects inlaid with precious stones. Notice how the craftsmen create works of art using techniques that have passed through many generations in Agra Marble Emporium. Haggle to buy leather goods and souvenirs in the Sadar Bazaar. Take a break and enjoy the samosas and spicy potato balls and chickpea chaat (a typical snack from the region).
A former Buddhist kingdom, Ladakh is one of the quietest places in India. The region is cut-off from the Indian mainland for most parts of the year, which keeps itself as a relatively less explored tourist destination in India. The landscape is mostly arid with patches of tranquil lakes and lush greenery. Buddhist monasteries, colorful flags, and prayer wheels add to the beauty of this place. The people of Ladakh are probably the most hospitable people in India. Everyone greets you with a smile, and service comes before money. Ladakh also offers some of the most exciting trekking opportunities.
With pristine beaches, extending backwaters, and enchanting tea gardens, Kerala has rightly been called “God’s own country.” Kerala is the southernmost Indian state with its topography varying from high hills to the beaches. Along with the natural wonders, this magnificent state is also the home of Ayurveda, ancient martial arts techniques, and the fascinating folk songs and dances.
Located on Indian’s east coast, Pondicherry is very different from other Indian cities – no chaos, no noise, and no crowd. A former French colony, the French impression can be still seen in its buildings and people. Situated nearby is the unique township, Auroville with its own laws and currency; a place mostly inhabited by foreigners. Pondicherry is a perfect amalgamation of Indian, French, and English cultures.
Being the easternmost state of India, Arunachal Pradesh is the most scarcely populated. It lies in the lap of the Himalayas and has some of the most spectacular mountain passes of India. Still, it remains uncharted in the tourist maps due to its inaccessibility by both road and air. If you have some extra time to spare, exploring the “Land of dawn lit mountains” would be worth your time. Along with the mighty Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh boasts of the world’s second largest monastery, Tawang monastery. Ziro valley is a must visit place in the monsoons due to the beautiful paddy fields as well as Ziro music festival, which is India’s largest outdoor music festival.