Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is touted as the Golden City of India due to its beautiful sandstone architecture and golden sand dunes. Known especially for its vibrant culture and hospitality, Jaisalmer is a must visit when you travel to India. For an unforgettable desert experience, spend some time at a luxury desert camp and indulge in the traditional desert lifestyle. Enjoy a camel safari, watch local tribal dancers and musicians give enthralling performances around a roaring bonfire and spend the night in luxury tents equipped with all sorts of modern amenities right in the middle of the desert.
2. Explore the world’s largest river Island and Rhinoceros in Assam
One of the seven sister states of the northeast, Assam is gifted with immense natural beauty and a variety of flora and fauna. Two thirds of the total global population of one-horned rhinoceros inhabits the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, which makes for a great excursion into the wild. Assam also houses the Manas National Park, which boasts of sizeable populations of elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, leopards and other endangered species. You must also take a boat trip to Majuli, the largest river island in the world, and explore the culture and handicrafts of the local tribes and the sublime beauty of the mighty river Brahmaputra.
3. Off the beaten track: Experience the Dudhsagar Trek and the nightlife in Goa
The Dudhsagar Trek is one utterly unique experience that involves trekking along train tracks for a good 14 kilometres from Castle Rock railway station upto the falls, which are almost on the Goa-Karnataka border. Monsoon is the best time to indulge in this activity as the waterfall and the foliage around the trek are at their glorious best during the rains. The milky white appearance of the falls gets them their name, which literally means ‘sea of milk’. You can also let your hair down and witness Goan happening nightlife at one of the many beach parties, casinos and pubs that earn Goa its fame as the party capital of India.
4. Take a Bollywood tour in Mumbai
Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra, is the centre of India’s Bollywood film industry. The Film City complex at Goregaon is where a lot of indoor and outdoor shooting takes place everyday. Although laypersons are barred from entering without prior permission, there are a number of tour operators that will take you on half- or full-day tours of the 350-acre complex where some or the other shooting is bound to be underway at any given point of time. A Bollywood tour also often includes sightseeing of famous film stars’ homes. Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan on one of these Bollywood tours in Mumbai!
Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir is known for the snow-clad lofty peaks of the Trans-Himalayas. The Zanskar Valley in Ladakh is considered a most fascinating and adventurous trekking destination owing to its extremely cold climate, rare alpine flora and fauna and the sheer scenic beauty of the surroundings. Reachable by road in summers from Leh via Kargil, the valley is however cut off in the winters due to heavy snowfall. That’s when the Zanskar river also freezes over and people can trek up the frozen ice sheet (called ‘Chadar’) to reach the valley. Trekking enthusiasts must surely travel to India in 2015 and go trekking in Zanskar for an experience of a lifetime.
6. Yoga & Rafting in Rishikesh
Rishikesh, a small holy city in the Himalayan foothills of Uttarakhand, is considered the world capital of Yoga. With an abundance of Yoga ashrams and meditation centres, the city offers you a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Yoga and meditation sessions help you tune into the inner workings of your mind and body. Give yourself a spiritual cleanse while you travel to India in the new year. For an adrenaline rush, you could also go river rafting in groups along the gushing waters of the river Ganges.
7. Wildlife and Palaces of Madhya Pradesh
The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh must be near the top of your itinerary whenever you decide to travel to India. Having seen the rise and fall of some of the major dynasties of India, the state is home to a rich cultural heritage. Some of the most famous palaces include the Gwalior Fort, the Hindola Mahal (‘swaying palace’) and Jahaz Mahal (‘ship palace’) at Mandu and various other interesting palaces spread across Chanderi, Mandu, Indore, Orchha and Dhar. Wildlife watching across the state can prove a rewarding experience too, given the 11 National Parks and several other protected areas in the state including those at Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna, Pench and Pachmarhi.
8. Horse Back riding in Shekhawati
Shekhawati in Rajasthan is known for its historic painted havelis or palaces. With the largest concentration of frescoes and painted wall art in the world, Shekhawati is called the ‘open art gallery of Rajasthan’. Take a horseback safari through the sand dunes of this desert wonder and marvel at the beautiful and colourful countryside. Also alight from your horse every now and then to visit various Rajput forts and monuments from times bygone. Horseback riding through desert sands is an experience you’re unlikely to ever forget.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ancient Ruins of Hampi consist of some 500 monuments and temples dating back to the 500-years-old Vijaynagara empire of South India. The ruins are spread across a vast arid landscape with very little vegetation and a large number of big and small boulders dotting the terrain. It is best to visit Hampi in the cooler months between October and March. Take a walking tour or hire a bicycle to get about the city and explore the ruins at leisure, as each and every rock has a new story to tell.
Many consider Varanasi, or Benaras, to be the world’s oldest city, the earliest inhabitants having settled here around 1000 BC. Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” To reach Varanasi the traditional way, reach the majestic 16th century fort of Chunar (Uttar Pradesh) at dawn and take a boat ride from there along the river Ganges. Hundreds of pilgrims taking a dip in the holy river and performing various rites along the ghats early in the morning make for an impressive sight. You also get to travel back in time as you navigate the city’s narrow by-lanes. With surprises hidden in every nook and corner, let Benaras overwhelm you while you travel to India in 2015.
11. Dasara in Mysore
Mysore, among other things, is perhaps best known for its 400-year old tradition of celebrating the Hindu festival of Dussehra with a ten day extravaganza called ‘Dasara’ festival. The majestic Mysore Palace is lit up every evening by ten million light bulbs. Various cultural performances including music, dance and drama are held on the palace grounds followed by the Jumbo Savari (elephant procession) and torchlight parade at the Banni tree grounds. Travel to India during October to revel in Dasara festivities in Mysore in 2015.
12. Ride the UNESCO World Heritage Mountain Railway in India
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Kalka-Shimla Railway together form the Mountain Railways of India, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built by the British in the colonial era, these railways are a classic example of the ingenuity and grit of the railway engineers of those times. Each of the railways offers enchanting views of forested hillsides, roaring waterfalls and small villages. Some of the routes still operate with the old steam locomotives, retaining the old world charm of the journey through mountain tracks and tunnels.
14. Heritage & Food walk in Old Delhi
Old Delhi is the modern day settlement around the erstwhile city of Shahjahanabad, established by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Also called the Walled City, it beckons travellers to undertake heritage walks exploring Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Kashmere Gate, Mirza Ghalib’s haveli, Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib and several other popular and lesser known gems straight out of the pages of Delhi’s history. Old Delhi is also called the city’s food capital, with everything from lip-smacking street food and chaat to Mughlai delicacies and traditional Indian desserts on offer at unbelievable prices. A visit to Old Delhi is almost customary every time you travel to India.
15. Discover ancient temples and culture of Tamil Nadu
The southernmost state of India, Tamil Nadu has the best collection of temples exemplifying the classical Dravidian style of temple architecture. The grand cave temples, bas-reliefs, chariots and the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram together form a World Heritage Site. Other famous ancient temples include Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Brihadeshwara and Madurai temples. The lively culture of Tamil Nadu can also be experienced by attending classical dance and music performances or watching action-packed Tamil movies that promise to be hilariously entertaining.
16. Enjoy the beauty of backwaters and relax on houseboats
Kerala is aptly christened “God’s own country” as it is a storehouse of pristine beauty and tranquillity. The world-renowned backwaters of Kerala are a network of interconnected rivers, lakes, canals and other waterways. Book your stay on a Kettuvallam or houseboat and shed all your stress and anxieties as you sit back and enjoy the relaxed natural environment. You could also visit one of the houseboat building yards at Beypore and learn how the local craftsmen build boats using skills passed down over many generations.
The Hornbill festival is held annually in the first week of December in Nagaland. It is a great opportunity for travellers to understand the unique customs and ways of Nagaland’s 17 indigenous warrior tribes which are similar in their culture and traditions and together constitute the ‘Naga’ ethnic group. Discover the local cuisine, songs, folk dances and art forms of Naga tribes, meet the people and participate in one of the many festive ceremonies, sports and games being organized throughout the festival.
18. Discover the French Touch of Pondicherry
Pondicherry, on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, was a French colony for centuries and to this day retains a strong French touch in its lifestyle and architecture. The city houses a number of imposing churches dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The Promenade beach is surrounded by many heritage buildings from the French era, including a 19th century lighthouse, Le Cafe and the French War Memorial. Visit Pondicherry when you travel to India to witness a unique blend of French and Indian culture and ways of life.
19. Follow the Coffee Trails of Chikmagalur
Widely known as the ‘coffee land of Karnataka’, Chikmagalur is famous as the birthplace of coffee plantations in India. The region receives plenty of rain all year round, so the climate is fit for travellers to enjoy visiting coffee plantations and tasting different kinds of coffee. Many coffee estates also provide home-stays to travellers, making for a blissful sojourn into the beautiful green valley, complete with a feeling of homeliness and the strong aroma of coffee.
20. Visiting Spice plantations in Kerala
Spices form an important part of Kerala’s history as a famous ancient Indian port. Plantations covering entire hillsides and valleys today grow exotic spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger and turmeric and offer a great learning experience to curious travellers who visit these spice farms for recreation and gaining knowledge about the various used of these spices. Serene forested locales, great picnic spots and opportunities for spice shopping are enough incentives for you to visit a spice plantation in Kerala while you travel to India in 2015.
Here are the top 20 activities you can experience while you travel to India in 2015. Visit us at http://www.shantitravel.com/en/ to make it happen when you come to India in 2015 to travel.