You always have travelled to a particular destination and explored the place, its culture and diversity. But there are several other themes you can plan your next trip to India around. Make your next journey to this land of diversity an experience of a lifetime. Experience something new, learn something new, do something new. Learn a new art form, enrich your health and knowledge, see, feel and taste new things or just be a volunteer in a noble cause. Here are some of the themes around which you can make your next travel plan:
Yoga and meditation is practiced across the world and India is the home to the Yoga capital of the world. It’s great ways to strengthen the mind, body and soul.
Today you would find hundreds of videos on the internet. But how about experiencing it in an ashram? You can visit Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world. Rishikesh is the place where Beetles had visited way back in 1968. Some of the songs they had written during their stay here were — “Back in USSR”, “Dear Prudence”, “Mother Nature’s Son” and “Sexy Sadie”. Or maybe go down south to Auroville in Pondicherry. In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir. Inside the Matrimandir is a spiraling ramp that lead upward into an air-conditioned chamber. Made of polished white marbles this chamber is referred to as a “place to find one’s consciousness”.
Or maybe you can opt for an Ayurvedic wellness therapy in Kerala. The Ayurvedic spas here have over the period gained fame for the various therapies they have in offer. But that’s not the only place where you can go to. Click here to know more about the various destinations for a perfect ayurveda holiday.
Festivals in India are unlike anything you have seen or experienced. There is simply no country on earth that can match India for the frequency, exuberance, size, colour and grandeur of the spectacular festivals.
In India we love celebrating and there is a festival for all occasions. You have a festival of colours, Holi, celebrated during spring, then the festival of lights Diwali and other regional and religious festivals. But the grandest festival in the country is the Kumbh. The Kumbh happen once every twelve years and are attended by millions of pilgrims. However, there are a number of Kumbh Melas that happen, the biggest being the one in Allahabad. So almost every year there usually is a Kumbh in one of the states. Yes, the crowd may scare you initially, but nothing else matches this experience. You would come out as a different person, a true traveller. It is literally impossible to list down all the festivals celebrated here, but some of the biggest and grandest festivals are listed here.
Tasting local delicacies is a vital part of experiencing a rich culture. India has so many cuisines that if even you were to start sampling one each day, it would take you years to finish! Every part of the country has cuisines that it boasts of. Here you can also take cooking lessons and learn to cook the various regional delicacies yourself. So when you return home, surprise your friends and family there with a new Indian recipe!
But a few dishes you absolutely must not miss are tandoori chicken, the wide variety of curries and spicy street food. All of them are popular across India, and because of their easy accessibility, you can drool over them whenever you want. Try them once, and soon you will find that you just cannot get enough!
India has as much diversity in its geography as it does in its culture. Because of its ages old history and influx of multiple cultures, India has numerous heritage sites recognized by UNESCO, set amidst modern day buildings that have come up to support the rapid development in the country. Be it the monolithic architecture, the Persian/Mughal architecture, the indo-saracenic architecture or Colonial and Luyten’s.
India has the largest number of rock cut architecture in the world. The Elephanta caves, Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, Amarnath temple in Kashmir, Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh the Konark and Lingaraja temple in Odisha are some of the architectural marvels of this period.
There is the Taj Mahal one of the seven wonders of the world, which is considered a symbol of love. There is the Qutab Minar, the Agra Fort, the Red Fort where you would get a true feel of the architecture of that period.
During the colonial rule in India several architectural styles were seen. The indo-saracenic form was a mixture of the Indian and British style. A number of architectural marvels were built like the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Gateway of India in Mumbai, the Secretariat Building in Delhi to name a few.
Lutyens’ Delhi is an area named after the British architect Edwin Lutyens. He had designed the entire Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ) which is today one of the most expensive real estate in the world. He had also designed the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President’s Palace) in New Delhi.
The architecture in India surely is a great theme to travel around and has been attracting tourists from all around the globe over the years.
A country so vast is bound to have a vast diversity in landscape as well. Be it the majestic himalayan range in the north or the calm and peaceful backwaters of the south. The deserts in the west and the hills and wilderness in the east.
Visit the Ladakh, the valley of Buddhist monasteries. Here the biggest Buddhist festival, Naropa or the Kumbh of the Himalayas, is held once every 12 years (13th Sept-1st Oct 2016). Or you can just ride to one of the highest motorable road here.
Down south in Kerala you can just relax as you cruise through the silent and serene backwaters in a houseboat.
In the west stay in tents in the salt deserts of Kutch or in the Thar desert while you enjoy the culture and the flavours of the region.
Eastern India, specifically Assam and Darjeeling is famous for the tea plantations. You can stay at the world’s largest tea plantation, experiencing the lifestyle of the people there, the environment and of course having the finest of teas.
India is a land of flavours. In the east, Assam is globally famous for its tea. The malty, strong flavour of these leaves is what has earned it fame. You can stay at the world’s largest tea plantation, experiencing the lifestyle of the people there, the environment and of course having the finest of teas.
Down south, Coorg in Karnataka is a major producer of coffee in India. The coffee agroforestry is one of the richest agro forests in the world. You can go on walks, treks or simply stay within the plantations in the plantation buildings that have been converted into guest houses with the aroma of coffee tingling your senses.
And if you go further down south, you would reach the spice village in Kerala. As you take a walk along the streets of Kumily or the winding pathways among the plantations, the thing that strikes you first is the lingering aroma in the air. The scent may be of cloves, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon or cardamom and sometimes a fragrance that combines the scents of two or more spices. The geographical and climatic peculiarities of Kumily such as the cool climate and its elevation from the sea level make it ideal for spice cultivation.
It’s not just about travelling and visiting places. India is a lot about learning as well. Over the years, people from various parts of the world have come to master various art forms. Be it some Indian language or a dance form or even Indian martial arts!
While you visit Tamil Nadu you can learn Bharatnatyam, Kerala is well known for Mohiniattam and Kathakali, Odissi in Odisha, Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh and Kathak in western and central India. If dances don’t interest you, learn a language, learn Sanskrit! In India you don’t just travel. Every journey is a learning experience.
Geshe La, a former monk in the Lingshed village monastery, has been working tirelessly to give a better life to the children by helping them in getting educated. Lingshed Hostel is one such initiative of Geshe La. It was a hostel set up for students from the neighbouring villages that were not connected by road. The students, now having a base to stay, could easily attend school in Leh.
Today, there are many travellers who visit Ladakh and are inspired to volunteer and make a contribution to better the lives of those who face the daily struggles of their location. Travel to the region and witnessing how people coped in such extreme weather with simplicity.
India has the largest number of tribes and tribal population in the world. Almost 10% of the country’s population consists of the tribals. Like all tribal societies in the world, the Indian tribal societies are also known for their unique and traditional culture that include their day-to-day lifestyles, beliefs, customs, tradition, festivals, food habits, costumes and even the way of earning livelihood.
Visit the villages of Rajasthan and Gujarat or the tribes of the Chotanagpur Plateau region in the states of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh or travel to extreme east to the land of the Naga tribes. These ages old tribes continue to practice their traditional way of living and have kept alive their unique form of art. Live with them and experience their lifestyle. A journey to their land is sure to enrich you culturally.