With its sumptuous mix of traditions, spiritual beliefs, festivals, architecture and landscapes, your memories of India will blaze bright long after you've left its shores.
India's Great Outdoors
India's landscapes are as fantastically varied as its cultural traditions. From the snow-dusted peaks of the Himalaya to the sun-splashed beaches of the tropical south, the country has a bounty of outdoor attractions. You can scout for big jungle cats on scenic wildlife safaris, paddle in the shimmering waters of coastal retreats, take blood-pumping treks high in the mountains, or simply inhale pine-scented air on meditative forest walks. Among all these natural treasures is a wealth of architectural gems, from serene temples rising out of pancake-flat plains to crumbling forts peering over plunging ravines.
Indian cuisine is a scrumptious smorgasbord of regionally distinct recipes, each with their own traditional preparation techniques and presentation styles – from the competing flavours of masterfully marinated meats and thalis (plate meals) to the simple splendour of vegetarian curries and deep-sea delights. Spices lie at the heart of Indian cooking, with the crackle of cumin seeds in hot oil a familiar sound in most kitchens. The country is also renowned for its tempting array of street food, with vendors selling everything from spicy samosas and kebabs to cooling kulfi (ice cream) and lassi (yoghurt drink).
A go-with-the-flow attitude will help you navigate the infinite twists and unexpected turns you're guaranteed to encounter in India. With its ability to inspire, exasperate, thrill and confound all at once, it can be challenging for first-time visitors: despite India's wonders, the bureaucracy can be frustrating, the crush of humanity may turn the simplest task into a frazzling epic, and the poverty is confronting. Even veteran travellers find their nerves frayed at some point. But love it or loathe it – and most travelers see-saw between the two – to embrace India's unpredictability is to embrace its soul.
Spirituality is the ubiquitous thread in India's richly diverse tapestry, weaving all the way from the snowy mountains of the far north to the tropical shores of the deep south. Hinduism and Islam have the most followers, while Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism are also widely practised. The array of sacred sites and rituals pay testament to the country's long and colourful religious history. And then there are its festivals! India has an abundance of devotional celebrations – from formidable city parades heralding auspicious religious events, to simple village harvest fairs that pay homage to a locally worshipped deity.
Discover some of the most unique and fulfilling experiences your next destination has to offer.
Tips & Travel trends to help you pick the perfect time to visit this destination.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout India.
Historic BuildingTaj Mahal
Poet Rabindranath Tagore described it as 'a teardrop on the cheek of eternity'; Rudyard Kipling as 'the embodiment of all things pure'; while its creator,…
A complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings, the impressive City Palace is right in the centre of the Old City. The outer wall was built by Jai Singh…
This magnificent fort comprises an extensive palace complex, built from pale yellow and pink sandstone, and white marble, and is divided into four main…
Hindu TempleSun Temple
Conceived as the cosmic chariot of the sun god Surya, this massive, breathtakingly splendid temple was constructed in the mid-13th century, probably by…
Hindu TempleBrihadishwara Temple
Come here twice: in the morning, when the honey-hued granite begins to assert its dominance over the white dawn sunshine, and in the evening, when the…
Sikh TempleGolden Temple
The legendary Golden Temple is actually just a small part of this huge gurdwara complex, known to Sikhs as Harmandir Sahib. Spiritually, the focus of…
ParkMehrauli Archaeological Park
There are extraordinary riches scattered around Mehrauli, with more than 440 monuments – from the 10th century to the British era – dotting a forest and…
Wildlife ReserveKanha Tiger Reserve
Madhya Pradesh is the king of the jungle when it comes to tiger parks, and Kanha is its most famous. The forests are vast, and while your chances of…
Shh, whisper it quietly: this place is better than the Red Fort. Delhi's 'Old Fort' isn't as magnificent in size and grandeur, but it's far more pleasant…
Wildlife ReserveBandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
If your only reason for visiting a tiger reserve in India is to see a tiger, look no further. A couple of days at Bandhavgarh should net you a tiger…
Founded by Emperor Shah Jahan and surrounded by a magnificent 18m-high wall, this fort took 10 years to construct (1638–48) and is rumoured to have had…
Hindu TempleKailasa Temple
One of India’s greatest monuments, this astonishing temple, carved from solid rock, was built by King Krishna I in AD 760 to represent Mt Kailasa (Kailash…
Kedarnath is in the most dramatic location of the char dham temples, located at the base of 6970m peaks and 22km from the nearest road. The puja offered…
Buddhist TempleMahabodhi Temple
The magnificent Unesco World Heritage-listed Mahabodhi Temple, marking the hallowed ground where Buddha attained enlightenment and formulated his…
Humayun’s tomb is sublimely well proportioned, seeming to float above its symmetrical gardens. It's thought to have inspired the Taj Mahal, which it…
A beautiful pocket of calm at the heart of Old Delhi's mayhem, the capital's largest mosque is built on a 10m elevation. It can hold a mind-blowing 25,000…
Manikarnika Ghat, the main burning ghat, is the most auspicious place for a Hindu to be cremated. Dead bodies are handled by outcasts known as doms, and…
Historic BuildingVictoria Memorial
The incredible Victoria Memorial is a vast, beautifully proportioned festival of white marble: think US Capitol meets Taj Mahal. Had it been built for a…
Hindu TempleLakshmana Temple
The large Lakshmana Temple took 20 years to build and was completed in about AD 954 during the reign of Dhanga, according to an inscription in its mandapa…
The second-most-visited sight in India (after the Taj Mahal), this palace is among the very grandest of India’s royal buildings and was the seat of the…
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in India.
The Travel Kitchen: Indian Samosas
Top 10 best value destinations to visit in 2020
Top 10 cities to visit in 2020
Colorful festivals you can't miss in 2020
The world's most amazing scenic train journeys
Pretty-in-pink destinations around the world
Lesser-known destinations you need to visit
India's colourful Holi festival