Arts & Culture

India is a storehouse of history and culture, a diverse land with immense variety in culture and traditions. This gets reflected not only in different regions & their environment but in the day to day lives of people, their attire, their cuisine, their rituals and festivals and with cultural influences that go back centuries. This cultural voyage is best experienced by picking up some flavors of the land and putting them in a package.

Adventure

The adventure you have in India can only be limited by personal preferences. India provides adventure holidays that can be a Wild life Safari in one of the innumerable National Parks or Sanctuaries for animal lovers. Water sports for an exhilarating experience on the sea. You can choose from diving, snorkeling, scuba diving or just simple scooter rides.

White water rafting over the Ganges for the experienced is a thrill and a challenge not to be missed. Some of the hottest and lesser known destinations - 70 kms stretch on mighty Ganga from Devprayag to Rishikesh. Barkot to Lakha Mandal and Damta to Yamuna Bridge on the river Yamuna, Mori to Tuni on the river Tons, Kalisor to Srinagar and Srinagar to Bagwan on river Alaknanda. The Indus and Zanskar rivers, which flow through the arid ranges of Ladakh, offer gentler trips with gradations ranging from one to two. River Chenab has a 130-km stretch from Kishtwar to Ramban where the rapids are graded from one to six. Sikkim also offers river stretches for rafting.

There are innumerable treks and hikes that you can plan in any of the hill stations or many other places whether you are in North, South, East or west of the country.

Unforgettable Desert Safaris can be savored in Thar, part of the Great Indian Desert in Rajasthan. You can opt for a Camel or a Jeep Safari. You meet local families who have made desert their home for generations and enjoy an evening with a beautiful sunset in the middle of desert while the local swirling music and minstrels fill the desert air.

Beaches

India has a vast coastline of 7500 kms and there are many beaches dotted along this vast coastline which are a great setting for a beach holiday. However the most favored beach destination in India is the exotic and beautiful Goa with idyllic beach resorts and hotels that compare favorably to some of the best in the other parts of the world. Other beautiful beach holiday destinations are the archipelagos of Lakshwadeep & Andamans, Gopalpur-on-Sea in the east and Kovalam in the south.

Hill Stations

From North to South, East to West, India offers scenic mountain resorts and hilly getaways that offer you an unforgettable experience with a world class infrastructure. Most of these hill resorts for the locals are a quick getaway from sweltering heat in summer.

The hill stations throughout the country can be grouped as - Northern Hills in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Rajasthan. Eastern Hillsin the states of West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya or Sikkim. Western Hills in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh. Southern Hills in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh.

The more favorite with the tourists are:

Shimla

It continues to charm tourists with its unique ambience that blends colonial and local. Once the summer capital of British in India, its seductive climate, verdant greenery and picturesque views attract people from all over the world. Apart from shopping the choice of activities can be golf in summer, skiing and ice-skating in winter or excursions to Kufri, where splendid slopes spread out invitingly, or Fagu to see the panorama of the Himalayas. Leisurely walks to - Jakhu Hill, Summer Hill, Chadwick Falls, Prospect Hill, Taradevi Temple, Sankat Mochan and the Tibetan Monastery.

Kullu

It may well be among the narrowest valleys in the world, edged between the river Beas on one side and the towering Himalayas on the other. Shrines dot the country side and apple orchards abound. This little town celebrates Dussera festival in a very unique manner.

Manali

Beyond Kullu, Manali is a major resort in the valley. Set amidst lovely forest of towering cedars, encircled by snowy peaks and the unending roar of the Beas as a constant companion. It offers unending opportunities for trekking, rock climbing, angling and winter sports.

Mussoorie

One of the most popular hill stations, and once called the "pleasure capital" of British India, Mussoorie's fame lies in its fantastic scenic beauty, pretty waterfalls, great social life and good hotels.

Nainital

The Kumaon hills of which Nainital is a part, has long been known for its idyllic beauty, with huge mountains silhouetted against the sky. A 100 year old city, takes its name after Naini Lake and literally means the abode of the eye goddess. Around Nainital are other resorts too preserving the symmetry of nature perfectly. Kasauni makes a pretty picture with mountains rising dramatically to touch the heavens. Ranikhet is a perennial favorite, encircled by snowy peaks and pine forests. Lower in the foothills is the Corbett national Park, original Kipling country, where the tiger reigns in the forest and the little hideouts here provide a perfect setting for an enchanting holiday.

Kashmir

Nestled in the lap of snow-capped Himalayas, Kashmir is an inspiration to music and poetry, honeymooner's paradise, nature lover's dreamland and shopper's paradise. The Mughal emperors who came here in the summer months used one word to describe it - "Paradise"

Ladakh

The land of many passes, referred by many as the splendid rooftop of the world, lies further north of Kashmir valley. A high altitude desert with barren mountains, lush green river valleys, deep blue skies and numerous lakes full of bird life. The average altitude varies from about 9 000 ft in Kargil to about 12 000 ft in Leh, above the sea level. Peopled by a race related to Tibetan stock in culture, religion, language and features, it is also called "Little Tibet".

Darjeeling

It is a breathtakingly beautiful hill station in the eastern India that offers a backdrop of the mighty Himalayan peaks and the joys of cool, healthy and adventurous living. It will interest a botanist, ornithologist, trekker, photographer, artist or simply a holiday maker. It is 2134 mtrs above the sea level and 686 kms from Kolkatta (Calcutta).

Gangtok

The capital city of Sikkim, offers beautiful vistas, colorful lifestyles, Buddhists shrines, unending adventure, exquisite flora and fauna and hundreds of varieties of butterflies. It was a monarchy till 1970 when it emerged as 22nd state of India.

Shillong

One of the most motorable hill stations, a stay here will not require mandatory walking as in other places. The capital city of Meghalaya you will find mountains and meadows, clouds and tall pine trees, adequate hotel facilities, an excellent golf course and above all cheerful people, makes it a great holiday destination.

Mahabaleshwar

It is best known and most popular of Mumbai's hill stations. A picturesque summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj, it is 200 kms from Mumbai at an altitude of 1372 mtrs. From the plateau in Mahabaleshwar, there is a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. It is popular location for Mumbai's Bollywood film crews.

Ooty

Ooty or Udhagamandalam, often known as the queen of hill stations, is situated at a height of 2268 mtrs in the Nilgiri ranges in Tamil Nadu. It attracts countless visitors, that peaks in summer months, due to its climate and beauty. Among many spots for sightseeing are - Ooty Lake, Kodanand view point, St. Catherine falls, Elk Falls, The Kalhatti Falls, Loz Falls, Sim's Park and Dolphin's Nose.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda evolved around 600 BC in India and is practiced ever since. A Sanskrit word Ayur means life and Veda the science of life or knowledge. It is a complete naturalistic system that depends on the diagnosis of your body's three dosha's (energies) - vata, pitta and kapha. The underlying philosophy is that Ayurveda helps harmonize our mind, body and spirit which are linked - to achieve the right balance for a fuller life!

Kerala is home to Ayurveda due to its equable climate, wealth of herbs and medicinal plants, and the cool monsoon season (June - November) that is best suited for Ayurveda's rejuvenation program. The atmosphere being dust-free and cool opens the pores of the body to the maximum, making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy. However the Ayurveda therapies are offered throughout the year at various resorts and premier hotels under the supervision of well qualified therapists & experienced doctors.

Various programs are available that range from Body rejuvenation to purification to Immunization. Or a slimming program and a Beauty care program. The duration of the programs can vary from a few days to 7 days, 14 days or a three week program.

Pilgrimage

India is a melting pot of not just cultures & traditions but a place where some of the great religions of the world - Hinduism, Sikhism & Buddhism have originated. As a secular country where different religions of the world are practiced and preached there are pilgrimage centers visited by the faithful in millions. Some of the pilgrimage centers in the North and Southern part of the country are as follows:

Gangotri

The shrine of Gangotri, situated at an altitude of 3200 mtrs above sea level amidst sylvan surroundings, is one of the most important pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. Visited by lakhs of pilgrims every yea, this 18th century temple was constructed by Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa.

Yamunotri

The revered shrine of Yamunotri, source of river Yamuna. It constitutes one of the four most important pilgrimages, collectively called Char Dham.

Badrinath

Situated at an elevation of 3113 mtrs above sea level, it is amongst the most revered shrines of India that dates backs in antiquity in Vedic times. The temple is believed to be established by Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century Hindu saint and reformist.

Kedarnath

One of the twelve "Jyotirlingas" of Lord Shiva, at an altitude of 3581 mtrs above sea level, is believed to have been visited by Pandavas, who came here to repent the killing of their kith and kin in the epic Mahabharatha.

Varanasi

It is the ultimate pilgrimage center of Hindus. It is said to combine the virtues of all other pilgrimages. Anyone dying here within a marked territory is believed to be transported to heaven! Tulsidas the famous Hindi poet, wrote Shri Ram Charit Manas here.

Ayoddhya

It is one of the seven most sacred cities of India and is closely associated with Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Haridwar

Among the many pilgrimages that dot the length of Ganga, Haridwar ranks amongst the most holy in the land. Literally translated, Haridwar means the "Gateway to the abode of Gods"

Rishikesh

On the bank of Ganga, Rishikesh is a famous pilgrimage centre with a plethora of ashrams and yogic centers imparting training in meditation and physical health. This place is famous for peace and solemnity in the atmosphere.

Gangtok

The capital city of Sikkim, offers beautiful vistas, colorful lifestyles, Buddhists shrines, unending adventure, exquisite flora and fauna and hundreds of varieties of butterflies. It was a monarchy till 1970 when it emerged as 22nd state of India.

Allahabad

Also known as Prayag, the city has been a holy pilgrimage for Indians for thousands of years. Amongst Hindus it has the status of "Tirth Raj" or the king of all pilgrimage centers by Hindu Trinity due to the confluence of three holy rivers - The Ganga, The Yamuna and The Saraswati, known as Sangam. A once in twelve year's festival "Kumbh Mela" is staged here.

Ajmer

Located in the heart of Rajasthan, it is 130 kms from Jaipur. It is the final resting place of Kwaja Moinuddin Chisti. This place is visited by huge number of pilgrims of different faiths.

Golden Temple

The holiest of the shrines of Sikhs located in Amritsar, the foundation stone of the temple was laid by a Muslim saint Mian Mir and completed in 1589. People of all faiths visit this temple.

Vaishnodevi Temple

A favorite pilgrimage, it is 61 kms from Jammu and is reached after a trek of 13 kms from Katra town.

Shore Temple

It is one of the oldest in South India, stands on the sea-shore with its paved forecourts. An immense structure that is 27 mtrs long and 8 mtrs high, intricately carved depicts Arjuna's penance.

Kanchipuram

It is known as the city of thousand temples. Notable among many temples here is Ekambareswarar Temple, Sri Kamakshi Ammam Temple, Sri Vaikunta Perumal Temple and many others.

Thanjavur

Many temples built during Chola dynasty, amongst them Brahadesshwara Temple is often visited.

Madurai

A city that is 2500 years old and noted for its splendid temples dedicated to goddess Meenakshi with imposing gopurams soaring over the city.

Rameswaram

It is an island hallowed by the epic Ramayana. A devotee who visits Varanasi is also expected to visit the place.

Shopping

Agra

Famous for marble & softstone inlay work, leather goods, brassware, carpets and chikanwork fabrics, which involves delicate yarn overlays. Semi-precious and precious stone jewelry is available in plenty.

Delhi

Near Parliament Street, on Baba Kharak Singh Marg, there is a kaleidoscope of the best arts and crafts available at the provincial "Arts Emporia", at the government controlled prices. They are open from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening with a half an hour lunch break from 1.30 pm to 2 pm. Rows of shops on Janpath also offer a large variety of novelties, gifts and handicraft items at bargain prices Dilli Haat - Here you can buy handicrafts from different regions of India and taste the food of almost any state of the country. It is whole of India rolled at your doorstep!

Jaipur

Busy streets and colorful markets showcase much of Jaipur's vibrancy and charm. This place is home to excellent handicrafts, textiles, delicate jewelry, semi-precious and precious gems and stones.

Kerala

Famous for spices, cashew nuts, rosewood & teak furniture and coir products, traditional handicrafts comprise of masks worn in Kathakali dance performances. The main shopping area stretches on M.G.Road between East Fort and Palayam.

Mumbai

It is a veritable shopping paradise. The shopping plazas galore for the best in garments, Jewelry, household goods to computers. Crossroads & Shoppers Stop are of special mention in this category. For economy in purchase, you can get great deals at Manish market, Kabutarkhana and Fashion Street. Chor Bazaar is a place where you can pick anything from second hand automobile parts to priceless artifacts.

Goa

All the beach towns have several shops selling souvenirs & handicrafts from all over the country. Goa's varied handicrafts include decorative items made from sea-shells, palm leaves and earthen-ware pottery. There are hundreds of shops selling everything from leather garments to Tibetan Jewelry, from gems to fur coats. Don't forget to buy the local brew - "Fenni".

Tamil Nadu

Incomparable handloom silk and cotton fabrics and saris are very popular. Kanchipuram hand-woven silk and the timeless appeal of its vibrantly colored saris are a prized possession. A range of finely crafted south Indian bronzes, brass lamps, wood and stone carvings, Thanjavur paintings & brass plates embossed in copper and silver are a special buys available at "Poompuhar" - the government handicrafts emporium.

Kashmir

Famous for handicrafts, some specialties are silk and wool carpets, papier mache products, pashminas and embroidered shawls, and a variety of stones and walnut wood products that includes household furniture and artifacts.

Hyderabad

Pearls and diamonds are what the nobles in the medieval times sought here. Cultured pearls in strings or set in jewelry is a sought after item. Birdiware - black metal inlaid with silver, Pochampalli sarees and fabrics, hand woven in silks and cottons, glass bangles and perfumes are what has made Hyderabad a shopper's delight.

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