7 Things you can strike off your bucket list by visiting India.
India is a land of extremes. In the north, you have the towering Himalaya mountain range, home to snow-capped peaks and amazing climbing and trekking. Further south, you have huge manic cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, both charming and terrifying in equal measure. And of course, India has an incredible coastline, with sun-kissed beaches, white sand, and turquoise waters in Goa.
We’ve carefully selected 7 of the best experiences that you can tick off your bucket list when visiting one of Asia’s gems. So, here we go!
1. Marvel at the beautiful Taj Mahal
No trip to India is complete without visiting the incredible Taj Mahal. This white marble edifice is actually a mausoleum to the wife of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and was completed in 1653. Found in the city of Agra on the south bank of the Yamuna river, the mausoleum is one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.
Aside from the stunning ivory white main building, you can walk around shimmering pools and beautifully manicured gardens, all an incredible show of devotions to the emperor’s favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Even after more than 350 years, the Taj Mahal is as beautiful as ever, and a must-see on every itinerary to the sub-continent.
2. See Jaipur’s pink city from a hot air balloon
Jaipur is exactly what you’d expect from an Indian city – sprawling, brash, hectic, but there’s a very special reason to come here. Or rather, there are two. The first is the Hawa Mahal (palace of the winds). Its intricate designs meant that royal women could observe the city from inside without being seen themselves.
Second is the Amer Fort – sitting on a hill over the city, this stunning 16th-century construction is made of red sandstone and white marble ramparts.
Of course, if you don’t want to get stressed out by the chaos of the city streets, there’s another way. Why not take a hot-air balloon, and float serenely above the city and out into the desert? It’s bound to be an experience you’ll never forget.
3. See if you can spot a tiger on a wildlife safari
India inspired Rudyard Kipling to write the jungle book, and thankfully there are still a number of places in India where you can see the book’s characters in real life (except for Mowgli).
Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh is one of the best bets for spotting the most revered of Indian beasts, the tiger. It’s relatively small size (105 sq km) means it’s easy to get around, and the fact that it’s home to 100 tigers means that technically there should be one every square kilometre. Although that’s not always the case.
There’s also the opportunity to do elephant safaris in Bandhavgarh National Park, and to see prehistoric caves. Therefore, it’s a good idea to spend a few days here.
4. Relax on the beach in Goa
Whether you’re a surfer searching for the best waves, a couple on your honeymoon, or a yoga enthusiast, there’s sure to be a beach for you in Goa. Although it’s India’s smallest state, it’s blessed with a beautiful coastline, with lazy palm lined shorelines, white sands, and turquoise waters, perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and maybe even spotting a tropical fish or a turtle.
As well as pristine beaches, the region also has the jaw-dropping Dudhsagar Falls, and you can see the Portuguese influence on the region at the 17th century Fort Aguada and the UNESCO listed Basilica de Bom Jesus.
It’s no wonder that Goa attracts thousands of tourists who keep coming back every year.
So, tie your hammock between two swaying palm trees and relax into another amazing bucket list experience.
5. Trek on a frozen river in Ladakh
The Chadar Trek, right up in the northern region of Jammu, is a 9-day trek through the Himalayas that can only be done in the winter – and the best time to do this trek is February. So, for something so difficult, why is it worth the bother?
Well, the Chadar Trek is a must for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts as it’s over the frozen Zanskar river, a unique experience for any trek. It starts in the appropriately named Chilling.
Surrounding the trek are the snow-capped Himalayas, making for some amazing and unforgettable views. If you’re going to attempt this, do it with a guide. Needless to say, trekking on a frozen river is unpredictable and can be dangerous at times.
6. Bike across the Himalayas
Another experience not to be missed in the Himalayas is biking from Manali to Leh. Imagine roads stretching out for miles in front of you, flanked by snow-capped mountains, and giving way to bright blue lakes.
Do the Manali to Leh bike ride, and this dream becomes a reality. Doing a tour means that your meals and accommodation will be included, and you’ll have a guide – important as the route can sometimes be dangerous. The best time to ride between the beautiful towns of Manali and Leh is during the summer – from July to September.
You’ll be sure to love the Khardungla Pass – the world’s most elevated motorbike route.
7. Take a houseboat cruise in Kerala
Kerala in southern India is the polar opposite to the busy, hectic life of the country’s cities. A tropical climate graces the region, which is known for its excellent beaches and tranquil backwaters.
The best way to see said backwaters is aboard a traditional houseboat. These vehicles offer a serene way to navigate the lagoons of the region, and come with your own private sleeping quarters, guide, and cook.
Kerala is known as one of the best places in India for its food, so don’t miss the delicious coconut-infused curries that are an integral part of the regional cuisine.