Top Tips to do in India
From snow leopard spotting, exploring temples and mountain trekking in the Himalayas – these activities will take you to the hidden corners of India.
Track India's 'big five'
India is home to a wide array of wildlife. It's home to five big cats – Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions, snow leopards, clouded leopards and Indian leopards. The best national parks for seeing tigers are Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, Kanha, Pench, Satpura and Corbett. On the other hand, Leopards are widely spread across India and you'll find them in south Kerala and north Rajasthan and not to forget the Jim Corbett desert safari, which is one of my favourite.
Explore the temples
With its multitude of religions and deities, it comes as no surprise that India is a land of temples. Throughout the ages, India has been the canvas for ideas, architecture, sculpture and arts. Blush at the erotic carvings of the Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh. Experience the sample food prepared under the scrutiny of Goddess Mahalakshmi in the Lord Jagannath temple in Orissa. Marvel at the technicolour animals, gods and demons that adorn the Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple in Tamil Nadu. And explore the Golden Temple in Amritsar – a shining beacon of religious tolerance and spiritual freedom. The temples speciality, kara prashad, also known as Hawla is a must to hogg on.
Ride the rails
The rail system in Indiais more than just a way to get around; it's an experience in its own right. Each carriage is a microcosm of India – noisy, chaotic, welcoming and vibrant. The desert crossing from Jodphur to Jaisalmer will take you past forts and old cities, while the ‘Toy Train’ from Kolkata to Darjeeling zig-zags its way into the mountains past tea plantations and offers spectacular views of the Himalayas. The Cardamom Route from Madurai to Bodinayakkanur will take you to the southern foothills of the Western Ghats past plantations of cotton, mango, pepper, coffee and tea.
A Trek in the Himalayas
Head out for a trek in the Himalayas. In the western ranges, from Kashmir to Nanda Devi, boast an incredible variety of communitiesand viewpoints. In the east, paradise-like Sikkim has giant butterflies and orchid forests while Arunachal Pradesh is the last of the Himalayan wild frontiers. The Markha Valley and Hemis Festival trek is perhaps the most popular in the Indian Himalaya, offering stunning mountain scenery, the largest monastery in Ladakh and the chance to see snow leopards. The monastery circuit in Sikkim reveals a land of dramatic scenery, delightful monasteries and hundreds of butterflies, birds and rare plants. One of my most challenging treks was to Spiti Valley, which is the home to some of the highest villages, oldest monasteries and the most stunning landscapes you’ll ever see.
Celebrate the world’s most colourful festivals
With its pantheon of Gods and religions, there is no shortage of festivals in India. Each region has its own celebrations, such as, in Kerala; they observe harvest with Onam, a 10-day long festival of feasting. There are kite flying and camel festivals and an event that celebrates hornbills in Nagaland. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights is my favourite festive. Over one million clay lamps called diyyas light up the streets, houses and temples around India. Another one is Holi, which is held in the month of March. It is India’s most colourful festival, celebrating the victory of good over evil.