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North and Central India – encompassing Delhi, the Gangetic Plains, upper portion of the Deccan Plateau and Himalayan regions of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh – hold enough extraordinary monuments to keep even the most ardent Indo-phile happy for several lifetimes. Many of our customers return again and again to this extraordinary part of the globe, whether to take in the classic sights or follow less travelled routes to more remote corners.
Itineraries in the north tend, understandably, to be dominated by the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ of Delhi, Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and the Rajasthani capital, Jaipur. With a little more time, however, you could make a longer loop southeast down the Ganges to the sacred Hindu city of Varanasi, where tens of thousands of pilgrims take sin-cleansing dips in the river each day – one of the subcontinent’s defining spectacles.
Alternatively, a more southerly course will lead you towards the arid fringes of the Deccan plateau, where successive invaders, ruling dynasties and religions have left in their wake one of the world’s greatest crops of historic monuments, among them are the temples of Khajuraho, renowned for their erotic sculpture. Further inland, the remote forest areas of eastern Madhya Pradesh hold the two parks where you’re almost guaranteed a sighting of wild tigers.
Finally, for a true adventure amid some of the planet’s most exhilarating scenery, an unforgettable journey heads north from Delhi into the Himalayas. Starting at Manali, in the verdant Kullu Valley, a ribbon of pebble-strewn tarmac winds north for two days through a moonscape of denuded scree and ice peaks to India’s most isolated province, the Buddhist region of Ladakh – ‘the Land of High Passes’ – where whitewashed Tibetan monasteries sweep from the floor of the Indus Valley, overlooked by ranks of snow-clad mountains.
The lush forests of Kanha National Park are ideal for wildlife lovers, and it is no wonder that the bamboo plantations, meadows, and ravines inspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book. Tigers, blackbuck, elephants, peacocks and barasingha all reside here.
New Delhi, the capital of India, is a must-see when wanting to experience the buzz of Indian cities. Great for seeing religious monuments, Delhi also has large shops selling luxurious brands, and colonial architecture. Contrasting this are the narrow bustling streets and markets of Old Delhi.
Kashmir is home to lush Mughal Gardens, which are well worth a visit. Brightly coloured flower beds, cascading fountains, and stretches of lawn create a mini paradise, which are influenced by the formal gardens of Central Asia and Persia.
India’s ultimate road journey takes you from the Alpine splendour of the Kullu Valley across the Himalayan watershed to a moonscape of vast, snow-streaked mountains.