India things to see and do

Tourist offices

India Tourism in the USA

Suite 1808, 1270 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020, United States
Tel: (212) 586 4901/2/3.
www.incredibleindia.org

India Tourism in the UK

7 Cork Street, London, W1S 3LH, United Kingdom
Tel: (020) 7437 3677 or (020) 7734 6613.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1800.
www.incredibleindia.org

Things to see and do

Andaman Islands

Snorkel in the Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal - a lushly forested archipelago that has exotic plant life and a wide variety of corals and tropical fish. The best sites for diving around the islands are more difficult to reach remote. It is also home to India's only active volcano.

Beaches

Mumbai (Bombay) has Juhu and Chowpatty, while Goa offers some of the nation's most sublime beaches and resorts. Marina Beach in Chennai (Madras) is the second largest in the world. The lush state of Kerala includes the famous beach at Kovalam.

Bollywood and Bombay

Escape Indian stereotypes in Mumbai (Bombay), the capital of Maharashtra, where a bustling port and the country's commercial hub, Mumbai’s plate-glass skyscrapers and modern industry jostle alongside ramshackle bazaars and a hectic street life. The city is also the home of the prolific film industry. Welcome to 'Bollywood'!

Camel safari

Experience India's sprawling deserts from the back of a camel. Make sure you camp overnight to experience the desert’s incredibly clear array of stars. Coincide your visit with one of the annual festivals such as Jaisalmer’s Desert Festival (January/February) and Pushkar’s fascinating Camel Fair (October).

Delhi

Encounter the two sides of Delhi: New Delhi is a modern city, offering Lutyens' architecture; 'Old' Delhi is several centuries old, with narrow, winding streets, ancient shrines and rambunctious bazaars. See the Red Fort, the nearby Jama Masjid (India's largest mosque) and the Qutab Minar's soaring tower.

Deserts

Experience India's sprawling deserts from the back of a camel. Make sure you camp overnight to experience the desert’s incredibly clear array of stars. Time your visit to coincide with one of the annual festivals such as Jaisalmer’s Desert Festival (January/February) and Pushkar’s fascinating Camel Fair (November).

Durga Puja

Take part in the Durga Puja (September/October) in Kolkata (Calcutta). One of the biggest Hindu religious festivals in India, it is full of colour and noise, held in honour of the goddess Durga.

Goa

Although much less mellow than in the heady days of the 1960s, there are still some fabulous full moon parties in places such as Anjuna. Time your visit for the spectacular Carnival for bustling fun, as crowds throng to watch the lavish floats pass by and dance the night away.

Gulmarg

Play golf on one of the highest golf course in the world, at Gulmarg. From here there are good views of Nanga Parbat, one of the highest mountains on earth. In winter, Gulmarg is transformed into a lively ski resort (www.skihimalaya.com).

Hill stations

Head for the cool hill stations to retreat from the heat of the plains. Some of the most renowned hill stations include Shimla (Himachal Pradesh), Darjeeling (West Bengal), Ooty (Tamil Nadu), Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu) and the incredibly beautiful Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir) with its lotus-strewn Dal Lake.

Hindu festivals

Take part in the Durga Puja (September/October) in Kolkata (Calcutta). One of the biggest Hindu religious festivals in India, it is full of colour and noise, held in honour of the goddess Durga. Other Hindu festivals to watch out for include Diwali, Ganesha Chaturthi and Kumbh Mela.

Holy temples

Orissa state is famous for temples. Bhubaneswar has some particularly notable temples, including the Lingaraj Temple. Puri, a holy Hindu place of pilgrimage, stages Rath Yatra in June or July, where icons of gods are drawn on massive chariots. Konarak is known for its striking ‘Sun Temple '

Kashmir

Wonder at Kashmir's flower-spangled meadows, icy mountain peaks and clear rivers. Jammu is the railhead for Srinagar, the ancient Mughal capital. Lake Dal has houseboats where visitors can live surrounded by scenery so beautiful it is known as 'paradise on earth'.

Kerala

A complete break from India's urban grit, cruise along the tropical backwaters of Kerala, pausing en route to visit rustic villages and assorted tourist sites. Sample the region’s renowned cuisine whilst you’re there including seafood flavoured in light coconut curries.

Kolkata

Go east to Kolkata (Calcutta), capital of West Bengal. It is a major business centre with many markets, bazaars and impressive, if crumbling, colonial buildings. Central Kolkata contains the Maidan, the central parkland.

Music and dance

Listen to the evocative instruments of Indian music, such as the sitar, sarod and the subtle rhythm of the tabla. There is also a variety of dance forms to marvel at, each with its own costumes and elaborate language of gestures.

National parks

Explore the wildlife in over 70 national parks, 400 wildlife sanctuaries and 17 biosphere reserves. The Indian tiger and the Asiatic elephant are still found in certain regions. Among the best known reserves are Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Rajasthan), Ranthambore National Park (Rajasthan), Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh), Corbett Tiger Reserve (Uttarakhand) and Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (West Bengal).

Rajasthan

Visit the most romantic city in Rajasthan, Udaipur. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, it is built around the lovely Lake Pichola and is famed for its breathtaking Lake Palace Hotel as well as being a key filming location for the James Bond film, Octopussy. The rest of Rajasthan is famous for its colourful people and fairy-tale castles and forts.

River Ganges

Brave the crowds that throng the sacred River Ganges. Along its bank is the wondrous city of Varanasi, one of India's holiest Hindu locations with its ghats which, at dawn, are mobbed with pilgrims and holy men performing ritual ablutions and prayers.

Sikkim

Go mountaineering or trekking in the pristine landscape of Sikkim. Shimla, in Himachal Pradesh, is the base for treks into the beautiful Kullu Valley, while Kodaikanal is a popular base for treks in Tamil Nadu.

Taj Mahal and the Golden Triangle

Discover the area known as the 'Golden Triangle' with its many stunning attractions. Delhi sits at the heart of the area with Agra in the southeast with the iconic Taj Mahal. To the southwest, in Rajasthan, is Jaipur, the vibrant 'Pink City'. Visit the Amber Fort and the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). To the southeast of the triangle lies Khajuraho with its famous erotic friezes.

Tea plantations

Find out where your humble cuppa comes from with a tour of one of India’s tea plantations. Watch the tea pickers at work and learn how the leaves are processed. Head to the cool mountain town of Darjeeling, Assam or The Nilgris for the best brews.

Temples of Ajanta

Observe stunning rock-cut temples all over India including the Buddhist cave temples at Ajanta, which date back at least 2,000 years, and Khajuraho with its famous erotic friezes. The caves at Ellora depict religious stories and are Hindu, Buddhist and Jain in origin.

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