Holidays to India are the gateway to a country full of colour, charisma and contrasts.
Compelling – and at times joyfully chaotic – cities give way to lush countryside, breathtaking vistas and babbling mountain streams.
Timeless landmarks such as the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal and epic Red Fort entice and enthral, while sun-kissed resorts provide the perfect base for relaxing beach escapes.
India holidays are whatever you want them to be. Head to the bustling cities of New Delhi and Hyderabad to experience the dizzying whirl of Indian life in all its glory, navigating streets packed with food stalls and bazaars.
If relaxation is more your thing, then make for the coast – where glistening, palm-fringed sands await. In Kerala you’ll find beaches framed by the stunning backdrop of the Western Ghats hills, while Goa is home to Portuguese flourishes and spiritual retreats.
Go coastal or stay in a city, relax in luxury or head to a buzzing street market – on your holiday to India, the choice is yours.
Home to more than 20 million people, India’s capital draws visitors from all over the world.
Situated in the north of the country, its modern developments sit alongside historic temples in streets that pulse with life from dawn to dusk.
While New Delhi refers to the wider megacity, Old Delhi is its historic heart.
Famous landmarks to seek out include the imposing India Gate monument, the magnificent Red Fort and the Jama Masjid mosque, with its mammoth courtyard that can hold 25,000 worshippers.
India’s golden sands offer the perfect contrast to the country’s vibrant cities.
The Kerala region, on the southwestern coast, is famed for its beaches and popular destinations such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
Further up the same coast lies Goa, where blissful resorts are the perfect destination for a romantic holiday.
The state of Karnataka is another must-visit, with the towns of Gokarna and Kaup boasting some of India’s best-rated beaches.
The Taj Mahal is generally at the top of the to-do list for people on holiday in India.
Described by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore as ‘a teardrop on the face of eternity’, this white marble mausoleum sits on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern city of Agra.
It is said that 20,000 men worked on the construction of the Taj during the 17th century, and the fruit of their labour has entranced visitors from all over the world ever since.
Cricket is a national obsession in India and there is no better place to experience a game than at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens ground.
Sometimes referred to as the Coliseum, this 66,000-capacity stadium has been graced by many of the sport’s greatest names.
The atmosphere generated by the passionate fans in Kolkata is second to none.
It’s often said that a player’s cricketing education isn’t complete until they play at Eden Gardens in front of the fervent crowd.
If you’re looking for something a little different to a city holiday or beach break, then India has no shortage of lesser-known places to explore.
Visit the terracotta temples at Bishnupur in West Bengal, explore the vast underground kingdom of Siju Cave in Meghalaya or seek out the clear blue waters of Tamil Nadu’s Gulf of Mannar. Check out these hidden gems and discover a secret side of India.
New Delhi is a magnet for tourists all year round and has a huge range of accommodation.
For a luxurious city break, check in to the Piccadilly in Delhi’s upmarket Janakpuri district, or try the centrally located, five-star Crowne Plaza New Delhi Mayur Vihar Noida.
Connaught Place is also close to the key attractions. Stay in the modern LaLit New Delhi, or the impressive Hotel Regent Grand.
The Keralan city of Kochi – often called the Queen of the Arabian Sea – is a wonderful choice for an Indian adventure.
The Fort Kochi area is a great place to stay – you’ll be near to the beach and antique markets, as well as being able to watch the famous Chinese fishing nets (known locally as cheena vala) in action.
For a luxury stay in the area, check out Fragrant Nature Kochi – an opulent hotel with balconies overlooking the coast.
Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, offers a range of top-quality hotels that reflect the city’s reputation as one of India’s most stylish and forward-thinking cities.
The five-star Radisson Blu Atria Bengaluru is among the best places to stay, along with the Shangri-La Hotel Bengaluru, which has an outdoor pool and full-service spa.
Both are great choices for luxury holidays in India. For three and four-star options, try the Ramanashree Brunton and Royal Orchid Suites.
India Standard Time (IST) is followed throughout the country and runs five-and-a-half hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) .
Remember to remove your shoes before entering homes or places of worship. It’s also a good idea to ask for permission before taking photos of sacred ceremonies or buildings.
The currency in India is the rupee. There are plenty of ATMs in towns and cities, with many places accepting debit and credit cards.
The laws covering alcohol vary between different states. Visitors should be aware that alcohol is banned in places such as Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram and Nagaland.
The flavours of India are enjoyed the world over, but never taste as good as they do on home ground.
The country’s love affair with spices such as coriander, cardamom and saffron is well documented, as is its mastery of curry dishes.
Different regions have their own unique dishes ranging from traditional daals in Delhi to Keralan fish curries.
Visitors to southern India should try the region's pancakes – such as the dosa, idli and uttapam – while fish, lentils and rice are the staples of Bengal’s culinary scene.
Street food is a big part of the Indian way of life, with specialities including bhel puri, a mix of puffed rice and potato.
Mumbai is home to Bollywood, India’s huge Hindi-language movie industry.
Visitors to Mumbai can take organised tours and see the houses of some of the country’s biggest stars before dropping into a local film or TV studio.
There are even occasional opportunities for a day’s work as an on-set extra for those looking for a more immersive experience.
Check out the Kamathipura neighbourhood’s Alfred Theatre for an authentically retro movie-watching venue, or head to popular filming locations such as the Colaba Causeway market.
Part of the fabric of life in India, festivals are a colourful spectacle, offering a fascinating insight into the traditions and beliefs of a truly diverse country.
Holi is one of the biggest and best events – the festival of colour welcoming in spring.
Other key events to look out for in the Indian calendar include the Sonepur Mela fair, held near the city of Patna, and the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Mumbai.
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