Burgeoning like its vast range of festivals, landscapes and architecture, India is just, as diverse as, its beautiful culture and traditions. Crowned with snow-dusted peaks of the Himalaya and the pristine natural beauty of Kashmir; India’s beautiful simplicity sweeps down to the sun-splashed beaches of the tropical south. It’s a country that will lodge itself into your memory and will keep popping up in your head, even after, you’ve left its geographic bounds. With a bounty of outdoor attractions, India is much a melange of musings.
Whether you ride a forest safari in the quest to spot endangered wildlife, paddle in the wavering sun-kissed waters of coastal retreats; take blood-pumping treks high up in the mountains or simply inhale pine-scented air in a meditative woodland, you will return overwhelmed. Apart from its natural wonders, India also boasts a wealth of architectural gems and UNESCO sites. There are peaceful temples, mighty fortresses peering over plunging ravines and museums that impart valuable information about the country’s past and present. Just like its architectonics, India’s literary, culinary, musical, and artistic structure is also heterogeneous.
Indian cuisine, for instance, is an ambrosian smorgasbord of regional recipes. Most regional dishes use traditional cooking techniques and have a distinct presentation style. Whether you dig masterfully marinated meats or vegetarian platters (Thali), India’s splendour of curries and deep-sea delights will leave you craving for more. Since we are talking about food, you must know that India is known for its flavourful spices. Most Indian cooking kicks off by crackling cumin or mustard seeds in hot oil. If tempted to taste authentic Indian street food, you must give Pani Puri, Samosas, Kebabs, Pav Bhaji and Chaat, a shot. Add Kulfi (Indian ice cream) and Lassi (yoghurt drink) to the list.
While travelling along, the chaotic canvas of India, you must be prepared for unexpected surprises. While a go-with-the-flow attitude will help keep your sanity intact, the poverty can be confronting, the bureaucracy can be frustrating, turning the simplest of tasks into a frazzling epic. Even veteran travellers find their nerves frayed at some point. However, to embrace India’s unpredictability is to embrace its soul. That one emotion that keeps India connected is spirituality. It’s the ubiquitous thread in India’s richly diverse tapestry. As for religion, India is home to people who practice Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. The trail of sacred sites pays testament to the country’s long religious history.
These religious beliefs also mark the abundance of festivals in India. The devotional-celebrations can be anything from city parades heralding auspicious events to simple harvest fairs paying homage to a local deity. All in all, India is a melange of rich traditions, cultural heritage, and a stack of wonderful landmarks. All the right reasons for you to have it on your travel bucket list. Join us as we embark upon an insightful journey from one state to another to unveil the remarkable diversity of this culturally rich country. Behold the ethnic power of incredible India and we promise that the memories will continue to linger, even after you have left its geographic bounds.
High Life with Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a fast-paced state best known for Bombay, Pune and Nashik. Lined with coastal beaches, Mumbai houses Bollywood, British era Gateway of India and multiple prehistoric cave temples. Pune, the second largest city of Maharashtra is popular for having several forts. It also seats Aga Khan Palace, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Nashik, on the other hand, is a pilgrimage hotspot and also, India’s wine capital.
Mumbai, The City Of Dreams
Mumbai, a city with a different style, or as commonly known, is the city of dreams, with wakeful flashing lights. The only city in India where both the rich and the poor find solace by the ocean side. In Mumbai, riches and poverty are not beyond the grace of humanity. Even though there’s a noticeable interlude between the urbanized and the old Mumbai culture, its residents abide by the tag Mumbaikars. Famous as the home of Bollywood, Mumbai is where you will find both a lavishly-appointed lifestyle, as well as, the scintillating iconic landmarks from the Indo-Saracenic, Gothic and the Victorian era. While you are visiting this commercial capital of India, we reckon you take a trip to Gateway of India, Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Mahakali Caves, Siddhivinayak Temple, Rajabai Clock Tower, High Court, Marine Drive and Global Vipassana Pagoda. Visiting these landmarks will only give you a gist of the real Mumbai, however, it will take multiple visits to explore its entirety.
Pune, the Base of Marathas
Sprawling with historical landmarks, Pune, the 2nd-largest city of Maharashtra is quite a delight to visit. Pune was once the base of Marathas and the Peshwas, the Marathi-speaking peasants turned warriors. While the empire lasted from the 16th-century until the eighteenth, its remnants are celebrated even today. From Shaniwar Wada to Rajgad Fort, there are about 17 forts that were won by the ruling emperors of this region. Apart from its royal history, Pune is also popular for the imposing 18th-century Aga Khan Palace, that served as a prison for Mohandas Karamchand and Kasturba Gandhi during the Quit India Movement. It also happens to house Kasturba Gandhi’s crematorium and Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. Amongst all of Pune’s iconic landmarks, it’s 8th-century Pataleshwar Cave Temple is certainly worth paying a visit.
Nashik, the Wine Capital of India
Known for its picturesque surroundings and wineries, Nashik is an ancient Indian city, partially free of pollution. Home to numerous orchards and vineyards, the holy city of Nashik gave birth to a new buzzword, the Wine tourism. From Sula to Tiger Hill to Vallonne to Chateau D’Ori, Nashik is sprawling with vast estates of exotic farms. Apart from boutique vineyards, Nashik is also popular for its links to the ancient epics of Ramayana. Word has it, that Lord Rama bathed at Ram Kund which has now turned into a famous pilgrimage spot. There are several temples in the vicinity that celebrate Lord Rama’s visit to this primaeval city. The city is also home to the 1st-century Pandavleni Caves on the Trivashmi Hills.
Madhya Pradesh, the Heart of India
Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India, is a state famous for its iconic architecture, exquisite food culture, national parks, handlooms and the 10th-century temples with striking sculptures. It’s most visited cities are Bhopal, Indore and Gwalior.
Bhopal The City Of Nawabs
Bhopal, a city synonymous with gas tragedy was once the favourite abode of Nawabs. Even today, Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is one of the greenest cities in India. Thriving with Royal Palaces, some reinstated while some tattered in ruins, Bhopal is where the last descendants of the Nawab Hafiz Sir Hamidullah Khan reside. That’s Saif Ali Khan’s great grandfather! Apart from the kingly stature of the city, it’s divided into two parts by the Upper and the Lower Lake. Each side is worth exploring, however, some of the prominent landmarks that you can’t miss are the Taj-ul-Masjid, Van Vihar National Park, State Museum, Raja Bhoj statue and Manuabhan Ki Tekri.
Indore, the Cleanest City of India
Call it the cleanest city of India or the nation’s street food capital, Indore is a city with unbeatable charm. Indore, once ruled by the Holkars serves as the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh today. The city undoubtedly takes pride in its food and dining culture. For the same reason, they have dedicated food markets and streets such as Sarafa and 56 Dukkan where you will find a variety of delicious vegetarian snacks through the day until the wee hours. Apart from food, Indore is also famous for its trail of royal residences, including the 7-story Rajwada Palace and the Lal Baag Palace from the Holkar dynasty. While here, do take a trip to the Holkar tombs, Central Museum, Cenotaphs at Chhatri Baag, Clock Tower, Indo-Gothic Gandhi Hall and the Kanch Mandir boasting stunning mirrored mosaic interiors.
Maheshwar, the Centre of Handloom Weaving
Perched on the banks of Narmada River, is the prehistoric city of Maheshwar, famous for its Fort and the Handloom Factory. The Maheshwar handloom factory is a small unit operating inside the iconic 18th-century fortress built by Rajmata Ahilya Devi. Word has it that during her reign, Queen Ahilya Devi enriched the city by expanding her architectural vision into remarkable sculptured buildings, riverfront ghats and exquisite temples. The sculptured artwork of fortress matched with the magnanimous river views of Narmada makes Maheshwar an explore-worthy destination. The handloom mills, on the other hand, represent the history of a will to empower. Be sure to take a quick sneak-peek inside the handloom factory which will instantly help you build a connection with the local culture.
Mandav, the Town of Haunted Tales
Mandav or Mandu is an olden fort city in the heart of India. Located in Madhya Pradesh, Mandu is primarily famous for its Afghan architectural heritage. The presence of which is dotted by the city walls and gigantic Darwazas or gateways carved out of stone. This small town is home to iconic landmarks such as Rani Roopmati Mahal – the homestead of ghost stories, Hoshang Shah’s Tomb – the domed mausoleum in marble, Jami Masjid mosque, and centuries-old Jahaz Mahal Palace framed with sizeable courtyards, colonnades and lakes.
Himachal Pradesh, the Land of Gods
Home to phenomenal scenery and mountain towns, Himachal Pradesh is known as the Devbhoomi of India. Although, all along, the state, you will find a trail of Tibetan prayer flags (inscribed with mantras) following you. These indicate a strong Tibetan presence in the state, along with, ample of Buddhist temples and monasteries. Otherwise, the region is famed for its adventure sports including climbing, trekking and skiing.
Manali, the Soul of Himachal Pradesh
Cloaked in green valleys of pine trees and unhackneyed fresh air, Manali, the Devbhoomi carries both Himachal Pradesh’s and India’s soul. The best-explored odysseys of this Indian Switzerland include Vashist, Old Manali, Manikaran, Kheerganga, and Tosh. Wherever you travel, the sound of upstream rivers and the aroma of Maggi noodles and Dal Makhani will follow you. Most importantly, just the sighting of the snowclad mountains looking down on you is a retreat. While here, trek through the miraculous Parvati Valley, along the Kheerganga trail to experience the sensational hillside. Or Ski in the Solang Valley for some snow adventures. In particular, this high-altitude Himalayan resort town is a honeymoon destination, as well as, a backpacking centre. However, it’s also a jumping-off point for rafting, paragliding and mountaineering.