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Embrace the culture of India with these 5 excursion ideas
India is quickly and understandably becoming one of the world’s most popular destinations for travellers. It’s easy to see why, what with its diverse offerings in terms of nature, history and culture – here are five of the best places to explore if you’re looking to discover the latter.
The Holi festival in Delhi
If you’ve always wanted to experience the world-famous magic of the Holi festival, make sure you do so in Delhi. Nowhere does it better – the two-day celebration is truly brought to life in a whirlwind of colour, live music and food that is a true microcosm of all things India.
Within the city and its outskirts are several different kinds of Holi celebrations catering to many different desires. If you want a big festival on a smaller scale, head to one of the city’s surrounding neighbourhoods. For a more modern and raucous experience, head to the Holy Cow Festival – it’s here that you’ll be able to watch the best live bands in the country.
A break in Kolkata
There’s something comforting about visiting Kolkata. British India’s capital city – previously known as Calcutta – feels regal and majestic, showcasing some of the country’s most beautiful architecture and rich culture. Consider heading to one of the many galleries here to catch a wondrous art show.
It’s in the area that you’ll be able to taste India’s most famed drink. Tea is at its best both in Kolkata and the nearby Darjeeling, where the drink originated. Be sure to try some of the city’s chai, served best from the stalls on Elgin Road according to the Guardian.
Exploring the Himalaya
India is undeniably one of the most diverse countries in the world, and you’ll realise this as you explore the spiritual wilderness of the Himalaya. It’s not far from Delhi – you can make your visit a day trip if you wish – but it feels worlds away, especially when in the enchanting town of Shimla.
The “summer capital of British India” is full of relics showcasing its plentiful history, made all the more fascinating by its mountainous setting. If you’re an avid hiker, you’ll take comfort in traversing the foothills of nearby Almora, up through the lower reaches of the Himalayas themselves.
Traversing the safari plains
You may not be aware of it, but India is actually one of the best places in the world for an authentic safari retreat. Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh are two national parks renowned for their diverse wildlife, and it’s in the latter that you’ll see India’s majestic Bengal tigers at their most densely populated.
In fact, India is the only country in the world where you’ll see both tigers and lions roaming in the wild. But they’re not the only animals you’ll see as you explore – consider visiting the Kazaranga National Park to witness the biggest population of one horned rhinoceros in the world.
Staying with locals in Kerala
For perhaps the most authentic and immersive way to experience Indian culture, head to Kerala for a homestay. Audley Travel recommends it for “offering great insight into India and local life”, and you’ll see it for yourself as you settle down for the evening over dinner with a local family.
Some homestays are more luxurious and developed than others, but regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll be in for an unforgettable and genuine experience. Kerala itself is a beautiful town, renowned for its wondrous natural points of interest and a relaxed, feel-good aura throughout.