With a population of over one billion people, India is a land of incredible cultural diversity. In fact, it’s one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse countries in the world. So here we’ve chosen some of the best cultural experiences to have in India that you may wish to include on your own itinerary.
Watch a Kathakali dance show
During a Kathakali performance, dancers use strong facial expressions and stylised movements to convey the story. One of the best places to watch this art form is the city of Kochi. Get their early and you may also catch the performers getting ready.
Spend a night in a palace
The ruling days of India’s Maharajas may be a thing of the past, but their legacy lives on in the form of their palaces and royal residences. Many of these have been converted into palace hotels, where you can gain a taste of what their life was once like.
Floating on the waters of Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur is one of the most iconic. Built in 1746 for a young prince, this spectacular palace hotel starred in the James Bond movie ‘Octopussy‘.
Also found in the state of Rajasthan, Bhanwar Vilas Palace in Karauli is home to the current Maharaja and Maharani. Their sprawling Art Deco palace has been open to guests for over 20 years.
Ride the Himalayan Queen Toy Train
Running daily between Kalka and the hill station of Shimla, the Himalayan Queen Toy Train is one of the most beautiful railways in India. Built in 1903, it was considered the ‘crown jewel’ of Indian National Railways during the British reign. And a ride on this historic rail-route is like stepping back in time.
The 96-kilometre route winds its way steeply through rugged mountains and pine forests, with a total of 800 bridges, 103 tunnels and an impressive 900 curves. When going to Shimla sit on the right-hand side for the best views.
Sail the holy Ganges in Varanasi
India’s holiest city, Varanasi is a melting pot of colour, chaos and spirituality. A total of 84 iconic ghats, or stone embankments, lead down to the River Ganges. These draw thousands of pilgrims for cremations and to pay their respects.
Visiting Varanasi can no doubt be overwhelming, but will offer an incredible insight into the practices of ancient tradition and devotion. Take a sunset boat ride on the River Ganges to see the evening Aarti ceremonies, with devotees waving candles before deities.
Take a rickshaw around Chandni Chowk bazaar
Not only is Chandni Chowk bazaar one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi, but also one of the largest wholesale markets in all of Asia. Thought to be established under Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, it’s divided into several smaller markets which sell sertain commodities such as textiles, jewellery and shoes.
Many stores also specialize in bridal wear and traditional Indian dress, making it a must-see cultural hub during any visit to the capital. Take a rickshaw ride around the area to experience its hustle and bustle.
We offer these cultural experiences and much more on our India group tours. Why not take a look and find your next adventure?