North India   WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO?  South India

Why visit India?

Wildlife
There are more than 120 National Parks and 500 Wildlife Sanctuaries in India, these along with the 18 Bio-Reserves offer a wide range of wildlife experiences. India has some of the most bio diverse regions in the world and has three biodiversity hotspots with many endemic and endangered animals including the Bengal tiger; Asian elephant; wild dog (dhole); Asiatic lion; sloth bear; garial (crocodile). It is a rich country for bird watchers and those interested in amphibians, reptiles and insects are also rewarded with the range India has to offer.
The Wildlife parks that are most visited/easy to include in a tour are:
Ranthambhore - Rajasthan
Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur - Rajasthan (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
Bandhavgarh - Madhya Pradesh
Kanha - Madhya Pradesh
Sasan Gir - Gujarat (the place to see the Asiatic lion)
Kaziranga - Assam
Periyar - Kerala
Nagarhole - Karnataka
Sundarbans - West Bengal (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
Note: All National Parks in India are government owned and controlled and this means they are responsible for the activities that take place within them. Some parks have jeep/vehicle safaris, some walking safaris and a few have elephant safaris. Many parks close during the breeding season and there are occasions when parks are closed to visitors (eg fire risk or tiger census).
Geography
India is a huge country and has every type of scenery imaginable - vast deserts; some of the highest mountains in the world; dense forests; rolling grasslands; vast rivers; tropical islands and over 7,000 kms (4,700 miles) of coastline. Most holidays to India will involve a number of different habitats. In addition to the country areas there is a high chance that you will spend some time in a city. India's main hub airports are in large cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata. Other interesting cities you may like to visit include Mysore, Cochin, Agra, Varanasi, Shimla, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Amritsar.
Some of the most popular geographical features visited are:
The backwaters - Kerala
The Thar Desert - Rajasthan
The Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
The Western Ghats (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
The Deccan Plateau - Karnataka
Beaches - Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Tropical Islands - Andaman and Lakshadweep
History
India has a long and fascinating history including the Indus Valley Bronze Age civilisation (3,300 - 1,300 BCE) and a medieval history with regional kingdoms ruled by peoples such as the Pallavas, Pandyas and Cholas. In the 16th century much of India was ruled by Muslim rulers (the Mughal Empire) and by the 18th century the Europeans ruled (the British Empire - but also Dutch, Portuguese). India's road to independence perhaps started with the 'rebellion' of 1857 which ended the rule by the East India Company and the British Government took over the 'administration' of India. After the Second World War the call for self-rule became stronger when the non-cooperation movement started under Gandhi's lead.
Before independence the sub-continent consisted of many princely states - after independence in 1947 it became the countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Visitors interested in history will find ancient sites; buildings; museums etc. We have had customers visit battle sites; learn more about Indian history from an Indian perspective and we have had great success helping our customers to track down ancestors who lived in India.
India has a large number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Some of the most popular include:
Taj Mahal and Agra Fort - Uttar Pradesh
Fatehpur Sikri - Uttar Pradesh
Khajuraho - Madhya Pradesh
Hampi - Karnataka
Red Fort, Qutb Minar, Humayan's Tomb - Delhi
Elephanta - Mumbai
Ajanta and Ellora Caves - Maharashtra
Monuments at Mamallapuram - Tamil Nadu
Culture
India with its rich heritage and vibrant culture is one of the most exciting and diverse countries in the world to visit. The culture of India is unique - perhaps because it is predominantly a Hindu country. The culture of the Hindu religion does add to the 'differentness' of India (eg the 'holy' cows wandering freely). The Muslim/Mugal influences are particularly strong in North India and in South India there is a Christian influence (Christianity arrived in India before it arrived in Europe). Social traditions also influence the culture in India - eg the caste system, arranged marriage, dowry payments.
India has strong traditions in the arts. India's literature goes back to early writings in Sanskrit. Performing arts and music have regional links (eg Carnatic music from South India, Bhangra dance from Punjab, Kathakali performances from Kerala and Bharatanatyam dance from Tamil Nadu). The Indian film industry is huge with Bollywood producing more films than Hollywood and Mollywood (Madras/Chennai) producing films in the Tamil language.
India has many religions - Hinduism (80% of the population), Islam (13%), Christianity (2%), Sikhism (2%), Buddhism (1%) Jainism, Zorastrianism and a number of tribal religions. This leads to a lot of festivals and National Holidays. Many festivals do not have fixed dates due to astrological tables, and others are observed only by certain states - but you may be lucky and find yourself at the right place at the right time. Some of the poplar festival that visitors like to attend include:
Diwali - Festival of Lights (mainly in North India)
Holi - Festival of Colours (only in North India)
Eid al-Fitr - the breaking of the Ramadan fast for Muslims
Pongal - Harvest festival (Tamil Nadu)
Onam - the main festival of Kerala
Vishu - Hindu New Year in Kerala and Karnataka
Durga Puja - Worship of the Goddess Durga (West Bengal and surrounding states)
Pushka - camel fair (Rajesthan)
Pooram - Thrissur in Kerala
Kumbh Mela - The largest peaceful gathering in the world where Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river. Takes place every third year in one of four places in North India.
Food
The food of India is another major attraction. Indian cuisine is very popular in the UK with Indian restaurants in every town. There are significant differences between the cuisines of different regions. The food of North India is rich (cooked in ghee) and often served with breads whereas in South India there is a stronger emphasis on vegetarian food which is mostly cooked in coconut oil. Although some bread is eaten, vast quantities of rice are consumed in the south. Northern Indians are mostly tea drinkers, the southerners also enjoy coffee. In the coastal regions a lot of fish is consumed. Meat is mainly chicken or mutton (goat) but in Kerala and Bengal you may be offered beef. Vegetarians and vegans will find India one of the easiest places in the world to visit and enjoy a wide variety of dishes.
Many people enjoy learning how to cook Indian food and there are numerous opportunities to learn about re-creating Indian food yourself. If this is an interest please ask us .
Accommodation
India has a wide range of accommodation options - yet again there really is something for everyone. If 5 star luxury hotels are where you like to stay then there are some truly wonderful hotels in this category including the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in Mumbai (one of the most famous hotels in the world) and the Lake Palace Hotel in the middle of the lake at Udaipur. There are some stunning luxury hotels in many North India destinations (Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur). There are fewer luxury hotels in South India but many wonderful and characterful mid to top quality hotels and resorts.
Many of our customers ask us for smaller, heritage hotels and India has a great selection of these. India's history means that there are many old buildings that are converted into hotels. Rajasthan has a large number of palaces and forts that have been transformed and many smaller buildings such as merchant houses and havelis have also been converted and make delightful boutique hotels. Some are operated by hotel groups, others are privately owned.
We call ourselves India/Kerala Connections because we think it is important to 'connect' with the people of the country you are visiting - and what better way to do this than stay in the home of a local family.
We search for suitable 'homestays' for our customers and have found (and helped to establish) many. We have a wide choice in Kerala and the south but discovering more and more in other places.
In addition to hotels, guesthouses and homestays there are other interesting accommodation options available. Many resorts offer tents (these range from luxurious to simple) and tree houses. Plus, of course, are the famous houseboats of the Kerala backwaters. Another accommodation option is a train - some visitors are happy to take overnight journeys on one of India's sleeper trains others prefer the comfort of a luxury tourist train where you have your own private cabin.
Interests
Many activities are offered and most interests may be satisfied in India. Below is a list of the more common:
Wildlife - click here to go to the Wildlife Section. link
Elephants - in addition to seeing wild elephants many people like to interact with domestic elephants
Horses - there are a few places where horse riding is offered (mainly in Rajasthan)
Food - there is delicious, regional food to be sampled.
Trains - in addition to passenger and luxury trains India has some mountain railways (UNESCO World Heritage sites).
History - India has lots of history - ancient and more recent. See section above.
Walking/trekking - short walks and extended treks (perhaps with overnight accommodation in tents in remote areas) are available in many places throughout India.
Cycling - offered in various places and many resorts have bicycles
Yoga, Spa Treatments, Ayurveda - offered in many hotels throughout India.
Boating - as well as houseboats, canoeing and kayaking are available in the Kerala backwaters and other locations.
Fishing - both sea and river fishing are available in certain areas (eg Mahseer fishing in the River Cauvery, Karnataka; fishing from the decks of a houseboat in the backwaters, Kerala; big game fishing in the Andaman Islands)
Ballooning - hot air balloon trips are offered in Rajasthan.
Golf - there are golf clubs around India (introduced by the British during the Raj)
SCUBA diving/snorkelling - best off India's offshore islands of Andaman and the Lakshadweep
Festivals - India has many festivals see 'Culture' above
Textiles - India is justly famous for its textiles, weaving, printing and clothes.
Shopping - numerous possibilities. Popular/common purchases include spices, clothes, rugs, fabrics, antiques, body care products, jewellery.
Photography - India and its people must be one of the best places for the photography. There is always something interesting to photograph and the locals are more than happy to feature in your photographs. We guarantee that you will take masses of photographs during your visits to India.
People
The population of a country is what makes it. The people you meet as a visitor will influence your thinking and the friendliness can make a huge difference to the overall view of your holiday and the country. The people of India in the most part are very friendly and helpful. Many customers tell us how much they loved meeting the locals and how welcome they were made to feel. It is a great help that most Indians speak some English - and they love to practice it. It is also true that they are very 'service' minded and if you ask for help (eg to carry a bag, ask for directions etc) they will willingly assist you. They are also more than happy to be photographed - you should always ask permission. We hope our customers will want to interact with the local people and we do everything we can to encourage this. Transfers on our holidays are mostly by car so here you will have the company of a driver. If you take a train journey you will mix with the locals. In restaurants (either in your hotel or elsewhere) you will talk to your waiter. One of the best ways to understand a country is to stay in the home of a local family - and we have many homestays that we can include in a holiday.


Know Before You Go: to make an informed decision about the destination you are considering visiting citizens should take the advice of their respective governments. For British citizens that is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO website gives travel advice (health, safety, security etc) for every country. We recommend you look at this before booking any holiday and then again before departure. (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice)

Note: All visitors to India must have a tourist visa. Most people are eligible for an eTV (tourist visa on arrival). You can apply yourself (see link to Indian Visa Online on our Links page) or if you would like us to do it for you - contact us or download the application form (see Downloads).