Intoxicating…incomparable…bewitching…exhilarating…India has it all. Superlatives are seldom enough to describe this incredibly vibrant and vivacious land, where the ancient mixes with the modern, and the senses are constantly tempted with sights and sounds of the most exotic kind. India is more than a country; it is a continent in its own right. Indeed, it may be even more than this – perhaps a microcosm of all that the world has to offer.
What makes India such a special place and such a worthwhile travel destination? Is it the art and architecture or unique wildlife, be it Taj or tiger? The culture or cuisine? The breathtaking natural beauty, be it Himalayan precipice or pristine, sandy Keralan beach? Perhaps it is the deeply ingrained sense of spirituality that permeates a land responsible for the birth of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh faiths. It is undeniably all of these things. But what makes India uniquely extraordinary is the charm and vitality of her people. India is a land of immense antiquity, a nation that proudly displays a vast cultural diversity. India’s name is derived from the Indus River, whose valleys were first settled five thousand years ago. Since then India has been enriched by successive waves of migrants from distant lands, each adding to the cultural heritage of the Subcontinent. Now home to a plethora of languages, religions, ethnicities, and cultures, it is this diversity that truly inspires and continues to breathe life into modern India, and which is displayed in her people to this day.
The lands of North India have been at the epicenter of the nation’s history for millennia, and home to several of India’s most exciting and popular travel destinations. Bisected by the Grand Trunk Road, Kipling’s “river of life,” running from Calcutta in the east, through Delhi and into the Northwestern Frontier, this “stately corridor” has been witness to the passage of countless armies, merchants and travelers plying their way across the great plains of North India. Of even greater significance to the Indian people and to Indian history, North India is also the place of the sacred River Ganges, Mother Ganga, the lifeblood of Northern India and, like the Grand Trunk Road, a social and cultural metaphor for the region. Born in the mighty Himalayas, making its way through the Gangetic Plains of Northern India to its final merging with the sea in the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges passes through many of the same destinations as does the modern day traveler to the north of India.
For many, Rajasthan embodies myriad dreams of a fairytale India, exuding an unparalleled air of the exotic. A region abounding with magnificent forts and palaces, Rajasthan is the fabled land of the Maharajas of India. Images of elegant, bejeweled and luxuriously attired Rajput princes, holding court in opulent citadels loftily perched atop their mountain aeries, continue to haunt the romantic imagination. Throughout history, the princely states and people that comprised traditional Rajasthan were legendary for their fierce independence and military prowess. Indeed, the Rajputs’ highly evolved code of honor and chivalric notions rivaled that of the knights of medieval European. Still as proud and independent as ever, the Rajasthani people are equally friendly and warm, and delight in welcoming visitors to their homeland.
Bound by two of the world’s highest mountain ranges, the Himalaya to the south and the Karakoram to the north, Ladakh sits on the western edge of the Tibetan Plateau, at an average altitude of 10,000 feet. The region’s capital, Leh, the base of operations for most journeys to Ladakh, is, at 11,400 feet above sea level, one of the world’s highest cities. Ladakh, and the Tibetan Plateau in its entirety, is a high-altitude desert nestled under crystal-clear skies of the purest azure. The landscape is stark and yet incredibly striking, its dun colored hills dramatically adorned with whitewashed Buddhist monasteries, many of them quite ancient.
“Small but beautiful” is how Sikkim’s Tourist Bureau describes this Buddhist kingdom, India’s 22nd state. Nestled in the inner range of the eastern Himalayas, the country is so mountainous that only twenty percent of the land is habitable. Most Sikkimese live in the shadow of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, and revered by the Sikkimese as their protective deity. In Sikkim you will experience the grandeur of magnificent mountains, lush valleys, swiftly running rivers, and a delightfully peaceful people.
No one can traverse the whole of India and not feel the palpable difference between North and South. While the North is geographically comprised of such notable features as the expansive plains, the Ganges, Rajasthani deserts, and the mighty Himalayas, the prevailing natural features of South India are its tropical climate, lush tropical vegetation, and expansive, pristine coastal areas. Whereas North India was subject to frequent conquest and foreign incursions, South India, despite exposure to foreign influences, be it British, French or Portuguese, has at its core remained essentially Dravidian, and here the aboriginal “Indian” culture has survived. The Tamil language spoken in the South is considered India’s oldest language, and the scripts of the Southern languages, including Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, are diametrically opposed to the Sanskrit-based languages of the North. Indeed, the architecture, cuisine, culture, languages and lifestyle of South India are truly distinctive from those of the North, and underscore the incredible diversity that is to be found in this tremendously intriguing nation.
Quite simply, the Subcontinent is home to some of the most remarkable animals on earth. Perhaps most famous of all are the iconic Asian elephant and Royal Bengal Tiger, subjects of Indian mythology and literary lore for millennia. An astonishing menagerie of wildlife is to be found throughout India, from the red panda and one-horned rhinoceros in the North East Frontier’s Kaziranga to the wild elephants at Periyar. Animals such as the elephant and camel also play a vital role in the day to day life of the Indian people, while others, such as the Himalayan snow leopard, are much more elusive.
Travel to India with Nomadic Expeditions!
When we say we have travel expert’s on our team, we mean it. Our Director of Operations, Sanjay Saxena has been on the “WOW List” of WendyPerrin.com’s “Trusted Travel Expert” for India and Conde Nast Traveler’s “India and Himalaya Specialist” for over a decade. Call or write to us and let Sanjay and his team plan your India Adventure!