Thursday, December 2, 2010

Planning your Indian Odyssey

Did you know that India has over 500 varieties of mangoes? It’s just one reason why a trip to India is worthwhile. India is an enigmatic, vibrant, unique and spiritually rich destination that is home to over one billion people. Because it’s such a multidimensional and intoxicating place it’s likely you’ll shift between loving it and being completely overwhelmed. But it’s a destination that has to be experienced, and throwing yourself into the culture and enjoying all the sights, experiences, tastes, smells and sounds of this country is the best way to get the most out of your holiday.

There’s so much to see in India, and a number of different itineraries and types of holidays you can choose from. Once you’ve booked your airline tickets all that’s left to do is decide which popular Indian destinations you want to visit:

- Delhi. Most trips to India start or end in Delhi. With its crowded and fast paced lifestyle it’s a great way to get immersed in the Indian way of life. Delhi’s attractions include Hamayun’s Tomb and the Red Fort. As India’s number one shopping destination, visitors to Delhi should head to Chandni Chowk (Moonlight Square), a bustling shopping bazaar.

- Goa. Located in South West India, visitors flock to the state of Goa to enjoy its beaches, churches and temples. Ruled by the Portuguese for over 450 years, Goa has a slightly different feel to the rest of the country. If you’re looking for some rest and relaxation after the hustle and bustle of the Indian cities, then Goa can provide a welcome relief from the crowds on a beautiful stretch of coastline.

- Jaipur. Popularly known as the Pink City, Jaipur showcases stunning hilltop forts and palaces from its rich royal past, bargain-filled bazaars, and some of the country’s best hotels. Jaipur is best enjoyed at dusk, and Amber Fort – the state’s ancient citadel – is majestic at twilight.

- Agra. Tourists are drawn to Agra to marvel at India’s most famous sight, the Taj Mahal. It’s a must-see attraction, and the marvellous white marble mausoleum lives up to the hype. The legacy of the Mughal empire has also left a fort and an assortment of interesting tombs and other mausoleums.

- Rishikesh. Marketed as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, Rishikesh is very ‘new age’. It’s location on the flowing Ganges River, and at the foothills of rolling forests makes it a setting well suited to spirituality. The generous sprinkling of ashrams and yoga and meditation classes makes it a popular destination for those searching for a spiritual experience. With its laidback vibe, Rishikesh is popular with backpackers and the starting point for those heading off to explore the Himalayas.

- Kerala. The pace slows significantly in Kerala, which is a strip of land between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. With a pleasant climate, fertile land and relaxed atmosphere, it’s a little piece of calm and serenity in an otherwise chaotic country. It’s also an established spice centre, and well known for its Ayurvedic treatments.

India is sure to awaken your senses and captivate your soul. With a diverse array of destinations, sights and attractions, it’s a country that has something for everyone. When planning your Indian Odyssey, decide which cities and attractions suit your holiday goals and plans. With low living costs and the number of cheap flights to India available, India is an affordable holiday destination. To make sure you get the best flights, book your Indian odyssey early.

Image by: Ruby Benz

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