India is one of the most incredible and diverse travel destinations in the world. It’s no surprise that people come from far and wide to experience all the wonderful things this country has to offer. There is a fascinating culture to discover, gorgeous scenery to admire, and plenty of interesting historic sites to explore. Furthermore, the people are kind, friendly and gracious hosts, welcoming all tourists with warm smiles and open arms.
Being a nation of extreme contrasts is what makes India such an exciting destination. However, this colourful country is so vast that visitors often have to choose between exploring the North or the South. Read on to find out which half of India is best for you…
Northern India is home to mountains, deserts, cities and rural villages, interspersed by wide, open spaces of fertile land. Without a doubt, there is something for everyone here, with plenty of bucket list experiences just waiting to be enjoyed and ticked off your checklist. Here are some of the highlights of Northern India…
You could find yourself trekking in the Himalayas, one of the most impressive mountain ranges on the planet. Your breath will be taken away by its serene, untouched landscapes.
2. Jaipur, Rajasthan
Alternatively, wander around Jaipur, the capital of India’s Rajasthan state. The city is located 260km from Delhi and forms part of the Golden Triangle tourist route. You’ll be astounded by the beautiful palaces and intricate architecture.
This ancient town is famous for its stone carving tradition and majestic stepwells. In addition to this, it hosts unique Holi celebrations and cultural festivals.
4. The River Ganges and Varanasi
This is undoubtedly a must-visit destination when travelling to Northern India! Make your way to the holy city of Varanasi to observe how integral the river has become for daily life.
Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities, and one of the holiest in Hinduism. Here you can watch some mesmerising rituals which are a beautiful sight to behold.
5. The Taj Mahal
Perhaps the most iconic place to visit in the whole of India, the Taj Mahal is known as the world’s largest tomb. The attraction is a wondrous place of outstanding beauty, surrounded by exquisitely manicured gardens.
Moreover, this site is likely to be the highlight of your trip… don’t leave India until you’ve travelled to Agra to see this universally admired masterpiece of the world’s heritage.
In fact, the Taj Mahal is probably right at the top of most people’s bucket lists for India, and you’ll face some serious FOMO if you neglect to pass by during your northern Indian journey. Also, it’s worth using a tour guide to learn all there is to know about the mesmerising place you’re exploring too.
6. Ranthambore National Park
Last but not least, pay a visit to this amazing natural reserve which is home to many of India’s tigers. Embark on a safari tour to see some of the other beautiful creatures that live here, including leopards and striped hyenas too.
Southern India has a gentler appeal when compared to its northern counterpart. The beautiful beaches found in Goa and Kerala are a huge draw for the area. Also, Southern India has the largest population of elephants in the country and is also home to a number of nature reserves. Top tip: Avoid travel to the south between May and September, unless you want to get washed away by the annual monsoon!
Here are some of the highlights of Southern India…
Kerala is the lush, green, tropical paradise that offers respite from India’s hectic city streets and slums. Head to the beautiful beaches of Varkala and Kovalam for a day of sun on paradisiacal, palm fringed shores.
2. Periyar National Park, Kerala
This is one of the few national parks in India to remain open during the monsoon season. Periyar is known for its herds of wild elephants which can sometimes be seen by the side of the lake during a boat safari.
Furthermore, many other activities are possible in and around the park from guided nature walks and border hikes, to bamboo rafting trips and night jungle patrols.
3. Fort Kochi (Cochin)
This age-old trading post is found on the spice trade route and has become a haven of colourful restaurants, cafes, and quaint hangouts. The history of the place still lingers in the crumbling buildings which offer subtle reminders of the area’s past.
Next, take a day trip to Tiruvannamalai, which offers one of the most memorable experiences of your travels in Southern India. You’ll feel enlightened as you hike up the holy mountain of Arunachala.
Alternatively, check out the many temples, shrines, and yoga ashrams in the area to truly absorb the local culture, history and lifestyle.
5. Hampi, Karnataka
The laid-back village of Hampi is one of India’s top historical destinations and was once the capital of one of the greatest Hindu empires in India’s history. Therefore, there are plenty of captivating ruins to check out. In fact, these ruins date back to the 14th century and include more than 1600 monumental remains stretching for 16 square miles.
So, vastly different and almost seeming as if they are different countries, both Northern India and Southern India are deserving of your attention. But which one will you travel to first?
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