Rajasthan - Pushkar Camel Fair1
A swirling spectacle of sights, sounds and vibrant colours, the annual Pushkar Camel Fair comes alive for the Kartik Purnima (full moon). Celebrations kick off in November each year with hundreds of thousands of locals making the journey for the revered fair and Hindu celebration. Pushkar swells with farmers, traders, musicians and mystics while tourists, animals and artists make camp. Men trade livestock and women peruse handicraft stalls selling brightly coloured clothing, textiles and glittering jewellery. Snake charmers and street performers entertain while men compete in camel races and compare moustaches to find the longest. The fair culminates on the Kartik Purnima when Hindu pilgrims take to the sacred waters of Pushkar to bathe away sins, setting candles afloat on the lake.
A vibrant celebration alive with sights, sounds and colour
Rajasthan – Jodhpur Blue Lanes2
Move through the winding laneways of Jodhpur’s Blue City, a tangled maze of tiny streets nestled below the impressive Mehrangarh Fort. Street vendors sit behind stacks of brightly coloured fabric, brilliant shades of yellow, orange and pink brought to life against the Brahmin-blue backdrop. The Old City offers a 10km stretch of blue buildings waiting to be explored, beyond which you’ll find textile and furniture stores alongside bustling bazaars and food stalls making mouth-watering local treats. Make your way up to Mehrangarh Fort, overlooking the sprawling mass of tightly packed homes, taking in sweeping views of Jodhpur and a golden, glowing sunset. Located on the edge of the desert, Jodhpur is an adventure in colour and texture.
Jodhpur’s winding blue laneways are an adventure in colour
Kerala – Munnar3
Lush, rolling green hills against a bright blue sky, Munnar is home to perfectly organised tea plantations, like a patchwork quilt spread out on the impressive landscape. Women work quickly and skilfully, expertly picking tea leaves that will produce Kerala’s famous black and green tea consumed the world over. Once a hill station and resort for the British Raj elite, Munnar is now dotted with tea plantations, making it South India’s largest tea-growing region. Explore Eravikulam National Park, home to the Lakkam Waterfalls, hiking trails and 2,695m-tall Anamudi Peak. Take a guided tour of a tea plantation and learn, first-hand, about tea cultivation, processing and the key role of plantation workers. Marvel at the low mountain ranges, gently veiled in mist and low-lying cloud, creating a magical world of emerald and jade.
Rolling emerald tea plantations veiled in mountain mist
Kerala - Kerala’s Tree House4
Set high above the lush canopy of the rainforest, tree houses offer the perfect escape from the outside world. Constructed using eco-friendly materials and, traditionally, without the use of a single nail, Kerala’s tree houses were once used by tribal people and hunters to ensure safety from wild animals. Known locally as ‘Erumadam,’ they now offer a lush, jungle abode for visitors to this serene, tropical landscape. Far away from India’s busy city streets, Kerala is a haven, its rainforests, paddy fields, fresh and saltwater lakes bringing an abundance of wildlife from exotic birds and wild elephants to the occasional tiger. At night, drift off to sleep to the sounds of jungle life below, the night sky lit up by a dazzling display of stars.
Fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle beneath a blanket of stars
Andaman Islands – Havelock Island5
Picture-perfect coastline boasting white-sand beaches and brilliant turquoise water, lined by tropical rainforest, The Andaman Islands are a dream come true. Located to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, coral reefs here support an abundance of marine life of all shapes and sizes. Swim alongside whale sharks, rays, dolphins, dugongs and different species of turtle. Glide over coral reef, spotting beautifully patterned fish from tiny orange clown to large grouper. The clear, warm water of the Andaman Islands brings a unique marine biodiversity, making it an underwater playground for diving and snorkelling.
Slip into shimmering turquoise water and discover a world of wonder
Andaman and Nicobar Islands – Beaches6
Sun-drenched sand and a big blue sky overhead dotted with puffs of white clouds. The beaches of the Andaman Islands are a tropical paradise dream brought to life in a serene location. The lush green jungle edges down from the hills above, forming a cool canopy of palm trees along the beach. Wander down to the water’s edge and dive into the sparkling sea, plunged into a quiet world of bright coral and abundant marine life. Time in the Andaman’s has a way of slowing down, and island life brings with it a sense of calm and tranquillity. As the sun begins to set the sky comes alive, casting brilliant shades of orange, pink and purple across the shoreline, signalling the end of another day in paradise.
A tropical paradise brought to life with turquoise water and white sand beaches
Kolkata – Elgin Road7
Kolkata’s busy streets hum with the sounds of local life as hurried businessmen and women rush off to work. Lining the roadside, chai dhabas work among a ramshackle assortment of pots and pans containing tea, sugar, spices and buffalo milk. Traditional Kolkata chai is more than just a drink, it’s an art form and a performance piece as each cup is poured from great heights, served in single-use clay cups cast into the street after use. In recent years, traditional has met with modern as growing demand from global and local consumers bring sustainable practices to the industry, ensuring the longevity of India’s vital tea trade and its iconic chai dhabas.
Chai dhabas fill clay cups from dizzying heights on the streets of Kolkata
Darjeeling - Darjeeling Himalayan Railway8
Winding its way through mountains the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, affectionally known as the toy train, passes snow-capped peaks, deep valleys and rolling, green hills. Since its first journey along a 2ft narrow-gauge railway in 1881 the railway has become a Unesco World Heritage Site. In addition to its regular passenger service to and from Kurseong, the toy train delights visitors to steam-powered journeys departing Darjeeling Station during the high season. Climb aboard the little blue train for a historic ride through India past dramatic landscapes and colourful villages.
Take a ride through India aboard the historic toy train
Leh – Zanskar Valley9
The Zanskar Virgin Valley is dominated by breathtaking mountains, jagged rock faces, sprawling valleys and brilliant turquoise streams. The semi-desert region is a playground for trekking and mountaineering, due to its unique position in the northern territory of the Himalayas. Climb aboard a motorcycle and explore long, winding roads wrapped around riverbeds, offering million-dollar views of a dramatic landscape far from the bustling streets of Mumbai or Delhi. Houses and monasteries nestle in the side of mountains, horses and cattle graze in lush, green meadows and, at night, the sky is set alight with a magic carpet of twinkling stars.
Explore breathtaking mountains and sprawling valleys in Leh
Leh – Leh Hemis Festival10
Witness a vibrant display of India’s unique mountain culture at the Leh Hemis Festival. Taking place at Hemis Gompa, the largest Buddhist monastery in the mountainous region of Ladakh, the 2-day festival is celebrated on the 10th day of the Tibetan lunar month. Remembering the birth of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, locals don traditional clothing, bright headgear and jewellery. The sacred masked dance, known as Chaam, is performed by Tibetan Buddhist teachers (Lamas). Accompanied by cymbals, longhorns and drums the Lamas dance in a swirl of fabric, horns and ribbons, the intensity building with the music until, at the crescendo, good prevails over evil.
Join a colourful Tibetan Buddhist celebration in the mountains of Ladakh
Sikkim – Zuluk Loops11
Journey to the lower Himalayas in East Sikkim and you’ll find an ancient trade route crisscrossing back and forth over rugged terrain. Connecting Lhasa and the port of Tamluk during the 1st Century AD, the 900km Silk Route was commonly used by traders, offering safe passage in difficult conditions. Now, India’s historic Silk Route treats visitors to exceptional views of the eastern Himalayan mountain range, including Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. An awe-inspiring journey through dramatic scenery, the route is also an adventure through time.
Retrace the steps of India’s ancient Silk Route
Hyderabad - Paradise Biryani12
Take your taste buds on a tour of India starting with biryani, a one-pot rice dish flavoured with exotic spices and layered with lamb, chicken, fish or vegetables. Hyderabadi biryani is among the most popular types in India, incorporating marinated goat meat cooked together with the rice and seasoned with coconut or saffron. Once all the ingredients are inside, the dish is sealed with dough and cooked on a low flame, releasing a bold combination of mouth-watering flavours. In Hyderabad, the hunt for the best biryani will undoubtedly lead to Paradise. Established in 1953 it is the oldest biryani restaurant in the city, having received many awards as one of Hyderabad’s best food courts.
Take a journey into a new world of exotic spices and bold flavours
Karnataka – Devangere13
Traditionally served fresh with sambar, chutney or vegetarian side dishes, dosa is a popular dish across India and a typical part of South Indian dining. Crispy golden dosa is cooked to perfection on a busy stovetop, often stuffed with spiced paneer or potatoes, appearing in many different shapes, sizes and textures. Tracing its origins from the city of Davangere in Karnataka, the benne dosa, or butter dosa, is prepared with generous amounts of butter and served hot with an irresistible coconut chutney.
Perfectly cooked, crisp dosa in all its many forms
Mumbai – Streets of Mumbai14
The streets of Mumbai are alive with delectable street food, offering a tantalising smorgasbord of flavours, smells and unique food experiences. Vada pao - potato patties mashed with fresh chilli, coriander and garlic, dipped in chickpea flour then golden fried and stuffed inside soft Pao with layers of chutney. Bhel Puri - puffed rice, papadi, sev, onions and raw mango topped with sweet and sour chutney . For the curious and adventurous, Mumbai street corners are a wonderland of extraordinary eats waiting to be discovered. Local produce and traditional cooking techniques take centre stage and the best way to unearth a new experience is to let your tastebuds lead the way.
Mumbai’s bustling streets offer unbeatable local fare
Darjeeling – Old Ghoom Monastery15
Take a spiritual journey in the awe-inspiring mountains of Darjeeling. Rolling hills of brilliant green plantations and snow capped mountains are the background for local monasteries adorned with vibrant colours, flags and intricate designs. Monks shrouded in bright orange and maroon robes move from place to place, drawing intrigue and delight. Visit Old Ghoom and explore one of the oldest monasteries in the area. Marvel at the huge statue of Maitreya, carefully crafted from clay brought in from Tibet. Spot prayer flags blowing in the breeze, watch local folk dancing and, if you're lucky, ring in the Tibetan New Year in unforgettable fashion.
Explore magnificent monasteries in the mountains of Darjeeling