Brief History

From the earliest days of the Harappan civilisation dating back to the middle of the 4th millennium BC, the Indian sub-continent has been developing and refining its own distinct cultures and philosophies. The home of one of the world’s oldest civilisations and several of the world’s great religions, India has always been subject to invasion: Aryans, Greeks, Scythians, Parthians, Huns, Romans, Turks, Afghans, Dutch, Portuguese, French and finally the British all passed this way, bringing ideas and influences which India has absorbed and incorporated into its own way of life.

Geography & People

Geographically too, India is a land of kaleidoscopic diversity with the country’s 2.6 million square kilometres harbour, an immense variety of landscapes that range from the palm-edged beaches of the tropical south to the eternal snow of the mighty Himalayas. In between, jungles and forests, lush river valleys and barren deserts, busy modern cities and quiet villages are yours to explore.

Occupying this vast and varied country is an intriguing mixture of people whose diversity of race, language, customs, traditions, cuisine, art and religion brings colour to every aspect of life. With such a variety of people, there is an equal variety of festivals. Amongst the most spectacular are Rath Yatra in Puri and the Hemis festival in Ladakh (both held in June or July), Pushkar’s camel fair in November and the nationwide celebration of Diwali in October or November – but virtually every temple across the country has its own and if you are fortunate enough to find your visit coincides with one it may prove to be the highlight of your stay.

North India

Delhi, the capital city, lies to the north of India. The 17th century old Delhi has bustling streets and busy bazaar’s, while as New Delhi designed by the British architect Sir Edward Lutyen, has stately avenues, museums and civic buildings. Taj Mahal, in Agra, is one of the modern wonders of the world. Short distance from Agra is Fatehpur Sirki, the abandoned Mughal City and now the world heritage site. Further away in Rajasthan are the famous cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and the exotic city of Jaisalmer with romantic forts and palaces. The famous game reserves of Ranthambhore and the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. To the North and south east of Delhi are the holy cities of Haridwar and Varanasi (Benaras) on the sacred Ganges. The erotic ancient temples of Khajuraho, the Bandhavgarh game reserve. Nestled in the Himalayas is the leafy Himachal Pradesh with its capital Shimla – the summer capital of British Raj. The barren mountains of culturally rich Ladakh (Little Tibet) offering unmatched beauty. | Gateway City: Delhi.

West India

The west India largely comprises of the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa. Mumbai is a vibrant city and the commercial capital of India. The shopper’s paradise and the home of Indian film industry – Bollywood, the largest producers of films. Gateway of India, Dhobi Ghat, Prince of Wales museum and a visit to the film city and the Elephanta caves on an island in the Arabian sea are interesting sights to visit. World famous Ajanta and Ellora caves (World Heritage Sites) can be visited from Mumbai by air or by train. Kanha, the Kipling’s Jungle with rich wildlife, can be reached from Nagpur after a short flight from Mumbai. Gujarat, the Mahatama Gandhi’s home state, has glories of its own. It has many temples, mosques, ancient shopping ports and quite villages. Gujarat is also home to Asiatic Lion in the jungles of Gir. Diu with its ancient Portuguese colonial history. See for yourself the multicoloured traditions of the tribal life. Goa, a former Portuguese colony, is a very popular beach destination with miles of long golden beaches against the backdrop of coconut palm and the green paddy fields. Goa has excellent beach resorts with water sports facilities, good food and lifting music. Temples and churches of Goa are famous for their architecture. | Gateway Cities: Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Goa.

South India

The exotic South India is a geographic and linguistic cultural region of India comprising of four states, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kernataka and Kerala, all with distinct identities. It includes the erstwhile French colony of Pondicherry and the islands of Andaman and Lakshadeep. South India traditionally includes the Indian Peninsula. Discover the greatest temple treasures at Mamallapuram (Mahablipuram) and Kanchipuram. The temple cities of Trichy, Tanjore and Madurai with amazing Dravidian architecture. The hill stations of Ooty and Coonoor – summer retreat of the British, surrounded by tea plantations. Bangalore is the capital city of Karnataka, known for its treelined avenues and Gothic Churches. The princely city of Mysore in the sandalwood country is an ideal base to visit the historical sites of the Viajayanagar Empire at Hampi and Badami. The game reserves of Nagarhole, Madhumalai and Bandipur have an abundance of wildlife. Delightful resorts of Coorg and Vythiri set in tropical forests amidst coffee plantations. You have an opportunity to visit a nearby tribal village to see their way of life. Kerala, the God’s own country, has a network of waterways and canals. The port city of Kochi (Cochin) also known as ‘The Venice of the East’ on the Malabar coast in Kerala, was the earliest European settlement in India. Cochin is an ideal base to explore the tropical backwaters. Visit the tea country of Munnar, the nature reserve of Periyar. Relax on one of its many palm fringed beaches of Kovalam, Mararikulam and Varkala or on the shores of the vast Vemabanad Lake. | Gateway Cities: Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Trivandrum & Bangalore.

East India

Kolkata (Calcitta), gateway to the East of India, is always buzzing with life. Known as ‘the intellectual capital of India’, the people here are faithfully traditional in customs and manners. It has many British landmarks and museums including the India museum (largest in India) and the Prince of Wales museum. To the north lie the British summer retreat of Darjeeling and the Himalayan State of Sikkim offering havens of unmatched beauty against the backdrop of Kanchanchunga in the western Himalaya. Further east is the states of Assam known for its tea plantations. Kaziranga game reserve, on the banks of the mighty Brahamaputra River, is known for the one horned Rhino. Bhubaneshwar, the city of temples, is the capital of the rural state of Odisha. A short drive away lies the Sun temple at Konark (world heritage site) and massive Jagannath temple in the seaside towns of Konark and Puri. Odisha has a rich cultural heritage. Pre Aryan and pre Dravidian tribes once inhabited here. About 60 tribal groups still live in the hilly areas. Orissa also has a long coastline with some fine beaches at Puri, Konark and Gopalpur-on-sea. | Gateway City: Kolkata (Calcutta).