A feast for the senses: The top five sights to see on an India tour

When planning a vacation, you have two primary choices: exploring places you are familiar with or exploring somewhere new. While there’s comfort in the former, the latter choice holds the promise of new discoveries, unique experiences and the most enduring memories. For those who want to explore off the beaten track, there’s perhaps no more dynamic and magical destination in the world than India. Its immense size, centuries of history and broad spectrum of cultures make it an unparalleled choice for travelers seeking a one-of-a-kind journey. With the help of an India tour, you can focus on enjoying all it has to offer.

India’s designation as a subcontinent offers a good indication of just how enormous it is; however, there are fascinating sights from the far north to the furthest points south. Getting between them all can be a challenge in terms of logistics, language barriers and other factors, so an India tour can help ensure that you get to see the top sights. The hassles of independent planning aside, an India tour can also help you keep costs in check. Compared to do-it-yourself journeys, tours like those offered by Tauck can save you of as much as 40 percent, while ensuring that you’ll travel comfortably.

So, what are the “must see” sights of India that you should look for on an India tour? It can be a challenge to narrow it down, but experts agree that these are the essential five:

1. Delhi, Old and New: Delhi is more than just the capital of modern India – it’s a living historical site, with layers upon layers of kingdoms and empires past. New Delhi and Old Delhi exist side-by-side and intertwine, but have distinct differences. While you are in New Delhi on your India tour, you’ll see the grand buildings and broad avenues that came with the British Raj, but also the Qutb Minar, built more than 800 years ago. Old Delhi is crowded with colorful bazaars, temples and havelis (mansions), but you’ll also find colonial monuments. Above all else, in Delhi you’ll see the dynamic interplay of modern and ancient India on display.

2. Varanasi: The sacred River Ganges is the focal point of Varanasi, one of the holiest sites for millions of Hindus. Pilgrims congregate on the ghats (flights of steps leading down to the river) to perform all kinds of ceremonies and bathe in the holy water of the river – a tradition that stretches back to the 6th century. At night, a boat journey on the river is an incomparable experience; pilgrims send candles and flowers out from the banks, as they “put the river to sleep,” creating an utterly spectacular scene.

3. Agra: If you’re tempted to think that you can bypass a visit to Agra during your India tour, the urging of experts – and anyone who has visited – should change your mind. Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, one of the most revered buildings in history and also one of the most beautiful. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, the story behind its creation makes the sight even more moving. If possible, viewing it at sunrise is an experience to savor.

4. Udaipur: Reputedly the most romantic city in India, Udaipur makes the most of its atmospheric lakeside location. Here, glittering white palaces stand majestically on islands in the middle of Lake Pichola, and temples and other cultural wonders make for excellent sightseeing.

5. Kerala: Near the southern tip of the subcontinent lies the state of Kerala, a “must-visit” on any India tour. Swaying palm trees, tea and spice plantations, and meandering lagoons called “the backwaters” provide a unique tropical atmosphere. The local culture is completely distinct from other parts of India; don’t miss the opportunity to see a Kathakali dance performance to get a taste of it. The other essential Kerala experience during an India tour is to travel by houseboat (also called a kettuvalam) through the backwaters.

India is truly the destination of a lifetime, and one that will allow you to explore to your heart’s content. For more India tour information, visit Tauck Online.

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