18 Reasons Why India Should be Your Next Holiday Destination
India is such a large and culturally diverse country, that it really has something for everyone. From the colorful dessert cultures of Rajasthan to the spicy food of Kerala and historic buildings like the Taj Mahal, no matter what type of adventure of holiday you are thinking of you can find it in India!
If you want to take a trip to India but aren't sure if you'll enjoy the journey, then this article will help. Here we will discuss the top 18 reasons why travelers should choose India as their next destination including the country's rich culture, deep spirituality, world heritage sites, food and tea, yoga and meditation, world-class trekking, and more.
1. Rich culture and history
One of the most impressive parts of India is the country's rich culture and history. Many travelers describe India as being a colorful place and while it is literally colorful, the huge diversity of regional cultures, religions, and ethnic groups in India makes it feel like a kaleidoscope of different peoples and traditions.
Indian history starts around 3000 years ago with the Indus Valley which is one of the world's five ancient civilizations. From there, the continent entered the Vedic period which spawned the birth of Hinduism, the country's longest-standing religion that is still dominant today.
Hindusim's importance in India can be seen in the lives of everyday people as well as the incredible rituals that take place in holy cities like Varanasi or during religious festivals like Navratri or Ganesh Chaturthi.
In 1526, an important change occurred in North India when the forces of Persia invaded and created the Mughal Empire. These longstanding Islamic rulers of North India left a large impact on the country which can be seen in their incredible structures like the Taj Mahal and Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah in Agra and the Red Fort and Jama Masjid in Delhi.
One of the most important events in India's more recent history was its colonization. India was a British colony for 200 years and only gained independence after World War II in 1947. This long period of colonization has left lasting impacts on the country including the incredible colonial structures in New Delhi’s Victory Lane and the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.
2. Ancient philosophy
Along with the ancient roots of Indian culture, the country's philosophy spans back thousands of years and offers a great view into the mysteries of human behavior in ancient times and today. Whether you are interested in the ideas of Gautama Buddha or the legends of Hinduism, there is a depth of philosophical knowledge to discover here.
Two of the most important texts in Indian philosophy are the Mahabharata and Ramayana which are both epics written in Sanskrit sometime around 400 to 100BC. The Ramayana focuses on morality with its main character Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, the prime example of how to perform one's duty and fulfill dharma, or moral order.Krishina acts as the chariot driver for the master warrior, Arjuna
The Mahabharata is the longest poem ever written and is ten times as long as the Iliad and Odessey combined. This story focuses on the war between two sets of brothers: the Pandavas who are the rightful heirs to the throne and the Kauravas who are their cousins.
Learn more about The Great Hindu Epics.
3. Indian religion and spirituality
India has long been one of the world's cradles of religion and was the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. All four of these major world religions along with Christianity and Islam are important in India today. No other place in the world is it possible to see people of so many different faiths interacting together than in India.
Walking through the streets of Delhi you'll find Islamic UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Qutub Minar and the Jama Masjid located only a quick drive from the Bahai Lotus Temple, Sikh Gurudwaras, and influential Hindu temples like the Swaminarayan Akshardham.
If you want to learn more about Hinduism, head to Varanasi where you can watch locals as they worship near the Ganges or witness the incredible Ganga Aarti, a nightly ceremony where lit candles are placed on the waters of the holy river.
Those interested in Buddhism can explore the mountain monasteries of Leh or visit Sarnath, the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon.
Learn more about Religion in India.
4. Learn about the ancient myths and gods
If you are interested in mythology, then India has a vast collection of legends and stories of gods for you to explore. Indian mythology often seems rather complicated because the Hindu religion has so many gods and goddesses. What makes it even more complicated is that there are only three main gods and most of the other gods are just reincarnations of the main three.
These three major gods are called the Trimurti and include Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). These gods are often reincarnated in major Hindu legends as the main characters such as Rama from the Ramayana and the god Krishna who are both incarnations of Vishnu.Shiva is one of the supreme beings that create, protects and transform the universe.
Other important Hindu gods include Ganesh (the god of success), Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth), and Durga (the goddess of war).
All of these many gods and goddesses are worshiped in their specific temples across the nation. Most Hindu temples are dedicated to Vishnu or Shiva and have shrines for other major gods and goddesses inside. There are very few Brahma temples in India, but the most famous is located in the desert city of Pushkar.
Learn more about Top 10 Most Important Hindu Gods.
5. Visit World Heritage Sites
As a country with such a long history, it comes as no surprise that India is full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites ranging from awe-inspiring monuments to one of a kind natural wonders.
The most famous World Heritage Site in India is without a doubt the Taj Mahal. As one of the World's Seven Wonders, everyone has heard of or seen pictures of this beautiful white marble mausoleum. The Taj Mahal is often called "the World's greatest testament to love" as it was built by a grieving Mughal emperor for his deceased wife.Taj Mahal is India’s most recognized monument
Want to know more about Taj Mahal? The following links provide a complete guide of every aspect of Taj Mahal
- Essential Guide to Visiting the Taj Mahal
- Best Time to Visit the Taj Mahal
- Every Way to See the Taj Mahal
- What to Do Near the Taj Mahal
- Taj Mahal and Great Pyramids Travel Comparison
- Top 10 Architectural Features of the Taj Mahal
- What's Inside the Taj Mahal?
- Answering Common Questions About the Taj Mahal
Located in Agra near the Taj Mahal, travelers can find other historic Heritage Sites like the impressive Agra Fort and the ruins of Fatehpur Sikri. Other great World Heritage Sites include the Ajanta Caves in Maharasthra, the Chola Temple in Tamil Nadu, and Kaziranga National Park in Assam.The Agra Fort was made purely out of red sandstone
Learn more about Top 17 Places to Visit in India.
6. Experience a festival like Holi or Diwali
Some of the most talked-about tourist attractions in India are its large, chaotic, and vibrant festivals. As a very diverse country containing almost all of the world's major religions, it's hard to visit India during a time when there isn't some kind of celebration or festival taking place.
The two largest celebrations of the year that take place all across this vast country are Holi and Diwali. Holi is the Festival of Colors which is celebrated the day after the full moon in March every year. This holiday celebrates the arrival of spring and the mythological triumph of good over evil with a giant country-wide color fight.
If you visit India during Holi, you can expect to get plastered with colors no matter where you are!
The largest holiday of the Hindu year is Diwali, the Festival of Light. This holiday is often compared to Christmas as it involves visiting family, decorating everything with lights, and giving presents. Diwali is best experienced in Varanasi, where the entire city is set aglow with diyas or small clay lanterns.
If you want to experience a unique Diwali celebration, head to Kolkata where much of the population celebrates Kali Puja, the festival that honors the fierce goddess of destruction.
Learn more about Top 12 Festivals and Celebrations of India.
7.Explore incredible wildlife
When imagining India’s wildlife, you might be picturing scenes out of the Jungle Book. While unfortunately most of the country doesn’t look like scenes from that classic story anymore, the country’s wildlife has been well-preserved in its numerous and expansive national parks. Actually, the Jungle Book was inspired by Kanha National Park.
If you want to see a real life Sher Khan then Kanha National Park is a good option. India also has plenty of other tiger reserves including like Ranthambhore National Park, Kaziranga National Park, and Bandhavgarh National Park.
Besides the Bengal tigers, India is full of plenty of other incredible wildlife like wild Asia elephants, rhinoceros, the Indian buffalo, striped hyenas, chitals, shambhars, wild boars, sloth bears, and much more.Bengal tiger
Learn more about Wildlife in India.
8. Try Indian food and curry
Indian food is world-famous for its rich flavors and heat. If you aren't a spicy-food lover, then you'll be pleased to know that not all Indian food is super spicy and some of it is quite mild. The one thing Indian food never lacks is flavor which is developed using a unique mixture of many spices like cumin, red chili powder, and mustard seeds.Indian food is world-famous for its rich flavors
Some of the most popular Indian dishes to try include Rogan Josh (a hearty lamb curry), Butter Chicken (a creamy and rich chicken gravy dish), Dal (a lentil stew), and Naan (the famous fluffy and buttery Indian bread).
The more food adventurous can try some of the country’s vibrant street food dishes like Delhi's famous Chole Bhature (chickpea curry) or Mumbai's famous Vada Pav (veggie slider).
Want to know more about Indian food?
9. Relish in Indian spices and tea
If there are two things that India is particularly famous for, it’s spices and tea. With much of southern and eastern India having humid tropical climates, this is the perfect place to grow flavorful spices and strong teas.Indian cuisine is famous for its use of spices
Spices are grown all over India but some of the most fragrant can be found on the spice plantations of Kerala. Kerala is particularly famous for its red chili powder, green cardamom, cloves, and black pepper plants. Many of the state's spice plantations are located in the hills of Munnar which is also where you'll find the sprawling tea fields.
Some of India's most famous tea country is in the eastern part of the country in the hill station of Darjeeling or the state of Assam. Because tea and spice plantations are located at higher elevations, their cool climates make for great places to relax. In Assam, you may even catch glimpses of the Himalayas over the rolling green fields of tea.
Learn more about Flavors and Spices of India.
10. Watch an Indian classical dance performance or Bollywood show
Watching an Indian classical dance performance or a Bollywood show is a great way to get introduced to India's vibrant arts. Indian classical dance is a very complicated art form that uses small hand movements and eye gestures to tell complete stories.Bharat Natyam dance is usually accompanied by Carnatic music
Although there are many different types of Indian dance, Kathak is the one most commonly practiced in popular travel destinations like Delhi, Rajasthan, and Agra.
Kathak, like most other Indian classical dance forms, began as a form of worship and often tells the stories of the Hindu gods and their avatars. Indian dance was banned during British colonization and only since the country's Independence has been allowed to be practice freely and openly again.
If you are looking for a more modern and fun type of performance, nothing is better than checking out a Bollywood show. Bollywood movies are typically filmed in Hindi and are famous for their fun song and dance routines and colorful costumes. If you want to explore Bollywood, you can check out a Bollywood tour in Mumbai.Bollywood dancers are holding their vivid costumes
Learn more about Indian Performing Arts.
11. Try out traditional Indian clothes and henna body art
While globalization has caused the people of most eastern countries like Japan, Vietnam, and China to wear mostly western clothing, India is one of the few countries in the world that has hung on to its beautiful traditional clothes. When visiting India, you'll find that the majority of the population still wears colorful saris daily. Even western wear in the country often has Indian aspects and many women opt for the more modern kurta and jeans look.
A great way to have fun and also learn about the local culture for both men and women is to try on some of India's incredible traditional clothing. If you don't want to wear a full sari or kurta pajama, you'll also find plenty of modern-style clothing made with Indian fabrics and patterns.More expensive sarees were ornated with elaborated floral ornaments or brocades
Besides beautiful fabrics and traditional wear, India is home to henna body art which is typically called Mehendi. Indian brides often go through a ceremony where their arms, hands, and feet are decorated with beautiful henna patterns before the wedding. As a traveler, you can also experience the beauty of henna art and even purchase the henna dye to do it yourself!
Learn more about Indian Traditional Dress.
12. Experience yoga where it was invented
When yoga was created around 5,000 years ago, it was part of Hindu religious practices and was done with the purpose of preparing the mind for meditation. Today, yoga is still an important part of the lives of everyday Indians and is often used during religious worship.
If you want to deepen your practice and learn more about the spiritual aspects of yoga, then there is no better place than in India. In India, you can join a yoga ashram where you will learn about the practice from a master. Yoga ashrams are the perfect place for very serious yoga practitioners who want to adhere to a strict Hindu vegetarian diet and spend every day dedicated to their practice.Yoga Experience
If you are looking for a more relaxed yoga experience, India is also full of yoga retreats where guests can go to relax on the beach or in nature while also taking a few yoga and meditation classes every day.
Learn more about A Complete Guide to Yoga in India.
13. Explore natural healing and Ayurvedic centers
While you may not have heard of the word 'Ayurveda' you probably know more about this Indian traditional medicine than you think. Most of our ideas about holistic health today come from Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the science of helping the body achieve balance using techniques like aromatherapy, massage, essential oils, a good diet, and consuming certain medicinal herbs.Yoga Experience
Indian Ayurvedic wellness centers typically offer packages that last anywhere from a few hours to a week and all the way up to one month. Most sessions start with a diagnosis from an Ayurvedic doctor who will then prescribe a treatment consisting of diet, exercise, massage, and herbs.
Learn more about Ayurvedic Massages in India and the 6 Best Wellness Centers.
14. Explore grand palaces and forts
As a country that has seen the rise and fall of many royal families and empires, India is full of incredible forts and palaces to explore. Some of our favorites were those built by the Rajput and Mughal Kings. For Mughal forts, there are none better than the Red Fort in Delhi and the Agra Fort in Agra near the Taj Mahal.
These two forts were both built by the Mughals and contain beautiful palaces and plenty of history.
If you are looking for the classic Indian-style palaces, look no further than the state of Rajasthan. The cities here are full of unbeatable palaces from the pink sandstone Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur to the City Palace on the shores of Lake Pichola in Udaipur.Amber fort in Jaipur
Learn more about Top 12 Attractions in Jaipur.
15. Go trekking
If you're an avid hiker, then a great reason to visit India is for the trekking. With the country's northern states bordered by the Himalayas, there is an incredible range of hikes to choose from for all levels of trekking enthusiasts.
Head to the Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling and Assam for rolling hills with views of the mountains in the distance. For travelers wanting a mountain experience, the quaint city of Leh is full of interesting treks to high elevation monasteries.
South of Leh in the state of Himachal Pradesh is the beautiful Spiti Valley. This is a great place for serious trekkers who are looking for an adventure with fewer crowds. One of the best treks in the country is the Gangotri Gomukh trek which takes you through the Himalayas in Uttarakhand.Beautiful Spiti Valley
16. Take in bustling bazaars
India is a country full of bazaars and every major city is bound to have a lively and vibrant market. In Delhi, the best bazaar to explore is Chandni Chowk, the historic market that surrounds the Red Fort and Jama Masjid.
Visiting Chandni Chowk is a great way to explore Old Delhi and see what people's lives may have been like around the Red Fort during the rule of the Mughal kings. Here, you can find everything from jewelry and clothes to Asia's largest spice market and souvenirs.Dry fruits selling at the market
Other great markets to check out include Johari Bazaar in Jaipur, the Crawford Market in Mumbai, and New Market in Kolkata.
Learn more about India's Local Market Guide.
17. Relax on stunning beaches
Although it is not usually at the forefront of people's minds when they think of traveling to India, the country does have many beautiful beaches. Some of the best beaches are located on the Arabian Sea in the states of Goa and Kerala.
Goa was once a Portuguese colony and is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation whether you want to spend time on a secluded beach or on one with plenty of things to do. One of Goa's best beaches is Palolem, but Agonda Beach and Arambol are also great options.A relaxing beach vacation
In Kerala, Varkala is the best beach for relaxation in a beautiful meditation or spa center. Kovalam is a great option if you are looking for a more developed beach with plenty of things to do.
Learn more about Best 9 Beaches in India.
18. Stay in a heritage hotel
Be prepared to take traveling in luxury to the next level by staying in some of India’s beautiful heritage hotels and luxury resorts. Because India has so many unused palaces, colonial buildings, and mansions many of them have been converted into wonderful hotels where guests can stay and enjoy the historic and regal atmosphere.
In Delhi, we recommend staying in a colonial heritage hotel like the Maidens or the Claridges which are both equally beautiful and offer great service and food. Jaipur, once the home of the Rajput kings, is full of old palaces and mansions that have been converted into beautiful places to stay. Here we recommend the Samode Palace and the Samode Haveli.
On the luxury resort end of things, India also has plenty of enticing options. Agra is our favorite place for luxury hotels and we specifically love the Oberoi Amarvilas. This luxury hotel is the best option because it not only has in house fine dining, an incredible spa, gardens, and a pool but also offers private views of the Taj Mahal from the balcony of every room.Enjoy the historic atmosphere
Learn more about Best Types of Hotels in India.
Visit India with Asia Highlights
Asia Highlights welcomes the chance to help you design your perfect trip to India. Check out the following links to learn more about our tours and get a head start on planning your hassle-free vacation today!