India Vacations

India, which is a country located in the southern subcontinent of Asia, is one of the most populous nations in the world and teeming with history. It's capital is New Delhi with a metropolitan population of 21 million. Along it's northern border are majestic Himalayan mountains, which are noted for being the highest mountains in the world. Through the country flows the famous Ganges River with its source in the Himalayan Mountains where six rivers merge. The Ganges River is sacred and considered to be the personification of a goddess and the source where pilgrims go to wash away their sins. The Mugal empire ruled the country during 14-16th centuries and left behind elaborate temples and palaces which include the amazing temple of the Taj Majal. India is also the birthplace to 4 religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

India Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

India Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in India

India Geography

The Indian subcontinent stretches on the northern part of the Indo-Australian Plate and constitutes the seventh largest country on earth as surface and the second as population. Surrounded by water from three sides in the South by the Indian Ocean, in the West by Arabian Sea and in the East by the Bay of Bengal, India has borders on the northern side with Pakistan, China, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The Indian territory is composed by several relief classes. In the North there is the Great Mountains unit – it includes the Himalayan mountains; the Indo-Gangetic Plain – comprises the peninsular plateau formed by the rivers Brahmaputra, Ganges and Indus; the Peninsular Plateau – a volcanic origin area of valleys and hills. Others relief categories are the Coastal Plains, the Thar Desert and the islands, there are two major groups the Lakshadweep Islands and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Despite of being peninsula, India disposes of an interior array of water sources like rivers, gulfs, canals, 12 major rivers cross the country and a trans-boundary one, Brahmaputra.

A diverse relief implies a corresponding climate, which varies from alpine climate in the mountains, to arid desert in the western zones, to humid tropical areas in the southwest and on the islands. The Himalayas and the Thar Desert have a huge impact on the climate. In general, India counts four seasons: summer, winter, monsoon and post-monsoon.

India has no less than 29 states in its administrative structure, with Rajasthan being the largest.

India History and Culture

India is an ancient millenary civilization, some would consider it "Sa Prathama Sanskrati Vishvavara" – world’s supreme culture. The Indian culture is a blend, as it englobes different regions with specific cultures, languages, religions, gastronomic and artistic manifestations.

Hindi and English are the official languages of India, and some twenty other are recognized by the Indian Constitution. But, in total there are an overwhelming 1500 languages spoken throughout the Indian territory. Other important languages within the country are: Bengali, Telugu, Punjabi, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Urdu and Malayalam. Most people in India use the Devanagari script.

Spirituality and religion are two main pillars of the Indian culture and lifestyle. As the realm who saw the birth of the two main religions Buddhism and Hinduism, these are the most important in India. Being a tolerant nation, the harmony is highly desired and other confessions like the Muslims, Christians, Jains and Sikhs found their own place here. The country hosts millions of temples, shrines and holy places. And around these religious spots abound a plethora of rituals, traditions and practices, that are integrant part of the Indian culture.

This religious composition steered to a society constructed on ethnic groups and castes. Each region has its own cluster of castes based on rank, distinctive subculture, traditional habits and occupation. Since it’s impossible to change the caste, the individual will belong his entire life to its caste and subculture. The Indian castes system is the most elaborate in the world and fragments highly the whole society.

A core value of the Indian culture is the family. Large patriarchal families are the norm and the hierarchy inside the family is very respected. Families gathering several generations use to live together and marriages that are arranged by family are still very common. Because of this emphasized importance of family, the divorce rate in India is rather insignificant. Conserving their faith and traditions is important for Indians, wearing their traditional cloths like the colorful silk saris for women and dhoti for men, and organizing their exuberant festivals is their way of life. Plan your Indian vacation during a Holi, or a Diwali, or a Ganesh Chaturthi and enjoy the show of a nation. It will be for sure a one of a kind lifetime experience!

Reflection of its diversified culture, the Indian gastronomy is famous worldwide for its appetence for spices and exaggerated use of herbs. The dishes are generously seasoned with turmeric, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and hot peppers, to name just a few. Vegetarianism is prevalent in India, so, an Indian vacation equals with paradise for vegetarians, provided that you have nothing against spicy and very spicy food. Specific for the Indian culture is the habit of eating with fingers, particularly the right-hand fingers. Music, dance and theatre are ancient traditions in India and have their well-defined place inside the Indian lifestyle. The cinematographic industry is a clear expression of these traditions and explain the success of Bollywood.

India Landmarks

An enormous country as large as a continent with a millenary history behind it’s literally a universe to discover. Some striking glimpses are:

*Taj Mahal
When you say India, the immediate equivalent is Taj Mahal, the iconic mausoleum that made India universally famous. The quintessence of the artistic sense of a nation is expressed in this masterpiece. Built of Makrana marble, incrusted with semiprecious stones, Taj Mahal is the gift of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for the Indian nation and the humanity. The funeral monument was designed as tribute to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal and is a fabulous architectural harmony of Indian, Islamic and Persian styles. Enjoy the delighting spectacle of the sunlight modifying the marble color from sunrise to sunset and under the moonlight!

*Golden Temple
Dating back to the 16th century the Amritsar’s Harmandir Sahib is Sikhs’ holiest shrine. Placed in the middle of a lake named “sarovar” and having a Gurudwara covered in gold by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, this is the Golden Temple of India. The temple complex has the Akal Takht Sahib, one of the five Takhts the Sikh community has. It is opened to everyone and symbolizes the brotherhood and equality. Religious Sikhs are requested to volunteer here at least once in a lifetime. The Golden Temple looks spectacular under the shining stars light.

*Swaminarayan Akshardham
One of the newest and largest temple complex in India, Akshardham Swaminarayan is an abode of God, a Mandir. Built in pink sandstone and marble with a traditional architectural style, this is a spiritual and cultural complex, a precinct of worship. Positioned around the banks of Yamuna, the temple features a Yogi Hraday Kamal, landscaped gardens and musical fountains. A tribute to Hinduism and its values, the place is dedicated to harmony, devotion and spirituality. Try to visit Akshardham Swaminarayan during sunset, it’s grandiose!

*Khajuraho Temples
The Khajuraho Temples from Madhya Pradesh are among the most interesting medieval structures and archaeological sites in India. They gather the largest collection of Jain and Hindu temples in the world, initially 85, nowadays remaining only 25. The Khajuraho Temples are erected under the Chandella dynasty, whose cultural and religious capital used to be. Being over a millennium old, the temples still impress with their architectural magnificence, stone carvings and erotic sculptures. The temples are dedicated to Hindu deities - Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu and Devi and some of them to the Jain pantheon.

The natural UNESCO monuments are: Kaziranga National Park, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka - Madhya Pradesh, Ajanta Caves - Maharashtra, Ellora Caves - Maharashtra, Keoladeo National Park - Rajasthan, Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks - Uttarakhand, Khangchendzonga National Park - Sikkim, Sundarbans National Park - West Bengal, Great Himalayan National Park - Himachal Pradesh, Mountain Railways of India.

The cultural UNESCO monuments are: Taj Mahal - Uttar Pradesh, Humayun’s Tomb - Delhi, Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Qutb Minar, Churches and Convents of Goa, Red Fort Complex, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park - Gujarat, Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Group of Monuments at Hampi, Khajuraho Group of Monuments - Madhya Pradesh, Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi - Madhya Pradesh, Historic City of Ahmadabad, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus - Maharashtra, Sun Temple Konârak - Odisha, Jantar Mantar - Jaipur, Agra Fort - Uttar Pradesh, Great Living Chola Temples - Tamil Nadu, Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram - Tamil Nadu, Fatehpur Sikri - Uttar Pradesh, Western Ghats, Hill Forts of Rajasthan, Rani ki vav (The Queen's Stepwell) – Gujarat Nalanda - Bihar, The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier - Chandigarh.

*City of Varanasi
Visit the old and ancient city of Varanasi where hordes of people bathe in the Ganges River, hoping to wash away their sins.

*Ajanta Caves
Walk through the Ajanta Caves located in Maharashtra which are believe to Buddhist caves that date back to the 2nd century.

* Mehrangarh
Enter the Mehrangarh which is one of the most famous forts built in India and sits on a rocky hill overlooking Jodhpur.