Experience the quintessential India in Rajasthan with vivid colours, intense smells and opulent palaces. We can arrange for you to take tea with Maharajas or attend an opium ceremony in rather less regal company. Follow the British Raj to Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay with one of our architectural experts or personal shoppers. Alternatively go in search of the elusive tiger in Madhya Pradesh or venture off the beaten track towards the mighty Himalaya or into the depths of the countryside.
To do India justice you need the best part of a year to explore this incredible country, hence we suggest focusing on just one region at a time to leave you coming back for more.
Rajasthan is the jewel in India’s crown and is a great state to explore for first time visitors, where we can link the highlights of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur with some exquisite rural retreats. Then there are the historical temples of Tamil Nadu, the sleepy tea plantations of Kerala and the Western Ghats that run between the two southern states which can easily be crossed by road. And that is just the beginning….
We know plenty of hidden gems in the Indian countryside and a multitude of specialist accompanying guides and drivers to uncover the lesser known parts of this incredible cultural destination, be it trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas, cycling and rickshawing through the backstreets of Delhi or floating along the backwaters of Kerala.
Wix Squared has some exceptional guides to get you under the skin of the country including:
- A Maharaja to entertain you in his palace over a British hi-tea
- An elephant trainer to teach you the art of caring for rescued elephants
- Talented Indian chefs to demonstrate their skills in a local home
- Private naturalists in Madhya Pradesh’s National Parks
- Personal shoppers in Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi
- The curator of Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort to gain private access
- An expert in the forgotten art of water painting in Udaipur
- Numerous historians to guide you through refurbished palaces
- Skilled pilots to hot air balloon over Amber fort
- A day in Delhi with the famed author, William Dalrymple
Itinerary Starting Price
From £1,500 per person, for 10 days including accommodation, private guiding, entrance fees and private transfers (not including flights).
In West Bengal, all cows have a photo ID card. This is to prevent cattle being smuggled into Bangladesh.
Holi (March/April) is a time for celebrating love and colour, by throwing brightly coloured powder paint at one another. The date is dependent on the lunar calendar.
What to Eat
Each region has its own speciality, often influenced by religion and culture. A good way to sample a variety of dishes is in a thali traditionally served in little bowls.
What to Read
‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts. The tale of an Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from Pentridge Prison and flees to Bombay.
What to buy
Shawls made from the cashmere wool of pashmina goats in the Himalayas or silk and cotton textiles with hand beading or embroidery.
In the large cities you are spoilt for choice when it comes to luxury hotels. We favour the Oberoi and Aman hotels for their attention to food and service as well as a number of lesser known individual hotels and brands such as the RAAS and Leela hotels.
Taj hotels have excelled in converting some incredible palaces into hotels, including Udaipur’s Lake Palace and Hyderabad’s Falaknuma Palace. Whilst Samode hotels has used a more low key approach in Jaipur and we work with some beautiful owner run heritage properties in the countryside.
Luxury camping works best in rural parts of India particularly in the National Parks. SUJAN’s Jawai Leopard Camp is stunning and they have similar concepts in the Thar Desert and in Ranthambhore. Chhatra Sagar, the Ultimate Travelling Camp and Rohet’s Wilderness Camp should also have a special mention.
A plethora of homestays can be found throughout India and we know the best ones with personable owners whom you can have as much or as little interaction with as you wish. Shakti Himalaya have converted delightful village houses in the remote Himalayan foothills and we can tailor wonderful treks from one to another.
Festivals play a key role in everyday life in India. There are the more famous festivals of Diwali (festival of light) and Holi (festival of colour) when we can arrange for you to join in the celebrations with local families. Jaipur’s Literary festival and the Nagaur Sufi festival are more recent additions to the calendar. Whilst we also have the inside track on numerous smaller religious festivals and tribal rituals that we can time your visit with.
India’s cuisine is full of heady spices and fragrant herbs, however they vary from region to region. We can arrange street food tours in Delhi, cooking demonstrations in a Keralan homestay, private thali dinners in remote locations or authentic dining off a banana leaf in Tamil Nadu using your hand in place of cutlery.
India is a wonderfully immersive introduction to Asia for children of all ages. With plenty of wildlife interactions like bathing and painting elephants, to cycling through the countryside and hot air ballooning over Jaipur, to more educational experiences such as animal tracking, visiting orphanages and helping the dhabbawallas distribute lunch boxes in Mumbai. October and February half terms work particularly well to coincide with festivals and great weather conditions.
The best way to navigate the hectic Indian streets or the striking rural landscapes is on foot or by bicycle to absorb the vivid swirling colours, historical sites and awaken your senses. We can arrange guided cycling trips in the hilly heights of Ladakh, along the sleepy alleyways of Fort Cochin or through the backstreets of Delhi, Udaipur and Jaipur. There are a number of off the beaten track trails in Northern India that really should not be overlooked and for the more adventurous, no trip is complete without a local Indian train experience by day or night.
The iconic sites of Agra’s Taj Mahal, Amritsar’s Golden Temple, Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort and Jaipur’s City Palace are just a few of the highlights in India. We can gain private access to some of these sites once all the tourists have gone or arrange for you to soar over Amber fort by hot air balloon at sunrise and explore a Maharaja’s palace with a residential historian. It is important not to visit too many temples and forts so that you also have time to understand the modern India as well.
A safari in India is incomparable to any game drive in Africa, so expectations need to be managed. The Indian parks tend to be more crowded and tiger sightings are few and far between. Ranthambhore is the logistical choice when travelling through Rajasthan, but we encourage you to travel further afield to the National Parks in Madhya Pradesh where less tourists gather. Outside the National Parks you can enjoy elephant temple blessings, camel riding, horse riding and plenty of birdwatching with one of our expert guides.
Southern India has a number of direct flights operating to Male, including Bangalore, Trivandrum and Cochin airports, hence you can easily be transported from a cultural encounter to beachy paradise.
Fly from Calcutta or Delhi to the remote Land of the Thunder Dragon. Pilots need a special qualification to land on Paro’s short runway and we can reserve you a window seat to admire Mount Everest en route.
Direct flights operate between Colombo and numerous airports in India making it an interesting comparison between Hindu and Buddhist cultures.
Rajasthan is the obvious region of choice to create a majestic event, given the vast number of palaces, royal retreats and grandeur associated with this part of India. Arrive by elephant/horse/camel/vintage car or even a locally spruced-up tuk tuk. We can arrange private audiences with Maharajas, organise elephant polo matches and partake in an Indian feast beyond your wildest dreams in an exclusive location – the really keen can even help cook it.
There is so much more to India than just Rajasthan and we have access to plenty of private villas on the coast, rice barges floating along the backwaters, Himalayan retreats in the north and boutique wildlife lodges in central India with experienced naturalists to take you on your own special safari experience, with lots of little surprises along the way.
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