Introduction to India
India conjures images of colourful religious festivals, deserts lined with historic forts, tented camps nestled in sand dunes, excellent food, royal palaces and the abundant wildlife such as the Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger and one horned Rhinoceros found in the numerous National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries. All of these images and facets of India are experienced on our tours. But the most enduring image that you will take away with you from a visit to India is of the people. Within its population of more than one billion people there are over 461 different tribal communities speaking in more than 750 different dialects, making up just 10% of the total population. From the dark skinned Tamils of the south to the Tibetan people of Ladakh, the tall fair skinned peoples of the north to the shorter Bengalis of the east, this homogenous mix of people has come about over thousands of years of invasion, migration and trade. Even the influence of the armies of Alexander the Great, who passed close to the region in 323 BC, left their mark on the people with intermarriage and mixing of customs. Non tribal populations of India tend to belong to the overall Hindu religion and are hierarchically arranged in four main classes; priestly (Brahmin), warrior (Kshatriya), business (Vysya) and worker (Sudra). As well as the Hindu religion, there are many other religious communities in India; Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Judaism.
Time - GMT + 5.5 Hours (3.5 hours ahead of South Africa)
The city of Delhi actually consists of two parts. Delhi, or Old Delhi, was the capital of Muslim India between the 12th and 19th Centuries. In Old Delhi you will find many mosques, monuments and forts relating to India’s Muslim history. The other is New Delhi, the ‘Imperial Capital City’ created by the British.
In the 16th and 17th Centuries Agra was the capital of Moghul India and its superb monuments date from that era. Agra has a magnificent fort and the building which so many people come to India solely to see – the Taj Mahal.
Standing on the edge of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan. The city is dominated by the huge Meherangarh Fort built in 1806 and situated on a hill located in the centre of the old city.
Being located on traditional trade routes brought Jaisalmer great wealth and the merchants and townspeople built magnificent houses and mansions, exquisitely carved from wood and from golden-yellow sandstone. The city has a fascinating and romantic atmosphere that leaves visitors wanting to return.
Udaipur is known as the ‘White City’ or ‘City of Lakes’. The draw cards of modern day Udaipur are the massive City Palace and Pichola Lake. It is on this lake that Jag Niwas Island is located, also known as the Lake Palace Island. Maharaja Jagat Singh II built a palace in 1754 that covered the whole land area of the island. Today the Palace is an exclusive luxury hotel and visits by non residents are not permitted.
The capital city of the state of Rajasthan is popularly known as the ‘Pink City’ because of the painted walls of the buildings in the old walled city.
The temples of Khajuraho are one of India’s major attractions. Built from around 950AD by the Chandella Dynasty the temples are excellent examples of Indo-Aryan architecture and depict many aspects of Indian life over 1,000 years ago, including the notorious erotic scenes.
Nowhere in India is there a more important pilgrimage site for Hindus than at Varanasi. Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges, thousands of pilgrims flock to the bathing ghats (steps) every day to conduct their ritual ablutions. Close by is Sarnath an important site for Buddhists, where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon.
Indore is an important industrial city in central India also known as ‘Mini Mumbai’ or the ‘City of the Holkars’. Established in 1715 as a trade center, the city became the capital city of the Holkars in the 18th Century, and the headquarters of the British Central India Agency and summer capital of Madhya Bharat (1948-56).
The city of Orchha (Hidden Place) served as the capital city of the Bundelas in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The city rises out of the hills and the green surrounding landscape and is best known for the fine examples of mediaeval architecture.
Whilst Delhi is the political capital of India, Mumbai is the commercial and economic capital of the country. The city is also famous for its film industry, giving rise to the name “Bollywood”!
The city of Calcutta, now called Kolkata, was established by the British in 1690 and was the capital of British India until 1911. It is the proud intellectual capital of India with a rich contemporary cultural life. The city retains some of India’s most striking colonial buildings and is also home to the country’s first underground railway.
Darjeeling is perched amongst the clouds at 2134m. It retains its old colonial charm and lies in the heart of rolling hills of premium tea plantations. In clear weather nearby Tiger Hill provides breathtaking sunrise views of the
Perched atop a ridge of the Himalaya, Gangtok as the capital of Sikkim state in north east India. This is a bustling and developed town serving as a perfect base for exploring the pristine beauty, magical legend and dramatic landscape of Sikkim.
Chennai, India’s fourth largest city, also called the ‘Gateway to the South’. From a tiny hamlet in 1639, it grew around Fort St. George built by the British. A lush green city famed for its temples, silk, music and dance, Chennai gives a
Kochi is the most laid back of Kerala’s cities, with one of the nicest natural harbours on the Arabian Sea coast. The city once served as a port of call for the Chinese, the Arabs, the Jews, the British, the French and the Portuguese. Absorbing the cultures of each nationality the city formed its cosmopolitan character.
Mysore, once the capital of the Wodeyar Kingdom, is the second largest city in Karnataka and one of the finest in southern India. Small, easy going and famous for its silks and sandalwood, it is a city of fine gardens, tree-lined boulevards, art galleries and an intriguing palace.
Kumarakom / Allepey
Kumarakom and Allepey are the jumping off points to explore the backwaters of Kerala by “kettuvallam”, houseboats made from converted rice barges. Located on the south western coast of India, this region receives heavy rainfall and as a result is densely covered in lush tropical vegetation and rice paddies.
Images from INDIA
|Tours||Prices From||No of Days||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Central and Southern Explorer
|Grand Tour of India
|Highlights of India and Nepal
|Kerala and the Southern Highlights
||ZAR41 503 per person||22||•||•||•||•||•|