India is not merely a country, it’s a continent. Travelling there is an assault on your senses: spices, colours, palaces, temples, bustle and a magic hard to articulate. India is a place you dream of visiting, but, with only limited time, where do you start?
Rajasthan offers the archetypal introduction, with famous cities, forts and palaces. Kerala is an altogether more relaxed state of rolling green hills and sleepy backwaters. The majestic Himalayas is crown the country, showcasing the most spectacular vistas in the world. But there is so much more to India than these three regions.
India has some of the most extraordinary places to stay: beautifully converted forts, low-key lodges and camps, and opulent palaces. But not every Maharajah has made a success of converting the family seat; Passpartout knows where to find the gems and the really outstanding hotels.
Some travel to India for its culture, some for its architecture, some for spiritual insight and some simply to get away from it all. Whatever you are after we can guide you and make sure you get the most out of your time there.
Need to Know
– India is about a 9-hour flight from London and the main access hubs are Delhi and Mumbai.
– India has a good network of domestic flights connecting major cities. For the more out-of-the-way places we would provide a car and driver. Getting to beautiful rural areas can sometimes take up to five or six hours in a car and your patience for this sort of thing will need to be taken into consideration. While trains have a romantic appeal the reality is that they are often subject to delays. However, if managed properly they can be an efficient and exciting way of getting around. The other way to approach your travel is to embrace it as part of the holiday itself, completing some of your journeys on foot, by bike, on horseback etc.
– The best time to visit most of India is from October to April, when there is a dry heat with very low humidity. During December to February it can be cold in the mornings and evenings, though the daytime is warm and sunny. May and June are humid, with temperatures rising to an intense and uncomfortable heat. The monsoon breaks in July and lasts until September. Naturally, being such a large country there is variation in the weather between regions. As a rule of thumb the one exception is Ladakh, accessible only May–September.
Visa/ entry requirements
– Tourist visas are necessary to get into India; these are 3- and 6-month single- or multiple-entry visas. You will need a valid passport and they must be obtained in your country of origin before travelling. For access to certain protected areas (e.g. national parks), you may need a special permit and, often, a guide; these are available locally.
Events (festivals, wildlife migrations)
– The list of religious, cultural, literary and musical festivals is so long that you can be sure that your holiday will coincide with something, whether it is local or national. Should you wish to visit during one of the major events, we may need to look at booking well in advance and these can be busy affairs so we’ll make sure you know what to expect.
When to go:
Broadly speaking from October–April but Ladakh, in the very far north, can only be visited May–September.
From £2500 per person but £3500 per person for a more comfortable budget and £6000 per person for all-out luxury.
An inexhaustible list but A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is a heartbreaking, page-turning introduction to the complexities of the caste system or Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts for a more mainstream read.
Extra luggage. You’ll buy more than you think.
Did you know?
There are more mobile phones in India than there are loos.