India is a vastly diverse country that pulses with cultural tones ranging from ancient rituals to modern metros. Because the country is so large there are an incredible number of things to do on an India tour beyond major tourist attractions such as the Ganges River, Goa and Taj Mahal.
From exploring UNESCO-preserved caves and searching for tigers in the wild to seeing ancient archaeological sites, here are our picks for five fantastic things to do in India.
Cruise the Holy Brahmaputra River
While most explorers have heard of India’s sacred Ganges River, the mighty Brahmaputra is remote Assam boasts an array of incalculable natural wonders! Named for the god Brahma, this is the only river in India with a male name, and while the Ganges steals the headline, since it is prayed to by members of four religion groups – Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bonpas – the Brahmaputra is perhaps Earth’s holiest river.
A cruise on the secluded and unspoiled Brahmaputra takes in one of the last parks to find the Asian one-horned rhino – Kaziranga. Additionally, wildlife enthusiasts can spot seven species of primate, including endangered western hoolock gibbon, and gangetic dolphin.
International Expeditions’ new river cruise aboard the boutique, 23-cabin M/V Mahabaahu is one of the few ways to explore this realm of blue hills, temples, rare wildlife, tea plantations and tribal villages.
Explore the Ellora and Ajanta Caves
Located near Aurangabad, the Ellora and Ajanta Caves are arguably India’s most underrated UNESCO sites. While very different from each other, they are both spectacular.
The 34 Ellora Caves were built between the 5th and 10th centuries, representing the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions. The word “cave” is a serious understatement here. Many of them are intricately carved into the rock face, and the Kailash Temple in particular is a showstopper. More than 220,000 tons of rock were removed to create a mammoth solid block, into which this magnificent temple was carved.
The Ajanta Caves are much smaller in size, older, and feature primarily Buddhist paintings. Dating from the 2nd century BC, these caves were neglected and water-damaged until a British soldier stumbled upon them in the 19th century.
Search for Wild Tigers
India is home to more than half of the world’s wild tiger population. The big cat is India’s national animal symbol, and the focus of ecotourism in many states throughout the subcontinent.
There are currently 47 tiger reserves in India, with Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambhore and Corbett all considered among the best places to spot a tiger in the wild. Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India, is home to several of India’s most popular tiger reserves. This region of lush jungles inspired the setting of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
Savor the Beaches and Backwaters of Kerala
Located in southern India, Kerala is often referred to as “God’s Own Country” in reference to the lushness of the tropical state, the abundance of its natural treasures, and the richness of its culture. While there are many reasons to visit Kerala, the palm-lined beaches and fascinating backwaters are arguably the two prime attractions. The best way to access the backwaters is by houseboat. Southern India is a particular favorite of IE Custom Travel Planner Kim, who loves planning trips here!
See the Khajuraho Group of Monuments
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments was lost to the verdant jungles of central India for eons, until a British soldier stumbled across them in 1838. Now considered among the finest masterpieces of Indian art, Khajuraho is also one of India’s most stimulating UNESCO sites due to the extensive erotic carvings on some of the temples.
Tour India and Discover Your Favorite Things to Do!
It’s worth visiting Ushuaia just so you can say that you’ve been to the end of the world– the very far southern tip of the Americas. Go skiing and snowboarding, book a wildlife watching cruise down the Beagle Channel, or simply feast on the finest seafood in the city’s many restaurants.
International Expeditions offers travel to India focusing on exploration of the cultural highlights while being immersed in the nature of multiple national parks. Check out IE’s incredible Explorer’s India tours and India Wildlife adventure or new Brahmaputra River Cruise to start planning your adventure.