Customized Top 10 Most Popular India Tour Packages by Swan Tours
India lies in the Northern Hemisphere, bisected laterally by the Tropic of Cancer (which also bisects Mexico). With a total land area of 3,287,000 square km (1,261,000 square mi) and a coastline 6,100 km (3,535 mi) long, it's the world's seventh-largest country. To the north, the Himalayas separate India from Nepal and China. To the east is Bhutan, still closely connected to India by a special treaty. More mountains separate India from Myanmar (formerly Burma) on the eastern border. Also to the east lies Bangladesh, wedged between the Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and West Bengal. Pakistan borders India's northwest. Just off the subcontinent's southeastern tip lies the island nation of Sri Lanka, separated from the mainland by 50 km (31 mi) of water, the Palk Straits. Conversely, the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea and the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal, much farther away, are part of the Indian Union.
The Himalayas (hima means snow; laya, abode), the wall of mountains sweeping 3,200 km (1,984 mi) across north India, are divided into distinct ranges. Among them are the Greater Himalayas, or Trans-Himalayas, a crescendo of peaks that includes some of the world's highest massifs - many above 20,000 feet. In Ladakh, the lunar Karakorams merge into the northwestern edge of the Greater Himalayas. In both ranges, massive glaciers cling to towering peaks; rivers rage through deep gorges, chilled with melting snow and ice; and wild blue sheep traverse craggy cliffs.
Stretching south of the Himalayas is the densely populated Indo-Gangetic Plain. Mountains and hills separate numerous plateaus, and the basins of the Ganga (Ganges) and Brahmaputra rivers make and rich and productive. This is particularly true in the Punjab, India's bread-basket. The enormous plain also includes the Thar Desert, which extends across western Rajasthan. Except when the vegetation from irrigated fields grows lush after the monsoon, most of its terrain is marked by scrub, cactus, and low rocky hills. The unusual Rann of Kutch, a wide salt flat, is southwest of Rajasthan in the state of Gujarat. Just a few feet above sea level, this strange land mass, which floods during the monsoon, is home to former nomads dependent on camels and what meager income they receive from their exquisite handicrafts.
More mountains cut through India's peninsula and follow its contour. The Eastern Ghats mark off a broad coastal strip on the Bay of Bengal; the Western Ghats define a narrower coast on the Arabian Sea. These low ranges merge in the Nilgiri Hills, near India's southern tip. In the more remote areas of these mountains and plateaus, as in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, numerous tribes continue to share forested land with wild animals.
South India is tropical, with rice paddies, coffee plantations, and forests that shade spice crops. In the southwestern state of Kerala and part of neighboring Karnataka, exquisite waterways thread inland from the Arabian Sea through a natural network of canals connecting palm-fringed fishing villages.
Most Popular India Tour Packages are the ones which combine multiple regions in the country as they offer extremely diverse experiences , Top !0 Customized India Tours include combinations of North and West India , North and South India , East India with Nepal and Bhutan , West and South India and so on. Some of the popular Regions / Cities / experiences in India are as below :
Like the teeth of a giant ripsaw, the snow-capped Himalayas cut a border between India and China, passing through four Indian states: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Sikkim. They inspire awe like no other mountain range in the world. A few hours north of Delhi you can escape the heat of the plains in a Rajera hill station, hike through terraced fields and alpine passes on exhilarating treks, or absorb religious teachings in a Hindu temple or Buddhist monastery.
India's capital city is huge. Within Delhi, a succession of imperial capitals has left hundreds of monuments reflecting various influences, from Hinduism to Islam to the British Raj to secular independent India. If you want the crush of crowds, get lost in Chandni Chowk; to see Old Delhi without the masses, find Hazrat Nizamuddin Darga, a Sufi tomb in an old-world Muslim district. In New Delhi, wander museums that bring 3,000 years of Indian history to life, then browse con-temporary art galleries to see what India's vibrant, modern-day culture is creating. Go shopping: Delhi is one big emporium for all of India's handicrafts. Feast on sumptuous meals and unwind among historic tombs in the verdant Lodi Gardens.
North Central India
Anchored by Agra, Khajuraho, and Varanasi, this section of the traveler's trail heads southeast of Delhi into the state of Uttar Pradesh, detouring into Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The history of these lands is ancient and vast, with a religious heritage spanning Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and even, in Lucknow, Christianity. The spectacular architecture includes Agra's incomparable Taj Mahal and Khajuraho's exciting Hindu temples. Varanasi is the holiest city in Hinduism, drawing a constant stream of pilgrims to bathe in the Ganges River.
Steeped in tales of chivalry, romance, and revelry, Rajasthan has a timeless spirit and haunting magic that draw travelers by the thousand. From its legendary cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Jaisalmer, built by the mighty Rajputs, to its indigenous tribal and artisan communities, Rajasthan is veritably stuffed with awe-inspiring forts, sparkling palaces, soothing lakes and gardens, exquisite temples and shrines, and world-renowned handicrafts and folk arts.
High art, ancient civilizations, wildlife, and folk crafts all prosper in this northwestern coastal state. Le Corbusier built more buildings in Ahmedabad than he did in all of the United States; lions roam about the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary; Dhola Vira has the remains of a 4,000-year-old city; and crafts villages around Bhuj are known for their hand-woven textiles.
Mumbai is urbane, stylish, and as hip as India gets. Curving dramatically around the Arabic Sea, this giant metropolis crack-les with local color, international commerce, and the glamour of its enormous film in-dustrv. But behind its EAst-West exterior, Mumbai remains exuberantly Indian, its streets packed with traffic of every kind. Northwest of the city, the spectacular 2,000-year-old cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora span three religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
The former Portuguese colony of Goa is India's most famous beach destination. Silvery strips of sand are never more than a short walk from charming villages here, and the towns—among the cleanest in India—are a pleasing blend of Portuguese and Indian culture and architecture, including a number of historic churches.
Outside Bangalore, Karnataka's high-tech tropical capital, village life transports you to an earlier time. Mysore is a city of palaces—the former maharaja's palace is an architectural tour de force. Near Mysore, the villages of Belur and Halebid have meticulously wrought 12th-century temples. The medieval city of Hampi is a hodgepodge of gorgeous ruins.
Sea breezes brush coconut palms on India's southwestern shores, and ancient waterways wend their way inland toward traditional fishing villages. Ayurvedic health programs invite you to unwind completely. The age-old spice-trading city of Cochin has absorbed elements of both East and West, making it a pungent center of commerce and cosmopolitanism; and Kerala's elaborate dance form, the Kathakali dance-drama, is one of India's most colorful performing arts. Between its laid-back towns and the creatures in Lake Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala might be called elemental India.
Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu, encapsulates the spirit and culture of India's southernmost state. From the Bay of Bengal to the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu resonates with the powerful Hinduism of the ancient Dravidians. The soaring, brilliantly carved, sometimes painted towers of magnificent South Indian temples dominate the landscape, just as faith permeates Tamil life.
Capital of the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad is relatively undiscovered as a cultural destination, but its rich Muslim heritage combines intriguingly with its dynamic software industry. The city is known for its fiery cuisine, its shop-ping—especially for pearls—and, increasingly, its success in the global business of information technology.
Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern coastal state of Orissa, is an easy-going temple city with 500 ancient shrines. Small and reasonably peaceful, it's also a town of artisans, as are the villages of Raghurajpur and Pipli. Closer to the water, Konark is famous for its half-ruined Sun Temple—once a complete 225-ft-tall horse-drawn chariot in stone—while Puri still draws in-tense crowds of pilgrims to its towering Jagganath Temple.
Kolkata is India's best city for walkers, with streets that tell stories. Old mansions dripping with moss and spotted with mildew recall a rich mixture of foreign influence, particularly that of the founding British, and local affluence. Known at once for its Bengali heritage and cosmopolitan outlook, Kolkata is the creative capital of India, promoting art, music, and drama and drawing the best from both performers and their fans. More than its louder urban counterparts, Kolkata will surprise you with its warmth and hospitality.
Pleasures and Pastimes During India Tour
Between October and March you can spend a few days or an entire vacation at a deluxe resort, a beach cottage, or even a safari-style tent on a luscious Indian beach. Goa is perennially popular with Westerners; far less trafficked are the picture-perfect Lakshadweep islands, off Ker-ala, where you can snorkel around coral reefs. On Kerala's own coast, the sandy beaches at Kovalam are lined with palm-fringed lagoons and rocky coves. At Ma-mallapuram, south of Madras, the beaches are steps from some of India's finest temple ruins. Gujarat hides an incredibly pristine beach at Mandvi, in Kutch, with clear water and calm surf.
Indian cuisine varies widely from region to region, but taken together it's a fine art. Meat, seafood, vegetables, lentils, and grains proliferate in splendid combinations—subtle and enticing. The word "curry" is a British corruption of the Hindi word kari, the aromatic leaf of the kari plant; typical "curries" are dishes cooked in masala (a spicy gravy). Over the centuries, each invading force brought new techniques, ingredients, and dishes; the Moguls, above all, revolutionized Indian cooking, especially in the north, introducing birianis (rice dishes), kormas (braised meat or vegetable dishes), kebabs, kofta (meat or vegetable balls), dum pukht (aromatic dishes that are sealed and slow-cooked), and tandoori cooking (which requires a tandoor, .a cylindrical clay oven). The British introduced simple puddings and custards. Tibetan immigrants brought momos (steamed dumplings), kothay (fried dumplings), and hearty noodle soups called thukpa. In the northeast, the Bengalis and Assamese took advantage of the nearby waters to emphasize fish and seafood. Gujaratis, Rajasthanis, and South Indian Hindus, all of whom tend to shun meat, developed India's vegetarian cuisine.
Tea is a staple in India, customarily brewed with milk and sugar. In Buddhist areas, you'll find yak-butter tea, made with milk and salt; the butter keeps your lips from cracking in the dry Himalayan air. South Indian filter coffee has a caramel tang, some-thing like cafe au lait; elsewhere you'll find little but instant coffee. India produces excellent beer, and its Riviera wine is reasonably good. Luxury hotels also import Western spirits, and sell them at luxury prices. Sikkim produces good rum, brandies, and paan liqueur. Chang, a local brew made from fermented barley, is available in many mountain areas. Goa makes tasty sweet wines and feni, potent liquor made from cashew nuts.
Plenty of Indian restaurants serve delicious meals in appealing traditional or, occasionally, contemporary settings. Street stalls cook up simple specialties to satisfy cravings at next to no cost. In many cities, dining in a popular local restaurant can be a real culinary adventure—don't be afraid to ask your hotel for the name of a place that currently draws a crowd.
India's folk dances derive from various sources, but Indian classical dance originates in the temple. The four main dance forms are Bharata Natyam in the south, particularly in Tamil Nadu; Kathakali in Kerala; Manipur in the northeast; and Kathak in the north.
Bharata Natyam is a dynamic, precise style in which the dancer wears anklets of bells to emphasize the rhythm. Many figures in South Indian temple sculptures strike Bharata Natyam dance poses. Kathakali, developed over the 16th and 17th centuries, was inspired by the heroic myths and legends of Hindu Vedas (sacred writings) and involves phenomenal body control, right down to synchronized movements of the eyeballs. Boys between the ages of 12 and 20 study this dance form for six years. Kathakali makeup is a particularly elaborate process, with characters classified into distinct types according to the colors of their makeup and costumes. Manipur dances revolve around episodes in the life of Vishnu. They are vigorous when performed by men, lyrical when performed by young women. The women's costumes are richly embroidered. Kathak is exciting and entertaining—the most secular of the classical dances. The foot-work is fast, clever, expressive, and accentuated by bands of bells around the dancers' ankles. The great masters of each of these dance forms command great respect in India. They have studied for years to perfect their artistry, and their age becomes a factor only when they decide to put away their costumes.
Buddhist dances are as elegant as classical Hindu dance forms, except that the motions of the masked and costumed monks are more ritualized, typically working from a slow speed up to a whirl where flowing skirts end up being a blur of color. The accompanying music, usually dominated by long horns and cymbals, adds a spooky counterpoint to the monks' intentional footwork. The dances are generally enactments of important Buddhist legends, or are carried out to fend off satanic forces.
Similar to classical dance, the starts of classical Indian music can be traced to the Hindu Vedas. Gradually, this music-- an adjunct to praise-- developed certain laws of theory and practice. It also evolved into two broadly divided types, Carnatic in South India and Hindustani in the north. North Indian music uses a large range of stunning instruments such as the sitar and the flute; in the south, musical kinds are stricter, with less improvisation. In both schools, the essential form is a raga, a song based upon a twelve-tone system unusual, initially, to the Western ear. At a concert of ragas or bhajans (Hindu devotional songs with lyrics), the audience will get involved with remarks or gestures, revealing interest for the singer's technical skill and artistic power.
The arrival of the Moguls in the 12th century resulted in a brand-new type of northern music including the Persian ghazal, an Urdu rhyming couplet expressing love. In the ghazal, however, the item of commitment can be a lady or the divine and even the singer's home state. Part of the joy in hearing ghazals, at least for those who comprehend Urdu, comes from figuring out oblique recommendations that give layers of significances to a single line and are credited to the ability of the poet as well as the vocalist. Audiences at ghazal efficiency program gratitude by matching a hand motion of the artist or vocalist, or by praising a turn of phrase.
As with dancers, years of concentrated study lead to revered status for musicians. India's finest singers and instrumentalists are well over the age of 30 and frequently in their 60s.
Shopping Tours in India
Each part of India specializes in different products. There are still plenty of villages where the majority of residents are weavers, painters, or sculptors, and similar artisan districts are clustered in the old bazaars of large cities.
India has the world's largest rug industry. Tibetan refugees and the Sikkimese make superb carpets with Buddhist themes. Dhurries, in wool or cotton, have charming folk or tribal motifs; some of the finest dhurries come from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Delhi, Rajasthan, and Karnataka have wonderful silver work, including old ethnic and tribal jewelry. (Buyer bewares: The silver is not always pure.) Gold jewelry is a smart purchase, and in many cities (Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Jaipur, and Madras in particular) you'll find jewelers who can quickly design to order. The price per gram is determined by the world rate, but the cost for the workmanship is a bargain. Precious and semiprecious stones, beautifully cut and highly polished, are another great buy here—Jaipur has wonderful gems that you can buy separately or have fashioned into exquisite jewelry. Jaipur also sells intricately worked enamelware, as does Madhya Pradesh. In Hyderabad, the center of India's pearl trade, pearls of every shape and hue are polished and sold according to sheen, smoothness, and roundness.
Intricate Mogul- and Rajput-style miniature paintings and cloth batik wall hangings are specialties of Rajasthan. Orissa is known for dhokra (animal and human figures in twisted brass wires), pato chitra (finely wrought temple paintings), and talc, patra (palm-leaf art). Weavers throughout India work textile designs into cotton or silk, the latter sometimes threaded with real gold or silver. Beautiful brocades and crepe silk come from Varanasi; the finest heavy silks, many in brilliant jewel tones, are made in Kanchipuram, near Madras. Bangalore and Mysore are also important weaving centers. Himru (cotton and silk brocade) is woven in Aurangabad. Jamdani weaving, cotton brocade with zari (silver) thread, comes from West Bengal. Orissa is known for ikat, a weave that creates a brush-stroke effect to color borders on silk or cot-ton. Gujarat and Rajasthan create marvelous tie-dye and embroidered fabrics. To scan a good selection of all these products, stop into one of the fixed-price Central Cottage Industries Emporiums in Bangalore, Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, Hyderabad, or Madras.
Beautiful brass and copper work are sold everywhere, but Tamil Nadu has especially fine sculptures and temple ornaments. Tribal areas in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh specialize in metal figurines. Hyderabad and Aurangabad produce jet and silver barware, especially boxes and bangles. Sculptors chisel delightful stone statues in Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan. Artisans in Agra create exquisite marble inlay work, carrying on a Mogul tradition: Jewels are sliced petal-thin and embedded in marble with such precision that the joints are imperceptible even with a magnifying glass.
Wherever people live in wooden dwellings, you find hand-crafted teak, ebony, cedar, sandalwood, or walnut. Rajasthan is known for objects covered with enchanting thematic paintings, from small boxes to furniture and doors. Artisans in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh create charming painted toys. Lac turnery is an Indian art form in which layers of color are added to wood and then polished; the best lac products—bangles, toys, boxes—come from Jaipur and Gujarat. Kashmir specializes in carved walnut items: boxes, tables, gorgeous screens. Kerala and Karnataka are known for finely wrought carvings in sandalwood.
Wildlife Tours in India
India has 59 national parks and more than 250 sanctuaries, home to more than 350 different mammals and 1,200 birds. Many of these creatures are unique to the subcontinent, such as the white tiger, royal Bengal tiger, Asian lion, lion-tailed macaque, Andaman teal, great Indian bustard, and monal pheasant.
Before 1947 India did not protect its wildlife. By 1952, 13 species had been declared endangered, and today the list has multiplied to 70 species of mammals, 16 species of reptiles, and 36 species of birds. Tigers, the symbolic mascot of India, were killed so frequently that by 1970, only 1,500 remained. In 1972, the Indian government finally passed the Wildlife Act, which designates natural parks and sanctuaries and provides for the protection of wild animals, particularly endangered species. Three years later, Corbett National Park became India's first tiger reserve, part of Project Tiger—a large-scale enterprise co-sponsored by India's Department of Wildlife and the World Wildlife Fund to ban killing and set up 10 reserves. The total number of tigers has risen to over 4,000, but poachers may yet finish off this rare animal.
India is also attempting to re-cover a third of its land with forests—a daunting task that requires more than saplings. The rural poor must find viable fuel sources to re-place wood, and a humane initiative is needed to control the movement of foraging livestock, including the sacrosanct cow.
Still, many of India's parks and sanctuaries are enchanting. If you have a safari in mind, remember that many of India's animals are elusive, moving in small packs at daybreak and twilight or at night. Count yourself lucky if you spot a tiger, an Asian lion, or a leopard. Come with the proper expectations and you will see many animals: numerous species of deer, wild boar, langur of all descriptions, and spectacular birds. Keep your camera and binoculars ready. Shooting, of course, is prohibited, but the hunter's loss is the photographer's gain. Wear neutral clothes to better blend into the forest. If you want to stay overnight inside a sanctuary, arrange to arrive before it closes at sunset.
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