1. The Taj Mahal
As iconic as the Pyramids are to Egypt, the Taj is the “must visit” of India. The greatest monument to love ever built it truly is a teardrop on the face of time. Exquisitely designed and completed in marble and pietra-dura inlay its every bit as magical as the millions of pictures suggest.
Of course there will be crowds, this is India after all, but if you can ignore the heaving masses and find a moment of solitude within the glorious gardens then you can quietly contemplate Shah Jahans epic construction to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal.
If you have the time go more than once. Go at dawn as the fierce rays of the Indian sun cast a burning glow across the dome or go at dusk as the dome becomes a soft pink in the suffused light.
Above all, just go.
2. Because it’s India
India captures the imagination. It’s the base for so many travel tales of the 60s. Free love, drugs and a whole gamut of other experiences. Go and see where your parents went, or your grandparents.
We also shouldn’t forget the links with empire. A dirty word I know but my Mum was born in India and there’s that intractable link between India and us. It’s a country which attracts us and draws us in.
And go because it’s magnificent. A vast country with huge deserts, massive wetlands, heaving, chaotic cities and rural beauty, an amazing cuisine, a religious melting pot and a welcoming smile wherever you go.
You’ll never get bored in India.
3. The Kerala Backwaters
if you want a moment of sheer, unadulterated bliss then I would humbly suggest at least one overnight on a houseboat. I have never in all my years experienced such tranquility as that night, moored up, taking a moonlit stroll along the Bank whilst our cheery crew concocted a delicious feast.
Just drifting along watching the world go by is pure heaven. You meander along the broad waterways and use smaller canoes to really dig deeper into the heartland of this magical place.
I’d do it again tomorrow. For sheer relaxation it’s hard to beat.
4. It’s all different
You know that some places you visit you simply lose track of where you are. One place looks like the next and your trip becomes a series of “where are we now ?” moments with few distinguishing features.
Not so India. The desert of Rajasthan with its mighty forts, the South with its extraordinary temples, the hill stations, the beaches of Goa, the Kerala backwaters, safaris, huge cities and more all compete for your attention. And then there are the people, that mass of humanity speaking a hundred different languages and worshipping a thousand different gods.
Somewhere in India there’s your perfect holiday.
5. You want to see some sights and sites ?
India is not just the Taj.
There are so many temples and sites and sights of historical importance or cultural significance that you could spend a lifetime in India and not do justice to them all. Vast complexes like the Meenakshi in Madurai with its massive gopurams all brightly painted; more intimate, austere structures like the shore temples of Mahabalipuram or exquisite bas -reliefs like those, again, at Mahabalipuram.
Every town has its temples and I found myself constantly drawn to them for their differences as well as their similarities. It’s not a “seen one, seen them all” situation because they just aren’t like that. Big, small, colourful, drab, elevated, ground level etc.
The temples are living, breathing organisms. They are constantly moving and constantly working. A blessing here, a wedding there; always something to see.
And it’s not just temples. The vast forts and palaces, some of which have been turned into gorgeous hotels, are fascinating edifices with a mighty history.
So, if you are a history buff give India a go, you won’t regret it!
So there you are, five reasons to visit India. I hope you enjoyed that and, who knows, perhaps I’ve inspired a visit ?.