Travel Best Buys: Cultural Destinations - #1 India
When travelers are looking for an immersive cultural experience at a great rate, we have a few suggestions at the top of our list. This week have counted town our Top Five, and we are finally ready to reveal our #1 recommendation!
As such a large country, India is filled with many historic cultures, and each region offers its own distinctive cultural experience. India is a very religiously diverse country, with a majority of the population practicing Hinduism, a minority practicing Islam, and smaller groups practicing various belief systems including Sikhism and Jainism. Across the country, temples and mosques draw crowds and tourists from around the world, including the large Bahai Lotus Temple in Delhi and 13th century Konark Sun Temple in Odisha. There are a total of 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and amazing architecture throughout the country, such as the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra and other famous Moghul era palaces and forts in the North.
A trip to India is not complete without seeing the Ganges, the longest river in India, which is at the center of spiritual and cultural life throughout the country. A budding Ganges river cruise industry has recently emerged, which offers an intimate look at the towns and cities along the waterway.
Many visitors also learn to love local Indian cuisine, filled with spices such as cumin, fennel, ginger, star anise, turmeric and sesame. Rice and flat breads are often served with curries or stews, which include popular meats such as lamb, chicken or goat, as well as many vegetarian options. For travelers that enjoy theatre and performance art, India also has many beautiful folk dances, musical shows, and theatre performances.
Each March, the spring festival of Holi is held, which is also known as the “Festival of Colors.” This Hindu celebration technically begins on the night before Holi, with Holika Bonfires across the nation, combined with local singing and dancing. The next morning, the celebration continues with large, public paint parties wherein participants throw colored chalk, powder and clay at each other, frolicking in streets and parks. In 2016, this celebration will be on March 23rd with the largest participation happening in the Golden Triangle of North India (Dehli, Jaipur, and Agra).
India is such a diverse and unique nation, with many dining, sightseeing and artistic options for visitors, which is why it tops our list as the best buy for cultural travel in 2016!