India has lost none of its mystique. This exotic land brims with ancient history, fiery sunsets and spectacular wildlife that will take your breath away. Unsurprisingly, more and more travellers are setting sail on luxury cruises to India – here are just a few reasons why this country has become the next big cruise destination.
India’s fascinating and by turns tragic history leaps out to greet you from every street. Ancient temples and religious structures sit alongside colonial buildings left behind by the tempestuous British Raj.
One of the most fascinating relics of India’s past, however, is the Wagah Border Ceremony: a daily ritual that marks the nightly closing of the India-Pakistan border. Elaborately dressed guards strut like peacocks in a show of mimicry and strength sound-tracked by whooping shouts and stamping boots. It is both thrilling and heart-warming; two countries coming momentarily together despite their tensions and historic bloodshed.
India’s locals are big-hearted and full of warmth, ready to welcome visitors with open arms. After all, “Athithi Devo Bhava” – “The guest is God.” Don’t be surprised if you get chatting to a local and they invite you in for a pot of tea, or you meet children playing in the street and are roped into a fast-paced game of cricket. You will return to your ship with a smile that won’t leave your face for the rest of your trip.
Regardless of where you cruise in India you will be met by stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife. Satpura brims with dense jungles and vast mountain ranges, while Goa has enough paradisiacal stretches of sandy beach to last a lifetime. Assam and Darjeeling overflow with vibrant tea plantations that practically glow in the evening light, and all over the country, wildlife slinks through the brush and leaps from tree to tree. The best place to see tigers is Ranthambore National Park; wild leopards patrol Mumbai’s city borders; and chattering monkeys are almost constant companions.
An authentic Indian curry is something else. The spices are fuller and the flavours more complex; ingredients melting together in perfect, warming harmony rather than competing to see who can make your nose run first. Then there is the tea, plucked from rolling plantations in Bengal, Assam and Kerala to land in our cups back home. If you can, fit in a fragrant visit.
Is your overriding image of India the chaotic streets of Mumbai? We can’t help but love the almost overpowering crush of traffic jams, honking horns and swerving motorbikes in the country’s big cities, but there is more to India than meets the eye.
Seek refuge in a temple and feel your whole body lighten, or fill your voyage with peaceful ports and tours of India’s beautiful rural landscape. Cruise to Cochin (also known as Kochi) to explore magnificent palaces and see the famous Chinese fishing nets in action; relax under the waving palms of the Goan coast; or take to India’s waterways on a stunning river cruise along the Bhramaputra, Ganges or, further afield, Myanmar’s Irrawaddy.
India is an assault on the senses, a serene retreat and a wildlife documentary come to life. It is a country of contradictions, and it works oh so perfectly.
Have you visited India? We’d love to hear about the experiences that made you fall in love with the country. Tell us a story using the comment box below.