India, in all its vast extraordinary glory, is an overspilling treasure trove of magnificent travel experiences. There's a lot to take in, but breathe deep — our thoughtfully tailored India holidays will see you gliding through the colourful chaos like a Bengal tiger through the forests of Rajasthan (or something like that!).
Our well-oiled logistics will handle all the bureaucratic bits, and our expert guides will be on hand to show you the shortcuts. All that’s left for you to do is open your heart, your senses, and your sense of adventure! It’s time to let India in...
The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Varanasi’s funeral ghats on the Ganges — India is brimming with structures that have mythic status in the collective imagination. And they’re all as impressive and atmospheric as their reputations suggest.
Beyond the most famous sights, however, it’s also well worth visiting historic settlements such as Lucknow with its spectacular Islamic architecture, the evocative ruins of Madhya Pradesh, or the unique Meenakshi Temple complex in Madurai.
From historic Leh, perched high in the Himalayas, to sacred Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, and the extraordinary desert city of Jaisalmer, India boasts some of Asia's most awe-inspiring cities. You feel transported back in time as you wander their truly ancient alleys, and watch daily life unfold around monumental buildings that are anything but everyday. And we're just as entranced by the cries of chai wallahs, the wandering cows, and the nooks and niches where people are getting by...
One of our favourite aspects of travel in India is the chance to stay in some really interesting accommodation. Many ancestral homes have opened their doors to paying guests, meaning that you can stay in Raj-era forts (with hot tubs on the battlements), ornately carved stone townhouses, and family-run farms where you’ll dine on home-grown produce.
The chance to see a wild Bengal tiger is a huge draw for many who visit India. The country boasts several large jungle reserves which protect breeding populations of these magnificent animals. There's nothing quite like spotting tiger cubs in their natural habitat to put the crowning moment on your holiday!
Bohemian backwaters & coastal bliss
Head to the coast for a tantalising blend of laid back beaches, yoga centres, historic architecture and superb seafood. The Kerala backwaters — a network of lagoons, lakes and rivers along the south-west coast — offer an interesting alternative for R&R, with their bohemian houseboat accommodation and deeply relaxing vibe.
A word about food
As you may have noticed (!), the Selective Asia team are enthusiastic about eating, and we wax lyrical about the cuisine in many of our destinations. However it is worth a special mention for India — the food here is fantastic, but it’s also important to note that it’s not all about curry and very hot spice. There’s an extraordinary amount of regional variation, and certainly no need to be put off if you’re travelling with kids, or someone whose eyes water at the sight of a chilli!
And connecting it all…
...that extraordinary train network, with its on-board samosa vendors and chai wallahs, superb people-watching opportunities, and simply the legendary bucket-list status of train travel in India!
What to do in India : discover our hand-picked experiences & highlights
India is known as the land of tigers, but there’s a corner of Rajasthan where the leopard is king. Situated between Jodhpur & Udaipur, Jawai has the highest density of leopards in India. Head deep into the wilderness with your guide in the hope of spotting the big cats that rule this region.
Rising formidably from the steep rocks that loom over Jodhpur’s rooftops, the Mehrangarh Fort brims with historic splendor. In the late afternoon, once the fort and museum have been closed to the public, you’ll set out on an exclusive private tour with the head curator.
Step beyond the tourist sites in Jaipur to taste regional sweetmeats, admire working goldsmiths and enjoy Indian hospitality at its warmest. You'll be accompanied by a local guide who can show you the hidden gems, translate conversations with the people you meet, and point out the tastiest streetfood.
There's nothing quite like experiencing the graceful generosity of a traditional family-run haveli, enjoying meals with your hosts and relaxing against a backdrop of historic architecture or stunning landscape. Once the exclusive domain of aristocratic families, these ancestral homes are examples of some of India's most comfortable properties.
People from all over India live in Dharavi, an industrious, makeshift community that has grown into one of Asia’s largest slums, housing around one million residents. Learn about the realities of life here, exploring the slum's potteries and bakeries, before sharing lunch with a resident family.
Built to provide fresh water for drinking, bathing and crops, India's stepwells can be up to 1,600 years old, and their architecture is nothing short of extraordinary. Rather like inverted step-pyramids, they descend into the ground in a series of ever-decreasing stone terraces, finally reaching the water table deep below.
Discover your India
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The Selective difference
With us, you are taken care of from enquiry until your reluctant homecoming. Your holiday is designed by a specialist who knows your destination first-hand. Throughout your travels, you'll have expert personal guides where requested & our full logistical support. And, it goes without saying, we'll be waiting to hear all about it once you're home.
Our Brighton-based Destination Specialists spend each day working closely with colleagues and partners across Asia. This ensures we stay several steps ahead when designing inspiring holidays, staying up to date and overcoming obstacles, which means your holiday will be crafted using both local and international expertise.
The welfare of our destinations and their communities is incredibly important to us. We are focused on ensuring that your money makes a positive impact, as often as possible, by supporting communities and wildlife conservation through dedicated initiatives and by very carefully choosing our partners in Asia.
We may be partial to the occasional bad pun, but we don’t joke around when it comes to designing first class travel experiences. Over 90% of our clients rate us 5/5 after their holiday, and we're not ashamed to crack a proud grin on behalf of our award-winning teams in the UK and Asia.
We know your time is precious, before and during your trip. We want you to have a smooth and relaxing experience so that your main concern on holiday will be whether to order noodles or rice. There will be no hidden extras, and your holiday will be orchestrated seamlessly by your Destination Specialist plus our local guides and behind-the-scenes crews in your destination.
Explore India's highlights
Ask our team of India specialists to name their favourite region and you're likely to hear Madhya Pradesh mentioned more than once. A state that the bright lights and bustle of modern India are yet to reach; fill your days exploring ancient temples, crumbling hill forts and getting to within a comfortable distance of tigers.
An ancient paradise of spice groves, sultry jungle and golden stretches of sand, Kerala has enthralled visitors for centuries in part due to the ease of travel in these parts. This is India on a manageable scale. Most focus their attention on the southern state, however we would encourage you to head north for a more raw, undeveloped Keralan experience.
When India's national side plays a big game, about 400 million watch it on TV
One of the world's largest rail networks keeps the country rolling
You could visit India 20 times and never see the same place twice
Diversity in everything
From faiths to food, scenery to species, and - notoriously - people's incomes
India is the world's largest spice producer, & grows the most varieties
Encircling local dishes prepared in countless ways, the word 'curry' was coined by 16th century European merchants
From Diwali's festival of lights to Holi's explosion of colour, Indian culture hinges on a full calendar of festivities
Perhaps only a country so populous needs a word to mean 'ten million'! India's number-word system is worth reading up on...
India has no state religion, but embraces many, from popular Hinduism to rare tribal faiths entwined with local ecology
Overtaking Hollywood back in the 1970s, India remains the world's largest film producer
Superb accommodation awaits, from opulent palaces and imposing fortications, to ancestral havelis and historic family farms