Traveling has become more than just sightseeing and touring the famous places of a new destination. If you want to truly experience the best that a place has to offer, the best way to go about your vacation is to live like a local! An immersive travel experience is best spent in a country that has a rich culture–and what better place to start your culture trip than in India?
India is a culturally diverse developing country that has tons of activities that far travelers will enjoy. Whether you’re touring with a group or solo traveling, the country has an array of activities that you can experience, thanks to the strong preservation of Indian culture and spirituality as well as modern day advancements. If it’s your first time diving into a cultural experience, then India is one of the richest places for you to go.
So how do you begin planning out an immersive trip? Take a cue from a fellow traveler’s journey and swing by these beautiful spots that Nadav Berenstein, an intrepid explorer, recommends.
Top Cultural Spots in India
A culturally diverse country such as India will have many places where their practices and culture are highlighted. When you get to see the communities and the people in action, that’s when you’ll realize that you aren’t just visiting–-you’re immersing yourself! Fully experiencing a country like India leaves an impact on you and it gives you insights like no other.
Whether you’re a solo travel adventurer or exploring with companions, here are some of the top places you can visit to get a taste of what India truly has to offer:
The Ellora Caves is probably one of the most well-known sites in India. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this spot’s status as a cultural landmark is undoubted. Made during 600 to 1000 CE, the Ellora Caves are a testament to just how rich and innovative Ancient India’s culture and technology was.
If you are looking for a place to explore Indian culture and spirituality, the Ellora Caves is a good starting point. The site has 34 monasteries and temples of various religious practices, specifically of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. Out of the hundred caves, only 34 are open to the public as several of the caverns still need to be excavated.
A popular tourist destination in India, Jaipur evokes the feeling of opulence in royalty in the country. Also known as the “Pink City” because of the city’s colors, Jaipur is one of the liveliest cities in the country. Originally, the city’s color scheme was a nod to Edward the Prince of Wales’ visit, as pink was known as the color of hospitality. Now, Jaipur shines brightly as the largest city in Rajasthan and is called by both locals and tourists as the Paris of India.
Because of its initial purpose of being the most welcoming city for British royals, Jaipur has an air of elegance and extravagance to it. In fact, it is historically one of the most developed cities in the country. If you want to start your culture trip in India right with a high-spirited location, then this is one of the best places to visit. Some of the most notable stops are the Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory, and the Birla Mandir, a stark white marble temple which is a brilliant site for Indian religion, specifically Hindu, and spirituality.
Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary
Another unique aspect of India, of course, is its wildlife. Beyond the hustle and bustle of the cities and urban areas lies the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary. A home for some of the most endangered wildlife in India, the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is a safe haven for the fauna of India and is also a great way to learn about Indian wildlife.
Located in the untouched rural areas of Assam, Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary houses 50% of Asia’s water buffalos. elephant safaris, and the notable one-horned rhinoceroses. The sanctuary also has swamp deers, hog deers, otters, gaur, and wild boars in its vicinity. Its elephant grass and exotic flora make it a beautiful piece of untamed nature in the country.
Janjheli is a community that’s settled far away from the liveliness of most Indian cities. Instead, this calm and peaceful village is nestled in the solemnity of Himachal Pradesh. This quaint village offers solace from the hectic environment that urban areas have.
The calmer environment of Janjheli is perfect for those looking for a breath of fresh air. You can try out their cozy cafes or soak in the sun with outdoor activities such as trekking, hiking, and mountaineering. Another notable place within Janjheli is the Shikari Mata Temple, located atop a mountain. It’s often cited as one of the better places to meditate and is dedicated to the worship of the Hindu Goddess of the Forests and Hills.
If you’re looking for a site that lets you fully explore Indian religion and spirituality, look no further than the Chola Temples! These temples are located in the state of Tamil Nadu and are a testament to just how deep Hinduism runs in the country. The Great Living Chola Temples are also a UNESCO World Heritage site, which means these temples provide you a glimpse of Indian culture in the past.
The Chola Temples were all made during the Chola dynasty, but today, you can visit a number of them when you visit the country. There is, of course, the Great Living Temples, but you can definitely go on a tour in the country to visit the other ones. These temples still have regular visitors and worshippers, so you are in for an experience as well!
From the festivals and cuisine, India has a long and rich history that any adventurer would be lucky to experience. The country is also the home to some of the loveliest and most interesting people you could possibly meet! With its rich traditions and historical sites, India is definitely one of the places that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
Of course, the best way to experience India isn’t behind a lens or your phone. While pictures are definitely worth it, don’t forget to be in the moment and live when you visit. Talk to people, listen to their stories, experience the Indian festivals, food, religion, and spirituality that is uniquely theirs. Immerse yourself in the place and you’ll find that you’ll have a trip like no other.