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Bazaars & Backwaters in India

7 Unmissable Things to Do in India’s Bazaars and Backwaters

The flamboyancy of Old Delhi, the lip-smacking street foods of Jaipur and the utter serenity of the backwaters are just a few reasons why you’ll love our Taj Mahal to Kerala trip. And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, go looking for wild animals at Periyar National Park, and hang out with the locals at Dhula Village. If that’s still not enough, read on for even more inspiring things to do…  

 

1. Go off grid in Old Delhi 

Picture food carts spilling out onto crowded pavements and hectic streets filled with people, tuk-tuks, motorbikes and rickshaws. Old Delhi is colourful and frenetic. Welcome to cultural India. The best way to really get under the skin of this ancient walled city is to go off grid. And who better to show you around than the locals who grew up here? Escaping the typical crowds you find on the usual tours, our off-the-grid walking tour guides you through the tangle of streets and alleyways to secret places that only the locals know. 

The people here are very friendly. As the ex-street children show you a different side of Old Delhi, you’ll find they’re just as curious about you as you are of them and their way of life. Visit a Sikh temple and meet the local people who spend their time providing food for the destitute. Eating with them is a humbling yet extraordinary experience. 

 

2. Say namaste to the Taj Mahal at sunrise 

It’s not every day you get to practise your downward-facing dog in front of the Taj Mahal. And we couldn’t think of anywhere more divine to enjoy a dawn yoga class.As the sun rises it casts adeep orange glow across one of the most iconic sites in the world. We won’t judge you if you shed a tear.  

The best month to visit the Taj Mahal is in November when there’s less fog, fewer crowds and the temperatures are cooler. After a peaceful class of asanas, breathing and meditation in this beautiful setting, we return later to go inside the Taj Mahal. The interior is exquisite with intricately carved screens and walls inlaid with precious stones.  

 

3. Tuck into spicy street food in the pink city streets of Jaipur 

Jaipur is a dizzying concoction of colourful bazaars, architectural masterpieces and bustling streets. Besides the hillside Amber Fort and the City Palace, it’s the street food that ultimately steals the show. On a guided foodie tour, you’ll come across the best food joints in the capital

High on the list of tasty snacks is the spicy samosa, a traditional treat that we promise won’t disappoint. Next up is the Bun Maska and Masala Chai. This is a traditional soft bread that’s washed down with an aromatic tea drink infused with herbs. You can’t leave Jaipur without trying it.  

 

4. Get a hands-on, local experience in Dhula village 

We’re all about immersive experiences, and it doesn’t get much more immersive than a trip to Dhula Village. You’ll get a real flavour of traditional life in a small Indian community as you mingle with local families and artisans. And we couldn’t let you leave without you getting stuck in at the farms - milking cows and ploughing fields. A fantastic way to experience rural life in India.  

 

5. Explore Cochin – the centre of Keralan arts 

History and culture lovers will be in their element at Cochin. A heady mix of ancient mosques, colonial houses and waterside restaurants, the city has lured people here for over 600 years. You can’t deny its magnetism. Keralan arts are rife in Cochin with cool cafes, galleries and artisan shops lining the streets. We recommend trying the fabulous seafood on the pier 

Old and new meet in an extraordinary fashion, leaving you mesmerised by its infectious charm. Hop on a bike to explore Fort Cochin, stopping off to test your balancing skills with the Chinese fishing nets.  

 

6. Grab your oars and make your way across Periyar National Park 

Go in search of tigers, bison, wild boar and elephants in the mist-shrouded forests of Periyar National Park. The tension is palpable as you follow your ranger and animal tracks through the park. A trip on a bamboo raft across the lake will have all you shutterbugs reaching for your cameras as you explore the stunning scenery from the water.  

But it’s not just the animals that vie for your attention. The spice gardens will seduce you with their potent aromas. As well as inhaling all those delicious smells, you’ll learn how the spices are grown from a local specialist. 

 

7. Sleep on a traditional houseboat in the Alleppey backwaters 

Floating away from the exuberant cities on a houseboat cruise along the backwaters of Kerala is the best way to travel around India. There’s no better way to completely switch off from modern life. The backwaters in Kerala are a meandering network of waterways with Alleppey right at the epicentre. This is just one of the many famous backwaters in Kerala.  

The tranquillity, palm-fringed lagoons and local culture you experience along the way are what make the Kerala backwaters so special. Sink into a relaxed state as you drift past local villages and lush paddy fields. Although, you won’t want to get too relaxed and miss the tasty Keralan dinner in the evening. 

 

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