Siddhpur “the pious” is a surprising town, on the banks of the Saraswati river. Its sacred atmosphere is rather reminiscent of Varanasi while the mansions of the Bohra merchants immerse you in the totally different atmosphere of Victorian era.
Uttarayan, the time of year when the sun starts its northward journey, is celebrated in Gujarat state with a kite festival that’s totally poetic. All day long thousands of multi-coloured kites drift endlessly across the sky, and when night falls the sky is lit by a myriad paper lanterns.
Chettinad must be the most surprising part of Tamil Nadu. In the 19th century, rich Chettiar merchants built palatial houses here in a daring and harmonious blend of Eastern and Western styles. This is unique architecture with a charm of its own, inviting travellers to stop awhile for a taste of culture.
Overlooked by its imposing fort (called “the magnificent”), the blue city makes the most of its heritage with a number of top rank cultural festivals. The stunning landscapes of the Thar desert all around and the busy streets of the colourful old town will bring you back to Jodhpur again and again.
The little spray-swept village of Mahabalipuram, 60km south of Chennai, is a delight, although very touristy. The Pallava kings left architectural masterpieces, Unesco World Heritage, whose distinctive style spread as far as the Far East.
Gwalior, the fourth largest town in the State of Madhya Pradesh, owes its fame to the fort, perched atop a 300ft hill, which the Mughal emperor Babur called “the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind”. Gwalior is also known as a cultural centre and home of both the famous poet and musician Tansen and a …
Tattooing and camel races, moustache contests, moonlight concerts among the dunes: for three days in January-February Jaisalmer, golden city of the desert, becomes a colourful showcase of Rajasthan folk culture exuding good humour and a friendly atmosphere.
Even if the royal Bengal tiger never shows his furry face, this trip among the mangroves will leave you with some totally enchanted memories. The Sundarbans (“beautiful forest” in Bengali) is the largest salt-tolerant mangrove forest in the world and has been a Unesco World heritage site since 1987.