Tourists vacation for nice beaches and new views. Travelers seek for cultural experiences and new perspectives. True journeys rather than just vacations include a deeper element that is more experiential than passive. Travel should, on some level, change you and help you grow.
There are some destinations on our planet that have it all: the views, the nature, and the life-changing cultural experiences. On top of that list is India. India’s ancient history, diverse religions, and vast landscape is the perfect combination. Everyone who travels to India comes back with a new outlook and memories that are unforgettable.
As local travel curators, our focus is creating authentic, immersive cultural experiences. For those seeking that, here are our top picks for India’s cultural experiences you can’t miss:
Praying with monks in the monasteries of the Himalayas:
Buddhism has such an incredible widespread influence worldwide. It’s teachings transcend borders, race, and class to bring peace and a new outlook to millions. It’s no wonder that people travel far and wide to see the history of Buddhism in person. There is nothing as immersive and authentic as getting the experience to pray with Buddhist monks deep in the Himalayas at ancient monasteries that still carry on ancient tradition. During the Manali to Leh bike tour through the Himalayas, we visit multiple ancient monasteries that still function today.
Staying at spice plantations in the Western Ghats:
India is known for its rich spices which are a staple in the world famous cuisine. High in India’s Western Ghats, the rolling green hills are dotted with traditional spice plantations that have for centuries mass produced India’s famous spices. The monsoon season every year brings heavy rains that make it possible. The culture has thrived on the rains and high altitude and developed into a region very much worth experiencing first hand. During the Chasing the Monsoons bike trip through the Western Ghats, we not only visit but stay on spice plantation with people who run it the traditional way. We experience with locals how the region has thrived for centuries.
Walking the ancient streets of Hampi and Badami:
There are few places in the world where history is literally still standing. When you visit the ancient cities of Hampi and Badami in India, you aren’t looking at excavated ruins, you’re walking through full structures. These ancient cities are remnants of the dynasties and civilizations that had an effect on India and the world. There are palaces, temples, squares, and ancient art to be explored that tell the story of the past in person. We ventured here on our Hampi and Badami cycling tour and our group was able to walk through ancient rooms and explore temples seemingly carved into stone. It’s an incredible experience to see where the past is still alive.
Explore the classic palaces and markets of Rajasthan:
When people around the world think India, they think bright colors, markets, extravagant palaces. Rajasthan encompasses this vision in a very authentic way. It’s a place where everything quintessential is packed in to see. There are areas of woods and rolling sand dunes, ancient temples, forts, palaces, etc to explore. The local culture is warm and welcoming. The markets are a great way to interact with locals and take home a piece of India culture. We travel on bike from village to town and through nature on the Rajasthan bike tour as well feel it is the perfect way to experience this region.