When venturing to a country for the first time, most travelers will opt to visit only the popular tourist destinations due to a limited amount of time. If they return for subsequent visits, they may decide to stray from the beaten path and experience less conventional sites.
The Taj Mahal, Ladakh, Keral backwaters, Harmandir Sahib and Qutb Minar are must-see spots in India and first-timers will often check these off their list. These spots are popular for a reason, but we are going to focus on the less obvious destinations of India in this post since we place a strong emphasis on delivering unique and authentic experiences with our JNR travel programs.
Even if it is your first time in India, we strongly recommend visiting some of these more sparsely-visited sites as supplemental trips to popular tourist spots. In the end, your adventure will be more well-rounded with this approach.
Without further adieu, we present the top four unique Indian experiences.
1. Visit Remote Western Villages in the Thar Desert
Trek past the Taj Majhal and other popular tourist sites and enter the western part of Rajasthan to the Thar Desert to see a unique part of India that you may not have known about. The small villages you will encounter are of the Bishnoi community and offer an opportunity to see a unique way of living based on traditions and social structures that place a strong value on nature and the environment. Many of these traditions have remained unchanged for many centuries. Electricity and other modern conveniences that we often take for granted are not available so be prepared to “rough it” if you choose this experience.
We suggest staying at Mihir Garh, a complex mud fort with nine roomy suites that are adorned with unique furniture and colorful silk fabrics. Plunge pools that offer amazing views of the desert are a nice feature that you will absolutely love. The Village safari tours offered are highly recommended.
Within an hour of Jodhpur, you can visit a place where villagers will welcome you into their homes with open arms and even offer you a ceremony that features an elaborate ritual watched over by statues of the god Shiva.
2. Go to a Camel Camp in Osian
A descendant of the Maharajas of Jodhpur, Reggie Singh, has operated a long-running camel camp in the village of Osian for years that you should definitely take advantage of. Your lodging arrangements in the region include luxury tents and the newly-built upscale, marble-adorned Mountbatten Lodge. You will travel from village to village by camel. Mountbatten Lodge is the closest property near the famous Ranakpur Temple and the final stop on the three to five night tour called The Marwar Safari Experience.
A mobile tent experience in the desert, evening leopard spotting safari, night at the Maharaja’s stunning Umaid Bhawan Palace and watching the sunset from the back of an elephant will surely be highlights your journey. Drinking mixed cocktails at the Mountbatten Lodge while enjoying fascinating stories told by Reggie himself make for an unforgettable time.
3. Stay a Night in an 18th Century Palace Fort in Delwara
Devi Garh, a monumental palace that was once inhabited by the rulers of Delwara has since been renovated into a hotel boasting contemporary décor with Indian fabrics and silver. The whole place is photogenic to say the least.
The village of Delwara is quite an interesting place to explore with a local. The hotel has plenty of willing staff that can get you the scoop on the latest gossip in the town. Temples of various religions are also quite fascinating to visit and learn about.
Just 45 minutes from Delwara is a “fairy tale”, lakefront city called Udaipur. The Leela Palace hotel offers the best overall panoramic view of the lake and white Lake Palace floating in the middle with opulent décor of its own.
4. Spend a Day with the Dabbawallas
Dabbawallas are a group of 1,500 individuals who deliver home cooked lunches to 100,000 Mumbai office workers daily within a 40-mile radius. The typical meal consists of: roti, vegetables, dal, rice and a sweet item. They use trains, bicycles and their own feet to travel in the extreme heat that routinely exceeds 100 degrees. This system is highly efficient and the process dates back over 100 years. Shadowing one of these individuals and trying to understand their complex system is definitely something that you should do.
Please feel free to comment below if you have ever experienced any of these things on a trip to India.
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Written by Kristopher Hewkin
JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.