For generations of travelers, the myriad
charms of India have been irresistible. An exotic mix of
high-altitude hiking, ancient Hindu temples, soothing spas and
luxurious British-era hotels such as the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai
have long enticed both hippies and well-heeled tourists from the
Yet, in the wake
of 9/11 and India's ensuing nuclear standoff with Pakistan, the
country's tourism industry went into a tailspin. Today, travel to
the subcontinent is on the rebound.
is on the up," said veteran guide Vaibhav Kala, proprietor of
Delhi-based adventure outfit Aquaterra Adventures. According to
Kala, better roads, automated railway reservation systems and
cheaper domestic flights have made travel easier.
National Geographic Traveler magazine, perhaps forgetting India's
long history as a destination for visitors, named the
fast-developing nation "one of the world's emerging 'next places to
Indeed, by 2009
the Indian travel industry, including domestic and foreign
tourists, is expected to earn $50 billion, according to the Wall
2006, increased bookings prompted Abercrombie & Kent to open
its third India office in Jaipur, the capital of
"India is once
again attracting large numbers of Western visitors," said A&K
President George Morgan-Grenville. "Our business is up
Luxury and adventure
The one thing
that has not gotten easier when it comes to visiting India is
choosing what sort of trip visitors prefer: A luxurious tour of
legendary monuments, such as the Taj Mahal in Agra; a multiday
whitewater rafting adventure with riverside camping; an Aryuvedic
retreat to the Himalayas; or perhaps a safari through one of
India's national parks to search for a Bengal tiger.
What follows are
a few new trips of note:
" The Soul of India: An
Extraordinary Journey by Private Jet: This exclusive offering from
Abercrombie & Kent is a three-week trip taking in India's top
Stops include the
sacred temples of Khajuraho; the scenic backwaters of Kerala, the
Mughal monuments of New Delhi and Agra, including the Taj Mahal;
and the cremation stands on the banks of the Ganges River in
are in India's finest hotels. What's more, A&K offers the
chance for personalized journeys with its Design Your Day options
at many junctures. For instance, travelers can choose from yoga and
cooking classes; outdoor activities such as golf and horseback
riding; spa treatments; and visiting villages and markets off the
travel takes place aboard a roomy, reconfigured Boeing jet staffed
by gourmet chefs.
Dates: Sept. 23
to Oct. 14. For more information, call (800) 652-7984 or visit www.abercrombieandkent.com.
" Dharmsala Trekking Adventure: This Himalayan expedition is just one of many trips
offered by the California-based outfitters at Mountain Travel Sobek
in response to renewed interest in India. Other new MTS trips
include a south India cultural tour and a tiger safari in India and
Located in the
northern state of Himachal Pradesh, the picturesque town of
Dharmsala is the home of the Tibetan government in exile, the Dalai
Lama and about 8,000 Tibetan refugees.
mountains reach elevations greater than 20,000 feet, and this
challenging, six-day guided hike reaches its highest point a little
above 14,000 feet, meaning travelers will want to be in shape if
they intend to join.
include temple visits; a stop in Brahmaur, the ancient capital of
the Champa region; and shopping for traditional crafts at the
Norbulingka Institute, which is dedicated to maintaining Tibetan
culture. Clients also spend two nights in New Delhi.
"I invite you to
share the culture and beauty of this region," said MTS trip leader
Ramesh Gurung, son of a member of the British Gurkha Regiment who
grew up nearby.
Dates: Oct. 8 to 19. For more, call (888)
687-6235 or visit at www.mtsobek.com.
" The Total Tons Tonnage: Kala and the crew at Aquaterra Adventures know a thing or
two about whitewater, having pioneered commercial rafting trips
down the Brahmaputra in India's northeast and leading the way for
outdoor adventures across the subcontinent.
For the past two
years, they have also been offering a river trip on the Tons River
in the newly formed state of Uttaranchal.
features this river runner's dream in its Best Trips 2007
Kala and friends
also put on a great feed, so if paddling rapids is not your thing,
you may still want to book a few days at the Lunagad Camp, a day's
drive from Delhi, where the 11-day expedition kicks off. Either
way, Lunagad provides an escape from India's urban
Dates: April 24 to May 4. Contact
Aquaterra Adventures at (011) 91-112 921-2641 or visit www.treknraft.com.
On, off the rails
" The Deccan Odyssey: India's answer to the Orient Express is Mumbai-based luxury
railway the Deccan Odyssey, which got its start back in
train experience offers a week's worth of activities, starting with
the historical Victoria Terminus rail station, eventually reaching
the tiny state of Goa with its golden beaches overlooking the
Stops are made in
Ajanta and Ellura for a tour of Buddhist-carved caves dating back
to the fifth century.
further sets high standards for service, offering a spa, Aryuvedic
treatments, a bar car and a lounge area with cable television in
If that is not
enough, you can contact Abercrombie & Kent to arrange a Tailor
Made rail trip, adding two days in Delhi.
Nature lovers, on
the other hand, might want to travel with Victor Emanuel Nature
Tours, an Austin, Texas-based birding outfit that combines a safari
with the rail trip.
The Odyssey runs
year-round; the next VENT safari runs Feb. 1 to March 6, 2008. For
the Odyssey, call (800) 824-6342 or visit www.deccan-odyssey-india.com. For VENT, call (800)
328-8368 or visit www.ventbird.com.
For more, visit
India's tourism ministry Web site at www.incredibleindia.org.
To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail
to [email protected].