Experiences :: Culture & Heritage
India is a cultural treasure trove. Few countries in the world have such an ancient and diverse culture as India's. Stretching back in an unbroken sweep over 5000 years, India's culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration like the great Moghul Emperors and the British Raj, which influenced and were absorbed into the Indian way of life. It is this variety which is a special hallmark of India. Its art, architecture, monuments, costumes, music and dance, language and literature are not gathering dust in museums but thrillingly alive and everywhere you look. Come and discover the richness of India's culture.
FestivalsThe art of celebration is an essential part of Indian culture. Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, festivals, holy days and holidays--whether the party is in a palace or round a village Peepul tree, it’s all about coming together and having a wonderful time.
During festivals daily cares are put aside and everyone joins in the celebration. Each season has its special festivals, food, fashions and fleeting pleasures. Not a day goes by in the Indian Subcontinent when there isn’t some special happening, but the most widely celebrated festivals are Holi, Diwali, and Dussehra. Every region has its own unique festival, like Kerela’s harvest celebration, Onam, or Rajasthan’s colourful Gangaur Festival. Cultural festivals abound, like the renowned Jaipur Literary Festival, or music and dance festivals like the Rajasthan International Folk Festival..there’s even a camel festival in the desert! TWX can provide a comprehensive guide to the best of the festivals in India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal as well as arrange tailor-made itineraries.
Art & ArchitectureIndia is a land of artists, artisans, craftsmen and builders. The creative energy harnessed by those in power, from the early Hindu dynasties to the mighty Moghuls and romantic Rajputs can be seen in their elegant havelis, glittering palaces, historic forts and stunning temples.
Perhaps no image expresses India’s love of beauty like the Taj Mahal. It was built in Agra from 1632 to 1653, by the brilliant Mohgul emperor Shah Jehan as a memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz, who bravely followed him across India on his many battle campaigns, and who died giving birth to their 14th child.
India’s ever-present spirituality is reflected in the vast number of shrines, temples, and mosques that adorn the country.
Processions, priests, pujas, gods and goddesses cavorting in a Hindu pantheon, ash covered sadhus meditating, orange marigold and white jasmine garlands—a visit to a temple in India is a visual extravaganza. ‘Must see’ temples of India include the 14th c Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple complex in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, with its a kaleidoscopic collection of gopura, towers and the Thousand Pillar Hall, the unforgettable temple complex at Khajuraho, some nearly 1,000 years old, yet whose sculptures radiate energy and passion, the gleaming Golden Temple of Amritsar, sacred to the Sikhs, and the 13th c Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa, a celestial chariot of the Sun god Surya, created in stone and featuring extraordinarily detailed carving, with over 1,700 elephants alone. In India, religion is woven into the fabric of life and you’ll find fascinating places of worship everywhere you go.
Rajasthan’s history is as colourful as the bright saris worn by its women. Home to many of India’s greatest warriors and rulers, its fabled monuments attract visitors from all over the world.
The bustling ‘pink city’ of Jaipur is the region’s capital. Enjoy shopping (Jaipur is famed for its jewellery and handicrafts) among the bazaars of Badi Chaupar, visitng the historic City Palace and riding an elephant up to the great 16th c Amber Fort overlookibng the lake and the romantic newly restored Jal Mahal floating palace.
Udaipur: It’s magical setting, overlooking the sparkling Lake Pichola and with the purple Aravalli Hills in the distance, one of India’s great beauty spots. Home of The longest running dynasty describe..The City Palace, an ornate white confection and the largest palce in rajasthan, it reflects the influences of 22 different maharajas between the 16th and 20th centuries and is full of curiosities like a room whose furniture is all solid crystal. The most beloved landmark in Udaipur is Jag Niwas, an 18th c pleasure palace, now the Taj Lake Palace, one of the world’s most famous hotels.
Jaiselmer The honey coloured sandstone ramparts of this 12th century fortess town emerges from the Thar desert like a mirage. Explore its beautifully restored historic havelis, mansions of the aristocracy and wealthy merchants, go for a camel ride across the dunes, and listen to haunting melody of Rajasthani folk music under the stars.
Visit Jodhpur, home of mighty Mehrangargh Fort, where the unbroken royal dynasty still commands the respect and affection of the people. Throughout Rajasthan there are unique places to stay, many are run by former royal families, and have great character and style.
TWX works with universities, museums, galleries, and other cultural organizations. An exclusive panel of guest speakers, experienced tour managers, informative and engaging guides, all help provide a vast and in-depth knowledge of local archaeology, architecture, art, and culture.
CuisineThere’s much more to Indian cuisine than chicken tikka masala. You could eat in India every day for a lifetime and never have the same meal.
That’s because Indian cuisine is really a mixture of regional cuisines. Each has its own distinct flavours and character. And within each region, every family has recipes handed down, so try some Indian home cooking’ Indians are foodies at heart and will happily spend hours passionately debating where to find the best kebab house or mouthwatering mithai (Indian sweets) shop.
Classic curries meet the latest fusion cuisine as India embraces fantastic flavours from all over the world. India’s culinary tradition stretches back thousands of years and reflects the many invaders, settlers, traders and colonial powers that have all added to the rich masala that makes India one of the world’s great culinary destinations.
India is a delight for vegetarians, with an endless assortment of tasty, healthy dishes using lentils, paneer (a soft mild cheese similar to mozzarella), rice, chapattis (roasted flatbread) and fresh seasonal vegetables. Since Hindus traditionally don’t eat beef, and Muslims don’t eat pork, vegetarian options are very popular throughout India.
Certain regions are famous for particular dishes. For instance, Kerala is renowned for its feather-light dosas, slim pancakes made from rice flour, served with grated coconut chutney and a spicy sambar dip, and filled with a variety of stuffings. The Bengali cuisine of Kolkata (Calcutta) is famous for its fish dishes, while Goan cuisine has a distinct Portugese influence.
In Rajasthan, hunting was a popular pastime of the nobility and as a result, meat dishes such as wild boar, pheasant and venison are popular. Try the smoked sule kebabs and moong daal khilma, a savoury lentil curry.
Lucknow is renowned for its buffalo kebabs that melt in your mouth, while Gujaratis are the grazers of India, famous for their variety of snacks like bhel puri, a mixture of puffed rice and lentils with chopped herbs and onion. The Punjab is the capital of Tandoori cooking, where delectable marinated meats and fluffy Naan breads are roasted in huge clay ovens, while its streetside cafes, known as dhabas, have spread to every road in North India. Hyderabad is the place for Biryani, an aromatic dish of marinated meat, usually lamb, slow cooked with rice infused with herbs, spices and saffron, a favourite dish of the wealthy 18th -century Nizams.
Delhi is famous for its chaat, or street food, cafés and stalls, which are always packed with locals indulging in pakoras, bhajiyas, samosas, spiced nuts, pani puri (fried crispy shells filled with a watery mixture of potato, chilli, and tamarind), and papdi chaat - crisp wafers topped with chick peas, steamed lentil dumplings, topped with creamy yoghurt, served with a tamarind and coriander chutney. Meanwhile, further south, Mumbai has its own chaat dishes at popular sites like Khau Galli, a small laneway off Zaveri Bazaar, or the delicious eateries along the beach at Chowpatty and Juhu.
Indian DrinksIndia is famous for its food, but it also has a rainbow assortment of drinks that are both unique and refreshing. Along with an array of fruit juices, there are favourites like nimbu panni, India’s version of lemonade, which can be ordered sweet or salty, and Jal Jeera, a popular summer drink in India with its tangy combination of cumin and lime. In the south, tender coconut juice served fresh from the coconut is refreshing and healthy. Lassi is a yoghurt based drink, rather like a smoothie when made with fruits like mango or banana. Sherbet is a sweet, cooling drink prepared from fruits or flower petals and eaten with a spoon or diluted with water. It was popularised in Indian subcontinent by the Mughal rulers. Aam panna, which is prepared using raw mangoes, sugar and an assortment of spices, is also a delicious and effective thirst quencher in the heat. During cooler weather, masala chai, a black tea infused with milk and warming spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger, is very popular.