7 Romantic Things to Do in India
Featured destinations: India, Ranthambore, Udaipur, Shimla, Goa, Agra
Published 01 April 2016
Bucking the trend for a luxury beach holiday, I went to India for my honeymoon. Most of our friends were curious; it’s not the obvious romantic destination after all. But anyone who knows my husband and me and our world-wandering ways can’t have been too surprised that we went a little off-piste for this, the most significant of trips. We did once holiday in Brunei after all.
If like us, you too choose to take a romantic break in India, you’ll soon find it full of beautiful, dream-like spots and wonderfully atmospheric accommodation. And you don’t have to forgo that idyllic beach honeymoon completely. So, to set your heart a-fluttering, here are my favourite romantic things to do in India:
The Taj Mahal
The ultimate monument to love, the Taj Mahal is exquisite. This glorious structure was commissioned by Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631. It took over 20 years to build, mainly from marble and semi-precious stones. I challenge you to find a more beautiful building, one more delicate in its detail and shape or more romantic in its setting. Right by the Yamuna River, the jewel-encrusted façade reflects perfectly in the still waters, offering many a picture opportunity from the rose-filled gardens on the other side. Remarkably, the Taj’s white marble changes colour as the sun rises and falls; come at sunrise for soft pinks and purples, or sunset for glowing orange. It’s every bit as spectacular as you imagine.
A boat trip on Lake Pichola
The self-proclaimed most romantic city in India, Udaipur is where many Indians go to honeymoon. Here the tranquil Lake Pichola shimmers in the sunlight, overlooked by the 900-metre-long City Palace with its sumptuous mosaics and stained-glass windows. For star-crossed lovers, nothing beats a sunset cruise on the lake, with its fabulous views of the palace and the hills beyond. Be sure to stop off at the landmark Taj Lake Palace, an opulent 5-star hotel located on an island in the middle of the water, the perfect spot for a refreshing sundowner.
Look for wild tigers
Safari always has had an air of romance about it, and you don’t have to head to Africa to find it. The deep forests of India’s Ranthambore National Park are home to the most regal of the big cats, the Bengal tiger, and make for a great wildlife-watching adventure. If you are not lucky enough to glimpse this elusive creature, fear not, because leopards, jaguars, jungle cats, crocodiles, antelope and a wide variety of birds can also be spotted. On our visit we climbed to the top of Ranthambore Fort where, on the spur of the moment, we had our marriage blessed in a small Hindu temple. The pujari, or priest, tied red and yellow kalavas (string) around our wrists, which neither of us removed until they fell of naturally, almost a year later.
For those in search of the classic beach honeymoon, the former Portuguese colony of Goa is the place to come. Dip your toes in the softly lapping waves, feel the fine sand under your feet, and kick back under a coconut palm. With 43 miles of almost unbroken coastline, there are plenty of cocktail-sipping spots to choose from, while the town’s crumbling colonial architecture gives the place a soft, olde-worlde charm.
Sail the backwaters of Kerala
Kerala’s tranquil backwaters are a picturesque water world of nearly 950 miles of canals, 38 rivers and five lakes fringed by lush palms. Your best bet is to slow down the pace and explore the waterways by traditional houseboat, allowing you to soak up the watery scenery. You’ll sail past local villages, coconut trees, tea shops, rice paddies and temples, and watch the sunset over the water, perhaps with a glass of bubbly or two.
Camp out in the desert
Believe it or not, India is home to the world’s seventh largest desert, the Thar Desert, encompassing 92,200 square miles of sand dunes, salt lakes and twisted rock formations. Best reached from Jaisalmer, the Thar Desert offers such romantic exploits as sleeping out under the stars, allowing you to take in the raw beauty of nature. You’ll ride a camel into camp, watch the sun sink below the sand, then sit around the campfire and recount the day’s adventures as a dazzling display of stars appears above you. If you’re not into camping, you can opt for some truly luxurious camps instead. Try The Serai by Relais & Châteaux: with its air-conditioned tents, double beds, plunge pools and spa, it’s like a five-star hotel in the desert.
Breakfast at Wildflower Hall
We stayed in Shimla for the last few nights of our honeymoon and what a place it is. In complete contrast to the deserts and temples of Rajasthan, Shimla is found at the foothills of the Himalayas, and offers panoramic views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks surrounding it. The town is particularly romantic between November and March when it’s sprinkled with snow, bringing a winter wonderland feel that is especially appealing at Christmastime. We stayed in the ultra-luxury Wildflower Hall, an opulent mountaintop retreat with fabulous views of the Himalayas. And as it was our honeymoon, the hotel arranged a romantic gourmet picnic for us at a popular mountain viewpoint. It was by far the best picnic I’ve ever had.
Chat to your Expert about our tailor-made holidays to India.