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Beyond the Taj Mahal: 5 Singular Experiences in India

Delve into India’s culture with these remarkable off-the-beaten path journeys

If you\’re in India for only a two-week trip, combine a tiger tour with a train journey or Rishikesh, or the Ellora Caves with Kerala.
Yes, you should see the Taj Mahal—and Delhi and Agra Fort. But there’s much more to India, an enormous nation with diverse ethnicities, languages, and natural landscapes. Here are five unparalleled places and trips to experience.

Luxury train tours. Extravagant train travel is a centuries-old tradition in India. Lines reach nearly every corner of the country in style, but the most famous is the Palace on Wheels, with interiors and service befitting a maharaja.

Tiger tours. India is home to more Bengal tigers than anywhere else on earth. Book a tiger safari with a reputable eco-tour company to see the 500-pound cats in the wild at one of several game parks turned national refuges, such as Kanha and Bandhavgarh parks.

Rishikesh. When a yoga practitioner mentions going on a spiritual retreat in India, it’s likely to Rishikesh, an ashram-packed village in the Himalayan foothills. Known as the yoga capital of the world, this is where the Beatles studied transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 60s.

Ellora Caves. An amazing feat of ancient civilization, these 34 Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu temples in western India, dating from AD 600 to 1000, are carved into the side of a basalt cliff, with elaborate sculptures and decorative structures.

Kerala houseboat tours. Kettuvallams, or rice boats, traditionally transported rice and essential cargo along Kerala’s canals. Today, the boats have been converted into lovely floating mini-hotels with furnished rooms, modern bathrooms, and onboard chefs.

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