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India has well-known ways to dazzle our senses and our souls, from Maharajas and their palaces to holy men and their temples to rasoiyas (traditional chefs) and their whimsical cuisines.
But India, especially while you’re being conveyed and cossetted by Micato India, is also about the unexpected: You never know when you may chance upon a water wheel in the middle of nowhere or a meadow full of daisies or a small village wedding where the young bride can be seen smiling shyly through her veil.
There is serendipity around every corner in India. Here are some of the very best things you’ll see and do if you come turn those corners with Micato.
Visit India’s lesser-known parks to see tigers. Nothing quite beats the thrill of seeing a Royal Bengal Tiger in the wild and, as it happens, there’s been a resurgence in the country’s tiger population. This is especially good news, given that India is home to 75% of the world’s tigers.
Ranthambore National Park certainly springs to mind as the best-known place to see tigers—and Micato India goes there quite often with guests—but we’d also like to recommend Madhya Pradesh, a state that has seen a whopping 50% increase in its tiger population. Within the state is the stunning Bandhavgarh National Park, whose lush jungles and hilly terrain harbour a heart-swellingly high density of tigers.
Hear tales of the Nizam in Hyderabad. A lesser-known metropolis in South India, Hyderabad is famous for the Nizam, once the richest man in the world. The earliest diamond mines at the time were in Golconda, where the Nizam lived; his former palace, The Taj Falaknuma Palace Hyderabad, is probably the grandest of all palace hotels. Among the tales you’ll hear: It’s said the Nizam used a nearly 185-carat diamond as a paperweight; this is the Jacob Diamond, currently the fifth largest polished diamond in the world.
If the odds are in your favour, see the black panther of Nagarhole National Park. Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and currently in the running as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nagarhole is where you might, maybe, spy Saya, a melanistic leopard, whose lack of pigmentation makes him appear black, hence the black panther reference. (Black jaguars are commonly called black panthers in the Americas). Even if you don’t see Saya, you’ll find Nagarhole to be an otherworldly place, given how the lovely Kabini river winds its way through the park.
Experience the enchanting allure of Kaziranga, a realm seemingly frozen in time. Nestled between the mighty Brahmaputra River to the north and the Karbi Anglong Hills to the south, Kaziranga National Park stands as a pristine sanctuary, preserving one of the few remaining untouched natural landscapes in northeastern India. Spanning over 340 square miles, the park encompasses vast wetlands and a diverse blend of deciduous and subtropical semi-evergreen forests.
For Micato guests who have ventured on safaris with us in Africa, the expansive grasslands of Kaziranga, adorned with towering elephant grass, evoke memories of the African savannahs, yet retain their unique Kaziranga charm. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park is home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses. The conservation success story is truly remarkable; in the late 19th century, only around 200 one-horned rhinos remained, whereas today, the population has soared to almost 3000, with a significant portion thriving in this captivating region.
Embarking on a journey to Kaziranga is a chance to witness the marvels of nature and contribute to the conservation of a species on the brink of extinction. As this hidden gem gains recognition, now is the opportune time to explore Kaziranga’s untamed beauty before it captures the attention of a wider audience.
Explore ancient caves dating back to the 1st Century AD in the Aurangabad district, where a rich tapestry of paintings and carvings adorns the interiors. Crafted with simple hammers and chisels, these caves showcase the artistry of the past. Notable among them are the Ajanta Caves, spanning from approximately 200 BC to 650 AD. Lost to the jungle after the late 7th Century, they remained hidden for centuries. Once home to around 200 monks, including artists, craftsmen, and laborers, these caves tell a story of a bygone era. The Ellora Caves form an impressive complex of rock shrines, embodying the diverse faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Standing out among the caves of Aurangabad is the Kailasa Temple, also known as Cave 16. Believed to have been initiated by the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna I, it holds the distinction of being the world’s largest monolithic structure. The temple’s excavation stands as a testament to architectural marvel, showcasing the ingenuity of the artisans of ancient times.
Go grr for Gir, the sole destination outside Africa where you can witness lions in their natural habitat. Established in 1965 and spanning a vast 545 square miles, Gir National Park stands as the largest dry and deciduous forest in Western India. Within this expansive landscape, a diverse array of exotic flora provides refuge to a multitude of elusive wild animals and rare avian species. Among the inhabitants are hyenas, Gir foxes, pygmy woodpeckers, brown fish owls, black bucks, and the remarkable Asiatic Lions.
The lions of Gir, reaching an astonishing average length of 9 feet, boast larger tail dimensions and more pronounced belly folds compared to their African counterparts, which are distinguished by their expansive manes. This wildlife haven offers a unique opportunity to witness the majesty of these Asiatic Lions in a setting that mirrors their natural environment.
Embark on a journey to the Himalayan realm of Ladakh, seizing the slender opportunity to encounter snow leopards before their precarious existence becomes a distant memory. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 4,000-6,500 snow leopards traverse a dozen Asian countries, categorizing this breathtaking species as “Vulnerable.” In India, one of these nations, a mere 250-500 snow leopards are believed to endure. Hence, Micato advocates a 2024 expedition to Ladakh, the Himalayan kingdom where the chance to spot these elusive creatures is most promising.
The winter months from December to March, when Ladakh is cloaked in snow, offer the optimal window to witness snow leopards descending below the snow line in search of sustenance. Conversely, the heavy influx of domestic tourism in May and June necessitates avoidance. It’s essential to note, however, that the prospect of spotting a snow leopard, particularly during a brief visit, remains slim. The cat’s elusive demeanor and the vastness of its habitat may challenge even the most determined seekers, demanding a stroke of luck. Nevertheless, Ladakh, with its rich Tibetan heritage, earns its place on any bucket list. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Great Himalayan range, Ladakh’s landscapes oscillate between stark barrenness and lush greenery, with monasteries punctuating the scenery seemingly at random. Situated at an average altitude of 11,500 feet, Ladakh is a literal rarity—a cold desert—with freezing winds and intense sunlight defining its unique climate.
Discover the must-see palace in India. Despite being a prominent tourist destination, Jodhpur is often overlooked compared to other cities in Rajasthan. Within Jodhpur lies the majestic Meherangarh Fort, commanding a towering presence over the cityscape with its grandeur. However, the true gem of Jodhpur is the Umaid Bhawan Palace, widely regarded as one of India’s most stunning palaces.
This architectural marvel serves a dual purpose, functioning as a hotel with approximately 70 guest rooms, inviting visitors to experience luxury in a regal setting. Simultaneously, a separate section of the palace is reserved for the royal family, who continue to inhabit this opulent residence, adding a living dimension to its rich history.
Micato has a long and storied history in India and our top-notch travel planners can ensure you see the very best of India. Contact Us and Schedule a Consultation with our India Specialists today.