Where to Go in 2017: The India Edition

The country’s still undiscovered secrets. | By NGT Staff  
The turquoise waters off the coast of Rameshwaram are a treat, above and below the surface. The ocean has thriving coral reefs and good visibility. Photo: Ravi Shekhar/Dinodia Photo Library

Kochi, Kerala

Fort Kochi Art Kerala

Contemporary art spills our into the streets of Fort Kochi, especially during the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Photo: Olaf Krüger/imageBROKER/Dinodia Photo Library

Every two years, the neighbourhood of Fort Kochi in Cochin, gets a shot in the arm during the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The contemporary art festival brings artists, installations, and shows from across the world, transforming the neighbourhood and bringing artsy crowds in droves. This year’s show (until Wed March 29, 2017) features works from Poland, Spain, India, and Japan, and is curated by Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty. Give in to the city’s delights beyond the festival. Fort Kochi has chic cafes, a historic synagogue, and quirky design stores—plenty to keep you occupied. More on other Kerala getaways here.

Nalanda, Bihar

Nalanda Bihar

Nalanda University once drew students from near and far, including Chinese scholar Hiuen Tsang who studied theology, grammar, logic, and astronomy here. Photo: iStock.com/PeoGeo

In 2016, UNESCO recognised Bihar’s Nalanda Mahavira as a World Heritage Site. The most ancient university on the Indian subcontinent, Nalanda once drew scholars from all over the world but fell into ruin after a Turkic general beheaded its monks and students and burned down the spectacular library in the 12th century. (A new Nalanda campus is being built closeby.) Thankfully, some of its stupas, shrines, and viharas still stand, giving 21st-century travellers glimpses of an era long gone. The university complex is part of Bihar’s famous Buddhist Circuit, which includes stops at Bodhgaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment, and Patna, where a casket of the Buddha’s ashes is on display in the state museum. More here.

Attakkalari India Biennial, Karanataka

attakalari, bengaluru

The Attakkalari India Biennial is the largest festival of contemporary dance and digital arts in South Asia. Photo: Marie Chouinard | Dancers: Sandrine Lafond, Carla Maruca, Isabelle Poirier

Soak in Bengaluru’s picnic-perfect weather, and get a crash course in contemporary dance at the Attakkalari India Biennial, South Asia’s largest international contemporary dance and digital art festival. In addition to daily performance, the 10 day-long festival has talks, film screenings, and workshops by the visiting performers. This edition’s highlights include Bhinna Vinyasa, inspired from kalaripayattu, bharatanatyam, yoga, and European contemporary forms. In-between shows, take a heritage walk, stock up on books at Bengaluru’s eclectic bookstores, and enjoy a meal at one of the city’s many wallet-friendly military hotels. More here

The Agra-Lucknow Road trip, Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow

Among Lucknow’s most photographed attractions is the Bara Imambara complex, which houses the Bhul Bhulaiya, a labyrinth of corridors with 489 identical doorways. Photo: iStock.com/PRABHASROY

India’s Golden Triangle might turn into a square. Thanks to the new Agra-Lucknow Expressway (inaugurated in 2016), drive time between Agra and Lucknow has dropped from 7 hr to 3.5 hr. Make the most of it by taking a Delhi-Agra-Lucknow road trip. The old city has divine architectural and food. Admire the intricate details of the Bara Imambara and Rumi Darwaza, and fill your bellies with kebabs and 11-flavoured pani puri. Sign up for the whole circuit for a cultural whirlwind: Jaipur’s famous forts, Delhi’s colourful bazaars, and Agra’s beautiful Taj Mahal before soaking in Lucknow’s Nawabi culture. More here.