The northern region of India is better known for its cities. Visits to these parts generally hop from one fort or palace to another. The famous golden triangle – Delhi’s Mughal-era Red Fort, the have-to-visit Taj Mahal, and Jaipur’s lavish palace complex is on almost every India itinerary.
Delhi, the capital of India, is a central point for accessing the rest of the country.
Old and New Delhi are an intriguing contrast. It’s clear to see the difference between traditional streets filled with market stalls, and a modern city filled with glass and shopping malls. Although most of the jackals, foxes, blackbuck and leopard are long gone, birdlife still flourishes in the densely populated city. The flowering trees that line the streets attract hundreds of insects and butterflies, which in turn attracts birds. Rose-ringed Parakeets, Red-vented Bulbuls, Mynas and Purple Sunbirds are familiar sights when the Silk Cotton trees are in flower.
The Red Fort and tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, nicknamed ‘Baby Taj’ are 3 hrs from Delhi, and share much history with Taj Mahal which is not far away.
North of Delhi are the states of Punjab, Himal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Less visited than further south, these states are rich in birdlife. Of India’s total bird species, 50% are present in this zone. To the very north, the Himalaya’s create a steep border with Pakistan and China.
Key species to look out for are:
Mammals: Tiger, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat, Himalayan Black Bear, Asiatic Elephant, 3 Otter species and the Indian Rhinoceros.
Reptiles: Gharial Crocodile, Rock Monitor Lizard & the King Cobra
Birds: Great Indian Hornbill, Ibisbill, Collared Falconet, Long-tailed broadbill, Bengal Florican and the Indian Skimmer.
Erotic carvings at the UNESCO protected temples at Khajuraho are very intricate, and worth visiting. The Holy City of Varanasi is an exciting stop. An unforgettable experience is the evening prayer (pooja). Candles and offerings fill the Ganges River. Along the banks, pilgrims and locals wash and pray. Riverside cremations take place daily.