A land of stupendous dimensions - colorful, exotic, modern India meets the expectations of every type of tourists. With a varied topography, picturesque valleys, high mountain peaks and cascading rivers, India never ceases to surprise tourists with its kaleidoscopic attractions. The pomp and pageantry of India's festivals and local fairs are matched by the warm smiles. The shopping scene in India is a journey through centuries embracing old traditional crafts and artistic skills. A land for recreation, adventure and business, India is an interesting amalgamation of tradition and modernity.
India lies between Pakistan, China and Nepal. To the north it is bordered by the world's highest mountain chain, where foothill valleys cover the northernmost bounds of the country's 26 states. Further south, plateaus, tropical rain forests and sandy deserts are bordered by palm fringed beaches. Side by side with the country's staggering topographical variations is its cultural diversity, the result of the coexistence of a number of religions as well as local traditions. Thus the towering temples of south India, easily identifiable by their ornately sculptured surface, are associated with great many crafts and performing arts of the region.
India's amazing diversity offers you everything you could ever want in a holiday. From the moment that you set foot in India you are on the way to one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. India is a place of infinite variety-one that presents you a different facet of its fascinations each time you come on a visit.
SOME PLACES TO VISIT
BHARATPUR: The eastern gateway to Rajasthan, Bharatpur is a popular destinations for its bird sanctuary-the Keoladeo Ghana National Park which is the finest in Asia with a rich avian variety. Every year, rare Siberian cranes come to the warmer climate of Bharatpur to spend the winter.
KHAJURAHO: The temples of Khajuraho are one of India's major attractions. Once a great chandela capital, Khajuraho is today a quite "village" of just over 6,000 people. However, the temples still remain and are superb examples of Indo-Aryan architecture. Around temples are bands of fine and artistically carved stone work. The sculptors have depicted many aspects of Indian life some 1,000 years ago gods and goddesses, warriors and musicians, real and mythological animals and so on. Almost all the temples of Khajuraho record a century-long burst of creative genius from 950-1050 A.D.
VARANASI: Known as the eternal city, Varanasi is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India for Hindus and is also a major tourist attraction. Situated on the bands of the Sacred Ganges River, Varanasi has been a center of learning and civilization for over 2,000 years. It was at Sarnath, only 10 Km away, that Lord Buddha first preached his sermon 25 centuries ago. Also known as Kashi and Nenaras, Vanarasi's principal draw is the long string of bathing ghats, which line the West Bank of the Ganges. There are over 100 of these ghats.
MUMBAI: A major metropolis and the financial capital of India, Mumbai is dynamic and exciting. There are great shopping centers, fine restaurants and art galleries. The Gateway of India, built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the Delhi Durbar, is a major landmark. The Prince of Wales Museum, the Jehangir Art Gallery, the many Gothic cathedrals and churches, and temples and shrines, including the one of Haji Ali out on an island linked by a causeway, are worth a visit. The Elephant Island is a must to view the marvelous rock cut caves noted for their huge sculptured panels. The other interesting destinations nearby are the Kanhery Caves, the beach resort at Madh Island, Mandhori and the charming little hill station of Matheram.
DELHI: The capital of India, this bustling city is a city of fascinating contrasts- a blend of the old and the new, the Oriental and the Western, the quiet and the congested. Spread over 1,485 sqkm, the city has a population of 8.4 million people. The old city is settled within the remnant of a sturdy defensive wall and spreads to the west of the famous Red Fort. Delhi is the ideal place to start your exploration of northern India. Its monuments and structures take you down the ages to seven older cities that existed here. Delhi is also a marvelous place for shopping. So visit its bustling bazaars and don't forget to taste India cuisine at its best at many of its fine restaurants. You can then take off to Agra and Jaipur for a glimpse of historic India.
RAJASTHAN: This magical land, set amidst the desolate beauty of the desert, is synonymous with romance and chivalry. Immensely rich in culture, history and natural beauty, Rajasthan is always teeming with colour, joy and a celebration of life that is unique to this part of the country. Everything about Rajasthan is fascinating - from the miles of golden stretches of sand to its kaleidoscope of magnificent forts, opulent palaces and beautiful havelis. Each is a splendid architectural creation having a legend of its own. The cities of Rajasthan, Jaipur , Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bihaner and Udaiipur, still retain their medieval flavour till today, thus keeping alive the timeless traditions of their rich arts and crafts, colourful bazaars, and ever-smiling people in their multi-hued costumes. Traditional means of transport like camels, oxen and elephants mingle with modern vehicles giving Rajasthan an exotic aura.
GOA: With its beautiful beaches, Goa is a fabulous getaway. Picturesque villages along the coast with white washed churches and red tiled houses set amidst groves of coconut add charm to the landscape. Goa is especially noted for its fine churches built the baroque style. These include the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the magnificent Se Cathedral and the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
CHENNAI: Formerly Madras, Chennai, the capital to the state of Tamil Nadu in south India, is a great place to embark on a voyage of discovery. It is a city steeped in tradition, which was inherited from the British colonials some 350 years ago. Visit the Fort of St. George, St. Mary's Churchy, the splendid Marina Beach, the artistic Kaapaleswarar Temple, St. Thomas' Mount, the National art Gallery, the San Thome Cathedral, the Parthasarathy Temple, Valluvar, Kottam, Chlamandalam, the artists' village and Kala Kshetra.
The beautiful city of Bangalore reflects the royal heritage of the state of Karnataka. Bangalor, the state capital, is a lively cosmopolitan city noted for its fine climate and extensive gardens.
AGRA: A city popular for its Mughal monuments, Agra was in the 16th and 17th centuries, one of the capitals of the Mughals. It was under Akbar that the city first aspired to its heights of magnificence. Of the other Mughal, Jehangir did not stay here on but it is Shah Jahan whose aim is inevitably connected with Agra. He built the Jama Masjid and most of the buildings inside the Agra Fort and the famous Taj Mahal.
MYSORE: With its beautiful palaces and royal traditions, Mysore is one of the most charming cities in India. Perched on a hill overlooking the city is the temple of Chamundeswar, its patron Goddess. Some of the interesting sights in and around Mysore include trips to Brindavan Garden, Srirangapatna, the Ranganathittoo Bird Sanctuary, and the ornate Hoysala temple at Somnathpur and Nagarhole National Park- all within easy reach of the city.
DARJEELING: When the Maharaja of Sikkim gifted it to the British Governor Bentinck "out of friendship" in the 180s, the British turned Darjeeling into a hill station. Now, almost two centuries later, "The Queen of Hill stations" entices thousands of visitors to its fairy tale environs and leaves no one discontented. Once you leave the sweltering plains of West Bengal and start climbing up, you will begin to see the lofty green promontories ahead of you, which will give you the feeling that you are entering an altogether different world. Brilliant red rhododendrons, charming white magnolias and majestic pines welcome you to this paradise. And all the while, the hill slopes descend in gentle waves of green tea bushes. All around you are sequestered valves and dales with sparkling streams, rivulets and gushing gorges. An intoxicating experience to be cherished forever. You can enjoy the bustling sights and sounds of a small hill town/city as well as go for adventure outings further afield.
KALIMPONG: Like the other hill towns in the district of West Bengal, Kalimpong bears a name historical significance. A "Kaleon" was a high official of the Bhutanese Taja and "pong" means area or stronghold. These two descriptive words are the origin from which the name Kalimpong has been derived. Situated about 45 miles from Darjeeling, Kalimpong commands impressive views of the eastern Himalayan range, including Kanchenjunga. The monasteries here date back to 1836 A.D. that tells a fascinating story not only of history gut also about the local art and culture.
SIKKIM: Once a remote himalayan Kingdom, Sikkim is now the 22nd state of India. Situated in the eastern Himalayan belt, it is bordered by China and Tibet in the north, Bhutan in the southeast, the Indian State of West Bengal in the south and Nepal in the west. The Himalayan Mountains surround Sikkim on three sides forming a kind of a horseshoe. The state also forms the watershed for the great Teesta and Rangeet rivers. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, lies in Sikkim and is regarded by the Sikkimese people as their guardian deity. Small though it may be Sikkim, like Nepal, have great latitudinal variations, which gives it an unparalleled affluence in natural wealth. Almost 4,000 different species of plants can be found her, including 20 varieties of bamboo, 24 varieties of ferns, a huge collection of exotic orchids and colourful rhododendrons as well as a host of other flowering and non-flowering species. Similarly, the state has an abundance of fauna with 536 species of butterflies between 500 to 600 species of birds, 81 species of mammals as well as large numbers of other animals. The population of Sikkim comprises three distinct ethnic communities - the Lepchas, the Bhutias and Nepalese. Gangtok, situated at an altitude of about 1,800-m, is the capital. Sikkim is and ideal place for both leisure travelers as well trekkers and other thrill seekers.