Sights that enthral and appall. When Foster wrote his Passage to India in the 1920s he reached the stunning conclusion that there are "a hundred Indias". There are. And if you go out to discover each of these you can count on spending at least a year in this stupendous country with its phenomenal repertoire of surprises and delights. Blessed with probably the widest array of topographical and cultural diversity that was ever packed into one time zone, there's an India for everyone.
India's jungles, rivers and streams are simply bursting with wildlife ; much of it protected in her 80 National Parks and 441 Sanctuaries. Popular ones are Corbett, Rajaji and Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh), Kanha, Pench (Madhya Pradesh) and Sasan Gir (Gujarat). Sariska and
Ranthambor (Rajasthan), Kaziranga, Manas (Assam), Mudumalai, Bandipore and Wyanad (Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve-Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala) are the other well known game sanctuaries. Keoladeo Ghana, Bharatpur (Rajasthan) is a famous bird sanctuary. Find yourself as you lose the cares of life in the city.
The temple trail in India just trails on and on and on.... winding past the monuments of man's love for the divine. The gilded gurudwara in Amritsar, ancient weather-beaten cathedrals in Goa, ‘dargahs' (mausoleums) of Muslim saints and grand temples to the innumerable Hindu deities; these houses of worship are as precious as works of art.
Catch the trail as it runs through Ajmer, Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Varanasi, Madurai, Sarnath, Gaya, Orchha, Tanjore, Trichy, Tirupati, Mathura, Ayodhya, Jammu, Badrinath, Haridwara and Rishikesh. The legacy of spiritual succour lives on in the land of exotica. In Pune, Pondicherry, Puttaparthy and Dharamsala, Osho, Auroville, the Sai Baba and Buddhist monks explore a new life, of what is and what could be.
Explore the same along turquoise blue and breezy beaches along the coast. Windswept or sunny, India's beaches are peculiarly Indian. Crowded and cheery, sometimes dirty, always delightful, you'll find them in Kerala's Kovalam, in the Andamans and Lakshadweep, in Goa, quiet Gokarna, and ‘templescaped' Puri, Kanyakumari and Mahabalipuram .
Ruins of forts, palaces, picturesque ‘havelis' (large private houses) and mausoleums pepper the landscape. In and around Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan, all over the country actually, historical sites intrigue the history enthusiast.
Important sites are Hampi, Khajuraho, Mandu, Aurangabad, Bikaner, Goa, Gwalior, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Mahabalipuram, Tanjore and Mysore.
Museums, business centres, nightlife, large markets, embassies and consulates mark space in the bigger cities of India. Bustling with activity, bristling with high voltage energy, busy-busy-busy, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad make up India's urban landscape.
The world's highest mountains form a tall 2500 km long wall along India's northeast frontier and are prime climbing territory for the outdoor types. The mountainous regions of Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Leh are high altitude trekking options.
The "blue mountains" of the Nilgiri Hills in the Deccan, and the lower reaches of the Himalayas in Garhwal, Kumaon and around Darjeeling are simpler and ideal for a leisurely hike.
From stark white mountains framed against sheer clear blue to forested hills that enclose rushing streams, there is endless variety for the hiker. In the hills, in tiny towns with winding ‘mall roads' survive the British legacy of "hill stations". These cool getaways from the simmering plains continue to entertain weekend tourists in the summers. Shimla, Manali, Kasauli and Mussoorie in the north, Shillong, Darjeeling and Kalimpong in the east, Ooty and Munnar in the south are the most popular.
So much to do, so much to see.....so little time! That holds completely true for the Indian experience. Don't push yourself to do it all because that's well nigh impossible but choose well and plan little, open your mind and be gathered up by the experience that the world calls "India".