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Tourist Information on India

Delhi and the North
Mumbai and the West
Kolkata and the East
Guwahati and the Northeast
Chennai and the South
For the Business and Leisure Traveler
Climate Charts & Contact Information

Adventure, Sports and Wildlife
Discovering the Inner Self
Dance and Music
Shopping for Treasures
Indian Cuisine
Traveling Around India
Luxury Trains

Since the dawn of history, great travelers came to India including the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch and the British.  Many intellectual travelers like Marco Polo, E. M. Forster, Huen Tsang, Mark Twain and many more came in search of knowledge and peace.  Christopher Columbus made his destination towards India but actually landed in America.  Whatever may be their motivations - spiritual, intellectual or adventure, one thing was sure - India enriched and changed their lives forever.

India offers a diversity of unique tourist attractions.  It covers an area of 3,287,263 sq. km.  Extending from the snow covered majestic Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south.  As the seventh largest country in the world, India is a subcontinent in itself.  With its age-old history, archaeology and culture, India is also one among the ten industrialized countries in the world.  Self sufficient in agriculture, and the sixth nation to have gone into outer space, besides it's remarkable achievement in the field of information and technology, India is the largest democracy in the world.

It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km and a coastline of 7,516 km.  The wide ranges of climatic conditions have created rich flora and fauna throughout the length and breadth of the country.  From about 70% of geographical area surveyed so far, 49,000 species of plants have been described.  India has 81,251 species of fauna, which includes about 60,000 insects, over 5,000 mollusks, 372 mammals, 1,228 birds, 446 reptiles, 204 amphibians and 2,546 species of fish.  Some of these species are considered endangered.  There are presently 84 national parks and 447 wildlife sanctuaries covering an area of about 150,000 sq km.  UNESCO has so far declared 21 World Heritage Sites in India, which includes 16 cultural and 5 natural sites.

India has many wonders, both natural and manmade.  It has more than 5,000 years of history, culture and civilization, which has culminated into unparalleled art, architecture, craft, cuisine and festivals.  It has given birth and shelter to many of the greatest religions, which have been co-existing harmoniously in a secular manner.  In fact, India is a fine example of the assimilation of the ancient and modern, past and present and the old and new.

India offers luxury hotels, palaces and heritage hotels and budget hotels.  All the tourist spots in India are well connected by air, rail and road.  A trip to India cannot be measured in terms of miles.  It is an experience of a lifetime, which will certainly enrich and enhance the life of every tourist who visits India.

Come, India invites you to experience its beauty, hospitality, spirituality and festivity in the new millennium.  

For the convenience of the traveler, India could be described as a country of five unique tourist regions. Delhi and the North: Mumbai and the West; Kolkata and the East; Guwahati and the Northeast; Chennai and the South.

Delhi and the North



Delhi is the ideal place to start your exploration of northern India.  The capital of India and a city of fascinating contrasts, Delhi's monuments take you through the centuries past seven older cities that existed here.  Go sightseeing to the Qutub Minar, the tall victory tower built in 1199, the splendid Red Fort and the Majestic Jumma Masjid with it's striped domes and tall minarets.  Other architectural delights includes Humayun's Tomb, the Purana Qila and the magnificent government complex on Raisina Hill - the Rashtrapati Bhavan framed by the Secretariat and the circular Parliament House.

The city has a number of museums and art galleries and offers a variety of cultural programs.  Delhi is a shopper's paradise.  Visit its bustling bazaars, the Central Cottage Industries Emporium, State Emporia complex and Dilli Haat.  Don't forget to savor the best of India cuisine at its fine restaurants.

The Golden Triangle

Take off on the golden triangle trail onto Agra and Jaipur for a glimpse of historic India. At Agra, view the pristine poetry of the Taj Mahal - a memorial to immortal love, and the imposing Agra Fort.  Meander through the amazing ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri, perfectly preserved, built by the Emperor Akbar in red sandstone.

Jaipur, the Pink City, imprints itself on your memory in the most vivid of colors.  You could stay in one of its many palaces or mansions for a royal experience and wander off on elephantback to view the Amer Fort majestically located up on a hill.  The Hawa Mahal, the fall facade with delicate filigreed red sandstone is a sight not to be missed.


Virtually the 'green' state, Haryana surrounds Delhi on almost three sides.  Its close proximity to Delhi also makes the areas around Delhi, industrial townships.

Haryana is primarily an agricultural state with some major industrial areas being developed by the government of India.  It offers a network of 45 tourist completes, set up along the national and state highways.

Just a short drive away from Delhi, one can visit Haryana's tourist complexes for a day - Badhkal Lake, Dabchik, Jungle Babbler, Karna Lake, Sohna, Surajkund, Dumdama, Sultanpur and Kurukshetra.


Chandigarh, spread over an area of 113 sq km, is the first 'planned city' of India that was designed by a  French architect, Le Corbusier.  The city divided into 47 sectors has neatly laid out roads, parks, buildings, boulevards and streets lined by endless rows of trees and shrubs. The city is named after the goddess Chandi Devi, whose white domed temple stands on the slope of a hill in the north east of Chandigarh, on the edge of the Shivalik Hills.

Some of the places worth visiting are the Rock Garden, Rose Garden, Sukhna Lake and the Yadavindra Gardens at Pinjore and Morni Hills.


The great north Indian state is dominated by agriculture, the source of its prosperity that reflects in its warmth, hospitality and the general exuberance of its people.  Amritsar is the center of the Sikh religion and the major city of Punjab.  It is the city of the famous Golden Temple, the holiest shrine for the Sikhs visited by travelers from all over the world.  Also referred to as the 'Manchester of the East', Ludhiana is famous for its hoisery goods and other industries.  Anandpur Sahib - a holy pilgrimage center for the Sikhs.  It was here that Guru Gobind Singh baptized the first five Sikhs called the Panch Pyaras.  Patiala, the erstwhile princely state of Punjab is known for its magnificent forts, palaces and gardens.  Jalandhar is an industrial town famous for its sporting goods.


Rajasthan, the beautiful desert state of India, is scattered with magnificent forts and palaces.  Each Rajasthani city has a unique character.  The Pink City of Jaipur, full of historical monuments, colorful bazaars and palaces, is a must on every tourist's itinerary.  The desert city of Jaisalmer is awash in golden color and is a major destination for tourists.  Udaipur, a picturesque city, is set amongst hills with many lakes and palaces.  The scenic, historic city of Jodhpur has some sprawling forts and palaces.  The colorful city of Bikaner is world famous for its mirror-work fabric.

The city of Ajmer is a major pilgrimage center, because of the famous holy shrine of Ajmer Sharif. Pushkar, the holy city is famous for its Pushkar Fair. Nagaur, is known for its Jain Temples.  Mount Abu, a popular hill station, is also famous for the Dilwara temple with its intricate carvings.

Himachal Pradesh

Hills and valleys with crisp, clean air, snow clad peaks, sparkling rivers and a landscape abounding in natures' bounty characterize this state.  There is an entire panorama of magical retreats along the Himalayan ranges.

The hills of Himachal Pradesh contain the ancient trade routes to Tibet and Central Asia and have contributed to the spread of Buddhism in those regions.  Even today, the influence of Buddhism is evident in specific areas of the state.  Shimla, the state capital and the former summer capital of the British, is a charming hill station, while Kullu is a picturesque valley and is famous for its apple orchards.  A lovely and a very popular holiday destination, Manali has many natural springs and lakes.  One can also visit Chama, Dharamsala, Dalhousie, Kangra Valley, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti.

Jammu and Kashmir

Naturally beautiful and very picturesque, Jammu and Kasmir has been acclaimed as the most beautiful place on earth by many travelers and poets.  India's fascinating northernmost state consists of three regions differing in topography and culture.  Jammu was the stronghold of Hindu Dogra kings and abounds in temples and secluded forest retreats.  Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir is known for its beautiful Dal Lake and the Mughal Gardens - Shalimar and Nishat Bagh.  Not far off from Srinagar is Pahalgam, and beautiful landscape for photography and a trekker's delight for hikes to see the Kolahoi Glacier.

Often called as "the moonland", "little Tibet" or "Shangri La". Ladakh is situated north of the Himalayas in the Tibetan plateau.  Dotted with many pale stone monasteries and multicolored prayer flags, Ladakh is the highest inhabited region in India with rich landscapes and an ideal place for trekking, mountaineering, camping or whitewater rafting.  Jammu and Kashmir is internationally known for its handicraft, the Pashmina shawls, silk carpets, papíer mâché items and wicker baskets.


The newly formed state of Uttaranchal is comprised of the two hill regions - the Garhwal and Kumaon Hills.

The Garhwal Hills have peaks rising as high as 3,000 meters.  Auli boasts one of the best skiing slopes in the country which from an altitude of 3,049 meters to 2,519 meters.  A trekker's paradise, Garhwal provides something for every holiday-maker.  From Dehradun, located at the foothills of the Shivalik ranges, to the hill stations of Mussoorie, to the holy cities of Hardwar and Rishikesh, with their holy shrines steeped in legends and myths, Garhwal has it all.

Located in central Himalayas, the Kumaon Hills rise from the forested plains to snowy heights and tucked away in their folds are many ancient temples and hill resorts.  The mighty Nanda Devi-Trisul range is a challenge to the skilled mountaineers as well as the adventure seeking tourists.  The Kuamon Hills include Nainital, Ranikhet, Almora, Kausani, Pithoragarh and many other senic places.

Uttar Pradesh

One of the larger states in India, Uttar Pradesh is home to the world heritage sites of the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikru situated in Agra.  Lucknow, the classic heritage city of the Indian nawabs was associated with the princely court of Oudh and then with the British, both traditions lingering on in the city whose finest monument is the Bara Imambara.

Further east, situated on the banks of the River Ganges, is Varanasi the oldest living city in India and a holy city for Hindues.  The city also abounds in temples and meditation centers.

Allabahad is a city built at the junction of three rivers, two of which - the Gange and the Tamuna are the lifelines of the India subcontinent.

Another sector worth a visit is the Bundelkhand circuit comprising of Chitrakoot - an important pilgrimage center for the Hindus; Deogarh, Jhansi, Kalinjar and Mahoba.

Mumbai and the West



India's western gateway and financial capital is Mumbai, a bustling metropolis witha major international airport and harbor.  Mumbai's gothic architecture is embodied in the Gateway of India (built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the Delhi Durbar), Mumbai High Court, Old Secretariat, University Buildings and Victoria Terminus.  The Prince of Wales Museum, the Jehangir Art gallery, the various churches, temples and shrines are worth a visit.

One can take a boat ride to the Elephanta Island to see the marvelous rock cut noted for their large sculpted panels.  The other destinations, not far away from Mumbai are the Kanheri Caves, the beach resorts of Madh Island and Manori, Matheran and the lovely hill resort of Mahabaleshwar.  Pune, once the bastion of the powerful Maratha Empire, is today an important commercial, industrial and educational center.

Aurangabad, 400 km from Mumbai is linked by internal flights and is a convenient base for visiting the magnificent caves of Ajanta and Ellora.  Whilst the caves at Ellora represent elaborate sculptures of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths, those at Ajanta contain paintings and sculptures of major events in the life of Buddha dating back from about 200 BC to 800 AD.


A fabulous getaway on the west coast of India is a land of swaying palms, golden sands, white washed churches, lush greenery and beaches like Vagator, Anjuna, Baga, Calangute and Candolim.  Near Panaji is the old Portuguese capital of Velha Goa, noted for its fine churches in the baroque style which include the Basilica of Born Jesus, the magnificent Se Cathedral and Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

Daman and Diu

The union territory of Daman & Diu is situated along the border of the state of Gujarat.  Earlier, part of the Union territory of Goa, Daman & Diu, it was made a separate Union Territory after Goa was given statehood in 1987.  Diu, a tiny island off the extreme south of the mainland, is a secluded beach resory near a colonial town.


The state of Gujarat, also known as the 'Jewel of the West' offers a number of tourist attractions, like Ahmedabad with its fine old residences and museums, the ancient port of Lothal built about 4,000 years ago and the Jain Temples at Palitana.  Other tourist attractions include the Gir wildlife sanctuary famous for its Asiatic lions, Junagadh, an ancient fortified city at the foot of the Girnar Hills and the lovely beach resort of Ahmedpur Mandvi.  Gujarat is also home to the legacy of Mahatma Ghandi; from Porbander, his birthplace, to Rajkot and Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Ashram to the salt beaches of Dandi.  Gujarat is also famous for its traditional craft, culture and cuisine.

Madhya Pradesh

The biggest state in India, Madhya Pradesh, has innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces.  Bhopal, the capital is set around a large lake and is famous for its archaeological wealth.  Gwalior, an ancient city, is a convenient entry point where one can see the famous Gwalior Fort.  Orchha, the medieval city, with its exquisite palaces and cenotaphs is just 120 km away from Gwalior.  Shivpuri was once the summer capital of the Scindias of Gwalior and is also famous for the Madhav National Park with its species of deer and antelope.

Not so far away from Indore is the deserted city of Mandu, renowned for its fine architecture, as well as, for the love of a Muslim ruler, Baz Bahadur for his Hindu queen Rani Roopmati.  Located on a secluded hill is Sanchi occupying a unique position in the history of Buddhism and famous for its stupas, monasteries and gateways.

Declared as a World Heritage Site, Khajuraho, the capital of the Chandela Kings is famous for its 22 magnificent stone temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and the Jain Tirthankaras.  The temples of Khajuraho reflect an eternal philosophy relevant to all mankind.


The newly formed stated of Chattisgarh is the forest and tribal wealth of India.  Carved our of Madhya Pradesh, bordered by Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Kjarkhand, Chattisgarh has Raipur as its capital.

The places of tourist interest include, Jagadalpur, Chitra Kote Falls (38 km) on the Indravati river, Tirthgarh Falls (39 km), Kotamsar (40 km) where a number of caves are formed out of stalactite and stalagmite deposits, Indravati National Park and the wild life sanctuaries at Badalkot and Bairam Garh.  Bastar is the seat of colorful tribes - Marias and Murias, with their distinctive culture.

Kolkata and the East


West Bengal

Kolkata, the cultural capital, is the gateway city to eastern India.  A curious mix of the Orient and colonial splendor, Kolkata has a charm of its own.  This city's fascination defies analysis.  It is an addiction, an affair of the mind and heart.  There is so much to see in this increidble city - Fort Williams, Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, Howrah Bridge - a unique cantilever bridge, Victoria Memorial, Raj Bhavan, Botanical Gardens, Marble Palace and Belur Math - the international headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission.  Sunderbans, the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger, is a fascinating World Heritage Site.

The hill resort of Darjeeling faces some of the highest peaks of the mightly Himalayas and is famous for its fine tea.  The most famous Heritage toy train runs from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling and the seven and a half hour ride is breathtaking and a delight for any traveler.  One can also visit Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik.


Bhubaneshwar, once the capital of an ancient kingdom, has a large numberof temples and shrines out of which a visit to the temples of Lingaraj, Rajarani, Parsurameswar and Mukteswar are a must.  Linked together with Puri and Konark, it forms the Golden Triangle.  Puri, 60 km, from Bhubaneshwar, is one of the four great Hindu pulgrim centers with its famous Jagannath Temple which was built in the 12th century.  Every year during the Rath Yatra festival the image of Lord Jagannath is carried out in traditionally decorated chariots accompanied by thousands of devotees.  Puri is also known for its beautiful beach frequented by tourists from all over the world.

35 km from Puri is Konark, a World Heritage Site, noted for its famous Sun Temple and venue of the Konark Dance Festival.  Gopalpur-on-Sea, a quiet beach resort on the Bay of Bengal, is also popular with beach loving travelers.

Cuttack, one of the oldest cities in Orissa, known for its silver filigree work is evident in the exquisite jewelry and decorative items made here.  Chilika Lake, Asia's largest brackish water lake, is a bird watchers paradise, especially in the winter season, when thousands of migratory birds fly in from as far as Siberia.


The state of Bhiar reminds one of Lord Buddha.  It is at Nalanda and Vaishali, the Heritage Sites, where one can see the ruins of these ancient cities.  Bihar has some rare Buddhist temples and shrines.  Known as Pataliputra in ancient times, Patna the capital boasts of a harmonious blend of major religious communities and it is from here that one can set out on the trail of the Buddha.  Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha attained 'enlightenment' under the Mahabodhi tree.  Nalanda, famous for the university that bears its name, now in ruins, is where knowledge was imparted to Buddhist students.  Tiuen Tsang, the famous Chinese scholar, was also a student at this university.  Bhagalpur, famous for its silk and the ruins of the ancient Vikramshila University (an ancient Indian university).


The Chotanagpur plateau, one of the most beautiful areas of India, has been carved into a new state, Jharkhand.  Studded with hills 300-900 meters in altitude and covered with verdant virgin forests, this area of rivers, lakes, meadows and valleys is an ideal retreat of peace and beauty.  Rich in wildlife, the forests are an anthropologist's delight, since the ancient lifestyle of the Santhal, Ho, Munda, Oraon, Koi Chero, Kharia, Paharia tribes has remained essentially unaltered.

Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, was erstwhile summer capital of Bihar, which is 676 meters in altitude and is a beautiful hill station with many places of tourist interest.  Other places not to be missed are Hazaribagh, a small hill resort (93 km) Tilaiya dam (63 km) a picnic spot, Netarhat a small hill station with beautiful sunrise and sunset views, Palamau a popular tourist resort (140 km) and a Tiger Project Reserve, Jamshedpur one of India's earliest planned cities, Dhanbad center of coal mining.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

An archipelago of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal, the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, endowed by nature with lush green forests and sparkling beaches, stretches over an area of more than 700 sq km.  Accessible by air and sea, these islands offer adventure sports like scuba diving, snorkeling and island camping.  The famous cellular jail at Port Blair, the capital city, is worth a visit.  Excursion tours to some of the islands like Cinque, Ross, Wandoor, Jolly Buoy can also be taken.

Guwahati and the Northeast



This state is the gateway to the Northeast with its capital, Guwahati, located on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra river.  Popular for its tea, Assam is also home to the rare one-horned rhinoceros which can be seen at Kaziranga and Manas (World Heritage Sites).

Guwahati, on the banks of the Brahmaputra, is the gateway to all the northeastern states.  Not far off is the Kamakhya Temple perched atop a hill overlooking the town.  Further north is Sibsagar which was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom for more than 600 years.  One can also visit Majuli, the largest riverine island in the world located on the river Brahmaputra.


Meghalaya, 'the abode of clouds', is one of India's most picturesque states with an adundance of lakes, waterfalls, caves, a rich cultural heritage, flora and fauna.  Shillong, the capital is one of the finest hill stations in the country and has a bracing climate all year round.  56 km away is Cherrapunji, famous for receiving the heaviest rainfall in the world and its limestone caves. Some of the places of interest include Elephant Falls, Wards' Lake, Umiam Lake, Shillong Peak and Jakrem.

66 km away from Shillong is Jowai, a picturesque town circled by the Myntdu River.  On the way to this town is the beautiful Thadleskein Lake, an ideal spot for picnics and boating, which according to legend, was dug with bows by the army of a rebel general of the Jaintia Raja.

The third longest cave on the Indian subcontinent, Siju caves in Garo Hills is located near Naphak Lake.  Tura Peak, at a height of 1400 meters, can be reached by a 5 km trek-cum-rock climb for a magnificent view of the Southwestern part of the district.


The state of Manipur with its natural beauty, mystic atmosphere and salubrious climate, rich in culture, traditions, festivals and dances, shares its border with Nagaland in the south, Mizoram in the north and Assam in the east.  Manipur is famous for its handloom and handicraft products.  Imphal, its capital, is one of the most ancient towns in the Indian subcontinent and is the hub of all cultural, commercial and administrative activities.  Place of tourist interest in and around Impahl include the Khwairamband bazaar, Khonghampat Orchidarium, Loktak Lake, Moirang and Keibul Lamjao National Park among others.


Mizoram, with the most hilly terrain in the eastern part of India, has great natural beauty and is a botanist's paradise with its rich flora.  Aizawl, the capital, is a charming hill station which stands out like a huge citadel.  Tamdil, a natural lake; Vantawng, the highest and most beautiful waterfall in Mizoram; Paikhai picnic spot; Dampa a wildlife santucary and Phawngpui, the blue mountain, are but a few amongst the places of tourist interest.


Off the beaten track is Tripura, an erstwhile princely state, prominent for its exquisite natural beauty, scenic spots, rich culture and tribal crafts.  Tripura offers beautiful sights like the Ujjayanta Palace, Kunjaban Palace and Neermahal Lake Palace; Dumboor Lake, Rudrasagar and Kalyan Sagar; wildlife sanctuaries and Sepahijala and Rowa and rockcut carvings and stone images at Unakoti, Pilak amongst others.


This hill state with its charming landscape is situated on the extreme northeast of India.  It is a land of exotic charm and is known for its enchanting mountains, swift flowing streams and bracing climate.  It is at Kohima, the state capital, that the War Cemetery is located which is of special significance to those who lost their loved ones here during the Second World War.  The Kohima village, Barra Basti, perhaps the most populous village in Asia, is a must for tourists, as it gives an insight into the Naga way of life.  Dimapur, is the gateway to Nagaland and its only railhead.  An important trade and commerce center, it was the capital of the Kachari rulers where the relics of that era are being preserved by the Archaeological department.  Other places to see in the state are Khonoma and Japfu peak amongst others.

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh, in the northeastern tip of India is a breathtakingly beautiful mountainous area.  Nature has endowed this state with snowcapped mountains, majestic jungles, roaring streams, multicolored butterflies and rare birds which find expression in the songs, dances and handicraft of the area.

The capital Itanagar, is a virgin area nestling amidst verdant nature.  Ganga Seki Lake, a beautiful natural lake is known for its serene surroundings.  Namdhapha wildlife sanctuary is a famous site for nature lovers and is home to the 'Hulock Gibbon'. a rare ape found in India.  more...


Sikkim, situated in the eastern Himalayas, is a land of spectacular snow capped mountains, lush valleys, rich flora and fauna and ancient Buddhist monasteries.  Sikkim has a lot to offer the tourist, be it trekking, river rafting, sightseeing, or mountaineering.  Gangtok, built on the flank of a ridge, is a town of stupas and monasteries.  The Research Institute of Tibetology promotes the research on Mahayana Buddhism and the famous orchid sanctuary, boasts 500 species of orchids.

Chennai and the South



Situated on the southeastern side of the India peninsula, Tamilnadu is a land steeped in tradition, ancient culture and hertage, known for its dance and music.

Chennai (Madras) is the capital with an international airport.  The places of tourist interest include Fort St. George, Fort Museum, Kapaleswar Temple, Sri Parthasarathy temple, Santhome Cathedral, St. Thomas Mount, St. Mary's Church, the Snake Park, the Marina beach, the Theosophical Society, Birla Planetarium, National Art and Gallery Museum, Aquarium, Anna Zoological Park and other amusement parks.

Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) is an excursion from Chennai, which is famous for Arjua's Penance, the Shore Temple, Mandaps, Panch Pandav Rathas and Cave.  Kancheepuram, a temple town, is an excursion from Channai, known for Ekambareswar temple, Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple, Sri Vaikhunta Perumal Temple, Kailasanathar Temple and, more importantly, for its Kancheepuram Silks.

The other important places in Tamilnadu include Thanjavur known for the Brihadeeswara Temple, a World Heritage Site.  Madurai is famous for the Meenakshi temple and Thirumalai Nayakar Palace; Kodaikanal and Ooty (Ootacamund) are famous hill stations, Kanyakumari is the southern tip of India, where three oceans - Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea meet.  The famous wildlife sanctuary "Mudumalai" is an excellent place to visit.

Pondicherry is a Union Territory, home to the famous Aurobindo Ashram and renowned for its French-styled architecture and cuisine.


Kerala is a land of green landscapes, rich forests, rivers and palm trees.  It is a land of beauty, known for boat rides along the backwaters.  Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the capital city, is famous for Padmanabhaswamy temple and the Kovalam beach.  Kochi is a natural harbor and one of India's oldest ports and a major naval base.  It is a city dotted with Portuguese churches, mosques, Kindu temples and Chinese fishing nets.  The palces of interest include Mattancherry Palace, Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Cathedral, Boghatty Palace and Hill Palace museum.  Excursions are Kalady - known for traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Kumarkom - an island resort in the backwaters, Guruvayur - a famous Krishna Temple, Kottakal - for ayurvedic massage, Munnar - an excellent hill station and Peryar wildlife sanctuary - known for its flora and fauna.  Alappuzha is a network of canals, bridges and long silver beaches, with Nehru Memorial Boat Race hold in the second Saturday of August each year.

Andhra Pradesh

Andhara Pradesh is known as the "Rice Granary of India", consisting of fertile coastal plains.  It has been a seat of some of the famous dynasties, as old as 300 B.C. and an important Buddhist center.  Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh and is famous for Charminar, Salarjung Museum, Colconda Forst with light & sound show, Qutub Shahi Tombs, for shopping of Bidriware, pearls, semi-precious stones and for its cuisine, especially Hyderabadi Biryani.  Excursions include Nagarjuna Sagar dam, Nagarjuna Konda with Lord Budda's relics, Sresailam - one of the Jyotirlingas, Ethipothala Water falls, and Srisailam wildlife reserve.  Tirupati is famous for Sri Venkateswara, Govindaraja Perumal and Padmavati temples.

Vijayawada is a gateway to the south and also a large business and cultural center.  The excusrions include Amaravati - Buddhist stupa, Kuchipudi - birthplace of Siddhendhra Yogi who created the famous Indian Classical dance "Kuchipudi", Mangalagiri, Kondapalli - Fort, Undavalli Caves and Draksharamam, Vishakhapatnam - is a bustling harbor.  The palces of tourist interest include Dolphin's Nose, Ramakrishna Mission Beach, Kailasa Hill and Ross Hill.


Nestling between the eastern ghats and the western coasts, sloping down into the Arabian Sea, Karnataka was previously known as the state of Mysore.  It has beautiful Hoysala and Chalukya temples, Jain temples and is known for educational institutes and industrial areas.  Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, is the capital of Karnataka.  The places of tourist interest include Cubbon Park, Vidhan Saudha, the Government Museum, Venkatappa Art Gallery, the Bangalore Palace, the Fort and Tipu Sultan's Palace, Lal Bagh and the Bull Temple.  Excursions include Bannerghatta National Park, Ramohalli, Nandi Hills, Mekedatu, Shivasamudram, Sravanabelagola, Halebid and Belur.  Mysore is famous for the Mysore Palace, St. Philomena's Church, Shri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery and Chamundi Hills.  The excursions include Srirangapatna, Ranganathittoo, Brindavan Gardens, Somnathpur, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, and Nagarhole National Park.  Hampi, famous for its ruins of the Vijayanagara Dynasty, is one of the World Heritage Sites.  Excusrions include Kishkhinda Hills, Aihole, Pattadakal (a World Heritage Site), and Badami.

Lakshdweep Islands

The islands look like emeralds in the vast expanse of blue sea.  Built on ancient volcanic formations are the Lakshadwoop (meaning a hundred thousand islands), the tiniest Union Territory of India.  It consists of 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks.  The atolls poised on submarine banks, harbor 36 islands having an area of 32 km2.  Of these, 10 islands are inhabited namely Agatti, Amini, Adrott, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan, and Minicoy.  The islands lie about 220-440 km from the Malabar coast.  Kavaratti is the Administrative Headquarter of the Union Territory.

The Lakshadweep group of islands are well connect both by Air and Sea.  While islands like Agatti & Bangaram can be reached by the Air, the other islands can be reached by ship from Kochi.

Adventure, Sports and Wildlife

Adventure and Sports

From tracking wild animals to trekking the wild is but a step in India.  With a wealth of varied terrain running the full length of the Himalayas, and the forested, gentle slops of the Nilgiri hills in the south, India offers every trek imaginable from a one-day walk to full scale mountaineering expeditions.

The hill state of Himachal Pradesh offers low altitude treks through forests of cedar and pine leading to rocky gorges and impressive passes.  High altitude hikes wind above the snow line to glaciers and beyond to the spectacular Himalayan interior valleys of Lahaul and Spiti, perhaps even to remote Ladakh.  At the eastern end of the Himalays lies Sikkim and West Bengal, offering breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga and the Everest peaks.  In comparison, the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu offera gentler pace but a no less pleasurable experience, walking perhaps more than trekking, using the delightful hill stations of Kodaikanal and Ooty as bases.

Rafting: The eternally snow-capped Himalayas which so delight the trekker and mountaineer, mean great sport for whitewater rafting enthusiasts.  From their towering peaks rise India's greatest rivers, when then turn seawards, pursue a precipitous course along boulder-strewn beds, through deep gorges and reach thunderous rapids.  Lower down, amidst forested slopes, the rivers become calmer, offer the amateur and novice, ideal nursery conditions.  From the Ganges in the north, the Indus and Zanskar in Ladakh to the Teesta in Sikkim, this is river-rafting at its very best.

Camel Safaris:  In the vast deserts of Rajasthan, we advise a horse or camel trek, an unparalleled opportunity for visiting local villages and off-the-beaten track sightseeing  Accommodation varies from tented camps to first-class hotels, but during your time on camel or horseback your own khidmatgar (personal attendant) will be at your beck and call.  If wheels have greater appeal, then bicycles may be the answer.  Available in Rajasthan and on the spectacular route from Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh, the tours are accompanied by motorized support vehicles leaving you free to cycle as little or as much as you like.  Alternatively, how about a motorcycle tour of south India on a 250cc Enfield Bullet, a classic British bike now manufactured in Chennai?

Golf: For a holiday that goes with a swing you can't do better than golfing in India.  As an example of how seriously the game is taken here, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, founded in 1929, was the first club outside Britain.  Mumbai has two fine courses - the Willingdon and the Presidency at Chembur - and the Delhi Golf Club is rated as one of the hundred most outstanding courses in the world.  There are "top-drawer" courses but India is remarkable for having courses the length and breadth of the the desert, surrounded by tea estates with the Himalayas as a backdrop, by lakes and forest, or surrounded by ancient monuments.

Fishing:  Where there is water you'll find fishermen, and tales of the one that got away.  Pride of place on this score must go to the massive mahseer, for example weighing 80 lbs are not unusual.  Although trout are plentiful (at Ooty and in Himacha Pradesh's rivers Beas and Parvati), it is the mahseer which has captured the imagination of the angler.  Blessed with extraordinary strength and immense cunning, the mahseer can be found in the rivers Ravi and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh, the Ramganga which flows through Corbett National Park and the Kaveri in Karnataka, the latter having the advantage of established angling camps.  Spring and summer offer the best chances and the opportunity to while away idyllic hours on lush river banks hoping for that heart-stopping moment when the rod whips forward and the reel sings.

India plays host to many more activities, including sub-aqua sports, hot-air ballooning, rock-climbing, hang gliding and motor rallying.  From action to relaxation, India has it all.

Unique Wildlife

In the wealth and variety of its wildlife, India is unique in the world.  The great stretch of the Himalayas is home to the legendary snow leopard, the musk deer, ibex and a variety of pheasants.  Further eastward elephants, rhinoceros and gibbons roam.  The chinkara stag, blackbuck, barking deer, and bear wander the higher slopes, musk deer, red pandas and blue sheep the lower slopes.

The vast plain of the Ganges with its variety of vegetation supports herbivores such as elephant, sambar, deer, wild boar and chital deer.  Westward in the Cir forest of Gujarat lurks the Asiatic lion, and the Great Indian Desert (the Rann of Kutchh) plays host to galloping wild asses and the massive bustard.  Follow the wet, Western Ghats to the south and the dense rainforests provide a home for the lion-tailed macaque, langur and civet cat, snakes and exotic birds.  But throughout India, whether frolicking in the mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans, stalking through the high foothills of the Himalayas, prowling along the flat Gangetic plain, weaving through the sandalwood forests of Karnataka or simply lying low in secluded jungle pools during the pre-monsoon heat of May and June, is the tiger.  To preserve the flora and fauna, India has laid considerable emphasis on sustainable eco-tourism.

The variety of wildlife range from Corbett National Park, a six hour drive from Delhi, with 250 sq km of dense forests and savannah grasslands, home to tiger, elephant, leopard, barking deer and many other species, to Kaziranga in the northeast, famed for its rare one-horned rhinos and wild buffaloes.  In addition, flocks of remarkable birds can be sighted in the sanctuaries of Bharatpur, Manas, and Lake Chilka, especially during the winter migratory period from November to March.

Accommodation can be arranged at most wildlife centers.  Life at these jungle lodges in close proximity to nature creates a heady atmosphere that more than makes up for the lack of sophisticated facilities.

Colorful Fairs and Festivals

Hardly a day goes by in the Indian calendar when a festival is not celebrated or a fair held, occasions rich in color, music and dance.  Some are nationwide occasions such as Republic Day, others a local village celebration such as gathering in the harvest for India is still deeply pastoral.  Others have an international appeal.  For instance, the Khajuraho Festival in Madhya Predesh (a week-long delight of classical dancing); Carnival in Goa; the Diwali or the festival of lights (all over India); the Meenakshi Temple Feast in Madurai; the renowned snake-boat races during Onam in Kerala; the Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan; and Dussehra (nationwide), celebrating the triumph of good over evil.  Of course, just being in India is always a cause for celebration.

Discovering the Inner Self

In these turbulent times, India is an oasis for peace, tranquility and complete relaxation.  Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago.  It has been adapted today to fit into the lives of people who want to stay calm and cheerful in a stress-prone environment.  Another form of relaxation is meditation.  This practice in its varied forms has received tremendous global interest and is probably more relevant today than when it was first expounded by the ancient Indian sages.  Another important method of rejuvenation is ayurveda.  A number of centers in India offer healing practices, including herbal massage and oil therapy.  Today India has become the spiritual destination of the world.  Seekers visit India from all over the world in search of peace, contentment and happiness.

The Spectacle of Dance and Music

Foremost among India's performing arts are classical dances.  In a spectacular solo or group display of swirling color, gold ornaments and fluid movements, every dance form can be appreciated entirely for its visual appeal.  Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Manipuri and Kathak have their origins in various states across the country and all began as a form of religious worship.  Every dance form has a precise vocabulary of emotions - love, yearning, sorrow - and these are displayed by gestures that involve the body, arms, fingers, face and eyes, plus every attitude, and every color.  An intense art taking many years to accomplish.

Classical music in India has no comparison with the western orchestra.  Traditionally one soloist plays the theme be it on sitar, sarod or flute-like shehnai accompanied by three or four other instrumentalists.  Vocal performances too, are always soloists with accompaniments provided the background music, a performance to be treasured.

Shopping for Treasures

India is an Aladdin's cave of arts and crafts, a colorful cornucopia of endless creativity where you can go shopping without stopping.  Whatever your taste - restrained or exuberant, antique or modern, plain or patterned - India's bazaars, shops, stalls, markets and emporia will tempt as you have never been tempted before.  Faced with yard upon yard of richly colored silks and brocades, broad acres of gorgeous carpets and rugs, an abundance of delicately painted 'Moghul' miniatures, a wealth of intricately designed wooden and hand-painted papier-mâché boxes, to say nothing of treasure chests of precious and semi-precious stones, marble inlay work, brass statues, antiqe silver jewelry, delicate carvings in wood, stone, and ivory, how do you come to an informed and rational choice!

Handcrafted goods of every description abound in India and the finest quality often find their way to the great shopping bazaars - and population centers - of Delhi, Kilhata, Mumbai and Chennai.  Few of the goods are specifically designed as tourist 'souvenirs' and so maintain their integrity as truly representative of India.

As befits the home of the Taj Mahal, Agra is famed for its marble inlay, often incorporating precious stones, its colored embroideries and carpets.  Rajasthan excels in enameling, lacquer and filigree work, block-printed silks and muslins.  Varanasi produces world-famous silks and brocades.  Kasmir also has a long tradition of elaborately decorated papier-mâché bowls, boxes and trays.

The arts and crafts of the east are more down-to-earth, epitomized by the terracotta and pottery handicraft, folk bronzes and kantha needlework of Bengal and the wild silks, tribal weavings and bamboo goods of Assam and the north coast.  Orissa reflects its temple traditions with soapstone carvings of extraordinary intricacy, and applique work from the village of Pupli, originally home to the workshops that produced the enormous covers to the deities of the Jagannath temple in nearby Puri.

Although Mumbai is a gigantic emporium attracting goods from all over India, the west has its own specialties.  Handloom silks are one of Aurangabad's chief delights, as are the delicate muslins and silks of Khambat (better known as Cambay).  Gujarat produces handsome, hand-woven tie-dyed textiles, popular chakla patchwork and glass wall hangings, and both highly-carved and lacquered furniture, whilst the little=visited Rann of Kacchh is renowned for its mirror-work.

And so, laden with goods, to the south, Mysore is the place for sandalwood carvings and inlaid furniture, Bangalore and Kanchipuram for their unsurpassed silks.  At Hederabad the diamonds of the fabulous Golconda mines have given way to pearls, but the silver inlay bidri work is as popular as ever.  Far to the south, Kerala's restrained rosewood carvings are in a class of their own, as are the bizarre and extravagant sea-shell confections that abound in the street market at India's southernmost tip, Kanya Kumari.

Of course visitors of a more single-minded disposition may prefer mementos in the form of spices (which is what attracted the world to India in the first place) or perfumes.  Antiques and works of art - the bazaars are full of them - are equally delightful, but cannot be exported if they are over 100 years old.  Musical instruments, graceful in shape and frequently inlaid with contrasting woods, can also provide a playful reminder of India.

Indian Cuisine

There's nowhere quite like India for food.  As generally believed, it is not invariably hot nor is Indian food exclusively vegetarian.  Spices lie at the heart of Indian cooking.  Through spices, India first became a trading partner of the West, first with the Sumerians, then the Phoenicians and in turn the Greeks (probably helped by Alexander the Great's foray into India around 320 B.C.) and Romans.  The fertile slopes of the Western Ghats still produce an astonishing variety of spices - black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, turmeric and nutmeg.

The earliest use for spices was medicinal and some remnants of prescriptive attitudes can still be traced in Indian culinary theory today, although the ancient injunction to include all six rasas or flavors - sweet, salty, bitter, astringent, sour, and pungent - in every meal in strict proportion has now largely disappeared.  Nevertheless food was and is believed to influence behavior (a concept only now gaining credence in the West) and spices have historically fulfilled a valuable function not only as flavorings, but also as appetite stimulators and digestives.  (They may also help the body to cope with heat during the long, enervating summers.)

If spices are the hallmark of Indian cooking, the greatness of its cuisine lies in its regional foods and regional menus.  For the visitor, finding these local variations is easier said than done.  Most hotels in India's four major centers - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai - operate fine restaurants that serve a mainly northern Indian cuisine and cater for the exotic whims of local trade by providing Chinese, Italian and Indonesian menus also.  Much of the food of north India will already be familiar to many visitors.  Moghul in origin and broadly non-vegetarian in content it is characterized by the use of yoghurt, friend onion, nuts and saffron. (Incidentally, a thousand stigmas of autumnal crocus go into making a gram of this spice).  The outstanding savory dishes include gushtaba, spicy meatballs simmered in spicy yoghurt, biryani, chicken or lamb in orange-flavored rice sprinkled with rosewater, almonds and dried fruit, tandoori, chicken, meat or fish marinated in herbs and baken in a clay over, and paneer, a vegetarian dish of cottage cheese in cubes, lightly fried and served in a butter-based sauce.  There is a lot more to sample, both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine, in different regions of India.  Those with a sweet tooth will find themselves shamelessly indulged in India.  Being vegetarian, these puddings - usually based on milk or curd - are found the length and breadth of India and include kulfi, ice-cream flavored with cardamom, pistachio nuts and saffron, rasgullas, cream cheese balls in rose syrup, gulab jamun, spongy ground almond balls dripping with honey syrup, and firnee, rice pudding raised to heavenly standards by the addition of almonds, raisins and pistachios.

If this is all too much of a good thing, there's always fresh fruit, apples, apricots and pears from Kashmir, mangoes, pomegranates, bananas, melons, tangerines and pineapples.  India is the one place you can eat your heart out!

Grand Hotels

Blessed with a wealth of budget hotels and youth hostels for those on a shoestring, it is nevertheless hotels in the grand tradition - hotels that not only offer a comfortable place to stay but also an experience to treasure - that sets India apart.  Hotels that once upon a time were the sumptuous residences of Maharajas, spectacular and magnificent in a style unique to Indian and some on an unimaginable colossal scale set in contrasting landscapes of deserts or mountainsides.  There are also beach resorts offering state-of-the-art accommodation or the isolation of the 'away from it all' huts on remote archipelagos such as the Lakshadweep or Andaman Islands.  As with so many hotels in India, all these offer not simply a place to stay, more an experience to savor.

Traveling Around India

Traveling to India is easily achieved by a number of international airlines, including India's national carrier Air-India.  Journeying in India is an adventure in its own right, for air, rail and road links penetrate deep into the country.  Most tourists make extensive use of the country's domestic airlines.  The main network is provided by Indian Airlines.  However, a number of domestic airlines such as Alliance Air, Jet Airways, and Sahara Airlines - serve a variety of regional destinations.

The railway system was establish during the mid-19th century.  It copes with upwards of three billion passengers every year and is the largest railway network in the world.  The network, which covers much of the country, is a quintessential part of the fabric of India, and a journey on it should not be missed.  The Shatabdi Express trains from Delhi to Agra and Gwalior and from Delhi to Jaipur and to many other places, are very popular with tourists for their speed and comfort.  Foreign nationals and Indian residents abroad can purchase Indrail passes for traveling around India.

Luxury Trains

The first of this new class of train is the Royal Orient, which entered service early in 1995, utilizing the picturesque carriages of the palace on Wheels.  Operating from September to the end of April, the Royal Orient is pioneering a new tourist route from September to April.  Leaving Delhi Cantonment station every Wednesday it proceeds westwards to Chittaurgarh, one of the oldest cities in Rajasthan and then to the gorgeous oasis of Udaipur.  From Udaipur to Junagadh and the temple town of Somnath and then to the fine beach resort of Ahmedpur Mandvi.  From there the train returns to Delhi via Palitana, Ahmedabad and Jaipur, arriving back in Delhi a week later.

Meanwhile, the Palace on Wheels - a brand new train, coach-built to the most exacting standards of comfort - runs on its traditional week-long itinerary from Delhi every Wednesday to Jaipur, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Agra before returning to Delhi.  This tour also operates from September to the end of April. 

Bookings for Palace on Wheels can be made through your travel agent or direct from: Central Reservations Office, Palace on Wheels, Tourist Reception Centre, Rajasthan Tourism, Bikaner House, Pandara Road, New Delhi, 110003

Bookings for the Royal Orient can be made through your travel agent or direct from: Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd., Nigam Bhavan, Sector 16, Gandhinagar, 382016, Gujarat.

Driving is on the left in India, and traffic is an amazing mix of over-loaded ox-cats, exuberantly painted lorries, elephants and camels with trailers.  It is possible to book organized tours in air-conditioned tourist coaches or you can hire your own chauffeur-driven car.  The cost of a driver plus the traditional 'Ambassador' is extremely reasonable.  They can be hired by the day - for example to see Delhi's sights - or for weeks for extended routs of the country.

In addition, the bus network is huge, and includes the mountainous areas in the north which railways do not cover.  For example, the northern railhead is a Jammu, leaving Kashmir, Ladakh and virtually all of Himachal Pradesh to rely on the bus.  Generally, Indian busses do not display the comfort and facilities of their European counterparts but compensate by being inexpensive, great fun and deservedly popular with the budget traveler.  Details of services may be obtained from local Tourist Offices in India.

Information for the Business and Leisure Traveler



Information taken from the pamphlet "Incredible !ndia" provided by the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C.


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