India, a mystic land waiting to be unravelled, has a rich colourful experience in store for every visitor. There is much to see and do in India. You can cruise down the serene backwaters in a traditional kettuvallam or houseboat, drink in the splendour of turquoise coral islands, gape at the stunning Taj Mahal or just let the gentle strains of classic music calm your frayed nerves. If you are the partying type, revel in the beach parties and lively nightlife of the metros. Most tourist itineraries also include souvenir shopping at famous shopping centres, and will take in many of the numerous India tourist attractions on offer. You can collect exquisite silks, brass and silver artefacts, carved sandalwood and marble figurines, miniature paintings, intricate jewellery and much more.
This India destination guide will help you plan your perfect holiday, and the many Indian highlights you should check out. A perfect way to do this is taking a local tour. We also have some more useful travel information about India.
You can check out all the local exciting things to see and do in the following destinations:
West India comprises of Gujarat and Maharashtra extending along the coast line to Goa. The Gujjar tribe came to India with the Huns many centuries ago. They meandered through Punjab and Rajasthan before pitching tent in Gujarat. In fact the name Gujarat is derived from Prakrit Gujjar Ratta or Gujjar Rashtra, meaning the land of Gujjars.
The yellowed pages of history reveal that Gujarat had trade links with Egypt, Sumer, Babylon and Assyria even before the Aryans. This probably explains the businessman blood in the Gujaratis.
Gujarat is the home of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. It is a complete travel package in itself with an eyeful of ancient monuments, mosques and temples. Gujarat is also the Mecca of Jainism - the holy Palitana Temples at Shetrunjay Hills is the most sacred shrine of the Jains.
The union territory of Daman and Diu are located in the south of Gujarat. They are famous for the distinctive Portuguese character in their architecture. Some of the other places worth a visit are the beautiful beaches of Mandvi, ancient temples of Somnathpur, majestic forts of Junagardh and the house of the majestic lion at Sasangir.
Western Gujarat is famous for its colourful clothes and handicrafts. The riot of colours is a relief for the eye in the arid environment. Raan of Kutch, which is a breeding ground of flamingos and pelicans, dominates much of western Gujarat. Baroda and Surat are some of the shopping havens in Gujarat.
Maharashtra is the third largest state in area and population in India. It is home to the country's commercial capital, Mumbai. It is also a leader in agricultural and industrial production. The Maharshtrians are a fiery lot with a deep sense of nationalism. This has been inherited from their ancestors who defied the Moghuls under the leadership of the heroic king Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Mumbai with its fast pace and vibrant night life is the ideal destination to relax after an Indian sojourn. The metro is the modern face of India, but simultaneously ancient buildings and monuments that abound here reveal Mumbai's historical side. The famous Gateway of India and Elephanta Caves are located in Mumbai.
The other most important tourist towns in Maharashtra are Aurangabad and Pune. Aurangabad is named after the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb and is famous for the Buddhist cave paintings at Ajanta and rock cut Kailash Temple at Ellora. Pune is a quieter sister of Mumbai and tourists flock here to enjoy the pleasant weather. The hill stations of Maharashtra lining the Konkan belt can give any holiday hotspot a run for its money. Some of the scenic hill stations here are Matheran, Mahabaleshwar and Lonavla
The eastern part of Ithe country is home to many Indian tourist attractions, despite the fact it is the least explored even by Indian travellers. This is largely because of the region's infrastructure problems, special-permit requirements and, most importantly, political sensitivity, as it borders China, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar. Nevertheless, East India is as enchanting as it promises to be on brochures.
Seven states make up North East India - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. They are commonly known as the ‘seven sisters'. The breathtaking beauty of the snow capped mountains, lush green valleys, abundant flora and fauna leave you mesmerised with nature's glory. You can still find a lot of primeval tribes with their strange customs and traditions tucked away in the crevices of these hills. East India is an absolutely delightful treasure trove for archaeologists and historians.
Meghalaya, one of the bigger states, is spread across 22,429 sq km in the north eastern region. It borders Bangladesh in the south and is predominately populated by Garos. This tribe belongs to the Bodo family of the Tibeto-Burman race. Shillong, the state's capital and situated at a dizzying altitude of 1496 m above sea level, leaves you completely spell bound.
Mizoram is sandwiched between Myanmar in the east and south and Bangladesh and Tripura in the west. The mountainous region extends through 21081 sq km. The Mizos are Christians by faith and they have a very high literacy rate of 88.06 percent.
The largest and most easily accessible state in the North East is Assam. The capital city of Guwahati is well connected by air routes and flights to Delhi, Calcutta and Bagdogra. The mighty mountains of Assam with its favourable climatic condition and fertile soil are the perfect environment for growing tea. The terraced tea gardens of Assam produce 60% of India's tea. Assam is also famous for its wildlife. The show stopper in the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary is the unique one horned rhinos which are now an endangered species, a status wrought by man's greed for the horns.
Nagaland, the land of Nagas, expands over 16,572 sq km. More than 16 major Tibeto-Burmese tribes have made Nagaland their home and they are collectively referred to as Nagas. Like Mizos, 90% of Nagas are Christians. The striking capital of Kohima is the nerve centre of all activities.
Tripura, with an area of 10,500 sq km, is a state which is surrounded by international borders. This beautiful princely state, inhabited by 19 tribes, is known for its eco-friendly environment. The royal palace Neermahal, built in the 20th century, stands out in this tiny drop of heaven on earth.
Manipur, covering 22,356 sq km to the south of Nagaland, is a former princely state. Interestingly, the Indo-Burmese population called Meiteis here are Hindus. Manipur is a culturally rich state with its well known dance forms like the drum dance and spear dance. Imphal, the capital, is strategically located right in the centre of the state and is the nucleus of all cultural and political activities.
The fertile river valley of Ganges is separated from the Deccan Plateau by the Vindhya mountain ranges. The Vindhyas not only divide the country geographically but also by culture and language. The northern region or Hindi speaking population is divided from the Dravidians. It is believed that the Dravidian languages came into the country from the Mediterranean more than a thousand years ago.
South India's breathtaking beauty is seen in the lush green landscape and clear blue waters. India's best beaches lie in the lap of the South Indian coastal plains both on the east and west. This region's magnificent mountains are home to the finest tea and coffee of the world. The most popular produce for which many a battle was fought - spices - is grown in this part of India.
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the four states that make up peninsular South India. Here you find numerous India hotels that have been recently built. Andhra Pradesh is famous for a variety of pickles. If the aroma of coffee is what you seek, Karnataka is the destination as it is India's largest producer of this venerable bean. Coconut lagoons and the backwaters are a stellar attraction of Kerala, which goes by the epithet ‘God's own country'. Tamil Nadu is the land of temples of exquisite architecture.
Southern India also has great cities, rich farmlands and a culture that traces back to the historical Kumari Continent from where civilization is believed to have originated and spread worldwide. The south is the ancient and culture rich face of India.
History oozes out of every monument in North India. This part of India has witnessed a historical and cultural evolution that has shaped the country's course over the last 3500 years. The holy rivers of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati originate from northern India. The roots of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism can also be traced to this part of India.
Delhi, the capital of India and a major political hub, is situated in the northern region. It houses some of the oldest monuments in history like Qutab Minar, Jama Mosque, and Humayun's Tomb. These were built by the Mogul emperors during their rule. Rajasthan, the state that is a riot of colours, is famous for its majestic forts and palaces. It is also famous for its Thar Desert and cattle fairs.
Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state in India and home to one of the world's seven wonders, Taj Mahal. The sight of the mighty Himalayas extending from Himachal Pradesh to Arunachal Pradesh can be an absolutely humbling experience.
North India also has sensitive regions, as in the North West bordering Pakistan, North and North East bordering China and also Nepal and Bhutan. But its diverse culture, historic monuments, majestic mountain range and holy rivers make the trip worthwhile.
Central India has the largest state located right in the heart of the subcontinent - Madhya Pradesh. It sprawls over a stunning 4,43,000 sq. km and houses one third of India's forests. This attributes to the numerous natural parks and sanctuaries like Kanha and Bandhavgarh.
Madhya Pradesh is basically a vast plateau surrounded by the mountain ranges of Vindhya and Satpura. These ranges rise from 600 to 1,300 m before descending into the valleys of Narmada and Rapti rivers. They overlook dense forests, rolling plains and fertile river valleys. The eastern end of the plateau, however, is heavily forested but sparse in agriculture. The western end or the Malwa region is rich in agriculture and famous for its historical cities of Gwalior, Indore and Ujjain.
Gwalior makes its mark in history for the fierce battles fought here in the name of wealth and love. Ujjain is a legendary city associated with King Asoka. Other cities worth a look are Mandu, the city of joy, Jabalpur, the city of natural marble rocks, and Sanchi for the Buddhist site.
Madhya Pradesh is also well known for the spectacular temples of Khajuraho that has erotic figures carved out of stone. This was the inspiration for ‘Kamasutra'.
The forests of Madhya Pradesh are abundant in flora and fauna. Teakwood, rosewood, ebony and saal are some of the varieties of trees, and tiger, bison, deer and panther are some of the wildlife one may stumble upon during treks in the protected sanctuaries. There is so much to see in do in India, especially the central region or 'heart' of the nation.