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It is often said that India is not a country, but a continent. A bewildering mix of spice, colour and contradiction, this nation stretches all the way from the frozen summits of The Himalayas to the tropical greenery of Kerala. India's dramatic terrain is breathtaking. The landscapes, people and cultures fuse together to create a sublime array of faiths, traditions and heritage.

Walk India's streets and you should anticipate rubbing shoulders with representatives of many of the world's great faiths and castes. Journey through the country’s expansive borders and expect to see snow-dusted mountains in the north and sun-washed beaches deep in the south. You will also encounter temple rituals that have been performed since the Egyptian era, onion-domed mosques that were built when the Taj Mahal was just a pipe dream, and quirky echoes of the British Raj on almost every corner. India is a magical country that encompasses culture and history on an international level and there is a reason why so many people choose to go back there time and time again.

Since India achieved independence in 1947, change has been vast, yet so much of its woven history still remains. The economic revolution in the late 90s introduced change to this nation and brought them up to speed with many of the more developed countries in terms of technology, consumer goods and general way of life. The second largest producer of computer software in the world and with its own satellites, India still retains its own unique charm and definitive identity based around the Buddha and various religious festivals.

Those who have visited India would agree that no trip would be complete without a visit to Delhi, the spellbinding capital. This buzzing, international metropolis attracts people from across the country, the continent, and indeed, the world. Home to 15 million people and counting, Delhi has modern suburbs interspersed with ancient tombs and temples, plus highways and contemporary apartment blocks adjacent to the remains of historic settlements. The result is an intricately woven tapestry of nooks and crannies waiting to be explored. Delhi has been described as the 'India of old and new' and was built as seven successive cities with the British-built New Delhi being the eighth. Centred historically on three main areas, Delhi has Lal Kot, Old Delhi and New Delhi, and each has something different to offer the traveller.

With an increasing number of pubs and clubs, the city's night scene is in full swing. Many of the more expensive hotels have plush dance floors and are great places to drink. Outside of this, several of the bars have happy hours and alcohol offers ideal for the more budget conscious tourist. The food in Delhi is undeniably fantastic, as there are a variety of cuisines to try while you are here. For a late night meal, be sure to head to either a round-the-clock rooftop café or to Pandara Road Market, which is open until the early hours.

India's Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the ancient world, a world heritage site, and the epitome of Mughal art. It is an immense mausoleum of marble and has stood in Agra since 1648 by order of the Emperor Shah Jahan. It was originally built in memory of the Emperor's favourite wife and was erected as her funerary mosque. The pure white marble shimmers in the moonlight, gleams a pale pink at dawn and reflects the sunset at the end of day. It is a masterpiece of design, construction and representation, and a must-see for any visitor travelling to India.

The capital of the West Bengal region, Kolkata, is a sophisticated and friendly city that goes against its reputation as chaotic and poverty stricken. The remainder of the Bengal region has a varied landscape full of diverse traditions, from the dramatic hills of Darjeeling to the vast swamps of the Sundarbans prowled by Royal Bengal tigers. The former Portuguese enclave of Goa is midway down India's southwest coast and has been a popular holiday destination since colonial times due to its white sand beaches that stretch to 105 kilometres. If travelling around the country, take a break and recharge your battery for a few days in one of Goa's quieter areas, but for a drink and a dance, head to one of its vibrant main resorts.

India's daily soaring temperatures mean it is a year-round destination to visit. Take a journey to this fantastic country and you will leave with vivid memories full of colour, spice and laughter.

 

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