India's most majestic cities are located in the north-western corner of the country. Rajasthan was home to the great Rajput dynasties that founded the stunning cities of Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. The area abounds in sumptuous palaces, bustling cities and a rich history. Further north is the Sikh holy city of Amritsar - home to the magnificent Golden Temple. The extreme north of India yields yet another holy city in the form of Daramshalla, home of the Dalai Lama as well as the remote Himalayan outpost of Shimla. The State of Jammu and Kashmir boasts verdant mountainous scenery and the lake town of Srinagar - possibly India's best kept secret.
The west of India is home to its biggest city, Mumbai. This buzzing cosmopolitan hub is host to the world's largest film industry, Bollywood, as well as some of the world's largest slum settlements. Mumbai is perhaps the place where the energy and paradoxes of modern India are most in evidence. The other major attraction of western India is the state of Goa. Long a favourite amongst tourists, Goa has recently succeeded in diversifying its appeal beyond the hippy demographic that once swamped its beaches. Tourists flock here for pristine beaches, diverse wildlife, temples and the faded grandeur of the Portuguese colonial towns.
Southern India boasts a rich and distinctive cultural identity. Rivalling the grandeur of the Palaces of Rajasthan - the vast palace complex of Hampi must surely rank as the most magnificent ruins in the country. The south-western state of Kerala boasts some of the best beaches in the world, and stunning palm thronged backwaters. Neighbouring Tamil Nadu has no less stunning rural scenery and attracts visitors with a profusion of annual festivals, a rich and diverse culinary tradition and hundreds of temples.
This is a diverse region with a variety of different attractions. New Delhi, India's capital and once seat to the Mughal Kings, is a hot chaotic place, boasting beauty and ugliness, wealth and poverty in equal measure. The Red Fort is among its greatest draws for tourists. South west of Delhi, the town of Agra is where you'll find perhaps the finest mausoleum in the world, the Taj Mahal. This iconic monument is every bit as magnificent as they say and an absolute must see in India. Further east along the Ganges, are a profusion of India's holiest cities - Allahabad, Ayodhya, Mathura and the holiest of them all - Varanasi.
The north-eastern corner of India stretches up to border Tibet in the north and well out into South-East Asia in the east. It is a region of great diversity in terms of both topography and culture. The northern state of Sikkim boasts stunning alpine vistas in the foothills of the Himalayas, dense, verdant forests and a rich infusion of Nepali, Tibetan and Hindu culture. The city of Kolkata (Calcutta), capital of West Bengal demonstrates colonial Raj architecture at its very finest. In a country of intense cities, Kolkata is perhaps the most overwhelming and is known in equal measure for its abject poverty and its phenomenal artistic and cultural output. The easternmost part of India is composed of the 'Seven Sisters' - seven states of unrivalled scenery and flora and fauna and home of the Indian tea trade.