Time difference: GMT +4.5 hours
Capital: New Delhi
Currency: Indian Rupee
Flight time: 8.5 hours direct
Vibrant, colourful, chaotic and bursting with life, India remains one of the world’s most compelling travel destinations. A heady mix of astounding architecture, spiritual sights and tantalising cuisine, whether it’s your first visit or your fifth there’s something about India that draws visitors back time and again.
Could it be the extraordinary diversity? This the country where those living a simple, hand to mouth existence do so under the shadow of the world’s most expensive home, after all. The climate is certainly varied: while the interior languishes under a blanket of heat during the summer, the Himalayas remain cool and in places speckled with snow. The food, while renowned for its spice, ranges from sizzling pakoras to cooling raita in one sitting, and you can sample all manner of flavours in one meal with a traditional thali dish. The country is, for the most part, a patchwork of rural farmland, where ladies in brightly coloured saris collect crops in baskets that they still carry atop their heads, a technique kept alive through centuries of development.
However, India is also home to the powerhouses of Delhi and Mumbai, great heaving cities of commerce and industry, roads seething with tuk tuks and the honking of thousands of car horns. It’s a delightfully atmospheric soundtrack. With all this variation, it can be hard to know where to start. India’s immersive Golden Triangle is a great introduction, taking you from the colonial relics of Delhi to one of the world’s most recognisable buildings, the Taj Mahal, and onwards through Rajasthan, the maharajah’s state with palaces and forts crowning its hills and mountains.
Explore the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur, the shimmering lakeside city of Udaipur and the blue-roofed city of Jodhpur for photos and memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. And of course, there are the beaches. In Goa and Kerala you can relax on tropical shores in the morning and explore ancient ruins in the afternoon.