India: not a country, but a continent to discover
To most western tourists in India there is one big challenge: sheer size. India is not only big in geographical terms between the Indian Ocean and the Himalaya, but also in terms of population. India has a population of 1.3 Billion people, four times as much as the U.S. and double the number of Europeans. You will find every kind of landscape and then some you never knew existed. Deep jungles, dry deserts, the highest mountain range on earth, great river valleys like the Ganges are waiting to be discovered. Roughly 4000 miles of coastline feature the most beautiful beaches in the world. To see it all a year wouldn’t be enough, so concentrate on a smaller region.
The classic India tour for those with only limited time on their hands is in the northern part around the capital New Delhi. Like all cities in India Delhi is lively, loud and chaotic. Nevertheless you should at least visit Hamayun's Tomb, the first of a series of tombs in India that culminated in the world famous and iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. Yes, on your first visit to India you want to see this, and to get from Delhi to Agra take the train like the Shatabdi express train to see the landscape roll by. When you are in Agra and spent your day at the tomb that the Mogul Shah Jahan built for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, you may also want to have a look around the city. The Agra Fort, also called the Red Fort, is worth a visit, as is the Mankameshwar Temple in the vicinity of the Red Fort.
When you made the Delhi-to-Agra trip you may as well close the so-called Golden Triangle of tourism in northern India and visit Jaipur, also called the Pink City. Situated in the State of Rajasthan it exemplifies the image of India. The Amer Fort is one thing to see, another one is the Hawa Mahal, “The Palace of the Winds”, in the heart of town. If you want to dig deeper into India, go north to Darjeeling and ride the so-called toy train, a small steam-engined train that used to bring the rich English to their cooler holiday homes high up in the mountains. Or visit the holy city Varanasi, central to Hindu religion. See the unbelievable Konark Sun Temple on India’s east coast, which is eight hundred years old and a world heritage site. If you go further south you will find an entirely different culture, situated between a dense jungle and endless fields of tea plantations. The southern State of Tamil Nadu includes the southern tip of India. Most typical in this area are the temple gateway towers, or gopuras, that still can be seen high above every town. Once you are around the tip on the western coast, you will come to Goa. The smallest Indian State was a Portuguese colony for hundreds of years, and is a well known backpacker destination since the late sixties.
This tour scratches just at the surface of all the possibilities to explore the subcontinent, so be prepared to fly to India with us again and again.
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