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New Delhi is all at once chaotic and calm, a complicated city where cows often... more
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New Delhi
New Delhi is all at once chaotic and calm, a complicated city where cows often wander the shanty-lined streets. The 17th century Red Fort is a mass of domes and turrets, while Chandni Chowk is an exercise in friendly haggling. Jantar Mantar features larger-than-life sundials and astronomical instruments that are still used to predict the weather. Travelers and locals flock to the India Gate, the national monument of India that honors the soldiers who died in World War I and the Third Afghan War.
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If you take one look at the glorious stucco buildings that line Jaipur's wide... more
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Jaipur
If you take one look at the glorious stucco buildings that line Jaipur's wide streets, you'll understand why this is nicknamed "The Pink City." Spend your days exploring City Palace, Hawa Mahal, and Amber and Jaigarh forts. And if you're looking for a unique souvenir, head to one of the bazaars, where you can pick up a pair of camel-leather slippers.
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The sandy coast of Goa is perfect for reclining by the sea. Nestle into a... more
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Goa
The sandy coast of Goa is perfect for reclining by the sea. Nestle into a cushioned chair at a beach shack and savor a curry while you sip a Kingfisher beer, watching the sun slip lazily below the horizon. In Old Goa, the beautiful Basilica of Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fine example of baroque architecture. Visit during Christmastime to experience a fantastic religious and cultural mash-up of East and West.
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Though Mumbai can feel chaotic and crowded, there are peaceful moments to be... more
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Mumbai (Bombay)
Though Mumbai can feel chaotic and crowded, there are peaceful moments to be found here. Nibble a paper cone of bhelpuri while you stroll the sands of Chowpatty Beach. Then, take a short walk to Mani Bhavan, where Mahatma Gandhi once lived, strategized, and was ultimately arrested. The markets are spirited places to bargain for spices or souvenirs. Take a guided tour of Dharavi – made famous by "Slumdog Millionaire" – for an eye-opening glimpse into what Mumbai life is like for nearly a million people.
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Udaipur, known as the Venice of the East, boasts several sparkling lakes against... more
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Udaipur
Udaipur, known as the Venice of the East, boasts several sparkling lakes against a backdrop of the Aravail hills. Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir, islands in Fateh Sagar Lake, are the site of Udaipur Solar Observatory and Nehru Garden. Famous palaces include the magical Lake Palace, now a luxurious five-star hotel, and the massive City Palace on Pichola’s east bank, featuring epic courtyards and stunning paintings.
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The dramatic and romantic desert fortress of Jaisalmer is an exotic city in... more
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Jaisalmer
The dramatic and romantic desert fortress of Jaisalmer is an exotic city in Rajasthan’s great Thar Desert. "The Golden City" rose to prominence as a result of its position on camel trade routes. It's now most famous for the 12th-century fort and ornate "Havelis," fine merchant-built houses and pavilions in the city’s medieval lanes. The surrounding Desert National Park offers opportunities to observe blackbucks, desert foxes and chinkaras amid the rolling dunes, rugged crags and waterholes.
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Known as both the "Garden City" and "The Silicon Valley of India," Bangalore... more
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Bengaluru (Bangalore)
Known as both the "Garden City" and "The Silicon Valley of India," Bangalore (officially "Bengaluru") is a techie’s paradise, boasting the highest concentration of IT companies in the country. When you’re done geeking out, there are plenty of gardens, museums, natural features, palaces and temples to fill your dance card. Visit Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park and the Ulsoor Lake of Bangalore, well known for its beautiful locales and boating facilities. Bangalore is also a major center of Indian classical music and dance, and of vivid, cutting-edge nightlife.
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Where better to go for a romantic vacation than to the great testament of love,... more
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Agra
Where better to go for a romantic vacation than to the great testament of love, the Taj Mahal? Built by the grieving Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal’s unrivaled beauty explains why it’s regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world. A visit to India wouldn’t be complete without it. Other must-experience destinations in Agra are two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the sandstone Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
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A blending of several small villages on the southwestern coast created the... more
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Kochi (Cochin)
A blending of several small villages on the southwestern coast created the current incarnation of Kochi (or Cochin), where sunset strolls, sampling fresh fish from seaside vendors and boat rides through the islands just offshore top visitors' to-do lists. Art centers showcase the traditional dance, Kathakali. European influences are seen in the 16th-century Portuguese-built churches and forts, while the mark of early Chinese traders is visible in the unusual fishing nets dotting the shoreline.
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In Hinduism, Manu was said to have survived a great flood that destroyed the... more
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Manali
In Hinduism, Manu was said to have survived a great flood that destroyed the rest of the world. He then recreated mankind in this Kullu Valley town. What a rush, huh? No wonder the towering peaks and verdant terrain of Manali attracts adventure travelers, with heli-skiing, hiking, mountaineering and river rafting the favored active pursuits. Come down from your endorphin high by breathing deeply at the four-story, wooden Hidimba Devi Temple, which sits in the middle of a nearby deciduous forest, or take a medicinal soak in the hot springs burbling from the ground a 30-minute walk from town.
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Sprawling tea plantations surround the serene hills of Munnar, which attract... more
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Munnar
Sprawling tea plantations surround the serene hills of Munnar, which attract adventure travelers hungry for paragliding, treks to Anaimudi (South India's highest peak) and hikes originating at the confluence of three mountain streams. The stone Christ Church, built by the British in 1910, is adorned with renowned works of stained glass, and Eravikulam National Park, about 10 miles away, is home to equally colorful wildlife, including the endangered Nilgiri Tahr (ibex), ruddy mongoose and 120 bird species.
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The diverse population of Chennai (Madras) is reflected in its rich cultural... more
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Chennai (Madras)
The diverse population of Chennai (Madras) is reflected in its rich cultural scene. You’ll find serious theatre as well as the glitz and glamour of Kollywood. Chennai is also an important center for the Bharatanatyam, a local form of classical dance. Visit in January, for the festival of Pongal, or in April, when Chennai celebrates its new year.
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An ancient granite fort keeps watch on this city of mosques and bazaars. On the... more
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Hyderabad
An ancient granite fort keeps watch on this city of mosques and bazaars. On the site of the former town center sits its most iconic building, the Charminar, built in 1591 with a quartet of 160-foot minarets. Across Hussain Sagar, a man-made lake, is Hyderabad's twin, the city of Secunderabad.
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The holy city of Rishikesh, in the base of the Himalayas, holds deep cultural... more
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Rishikesh
The holy city of Rishikesh, in the base of the Himalayas, holds deep cultural and spiritual significance for local Hindus. Sacred rivers and mountains set the scene for yoga and reflective hikes, and rafting here is an absolute must. The Beatles got in touch with their Eastern spiritual side here, writing several songs during a 1968 stint at a local ashram.
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Srinigar is a modern waterworld, dominated by Dal Lake and its twisting... more
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Srinagar
Srinigar is a modern waterworld, dominated by Dal Lake and its twisting waterways, tree-lined Nagin Lake, and the Jhelum River. Engulf yourself in local culture by embracing your sea legs and renting one of the wooden boats called shikaras for a daytime or twilight cruise. On land, stroll through the terraced hillsides of the 400-year-old Mughal Gardens, created by Emperor Jehangir for his wife, and shop for indigenous crafts like hand-woven silks and embroidered shawls.
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Education, the arts and music are staples of life in the culture-rich city of... more
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Pune
Education, the arts and music are staples of life in the culture-rich city of Pune. The Pataleshwar Cave Temple, dating to the eighth century and dedicated to the god of the underworld, is a marvel of rock-cut architecture. For a panoramic city view, climb to temple-topped Parvati Hill.
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Located near the National Capital Region of Delhi, this upcoming district houses... more
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Gurgaon
Located near the National Capital Region of Delhi, this upcoming district houses numerous multinational companies and as a result, has plenty of tourist-friendly malls, hotels and restaurants. The area's top attraction is the Sheetla Mata temple, a popular pilgrimage site named for the Indian goddess who could dispel small pox; a festival is held there in March and July. For a more rural setting, visit nearby Sohna, which is surrounded by ancient ruins and known for its hot springs.
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Surrounded by a huge fortress wall with bastions, the striking blue buildings in... more
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Jodhpur
Surrounded by a huge fortress wall with bastions, the striking blue buildings in Jodhpur contrast sharply and beautifully with the neighboring Thar Desert. Exploring the palaces, forts and temples will keep you busy and in awe of the city’s historic grandeur. Bazaars offer a range of beautiful textiles, embroidered leather goods, lacquerware, antiques, carpets, puppets and figurines. Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination and a convenient base for travel in the region.
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This former British colonial stronghold boasts evidence of over two millennia of... more
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Kolkata (Calcutta)
This former British colonial stronghold boasts evidence of over two millennia of habitation, with ornate, architecturally diverse buildings, ranging from crumbing ruins to Victorian treasures. Home to lively festivals and a vibrant artistic community, clamorous markets and packed temples, this city is crowded and polluted, but ultimately invigorating.
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Amritsar is a major commercial and cultural centre in the heart of Punjab. The... more
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Amritsar
Amritsar is a major commercial and cultural centre in the heart of Punjab. The city is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion and is home to the Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple. Respectfully marvel at the Indian and Pakistani soldiers who march-off nightly at the Wagha Border, and at the Jallian Wala Bagh the site of the 1919 Amritsar Massacre in 1919.
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Snow-capped Himalayan peaks and green pastures surround Shimla, the capital of... more
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Shimla
Snow-capped Himalayan peaks and green pastures surround Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Enjoy a heritage walk through Shimla’s Victorian-era architecture, labyrinthine bazaars and lengthy pedestrian shopping mall. Don’t cause too much trouble taking in the town from Scandal Point, a large, open square; keep in mind that Shimla was a retreat destination for Mahatma Gandhi, who frequented a Georgian mansion in Shimla’s suburbs from the mid-1930s to '40s.
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The north Indian city of Varanasi, or Benares, is regarded as sacred by Hindus,... more
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Varanasi
The north Indian city of Varanasi, or Benares, is regarded as sacred by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Situated in the fertile Ganga valley and on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus, who come to bathe in the holy river. Known as the City of Temples and a beacon of culture, Varanasi has produced many renowned writers. It’s also a center of silk weaving, so practice haggling at the chaotic bazaar for some beautiful souvenirs. Rickshaws are the best way to get about.
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Let the beautiful coastal town of Varkala melt your worries and tensions away.... more
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Varkala
Let the beautiful coastal town of Varkala melt your worries and tensions away. Varkala’s peaceful seaside cliffs adjoin the Arabian Sea, setting the scene for several water spouts and wellness spas. The waters lapping at Papanasam beach are considered to have holy, sin-cleansing properties, and the nearby Ayurveda treatment center will cleanse what the ocean missed.
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The Ladakh capital city of Leh lies near the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir,... more
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Leh
The Ladakh capital city of Leh lies near the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir, on the crossroads of the historic "Silk Route" from Sinkiang to West Asia and to the plains of India. The humbling monasteries of Shey, Hemis, Alchi, Thikse and Lamayuru will nurture your spiritual needs, and the landscape of Leh provides for a number of adventure activities including mountaineering, white-water rafting and trekking along the Markha Valley.
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Pondicherry’s bougainvilleas, crumbling cathedrals and leafy boulevards might... more
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Pondicherry
Pondicherry’s bougainvilleas, crumbling cathedrals and leafy boulevards might occasionally make you wonder if you’re in the south of France instead of a former French colony. But it's also unmistakably Indian, with colorful festivals, the famous monument of Aayi Mandapam, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Quiet beaches stretch north and south from town, good for swimming and sunrise strolls.
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