India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq. km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. The name “India” is derived from the River Indus, around which the Indus Valley Civilization flourished over 5000 Years ago. The native worshippers referred to the river as Sindhu. Persian invaders changed it to Hindu. The name “Hindustan”, often used to refer India, combines Sindhu and Hindu and refers to the land of the Hindus. However, in the Hindi language, the country is called “Bharat”.
Popularly known as the City of Lakes, serene Udaipur is the crowning jewel of royal Rajasthan. With shimmering lakes visible from almost every rooftop, fairy tale palaces, sprawling havelis, revered temples and narrow lanes weaving through colourful markets as ancient as the city's history, Udaipur's charm is unmatched. Founded by Maharaja Udai Singh II in 1559, Udaipur is also referred to as the Venice of the East, a title it has earned for being dotted with numerous lakes (seven to be precise)! Nestled in the mighty Aravalli range, surrounded by dense forests and craggy hills, and magical sunrises and sunsets turning its lakes into pools of gold, Udaipur is one of the most picturesque destinations in the country.
Enchanting and eclectic, the expansive city of Bhuj, the capital of the Kutch region, ensconced in the state of Gujarat, is like a continuous cultural fiesta. A launchpad to admire the mesmerising beauty of the Great Rann of Kutch, Bhuj also invites visitors for its rich textile heritage. At the epicentre is the renowned Rann Utsav, which is a cultural extravaganza suspended in time. Visitors can enjoy this cornucopia of art, craft and food, by staying in luxurious tents and concrete cottages. To get a more intimate experience of the rich culture of Kutch, tourists can enjoy homestays at various villages strewn across the region: Dhamadka for its block printing, Nirona for beautiful castor oil Rogan paintings, Dhordo for its banni hospitality and exquisite embroidered articles. Bhuj is a melting pot of spirituality, wildlife, culture, tradition, rich food, an illustrious history and the charms of the sea and the desert.
A French colony till 1954, Puducherry (earlier Pondicherry) is a small Union territory in India that retains a distinctly French ambience and culture. It has a spiritual ambience, unspoilt stretch of beaches, and backwaters along with a surprising mix of cuisines. Every year, it attracts thousands of tourists who come here to visit the Aurobindo Ashram, meditate and learn yoga. Food, ocean view, coconut trees, clean air, and peaceful shores, this place has a color for everyone and is definitely a great weekend getaway from Chennai or Bangalore.
Lying amidst the slopes of the Lesser Himalayas and blanketed by emerald, green plantations of tea, Darjeeling is a picturesque town in the Indian state of West Bengal. The majestic Kanchenjunga (also known as Kangchenjunga) towers over this beautiful town, which is the third highest mountain in the world. Popularly known as the ' Queen of the Hills', Darjeeling is a favoured tourist destination, noted for its scenic beauty, ancient forests, quaint houses, friendly people and the mountain panorama that it provides.
Spread across 940 sq.km, Kanha National Park is one of the largest parks in Madhya Pradesh where the majestic Royal Bengal Tigers are found in good numbers.The Park is respected globally for saving the Barasingha from near extinction. National Geographic's award winning 'Land of the Tigers' was shot here, and the park is home to leopards, wild dogs and the Barasingha as well.A safari in Kanha is filled with sightings and adventurous thrills and is a must.