Man Sagar Lake, north of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. (Photo: Chris JL via Flickr)
Nobody travels to India and leaves the same. There may be no other nation on Earth that can boast the diversity of this remarkable country. India inspires awe, breaks hearts, tests patience and immune systems, enlightens and invigorates, sometimes all at once, but at least once each day. Diversity reigns in India on every conceivable level: Landscapes – the mighty Himalayan range, coral reefs off the little-known Andaman Islands, extensive lagoons in Kerala, desert in Rajasthan and tropical rainforests in the north east; Spirituality – Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism all started in India – whilst travelers have long been drawn to the many ashrams and yoga retreats, including The Beatles; History – Relics of the British Raj are evident across much of India – the hill stations of Darjeeling and Shimla, the regal buildings in Delhi and Kolkata – Even more impressive are the Mughal Empire’s Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri; Festivals, from religious celebrations – dominated by all that colour, the scents the sounds, the tastes and often, the sheer number of people – to cattle fairs like Pushkar where thousands of camels are gathered in one place ready for sale. Monsoon season typically lasts from June to September, but affects different regions at different times. Visit North India right after the monsoon season, when everything is fresh and vibrant in October, or a few months later for the South.