From 21st-century cities to tribal villages, from palm-fringed backwaters to knife-edge mountain ranges, and from ancient temples to sun-scoured desert fortresses, India's regions are an astounding cocktail of contrasts, colours and experiences.

Delhi

Food

Shopping

Ruins

From Street Food to Modern Indian

Delhi serves up a stunning calvacade of flavour; sample fabulous Indian fine dining or munch on fresh-from-the-fire Dilli-ka-chaat (Delhi's delectable street food).

Bazaars & Boutiques

Delhi is a wonderland of bazaars, boutiques and emporiums. Leave space in your luggage for intricately wrought handicrafts, Indian clothing, exotic homewares, prints and paintings, musical instruments and all manner of religious paraphernalia.

Historic Sites

The ruins of seven imperial cities are scattered throughout Delhi, and its Mughal relics rank among India's finest: wander in and out of centuries of history at the Red Fort, Humayun's tomb, Hauz Khas, Qutb Minar, Mehrauli, Purana Qila and time-scarred Tughlaqabad.

Reasons to Go

Delhi will transport you back in time, from the magnificent ruins of medieval empires to the timeless to and fro of Old Delhi's bazaars. In-between, make time to feast on taste bud tingling street food and haggle in Delhi's markets and emporiums.

Rajasthan

Palaces & Forts

Arts & Crafts

Wildlife

Royal Architecture

Rajasthan's most iconic attraction is the architecture left behind by its flamboyant warrior maharajas. An incredible collection of forts, palaces and mansions lies strewn across its mountains and deserts.

Paintings & Puppets

From exquisite miniature paintings and jewellery fit for royalty to camel-hide slippers, traditional puppets and block-printed fabrics, Rajasthani creativity will bring vivid colour to your living space back home.

National Parks

There's more to Rajasthan than forts and deserts: the state's former royal hunting reservations are now protected national parks, where the jungle teems with tigers, monkeys, deer and crocodiles, and a kaleidoscope of birds.

Reasons to Go

Rajasthan's forts and palaces are the crowning glory of this Land of Kings, and former royal hunting reservations have been reborn as national parks – prime places to spot tigers. You'll also find princely legacies in Rajasthan's bazaars, from miniature paintings to traditional puppets.

Punjab & Haryana

Architecture

Pageantry

Food

Dynasty Treasures

The stunning Golden Temple in Amritsar is just one of the region's treasures. Punjab is dotted with palaces and follies dating back to the glorious reigns of the dynasties who ruled here before and during the Raj era.

Border Bravado

Not many border crossings are tourist attractions, but the Attari–Wagah border post is the setting for a fabulous piece of pomp and circumstance, where guards from India and Pakistan compete to outdo each other with high steps and chest thrusting.

Glories of the Tandoor

You'll eat very well in Punjab and Haryana, birthplace of butter chicken, basmati rice, naan and tarka dhal, and all the wonders to emerge from the tandoor (clay oven).

Reasons to Go

Besides the stunning Golden Temple, the Punjab has forts and palaces to spare, and fabulous cuisine to feast on while you explore. Leave time to pop up to the Attari–Wagah Border crossing for a fabulous piece of transborder pomp.

Kashmir & Ladakh

Landscapes

Trekking

Religion

Vistas

From the alpine meadows of Kashmir to the high-altitude deserts of Ladakh and Zanskar, nature's awesome scale will humble you here. Dotted around this rugged territory are centuries-old Buddhist monasteries and villages that almost vanish into the craggy landscape.

High-Altitude Hikes

Dramatic hikes link mountain passes and monasteries, viewpoints and ancient Buddhist villages. Trekking here is made even more culturally fascinating by overnight stops in traditional Ladakhi and Zanskari farmsteads.

The Spirit of the Mountains

This lofty enclave is one of India's religious melting pots; murmured mantras fill Ladakh's gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries), Hindu pilgrims converge on Amarnath's ice lingam, and the Muslim call to prayer rings out over the Kashmir Valley, where, some believe, you'll find the grave of Jesus Christ.

Reasons to Go

From alpine Kashmir to the moonscapes of Ladakh and Zanskar, nature's awesome scale will humble you here. Connect with the region's soul through treks to ancient Buddhist villages and respectful visits to Kashmir's papier mâché–lined mosques.

Himachal Pradesh

Adventure

Scenery

Cultures

Outdoor Playground

Himachal’s mountains offer the best combination of awesome scenery and easy accessibility anywhere in India. Trekking routes crisscross the state, and rock climbing, rafting, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and paragliding are all on the menu of adventures.

Awe-Inspiring Topography

Towering snow-covered peaks, plunging green valleys, raging mountain rivers, ancient villages and temples perched atop impossible slopes, and some of the world's most hair-raising, gravity-defying roads – wherever you look, Himachal will take your breath away.

Tibetan Enclaves

The exile community founded by the Dalai Lama at McLeod Ganj and the ancient Buddhist cultures of Spiti and Lahaul are like mini-Tibets, providing fascinating contrasts with traditional Hindu areas such as Kinnaur and the Kullu and Chamba Valleys.

Reasons to Go

High Himalayan passes connect plunging valleys, creating a vast natural playground for trekking, climbing, motorcycling, paragliding and skiing. The scenery is consistently awe-inspiring, and diverse Hindu and Buddhist communities follow customs and traditions that have hardly altered in centuries.

Agra & the Taj Mahal

Architecture

Tombs

Forts

Mughal Splendours

Agra has India's finest Mughal remains – not just the Taj Mahal but also a trump hand of fortresses, mosques and mausoleums, and even a vast, ruined city at eroded Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar's abandoned capital.

World's Finest Mausoleums

The Taj Mahal, built for Shah Jahan's lamented wife, is the pinnacle of Mughal architectural achievement, but don't miss Akbar's mausoleum, another decorative masterpiece, or the dainty Itimad-ud-Daulah.

Agra Fort

Robust and resilient, Agra Fort is surrounded by 2.5km of towering sandstone walls, providing protection for a string of beautiful palaces and mosques that hint at the complex, structured lives of its Mughal inhabitants.

Reasons to Go

Agra's Mughal architecture is the height of imperial grandeur; the awesome symmetry of the Taj Mahal will simply take your breath away. And don't miss other local masterpieces, such as Akbar's Mausoleum and the mighty buttresses of Agra Fort.

Uttar Pradesh

Cities

Religion

Ghats

Spiritual Centres

Everyone knows about the Taj Mahal, but the rest of Uttar Pradesh (UP) offers some of India's most spectacular and spiritual cities: sacred Varanasi, historic Prayagraj (Allahabad), Islamic Lucknow and the birthplaces of Lord Rama and Krishna – at Ayodhya and Mathura, respectively.

Significant Sites

India's great melting pot of religions and cultures is exemplified in UP. The state boasts ancient Islamic cities, two of Buddhism’s most sacred pilgrimage centres, and two of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism.

The Banks of the Ganges

The mighty Ganges and its tributaries flow across UP, lined, wherever there is human habitation, with holy ghats – ceremonial steps used for rituals, bathing and contemplation. Watch the intense spiritual activity unfold in startling colour on the river banks at Prayagraj (Allahabad) and Varanasi.

Reasons to Go

Uttar Pradesh is sublimely religious. Dotted across its plains are ancient Islamic cities, Buddhist pilgrimage centres, and two of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. Follow the holy Ganges and its tributaries across the state, finishing at Varanasi, India's most spiritual city.

Uttarakhand

Trekking

Yoga

Wildlife

Mountains, Lakes & Meadows

Despite new camping restrictions, trekkers can still take their pick from lofty temples, sacred lakes, remote glaciers and rolling alpine meadows, joining the crowds of devotees on some of India's most breathtaking pilgrimage routes.

India's Yoga Capital

India is the birthplace of yoga, and Rishikesh proudly passes on the wisdom as India's yoga capital. Basic courses, drop-in classes, advanced tuition and teacher training – wherever you are on the yoga journey, you'll find guidance where the Ganges meets the Indian plains.

Jungle

Seek tigers, leopards and wild elephants in the steamy jungles of Corbett Tiger Reserve and the forests of Rajaji National Park, or strike north to alpine valleys, where snow leopards and sloth bears roam in parks such as Gangotri and Valley of Flowers.

Reasons to Go

Trekkers can take their pick from timeless temples, sacred lakes, remote glaciers and rolling alpine meadows. Head to Rishikesh for a spiritual tune-up or seek snow leopards, sloth bears and blue sheep in Uttarakhand's national parks.

Kolkata

Culture

Food

Architecture

Arts & Festivals

Kolkata is renowned as India's cultural and intellectual capital, with a rich heritage of Bengali music, poetry, literature and film. Drop in on its jazz, book, film and religious festivals to experience India's cultured side.

Magnificent Seafood

Fish and prawns hauled fresh from the Bay of Bengal are the central building blocks of a rich, delicious cuisine that's renowned across the subcontinent.

Colonial-era Buildings

During their time in colonial India, the British filled Kolkata with grand monuments. The city's streets are crowded with stately civic buildings and monumental office blocks that created the template for India's legendary bureaucracy.

Reasons to Go

Once the capital of the British Raj, Kolkata is stuffed full of colonial-era architecture, but the modern city is a very Indian mix of chaos, commerce and sophisticated culture. Food here is renowned across the subcontinent, with the focus on fresh seafood.

West Bengal

Hill Stations

Wildlife

Hotels

Darjeeling

Blown by winds that slide down from the high Himalaya, Darjeeling is the quintessential hill station. Stay in faded Raj-era cottages, sip brews fresh from India's most elegant tea gardens and promenade in front of spectacular Himalayan views.

Tigers

Where better to spot an awesome Royal Bengal tiger than the state that gave this jungle giant its name? Nearly 300 tigers roam the waterlogged wonderland of Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, open to visitors on atmospheric riverboat tours.

Heritage Sleeps

Historic accommodation is West Bengal's stock in trade; take your pick from faded Raj-era cottages, grand colonial residences and elegant tea estates, where you can sip fine teas or G&Ts on the terrace in front of mountain vistas.

Reasons to Go

Darjeeling is the definitive Indian hill station, offering spectacular Himalayan views, tea tasting and all sorts of nostalgic Raj-era accommodation. At the state's other extreme, drop down to waterlogged Sunderbans Tiger Reserve to spot an awesome Royal Bengal tiger.

Bihar & Jharkhand

Religion

Ruins

Wildlife

Pilgrimages

Bodhgaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment, is a magnet for Buddhist pilgrims, while Jain devotees wake before dawn to begin the merit-earning climb to the summit of Jharkhand's tallest peak.

Buddha's Footsteps

Bihar is dotted with pivotal locations from the life of the historical Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment at Bodhgaya and meditated at Rajgir; his ashes were enshrined at Vaishali. Devotees furthered his work at the historic, now ruined university at Nalanda.

Wild Elephants

Jharkhand’s Betla (Palamau) National Park offers one of the best chances to peer at wild pachyderms. And even if the elephants prove elusive, an overnight stay amid its bamboo thickets and forest groves is blissfully serene.

Reasons to Go

Bodhgaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment, is a magnet for Buddhist pilgrims, while Jains flock to sacred Parasnath Hill. Trace key events in Buddha's life at Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Vaishali and Nalanda, or search for wild elephants at Betla (Palamau) National Park.

Sikkim

Views

Monasteries

Trekking

Mountains

A Buddhist kingdom that was semi-independent until 1975, Sikkim is a tempest-tossed sea of steep forested ridges and deep river valleys rising to a wall of soaring snow-topped peaks.

Buddhist Spirituality

This former Buddhist kingdom is dotted with Tibetan-style monasteries and monumental Buddhist statues. Across Sikkim, maroon-robed monks chant mantras in front of gilded altars, while prayer flags flutter serenely in breezes that float down from the Himalaya.

Gentle Strolls & Khangchendzonga Trips

Yuksom, Sikkim’s original capital, offers glorious hiking options, from gentle half-day strolls to majestic week-long treks. The classic Goecha La trek gets acclimatised walkers up close and personal with gigantic Khangchendzonga, the world’s third-highest peak.

Reasons to Go

The towering forested ridges of this former Buddhist kingdom are studded with Tibetan-style Buddhist monasteries, Hindu temples and the odd gleaming mega-statue. This is just a warm-up act for Sikkim's Himalayan peaks, with mesmerising Khangchendzonga calling out to trekkers like a beacon.

Northeast States

Culture

Wildlife

Adventure

Tribal Customs

The Northeast is India’s tribal heartland. Visitors who don't mind skipping creature comforts can get truly off the beaten track on this remote frontier, where villages preserve pockets of ancient indigenous cultures.

Biodiversity

The one-horned Indian rhino is just one glamorous character on a long roll-call of exotic animals that can be seen in the Northeast's magnificent national parks, which feature some of the highest biodiversity in India.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Expeditions

With permit restrictions slipping away, now is the prime time to explore India's least-visited quarter, where some remote valleys and mountain trails have yet to see an outsider's footprint. Forge an expedition to where India, Tibet and Southeast Asia meet.

Reasons to Go

The Northeast is home to some of India's most enigmatic tribes, who follow ancient customs in villages of grass-thatched, bamboo houses tucked into remote valleys. The one-horned Indian rhino is just one of the exotic animals on this wild frontier.

Odisha

Architecture

Tribal Culture

Wildlife

Religious Artistry

Inspired by profound devotion, Odisha's stunning temples are masterpieces of the stonemason's art. A carved stone chariot rolls through the centuries at Konark, while wooden chariots are hauled through the streets by devotees during Puri's Rath Yatra festival.

Adivasi Markets

The markets of Onkadelli and Chatikona offer fascinating opportunities to mingle with members of Adivasi tribes, who staunchly maintain a fiercely traditional way of life.

Tigers, Crocodiles & Birds

Odisha is a playground for nature-lovers: take your pick from tiger reserves, crocodile-filled mangrove forests, coastal wetlands, and a brackish lake thronged with dolphins and migratory birds.

Reasons to Go

Odisha's dazzling temples were the work of rulers who spared no expense in their veneration of the divine. For contrast, tribal markets offer fascinating opportunities to mingle with Odisha's indigenous inhabitants, while nature-lovers can enjoy tiger reserves and coastal wetlands.

Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh

Wildlife

Monuments

Culture

Jungle Journeys

Madhya is home to some of India's top tiger habitats, offering perhaps your best shot at getting up close to a wild tiger. Even if these elusive customers stay out of sight, you'll see plenty of other wildlife, from monkeys and sloth bears to antelopes, deer and gaurs (Indian bison).

Khajuraho & More

The raunchy relief work on the World Heritage–listed Khajuraho temples is just the start; visit Orchha, Sanchi, Mandu and Gwalior for more spectacular architecture from bygone civilisations.

Adivasi Villages & Festivals

Southern Chhattisgarh is home to myriad tribes. It's one of India's best areas for visiting tribal markets and villages and experiencing thrillingly brilliant-hued local festivals.

Reasons to Go

A region of eclectic attractions, with India's most famous tiger reserves, erotic carvings on the World Heritage–listed Khajuraho temples, fascinating old forts and palaces, and a wealth of tribal villages, markets and crafts.

Gujarat & Diu

Wildlife

Crafts

Treks

Wild Lions & Asses

In Gujarat's sparsely inhabited interior you can see Asia’s only wild lions – at verdant Gir National Park – and India’s only wild asses, on the other-worldly salt plains of the Little Rann of Kachchh (Kutch).

Magnificent Embroidery

Gujarati embroiderers, weavers, printers and dyers produce some of the most colourful, intricate clothing and textiles in India; markets in the western region of Kachchh are a riot of mirrored spangles.

Sacred Mountains

In this predominantly flat state, mountains act as spiritual magnets; join Hindu and Jain pilgrims on treks up stunning, temple-topped peaks such as Shatrunjaya, Girnar Hill and Pavagadh.

Reasons to Go

Gujarat's national parks protect Asiatic lions and wild asses, while weavers and embroiderers transform every human settlement into a riot of colour. To feel Gujarat's spiritual pulse, visit Gandhi's ashram at Ahmedabad, or join pilgrims on treks up temple-topped peaks.

Mumbai

Architecture

Food

Nightlife

Colonial Edifices

Indian stonemasons and the British share honours for Mumbai's glorious colonial-era architecture, merging grandiose Gothic flourishes with local motifs and adornments. Chhatrapati Shvaji Maharaj train terminus is the pinnacle of the form.

Street Food to Haute Cuisine

Mumbai has some of India's most spectacular dining options, from humble street carts to five-star sophistication. Sample hot and sour dhansak (curried lentil stew) in Parsi canteens, munch bhelpuri (crisp noodle salad) on Chowpatty Beach, or go all out in the city's top dining rooms.

Bollywood & Partying

The glitz and glamour of the world’s most prolific film industry spills over into real life: Mumbaikars are enthusiastic party people, and you may spot the odd Bollywood celeb among the beautiful people in Mumbai's sleek bars and neon-filled nightclubs.

Reasons to Go

Blending British grandeur and Indian exuberance, Mumbai's architecture is a fabulous fusion of styles. Global flavours mingle at the city's excellent restaurants, canteens and food stands. After hours, look out for Bollywood stars and sporting celebs in Mumbai's ritzy clubs and bars.

Maharashtra

Caves

Beaches

Wine

Carved Temples

Unesco World Heritage sites Ajanta and Ellora are renowned for their incredible, elaborate cave paintings and temples whittled from the living rock. Ellora's Kailasa Temple is the largest structure ever hewn from a single piece of stone.

Coastal Nooks

Maharashtra’s Konkan Coast harbours some of the most secluded beaches in India, just made for romantics, adventurers, and lovers of fresh seafood.

Nashik Vineyards

Nashik, the grand cru of India’s up-and-coming wine industry, boasts vineyards that blend California-style New World attitude with Indian atmosphere.

Reasons to Go

Ajanta and Ellora hide exquisite cave paintings and rock sculptures, while the Konkan Coast has some of the most secluded beaches in India. Inland, Nashik is the epicentre of India's burgeoning wine industry, producing exciting vintages that are causing an international stir.

Goa

Beaches

Food

Architecture

Palms & Golden Sands

Goa’s beaches are no secret, but with palms swaying overhead and warm, golden sand underfoot, you won't mind a bit of company, and there are still places where you can escape the crowds. Be sure to explore the markets inland from the sand.

Glorious Seafood

Goa has fresh-off-the-boat seafood, and cooks who blend techniques and ingredients from India and Portugal to create a fabulous medley of flavours that perfectly complements the laid-back beachside lifestyle.

Portuguese Mansions

The Portuguese left Goa in 1961, but a grand colonial-era legacy remains: mansions in Quepem and Chandor, graceful shop-houses in Panaji (Panjim), stately basilicas in Old Goa and villas scattered along the coastline.

Reasons to Go

Goa’s beaches are no secret, but with palm fronds swishing overhead and sugar-sand under your feet, you won't really mind. Add fresh seafood, magical markets and beautiful colonial-era architecture, and it's easy to see what all the fuss is about.

Karnataka

Temples

Wildlife

Food

Ornamentation

The temples of Karnataka are a riot of carving and ornamentation, crowned by intricate figures of mythical beasts, deities and demons. Take your pick from ancient stone-carved interpretations or the saturated-colour versions on towering South Indian super-temples.

Tigers, Elephants & More

Draped in tropical vines, the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve harbours some of the best-preserved tropical forest in India. Dive into the jungle in national parks such as Bandipur and Nagarhole to seek out tigers, elephants, sloth bears and deer.

Vegetarian Dishes & Splendid Seafood

Depending on your dietary preferences, you can kick off with a delectable Udupi vegetarian thali, then move on to some fiery Mangalorean seafood, washing it all down with craft ales in cosmopolitan Bengaluru (Bangalore).

Reasons to Go

The temples of Karnataka overflow with carved deities and demons, while the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is home to abundant elephants, plus stalking tigers and leopards. The table is laden, too, with everything from Udupi vegetarian thalis to fresh Mangalorean seafood.

Telangana & Andhra Pradesh

Religion

Food

Beaches

Islamic, Buddhist & Hindu Sites

Islamic heritage reigns supreme in Hyderabad, where towering mosques and elegant palaces tell the tale of its dynastic Muslim rulers. Away from this hospitable metropolis, the countryside is dotted with ancient Buddhist remains, while Tirumala is a major Hindu pilgrimage site.

Biryani & Mutton Stew

Synonymous with Hyderabad, biryani (steamed rice with meat) is a local obsession. The similarly famous Hyderabadi haleem (mutton stew with pounded spiced wheat) has been patented so that it can’t be served unless it meets stringent local quality standards.

Local Resorts & Sublime Coastline

Beach tourism in Andhra Pradesh is geared towards the domestic market, lending a unique and festive atmosphere to its seaside resorts. Visakhapatnam has the most gorgeous stretch of coastline.

Reasons to Go

Hyderabad's past splendours and contemporary style make it one of India's most engaging cities, while its famed biryani ranks among India's best-loved dishes. Escape the city rush at peaceful rural Buddhist sites and beach retreats such as Visakhapatnam.

Kerala

Backwaters

Food

Wildlife

Houseboat Trips

The inlets and lakes of Kerala’s backwaters spread far inland; exploring by local ferry, by canoe or on an overnight houseboat trip, with meals served on board, is one of India’s most relaxing pleasures.

Renowned Cuisine

Delicious, delicate dishes flavoured with coconut, chilli and myriad spices – the Keralan kitchen is a melting pot of international influences and local ingredients, including seafood netted just offshore.

Signature Species

Kerala has been dealt a fine hand of wildlife-filled national parks, where, amid lush mountain landscapes, you can spot wild elephants, tigers, leopards and other signature Indian species. Dotted between the parks are verdant tea, coffee and spice plantations.

Reasons to Go

Set back from idyllic beaches, the inlets and lakes of Kerala’s backwaters are a peaceful retreat from the modern age. Back on land, you'll find cultural riches, a lavish, coconut-flavoured cuisine, and wildlife-filled national parks in the hills of the Western Ghats.

Tamil Nadu

Temples

Hill Stations

City Life

Architecture & Festivals

The incredible architecture and spiritual significance of Tamil Nadu’s temples draw pilgrims from across India, especially at festival time. The grandest temples are topped by soaring, sculpture-studded gopuram (gateway towers) and graced by exquisitely carved mandapa (pavilions).

Colonial Echoes

Ooty (Udhagamandalam), Kodaikanal and other hill stations of the Western Ghats offer wonderfully cool weather, cosy colonial-era guesthouses, and hikes to spectacular viewpoints overlooking the plains. French-flavoured Puducherry (Pondicherry) offers a different take on colonial history down by the shore.

Heritage Hotels

Elegant spots to lay your head include the beautiful town houses of Puducherry’s French Quarter, grand old palace hotels in the hills, and Chettinadu’s historic teak-and-tile mansions.

Reasons to Go

Age-old tradition meets cosmopolitan flair in bustling Chennai, while Tamil Nadu’s intricately carved temples attract pilgrims from across India. For a peaceful escape, retreat to the Western Ghats' cool Raj-era hill stations or the pretty French Quarter of Puducherry (Pondicherry).

Andaman Islands

Water Sports

Beaches

Culture

Diving & Snorkelling

Apart from fine snorkelling opportunities, this prime diving destination offers easy ocean dips for first-timers as well as more challenging drift dives for the experienced.

Palm-Shaded Sands

Blessed with deliciously lush jungle landscapes inland and utterly gorgeous strips of sand on the shore, the Andaman Islands make an ideal place to kick back under a palm.

Ethnic Groups

The Andamans are home to dozens of fascinating tribal groups, including people who have yet to make formal contact with the outside world. Even on the most visited islands you'll find a captivating blend of tribal customs and South Asian and Southeast Asian culture.

Reasons to Go

With lush greenery, pristine waters and a sand-sprinkled shoreline, the Andamans are an ideal place to chill out. There's excellent snorkelling and diving offshore, and tribal people and settlers from India and Southeast Asia create a unique cultural mix inland.