Friedrich Nietzsche

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Location : South Asia
Area : 3.29 million square kilometers
Land : 2.98 million sq km
Water: 0.31 million sq
Climate : varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north
Population : 1,027 million (2001)
Population Growth rate: 2.14%
Population Density : 324 persons/sq km
Life Expectancy : 62 years, male: 64 years, female
Literacy Rate : 65.38 %
Languages Spoken: India is a multilingual society with 18 principal languages recognised by the Constitution. Hindi is the language of a large percentage of people(38%), while English is the preferred business language.
Major Religions : Hindu, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism etc.
Government : Democratic, Parliamentary
Political System: The 1950 Constitution provides for a parliamentary system of Government with a bicameral parliament and three independent branches: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The country has a federal structure with elected Governments in States. There are 28 states and 7 Union Territories (administered directly by the central Governmnet).
International airports: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Major Ports of Entry : Kolkata, Chennai, Kandla, Kochi, Mormugao, Mumbai, New Mangalore, Paradip, Tuticorin, Haldia and Vishakapatnam
Time Zone: GMT+ 5.5 hours
Currency : Indian Rupee

Indian culture is both ancient and diverse and stretches back in an unbroken sweep over 5000 years. It has been enriched by successive waves of migration which were absorbed into the Indian way of life. It is this variety which is a special hallmark of India. Its physical, religious and racial variety is as immense as its linguistic diversity. Underneath this diversity lies the continuity of Indian civilization and fundamental unity of social structure from the very earliest times until the present day. Modern India presents a picture of unity in diversity to which history provides no parallel.

The origin of classical dance in India goes back to 2BC when the ancient treatise on dance, Natya Shastra, was compiled. Dance in India is guided by the elaborate codes in the Natya Shastra and by mythology, legend and classical literature. Both classical and fold form of dances are performed in India. Classical dance forms have rigid rules for presentation. Among the leading forms of classical dance are Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Mohini Attam. Bharatnatyam, originating in Tamil Nadu, has movements of pure rhythm, rendering a story dramatically in different moods. Kathakali, the dance drama from Kerala, requires the artist to wear an elaborate mask. The principal classical dance of north India, Kathak, originated as a religious performance but later developed as a court dance under the Moghuls. The lyrical style of dance, Manipuri, comes from the eastern State of Manipur. It described the games of Krishna and the "Gopis". Odissi was once a temple dance in Orissa. Kuchipudi, the dance-drama from Andhra Pradesh, is based on themes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. In addition, there are numerous forms of folk and tribal dance in India.

The ancient Indians believed in the divine origin of music. The purest form of sound was considered equal to cosmic energy. As a result, music and religion were always closely intertwined. Classical music tradition was probably evolved from the religious poems and chants of the Vedic period. It was later codified by Bharata Muni.
At present, there are two schools of classical music-the Hindustani style of the North and the Carnatic of the South. All classical music is set to the raga arrangements of musical notes that have a characteristic mood and are repeated in any composition. Musicians, however, have considerable freedom to improvise within the framework, and performances are judged very often by the brilliance of the improvisation.
As in dance, music has a rich and vigorous folk tradition and music is inextricably woven into the fabric of rural India.

The classical theatre survives only in a few cities. But the folk theatre thrives in almost every linguistic region. Its themes are becoming modern. The professional theatre is largely confined to big urban centres. It draws on the work of modern playwrights and also likes to experiment with various forms including folk theatre. The plays are performed in Indian languages as well as English. The rich tradition of puppet theatre also survives in many parts of the country. The National School of Drama not only trains students, but also conducts research in classical, traditional and modern drama.

India has very strong but ancient traditions in painting. The evidence lies in the frescoes of Ajanta and Ellora, the Buddhist pal leaf manuscripts and the Jain texts. Religion had a great influence on the early Indian paintings.There are several series depicting the life of Lord Krishna. The Islamic period saw many schools bearing Persian and Indian influence, produce miniatures in tempera on paper. The Ragini paintings, depicting the musical modes, are unique in the world. Some of the well-known Indian painting schools are the Rajput, Deccan, Kangra and Moghul.
The Bengal renaissance and modern art, influenced by Europe, also made their mark. The doyen of Indian modern art, Abanindranath Tagore, used Japanese and Chinese techniques in his paintings and drawings. The Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, was an accomplished painter. His contemporaries, Nandalal Bose, Samarendranath Gupta and A.K. Haldar among them, laid the foundation of modern Indian painting. Jamini Roy was another founder of modern Indian painting and graphic art. Amrita Shergill, half Hungarian, represents the best among the European style painters of early 20th century. The art scene in India is enriched today by artists like M.F. Hussain, J. Swaminathan, N.S. Bendre, Krishen Khanna, Vivan Sundaram, Bhupen Khakar, Ghulam Shaikh and many others.

The country leads the world in the output of movie films, with more than 900 produced annually. They command an enormous domestic market and have become increasingly popular abroad, particularly in Asia, Africa and West Asia. The major production centres are Mumbai, Madras and Calcutta. Movies are the most popular medium of entertainment. Much of the commercial cinema revolves around social dramas and thrillers with many songs and dance sequences thrown in. But an art cinema which takes a serious look at Indian society is becoming increasingly popular. There has been widespread recognition of Indian artistes and directors at film festivals in different parts of the world. The late Satyajit Ray was awarded many prestigious international awards including the Oscar in 1992 for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema.

Hockey, in which India has an impressive record with eight Olympic gold medals, is officially the national sport. Other popular games are cricket, football, basketball, volleyball and badminton. Cricket has become a very popular game and India, once one-day cricket champions, staged the World Cup in 1987 and again in 1996. In games like tennis and billiards, which are played by a very small percentage of the population, Indians have nevertheless made a mark in the international arena. At the young age of 17 Vishwanath Anand became an international chess grandmaster. Geet Sethi has won the both the World Amateur and Professional Billiard Championships, while in 1990 Leander Paes became the third Indian Wimbledon Junior Champion.
After the IX Asian Games in New Delhi in 1982, the capital city now boasts of some very modern sports facilities. Such facilities are also being developed in other parts of the country. With the introduction of new equipment and techniques of coaching and training, there is hope that India will show a marked improvement in various disciplines of sports. Besides the sports and games which are included in the international sporting agenda, there are many which have developed indigenously and are played by people in the villages. Among these is wrestling, a sport which has developed many local styles and schools. It is taught for the most part in traditional gymnasia with packed mud floors. There are also several indigenous systems of martial arts. Among the indigenously developed games, the most popular are kabaddi and kho-kho. National competitions are held in these two games. Among equestrian sports, tent-pegging has a uniquely Indian flavour. Camel races and elephant races are also uniquely Indian. Among the indigenous water sports, the snake-boat race which takes place in the backwaters of Kerala during the Onam festival has now become an international tourist attraction.

Namaskar: Namashkar or Namaste is the most popular form of greeting in India. It is a general salutation that is used to welcome somebody and also for bidding farewell. While doing namaskar, both the palms are placed together and raised below the face to greet a person. It is believed that both the hands symbolise one mind, or the self meeting the self. While the right hand represents higher nature, the left hand denotes worldly or lower nature.

Tilak is a ritual mark on the forehead. It can be put in many forms as a sign of blessing, greeting or auspiciousness. Usually made out of a red vermilion paste (kumkum) which is a mixture of turmeric, alum, iodine, camphor, etc. or of a sandalwood paste (chandan) blended with musk, tilak is applied on the spot between the brows which is considered the seat of latent wisdom and mental concentration, and is very important for worship. This is the spot on which yogis meditate to become one with Lord Brahma. It also indicates the point at which the spiritual eye opens. All thoughts and actions are said to be governed by this spot. Putting of the coloured mark symbolizes the quest for the 'opening' of the third eye. All rites and ceremonies of the Hindus begin with a tilak topped with a few grains of rice placed on this spot with the index finger or the thumb. The same custom is followed while welcoming or bidding farewell to guests or relations.

Is performed as an act of veneration and love. It is often performed as a mark of worship and to seek blessings from God, to welcome the guests, for children on their birthdays, family members on auspicious occasions or to welcome a newly wedded couple. For performing Arati, five small lamps called niranjanas are filled with ghee or oil and arranged in a small tray made of metal. A wick is made out of cotton wool and placed in the lamps. A conch- shell filled with water, auspicious leaves or flowers, incense or lighted camphor are also placed in the tray. The lamps are lit and the tray is rotated in a circular motion in front of the deity or the person to be welcomed. The purpose of performing arati is to ward off evil effects and the malefic influence of the 'evil eye'.

Flower garlands are generally offered as a mark of respect and honour. They are offered to welcome the visitors or in honour to the Gods and Goddesses. The garlands are generally made with white jasmine and orange marigold flowers. They are weaved in thread tied in the end with a help of a knot.

A bindi is an auspicious mark worn by young girls and women. Bindi is derived from bindu, the Sanskrit word for dot. It is usually a red dot made with vermilion powder which is worn by women between their eyebrows on their forehead. Considered a symbol of Goddess Parvati, a bindi signifies female energy and is believed to protect women and their husbands. Traditionally a symbol of marriage, it has also become decorative and is worn today by unmarried girls and women as well. No longer restricted in colour or shape, bindis are seen in many bright colours and in different shapes and designs. They are also made of coloured felt and embellished with coloured glass or glitter.

Federal and Parliamentary System
India, a union of states, is a Sovereign, Secular, Democratic Republic with a Parliamentary system of Government. The Indian polity is governed in terms of the Constitution, which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26 November 1950. The Constitution which envisages parliamentary form of government is federal in structure with unitary features.
The President is the constitutional head of the executive of the Union of India. The real executive power vests in a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as head. Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President who shall, in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People. In the states, the Governor, as the representative of the President, is the head of Executive, but real executive power rests with the Chief Minister who heads the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers of a state is collectively responsible to the elected legislative assembly of the state. The Constitution governs the sharing of legislative power between Parliament and the State Legislatures, and provides for the vesting of residual powers in Parliament. The power to amend the Constitution also vests in Parliament.


The Union Executive consists of the President, the Vice-President and Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President.

The President is elected by members of an Electoral College consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states, with suitable weightage given to each vote. His term of office is five years. Among other powers, the President can proclaim an emergency in the country if he is satisfied that the security of the country or of any part of its territory is threatened whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the government of that state.

The Vice-President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote. He holds office for five years. The Vice-President is Ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers comprises Cabinet Ministers, Minister of States (independent charge or otherwise) and Deputy Ministers. Prime Minister communicates all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to administration of affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation to the President. Generally, each department has an officer designated as secretary to the Government of India to advise Ministers on policy matters and general administration. The Cabinet Secretariat has an important coordinating role in decision making at highest level and operates under direction of Prime Minister.


The Legislative Arm of the Union, called Parliament, consists of the President, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. All legislation requires consent of both Houses of Parliament. However, in case of money bills, the will of the Lok Sabha always prevails.

Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
The Rajya Sabha consists of 245 members. Of these, 233 represent states and union territories and 12 members are nominated by the President. Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect; members are elected by the elected members of Legislative Assemblies of the concerned states. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution, one third of its members retire every second year.

Lok Sabha (Lower House)
The Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of universal adult suffrage. As of today, the Lok Sabha consists of 545 members with two members nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian Community. Unless dissolved under unusual circumstances, the term of the Lok Sabha is five years

State Governments and Union Territories

The system of government in states closely resembles that of the Union. There are 28 states and seven Union territories in the country. Union Territories are administered by the President through an Administrator appointed by him. For information on India states and union territories click on any of them below:
Andaman & Nicobar (UT) Haryana Mizoram
Andhra Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Nagaland
Arunachal Pradesh Jammu and Kashmir Orissa
Assam Jharkhand Pondicherry (UT)
Bihar Karnataka Punjab
Chandigarh (UT) Kerala Rajasthan
Chhattisgarh Lakshadweep (UT) Sikkim
Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT) Madhya Pradesh Tamil Nadu
Daman and Diu (UT) Maharashtra Tripura
Delhi Manipur Uttar Pradesh
Goa Meghalaya Uttaranchal
Gujarat West Bengal

Legislative Relations Between the Union and States

Under the Constitution, Parliament has the power to make laws for the whole of or any part of the territory of India. The State Legislatures have the power to make laws for the States. The subjects on which legislation can be enacted are specified in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Parliament has the exclusive right to legislate in respect of items appearing in List I, called the "Union List". This list includes areas such as defence, foreign affairs, currency, income tax, excise duty, railways, shipping, posts and telegraphs, etc. State Legislatures have the exclusive power to make laws in relation to items appearing in List II called the "State List". This includes items like public order, police, public health, communications, agriculture, lotteries, taxes on entertainment and wealth, sales tax, octroi etc.
Both Parliament and the State Legislatures have the power to legislate in items appearing in List III of the Constitution which is known as "Concurrent List". This list includes items like electricity, newspapers, criminal law, marriage and divorce, stamp duties, trade unions, price controls etc.
Political parties in India
Political parties are an established part of modern democracy and have to be registered with The Election Commission of India. The Commission ensures inner party democracy in their functioning by insisting upon them to hold their organizational elections at periodic intervals. Political parties so registered with it are granted recognition at the State and National levels by the Election Commission on the basis of their poll performance at general elections according to a prescribed criteria. The Election Commission also ensures a level playing field for the political parties in election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties. If a political party is recognised in four or more States, it is considered as a National Party and a political party recognized in less than four states is a State party in the state or states in which it is recognised as such. To know the criteria for recognition of a State Party please visit ECI's section on FAQ. An exclusive symbol is reserved for a National party throughout India. In the case of a State party a symbol is reserved for it in the state or states in which it is so recognised. Such reserved symbols are allotted only to the candidates of the parties for which they are so reserved. In all there are 712 political parties in the country including 7 National Parties, 49 state parties and 656 registered unrecognized parties as on the last Lok Sabha elections held in 1999. The National Parties are Bharatiya Janata Party BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party BSP, Communist Party of India CPI, Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM, Indian National Congress INC, Janata Dal (Secular) JD(S) and Janata Dal (United) JD(U).

The Supreme Court is the apex court in the country. The High Court stands at the head of the state's judicial administration. Each state is divided into judicial districts presided over by a district and sessions judge, who is the highest judicicial authority in a district. Below him, there are courts of civil jurisdiction, known in different states as munsifs, sub-judges, civil judges and the like. Similarly, criminal judiciary comprises chief judicial magistrate and judicial magistrates of first and second class.

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to all disputes between the Union and one or more states or between two or more states. The Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to enforce Fundamental Rights. Appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate of the High Court concerned or by special leave granted by the Supreme Court in respect of any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in cases both civil and criminal, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. The President may consult the Supreme Court on any question of fact or law of public importance.
The Supreme Court of India comprises the Chief Justice and not more than 25 other Judges appointed by the President. Judges hold office till 65 years of age.

High Courts
There are 18 High Courts in the country, three having jurisdiction over more than one state. Bombay High Court has the jurisdiction over Maharashtra, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. Guwahati High Court, which was earlier known as Assam High Court, has the jurisdiction over Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Punjab and Haryana High Court has the jurisdiction over Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. Among the Union Territories, Delhi alone has a High Court of its own. The other six Union Territories come under jurisdiction of different state High Courts.
The Chief Justice of a High Court is appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the state. Each High Court has powers of superintendence over all courts within its jurisdiction. High Court judges retire at the age of 62. The jurisdiction as well as the laws administered by a High Court can be altered both by the Union and State Legislatures. Certain High Courts, like those at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, have original and appellate jurisdictions. Under the original jurisdiction suits, where the subject matter is valued at Rs.25,000 or more, can be filed directly in the High Court. Most High Courts have only appellate jurisdiction.


India's amazing diversity offers you everything that you could ever want in a holiday. Bounded by the majestic Himalayan ranges in the north and edged by a spectacular coastline surrounded by three seas, India is a vivid kaleidoscope of landscapes, magnificent historical sites and royal cities, golden beaches, misty mountain retreats, colourful people, rich cultures and festivities.
At any part of the year, India can offer you a dazzling array of destinations and experiences. In summer, when the subcontinent is sizzling, there are spectacular retreats amidst the heady beauty of the Himalayas or the lush heights of the Western Ghats with cool trekking trails, tall peaks to conquer and stretches to white water for adventure seekers. In the cool of an Indian winter, cities come alive with cultural feasts of music and dance. The balmy weather is an ideal time for you to go century hopping in romantic cities studded with medieval forts and palaces. The sun-drenched beaches are inviting and wildlife sanctuaries with their abundance of flora and fauna are a buzz with the nurture of the young.
India, always warm and inviting, is a place of infinite variety - one that favours you with a different facet of its fascination every time you come on a visit. The land of the legendary Taj Mahal, offering great natural beauty, exquisite ancient temples, palaces and forts, fascinating variety of landscapes, culture, delicious cuisines, colourful festivals and shopping delights would certainly leave a lasting impression in the mind of visitors. Explore modern cities that have grown organically from the roots of a multi-hued past. Make a pilgrimage to holy shrines that echo with tales of antiquity. Frolic on a vast array of golden beaches that dot an enviable coastline, washed by two seas and an ocean. Sport with adventure in style.
A Journey into Mysticism
India is a land of many religions, languages, beliefs, and cultures. Its architectural richness and complex variety can be seen from the monuments, ancient structures spread across the breadth and depth of the country.

Northern India
Delhi is the ideal place to start your exploration of northern India. The capital of India and a city of fascinating contrasts, Delhi's monuments and structures take you through the centuries past seven older cities that existed here. Qutb Minar, the tall victory tower built in 1199, the splendid Red Fort and the majestic Jama Masjid with its striped domes and tall minarets. Other architectural delights include the Humayun's Tomb, the Jantar Mantar, the Purana Oila and the magnificent government complex on Raisina Hill - the Rashtrapati Bhavan framed by the Secretariats and the circular Parliament House. Delhi is also a convenient place for shopping.
Take off then on the golden triangle trail on to Agra and Jaipur for a glimpse of historic India. At Agra, view the pristine poetry of the Taj Mahal - a memorial to immortal love and the imposing Red Fort. Meander through the amazing ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri, perfectly preserved, built by the Emperor Akbar in red sandstone.
Jaipur imprints itself on your memory in the most vivid of colours. You could stay in one of its many palaces or mansions for a royal experience and wander off on elephantback to view the Amer Fort majestically located up on a hill. Do not miss the Hawa Mahal, the tall facade with delicately filigreed red sandstone.
Beyond Jaipur, in Rajasthan are fabulous towns with magnificent forts and palaces that still reflect a feudal spirit - Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Udaipur. Off the beaten track, discover the beauty of the desert on a camel safari.
The timeless Ganga, a sacred and holy river worshipped by the Hindus, has a numerous holy towns line its banks all waiting to be explored. Varanasi, Allahabad, Rishikesh and Hardwar are some of the more famous places and it is a delightful experience to mingle with the thronging crowd of pilgrims. This is yet another experience of India, no less fascinating and no less mysterious. The majesty of the Himalayan ranges offers yet another totally different experience. Beautiful resorts in Himachal Pradesh include Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Dharamsala, Dalhousie, Sarahan and a whole range of scenic spots - Kufri, Naldehra, Chail and Narkanda around Shimla and Manikaran, Naggar, and Brighu Lake near Kullu and Manali.
The heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, has an entire range of new experiences for you - medieval cities like Gwalior, Orchha, Mandu, marvellously carved temples at Khajuraho, little hill stations and the forests that Kipling so faithfully described in his 'Jungle Book'. Lucknow, the fine capital of Uttar Pradesh and an entire pilgrimage trail along the holy river Ganga - Gangotri, Yamunotri, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Allahabad, Varanasi, complete your circuit of northern India.

Western India
In Western India, you will find uncommon destinations & experiences that delight. Mumbai, a major metropolis and the financial capital of India, is a logical start.
Mumbai is dynamic and exciting. There are marvellous shopping arcades, fine restaurants and art galleries. The Gateway of India, built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the Delhi Durbar, is a major landmark as also the imposing Taj Mahal Hotel close by. The Prince of Wales Museum, the Jehangir Art Gallery, the various churches, temples and shrines including the one of Haji Ali out on an island linked by a causeway, are worth a glimpse. Take a boat ride out to the Elephanta Island to see the marvellous rock cut caves noted for their huge sculpted panels. Other interesting destinations close by include - the Kanheri Caves, the beach resorts at Madh Island and Manori and the charming little hill station of Matheran, all within easy reach.
Not far from Mumbai is the lovely hill resort of Mahabaleshwar, picturesque during the monsoons with its lakes, waterfalls and wild flower strewn landscapes. Pune is another exciting town located on the Deccan Plateau, once the capital of Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler. Within easy reach are splendid forts up on the fastness of hilltops - well worth seeing. Another treat is the charming Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. It has exhibits that include traditional brassware, utensils, carved doorways and pillars.
Aurangabad, a historic city with various monuments from the time of the Mughals, is a good base for visits to the magnificent Ajanta and Ellora Caves, dating from about 200 BC to 800 AD. Many of these rock cut caves are embellished with exquisite paintings and carvings.
Goa is a fabulous getaway with its beautiful beaches. Relax and experience the idyllic peace that only India can give in sunny Goa. Picturesque villages along the coast with white washed churches and red tiled houses set amidst groves of coconut add charm to the landscape. Near Panaji, is the old Portuguese capital of Velha Goa noted for its fine churches in the baroque style. These include the Basilica of Born Jesus, the magnificent Se Cathedral and Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
The state of Gujarat offers interesting destinations - the ancient port of Lothal built about 4000 years ago, Ahmedabad, with its fine old residences and museums; Vadodara, a centre for the arts and once the royal capital of Gujarat; Palitana - an entire hill top encrusted in finely carved temples; Somnath with its old temple and the picturesque little island retreat of Diu.

Southern India

South India is a land of temples and devout where new wonders wait. Chennai (Madras), the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu is a marvellous place to start the voyage of discovery. It is a town steeped in tradition though it was created by the British 350 years ago. Visit the Fort St. George, the St. Mary's Church, the splendid Marina Beach, the beautiful Kapaleeswarar Temple, the St. Thomas Mount, where St. Thomas the Apostle was martyred, the National Art Gallery, the San Thome Cathedral, the Parthasarathy Temple, Valluvar Kottam, Cholamandalam, the artist's village and Kalakshetra.
Tamil Nadu has fascinating towns with magnificent temples - Kanchipuram, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, and Rameswaram. Mamallapuram close to Chennai, is a marvellous open-air museum set along a fabulous beach with an array of sculptured edifices, cave temples and reliefs. Further down the coast, Pondicherry displays its French heritage in its seaside villas and the French names of its streets. Ooty (Udhagamandalam) and Kodaikanal - picturesque hill towns are close to this region.
The splendid cities of Bangalore and Mysore reflect the royal heritage of Karnataka. Bangalore, the state capital is a lively cosmopolitan city noted for its fine climate and extensive gardens. The exquisite Hoysala temples at Halebid and Belur are not far from Bangalore.
Mysore is another charming city with its beautiful palaces and royal traditions. Up on a hill overlooking the city is the temple to Chamundeswari, its patron goddess. Interesting trips around Mysore include the Brindavan Gardens, Srirangapatna, the Ranganathittoo Bird Sanctuary, the ornate Hoysala temple at Somnathpur and the Nagarhole National Park - all within easy reach of the city.
Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh is exciting with its domes and minarets, palaces and colourful bazaars spilling over with silks, pearls, perfumes, antiques and glittering glass bangles. The imposing Charminar and the Golconda Fort looming in the distance are two well known landmarks. Take time off to visit the unusual museum at Nagarjunakonda where an ancient Buddhist site has been relocated on an island in the reservoir of the Nagarjunakonda Dam.
The state of Kerala along the west coast of the peninsula is a lush green escape with beautiful beaches, historic port towns and pretty retreats in the hills. Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital offers a glimpse of the life of the people of Kerala. The Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the unusual Napier Museum and the Chitra Art Gallery are some of its attractions. The delightful beach resort at Kovalam and the famous Padmanabhapuram Palace arecloseby. The port town of Kochi can reveal so much on exploration as the city is full with places like the old Jewish Synagogue, the Mattancherry Palace, St. Francis Church - the oldest European church in the subcontinent and the Chinese fishing nets. Visit Kumarakom set in the scenic backwater country and drift along the serene waterways vaulted by coconut palms for a delightful break from routine. The coral islands of Lakshadweep are easily accessible from Kochi. Relax on its pristine beaches and go snorkeling in its crystal lagoons.

The Excitement and Tranquility of the Eastern India

In no time at all the stimulating bustle and heat of Kolkata(Calcutta) is left far behind, opening out to the cool and luscious mountains of refreshing Darjeeling. Encounter the mighty range of the Himalayas in Sikkim, the one-horned rhinoceros in wonderful wild life reserves, then dream of a forgotten age in the ancient holy towns on the plains of rural India.
The capital of the state of West Bengal, Kolkata has a charm all its own. Imperial edifices, teeming bazaars, clubs and golf courses, museums and elegant hotels and the River Hooghly winding through the city are all part of its fascination. A good time to visit Kolakata is during the Durga Puja in October/ November when the metropolitan city is decked and decorated and is alive with good cheer and celebration.
Many of Kolkata's imperial buildings are located around the maidan (square), a large expanse of lawns that forms the heart of the city. They include the Victoria Memorial, an imposing structure in white marble that has a collection of paintings, manuscripts and memorabilia, the Fort William, the Raj Bhawan, the St. Paul's Cathedral and the Town Hall built in the Doric style. Calcutta has a lively cultural life and fine clubs. So see an art exhibition or two or go to the theatre.
Take a toy train to the magnificent hill station of Darjeeling for an unusual travel experience. Admire a panorama of some of the highest peaks in the Himalayan ranges. Go onwards to Gangtok, the attractive capital of Sikkim.
Travel further north to the lush Brahmaputra Valley to Assam. Explore the verdant unspoilt beauty of the hill states of the north east-Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur. There are exciting trekking trails and colourful cultures to encounter and enjoy. Guwahati, the capital of Assam, set along the banks of the Brahmaputra, Shillong, a pretty hill station in Meghalaya with its grassy downs and lakes are special destinations.
From Kolkata you can wander off in the southeastern direction for a fantastic break to the spectacular Andaman Islands- 300 odd islands in the Bay of Bengal with their lush rain forests and sparkling beaches.
Along the coastline, south of Kolkata is the magical state of Orissa. Splendid temples in the Nagara style with tall shikaras or temple towers embellished with exquisite carving are the main attractions of this state. The temple towns of Bhubaneswar and Puri with Konark noted for its unusual Sun Temple make a marvellous circuit close to Kolkata.
Go west to the state of Bihar for a gentle trail in the path of the Buddha. Ancient settlements- Bodhgaya, the remains of the university town of Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali and Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh evoke the life of the Enlightened One.