India - A Land of Infinite Variety
"So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked. India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition."

Mark Twain, the writer of this quotation, was obviously impressed by the subcontinent. Travel agents say it's nearly impossible not to be impressed, astonished and amazed by India—all within the first hour off the plane—for this nation is blessed with sacred sites and ancient ruins, each with a mesmerizing story to tell, creating a treasure-filled world of travel opportunities.

Towering Mountains, Vast Deserts and Lush Rainforests

Nestled between Pakistan, China and Nepal, India is bordered in the north by the world's highest mountain chain, while further south, tropical rain forests mingle with windswept deserts. To complete the geographic smorgasbord, palm-fringed beaches trim the peninsula like ribbon on a huge Christmas gift. The only thing missing is a glacier, but no one seems to mind.

Visitors and locals alike do not complain about India's astonishing cultural diversity either, for the nation boasts an inspired, imaginative burst of religions and cultures, races and tongues, resulting from 5,000 years of history. India's long, historical significance and great natural wealth have lured a long succession of foreign influences, traders and craftsmen, each having left their distinctive imprint on the country.

Whether you come to rejuvenate spiritually, relax on the countless beaches or live like a queen in the land of princes, India's amazing diversity offers everything you could ever want in a holiday. With so much to choose from, it's wise to enlist the aid of a trusted travel agent. Paragons of advice, travel agents suggest that, because of India's size and diversity, it's best to focus your journey around a particular tour or theme. This allows you to experience in depth one tantalizing aspect of the country while still enjoying the variety that makes India a top travel destination.

The Golden Triangle: New Delhi, Agra, Jaipu

Of India's many tours, the Golden Triangle is one of the most popular, for the three cities that form the triangle—New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur—feature the images that epitomize India. Inside this triangle you'll see a panorama of majestic architectural creations that feed the area's rich traditions, like the symphony of marble that is the Taj Mahal (arguably the world's most perfect structure), the imperial elegance of New Delhi and the desert city of Jaipur.

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, one of the largest of India's 28 states and host to the exotic Desert Adventure tour. Rajasthan is known as the Land of Kings, where sumptuous palaces dot the desert landscape and battle-scarred fortresses stand tall atop hills like sentinels. You'll begin your adventure at Jodhpur, an ancient stronghold on the edge of the Thar Desert, before traveling along trade routes to the unforgettable golden fortress at Jaisalmer and beyond.

Beyond India's present-day heritage is a past steeped in spiritual lore, enlightening travelers who tour the Buddhist Circuit. Walk in the footsteps of Siddhartha Gautama—the gentle sage who became the Buddha—and sit beneath the Holy Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, under which he gained enlightenment in 528 BC. Visit Sarnath, where the Buddha gave the world his first sermon, and Kushinagar, the site of his death. This tour is a spiritual journey that will stay with you for a lifetime.

'The Land of Coconuts'

Another Indian journey that will surely stick with you for a lifetime is a cruise through the Backwaters of Kerala. Kerala, on the southwestern tip of the peninsula, is called the land of coconuts, where palm trees shade nearly the entire state from the tropical sun. All along its coast, exotic backwaters, canals, lagoons and inlets create an intricate maze stretching nearly 1,200 miles throughout the land. Traveling by boat along the emerald-tinted backwaters is a magical experience.

Any trip you make to incredible India will be a magical experience, especially if you book your journey through your friendly, neighborhood travel agent. Travel agents can combine any of the above tours or extend them to include exciting nights in bustling cities like Calcutta, New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay). They can send you along other fabulous tours of India, to the Temple Trail of the south, across the Seven Sisters of the northeast or through the jungles that inspired Kipling in the Heart of Heritage.

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