Our author recommendations don’t end here. We’ve flagged up our favourite places – a perfectly sited hotel, an atmospheric café, a special restaurant – throughout the guide, highlighted with the symbol.

Our authors have crossed the length and breadth of India in search of the most impressive monuments, sumptuous food and memorable journeys. Here’s a list of their personal highlights.

Naga knees up

The spectacular Hornbill Festival, held in a village near the town of Kohima in early December, brings together the tribes of Nagaland dressed in astonishingly beautiful traditional finery for shows of martial arts, dance, wrestling, archery and a rock concert.

Swimming with Rajan

Retired timber elephant Rajan’s dips in the translucent turquoise water of Havelock Beach, in the Andaman Islands, offer a unique sub-aqua photo opportunity.

Dancing monks

On the banks of the Brahmaputra River, the Hindu monasteries (sattras) of Majuli host chimeric dance plays performed by white-turbaned monks.

Masked trance

Nothing encapsulates the otherworldly feel of the deep south like the masked spirit possession theyyem rituals enacted in villages around the town of Kannur, Kerala.

Cave treasure

Shown in a languid hipshot pose holding a blue lotus bloom, the figure of Padmapani in Ajanta’s Cave 1 is the great masterpiece of ancient Indian art.

Gilded vision

Hypnotic kirtans (hymns) mingle to magical effect with the reflections of the Sikhs’ holiest shrine in the shimmering Amrit Samovar tank – an intoxicating image of spirituality.

To the source

Follow a winding dirt trail through the high Himalayas to the source of the sacred River Ganges, where yogis and sadhus bathe in icy water emanating from the snout of a glacier.

Slow cooking

Dum Pukt, in Mumbai’s ITC Maratha, ranks among just a handful of kitchens in India capable of recreating the recipes of the Muslim courts of Hyderabad and Awadh, slow-cooked in terracotta pots sealed with dough.

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