#01 Jaisalmer

Honey-coloured citadel, emerging from the sands of the Thar Desert.

#02 Kanha National Park

Deep in the eastern tracts of Madhya Pradesh, this park is rich in animal and birdlife, including tigers and even the occasional leopard.

#03 Konark

A colossal thirteenth-century temple, buried under sand until its rediscovery by the British.

#04 Gokarna

The beautiful beaches on the edge of this temple town are popular with budget travellers fleeing the commercialism of nearby Goa.

#05 Taj Mahal

Simply the world’s greatest building: Shah Jahan’s monument to love fully lives up to all expectations.

#06 Thrissur Puram

More than one hundred sumptuously caparisoned elephants march in Kerala’s biggest temple festival, accompanied by ear-shattering south Indian drum orchestras.

#07 Khajuraho

Immaculately preserved temples renowned for their uncompromisingly erotic carvings.

#08 Kochi

This atmospheric harbourside is strung with elegant Chinese fishing nets.

#09 Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Asia’s most famous bird reserve, where millions of migrants nest each winter. The perfect antidote to the frenzy and pollution of nearby Agra and Jaipur.

#10 Thikse

The most architecturally impressive of the many dramatic monasteries within striking distance of Leh.

#11 Orchha

This semi-ruined former capital of the Bundela rajas is an architectural gem, rising up through the surrounding forest.

#12 Varanasi

City of Light, founded by Shiva, where the bathing ghats beside the Ganges teem with pilgrims.

#13 Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

The epitome of Rajput power and extravagance, its ramparts towering above a labyrinthine, blue-painted old city.

#14 Amritsar

The largest city in Punjab, and site of the fabled Golden Temple, the Sikhs’ holiest shrine.

#15 Rajasthani handicrafts

The teeming bazaars of the Pink City in Jaipur burst with vibrant cloth, jewellery, Persian-style pottery and semiprecious stones. Simply the best place to shop in the Subcontinent.

#16 Kathakali

Kerala is the place to experience kathakali and other esoteric ritual theatre forms.

#17 Gangotri and the Gaumukh Glacier

The holy and atmospheric village of Gangotri serves as a base for the trek into the heart of the Hindu faith – Gaumukh, the source of the Ganges.

#18 Udaipur

Arguably the most romantic city in India, with ornate Rajput palaces floating in the middle of two shimmering lakes.

#19 Palolem

Exquisite crescent-shaped beach in Goa’s relaxed south, famous for its dolphins and local alcoholic spirit, feni.

#20 Durga Puja

An exuberant festival held in September or October, when every street and village erects a shrine to the goddess Durga. Kolkata (Calcutta) has the most lavish festivities.

#21 Manali–Leh Highway

India’s epic Himalayan road trip, crossing some of the highest mountain passes in the world, is the most popular approach to Ladakh, and revered by motorbikers, cyclists and drivers alike.

#22 Pushkar Camel Mela

Perched on the edge of the Himalayas, this is the home of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism in exile.

#23 Dharamsala

Perched on the edge of the Himalayas, this is the home of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism in exile.

#24 Madurai

Definitive south Indian city, centred on a spectacular medieval temple.

#25 Zanskar

A barren moonscape with extraordinary scenery and challenging trails over the high passes.

#26 Boating on the backwaters of Kerala

Lazy boat trips wind through the lush tropical waterways of India’s deep south.

#27 Fatehpur Sikri

The Mughal emperor Akbar’s elegant palace complex now lies deserted on a ridge near Agra, but remains one of India’s architectural masterpieces.

#28 Mamallapuram

A fishing and stone-carving village, with magnificent boulder friezes, shrines and the sea-battered Shore Temple.

#29 Ellora Caves

Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves, and the colossal Hindu Kailash temple, carved from a spectacular volcanic ridge at the heart of the Deccan plateau.

#30 Rath Yatra, Puri

Three colossal chariots with brightly coloured canopies are pulled by crowds of devotees through the streets of eastern India’s holiest town.

#31 Hampi/Vijayanagar

The capital of a great Hindu empire, sacked five centuries ago to leave a site strewn with ruins and medieval sculptures.

#32 Varkala

This pleasantly low-key Keralan resort boasts sheer red cliffs, amazing sea views and a legion of Ayurvedic masseurs.

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