#01 Jaisalmer

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

Things not to miss in India: Jaisalmer Fort in sunset light, Rajasthan, India, Asia.© muzato/Shutterstock

#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.

Things not to miss: Indian leopard, Kanha Tiger Reserve, India.© Santanu Banik/Shutterstock

#03 Konark

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

Things not to miss: Konark Sun Temple, India.© Strahil Dimitrov/Shutterstocki

#04 Gokarna

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

Things not to miss: Om beach in Gokarna, India.© Vladimir Zhoga/Shutterstock

#05 Taj Mahal

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

Things not to miss: Taj Mahal in Agra, India.© Richie Chan/Shutterstock

#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.

Things not to miss: Decorated elephants Kerala, India.© Tyshchenko Photography/Shutterstock 

#07 Khajuraho

Immaculately preserved temples renowned for their uncompromisingly erotic carvings.

Things not to miss: Lakshmana Temple, India.© Kevin Standage/Shutterstock

#08 Kochi

This atmospheric harbourside is strung with elegant Chinese fishing nets.

#08 Kochi

#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.

A scenery by flamingos, Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, In© Sourabh Bharti/Shutterstock

#10 Thikse

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

Things not to miss: Thikse monastery, India.© mbrand85/Shutterstock 

#11 Orchha

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

Things not to miss: Orchha, India.© Inderkant/Shutterstock 

#12 Varanasi

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

#12 Varanasi

#13 Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

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

Things not to miss: Meherangarh Fort, India.© Alexandra Lande/Shutterstock

#14 Amritsar

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

Things not to miss: The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.© JE TAE GYEONG/Shutterstock

#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.

Things not to miss: Colorful handicraft items made from clay by rural artisans for sale in India.© neelsky/Shutterstock

#16 Kathakali

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

#16 Kathakali

#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.

gaumukh glacier ganges india© Nila Newsom/Shutterstock

#18 Udaipur

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

#18 Udaipur

#19 Palolem

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

Things not to miss: Tropical beach of Palolem, Goa, India.© Val Shevchenko/Shutterstock

#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.

Things not to miss: Durga Puja Idol festival, India.© adycreative/Shutterstock 

#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.

Things not to miss: Barlachala pass in Leh Manali Highway, India.©  Avik/Shutterstock 

#22 Pushkar Camel Mela

This fair is the largest camel trading fair in the world, Rajasthan.

Things not to miss: Pushkar Camel Fair, India.© OlegD/Shutterstock

#23 Dharamsala

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

Things not to miss: Tibetan Buddhist temple in Dharamsala, India.© hrui/Shutterstock

#24 Madurai

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

Things not to miss: Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madurai, India.© RudiErnst/Shutterstock

#25 Zanskar

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

Things not to miss: Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar River, India.© martinho Smart/Shutterstock 

#26 Boating on the backwaters of Kerala

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

Things not to miss: Palm tree tropical forest in backwater of Kochin, Kerala, India.© Curioso/Shutterstock 

#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.

Things not to miss: Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, India.© Roop_Dey/Shutterstock 

#28 Mamallapuram

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

Things not to miss: Shore temple, Mahabalipuram, India.© rachata photography/Shutterstock 

#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.

Things not to miss: Caves of Ellora, India.© Thotsaporn.S/Shutterstock 

#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.

Things not to miss: Rath jatra festival, India.© Rudra Narayan Mitra/Shutterstock

#31 Hampi/Vijayanagar

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

vittala temple hampi karnataka indiaVittala Temple, Hampi © Dmytro Gilitukha/Shutterstock

#32 Varkala

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

Things not to miss in India: Varkala beach, India.© Vasily Gureev/Shutterstock 

Top image © SasinTipchai/Shutterstock

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