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Destination India

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© Lonely Planet Publications
22

Destination India
With its mind-bending diversity – from snowcapped mountains to sun-washed beaches,
crusty old bazaars to chichi designer boutiques, tranquil temples to feisty festivals, ramshackle
rural villages to techno-savvy urban hubs – it’s hardly surprising that India has been dubbed
the planet’s most multidimensional country.
The subcontinent is home to more than a billion people, and its eclectic melange of
ethnic groups translates into an intoxicating cultural cocktail for the traveller. For those on
a spiritual quest, India has oodles of sacrosanct sites and stirring philosophies, while history
buffs will discover gems from the past almost everywhere – from grand vestiges of the British
Raj peering over frenetic city streets, to battle-scarred forts rising from forlorn country fields.
Meanwhile, lovers of the great outdoors can paddle in the shimmering waters of one of many
palm-fringed beaches, scout for big jungle cats on an adrenaline-pumping wildlife safari, or
simply breathe in the scent of wildflowers on a rejuvenating forest walk. And then there’s the
food! From squidgy south Indian idlis (rice dumplings) to zesty north Indian curries, travellers
are treated to a positively seductive smorgasbord of subcontinental specialities.
Demystifying India is a perpetual work-in-progress and for many travellers that’s precisely
what makes her so deeply addictive. Ultimately, it’s all about surrendering yourself to the
unknown: this is the India that nothing can quite prepare you for because its very essence –
its elusive soul – lies in its mystery. Love it or loathe it – and most visitors seesaw between
the two – India will jostle your entire being and no matter where you go or what you do,
it’s a place you’ll never forget.

GREG ELMS

23

Getting Started
Nothing can fully prepare you for India, but perhaps the one thing that best
encapsulates this extraordinary country is its ability to inspire, frustrate,
thrill and confound all at once.
India is one of the planet’s most multidimensional countries, presenting a
wildly diverse spectrum of travel encounters. Some of these can be challenging, particularly for the first-time visitor: the poverty is confronting, Indian
bureaucracy can be exasperating and the crush of humanity sometimes turns
the simplest task into an energy-zapping battle. Even the most experienced
travellers find their sanity frayed at some point, yet this is all part of what
makes India a unique tra...
With its mind-bending diversity – from snowcapped mountains to sun-washed beaches,
crusty old bazaars to chichi designer boutiques, tranquil temples to feisty festivals, ramshackle
rural villages to techno-savvy urban hubs – it’s hardly surprising that India has been dubbed
the planet’s most multidimensional country.
The subcontinent is home to more than a billion people, and its eclectic melange of
ethnic groups translates into an intoxicating cultural cocktail for the traveller. For those on
a spiritual quest, India has oodles of sacrosanct sites and stirring philosophies, while history
buffs will discover gems from the past almost everywhere – from grand
vestiges of the British
Raj peering over frenetic city streets, to battle-scarred forts rising from forlorn country fields.
Meanwhile, lovers of the great outdoors can paddle in the shimmering waters of one of many
palm-fringed beaches, scout for big jungle cats on an adrenaline-pumping wildlife safari, or
simply breathe in the scent of wildflowers on a rejuvenating forest walk. And then there’s the
food! From squidgy south Indian idlis (rice dumplings) to zesty north Indian curries, travellers
are treated to a positively seductive smorgasbord of subcontinental specialities.
Demystifying India is a perpetual work-in-progress and for many travellers that’s precisely
what makes her so deeply addictive. Ultimately, it’s all about surrendering yourself to the
unknown: this is the India that nothing can quite prepare you for because its very essence –
its elusive soul – lies in its mystery. Love it or loathe it – and most visitors seesaw between
the two – India will jostle your entire being
and no matter where you go or what you do,
it’s a place you’ll never forget.
Destination India
GREG ELMS
22
© Lonely Planet Publications
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