The City Palace at Udaipur, India, which towers of Pichola Lake. The palace was built by Udai Singh, the founder of Udaipur, but was added to by every subsequent ruler.
The City Palace at Udaipur, India, which towers of Pichola Lake. The palace was built by Udai Singh, the founder of Udaipur, but was added to by every subsequent ruler. DIANA PLATER

TRAVEL: India offers visitors the spice of life

INDIA has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world over the past five years. Tourism plays a major part of the Indian economy and is growing each and every year. With a population of 1.2 billion people, it is the world's largest democratic country. It is also vast and one of extreme examples, from its beaches and open plains to the Himalayan Mountains. From the very rich to the very poor.

The climate is mild to very hot, the wet season generally occurs from June through to August/September is much like a rainy season in Darwin. December through to April is a great time to visit and tour around.

India has many attractions and national parks. Its main landmarks are the Taj Mahal, The Sun Temple, The Ganges River and Mehrangarh Fortress. They are all a must see if you a planning a to go to India as the hundreds and thousands of tourists that visit those site will testify.

Some of the lesser known attractions worth a look would be the Corbett & Ranthambore National Park. The park is located at the foothills of the Himalayas and has the highest concentration of tigers in India. You will also be able to see leopards and jungle cats if you are lucky.

Another is Udaipur, the City of Lakes, which is one of the most romantic cities in India. The famous Lake Palace is located on an island in the middle of Lake Pichola. The palace has been converted into a five star hotel and for a couple of hundred dollars a night, it is definitely worth considering staying there for a couple of nights.

In the West of India is Aurangabad. Known for its medieval monuments and cultural heritage, Aurangabad also makes an excellent base to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Ellora and Ajanta. The cave temples both of which house the finest collections of ancient Indian art. The holiest city in India though is in the east of the country. Varanasi has traditions and religions dating back thousands of years. The bloodline of this city is the Ganges where Hindu pilgrims come to wash away a lifetime of sins or to cremate their loved ones. Discover the maze of lanes in the old town where there is always a strong smell of incense and the sound of Hindu music.

There is a lot of wholesale companies that are now selling India as a destination. You have the choice of coach touring where there is a set itinerary and your days have been pre-planned for you. If you are a confident traveller, and coach touring is not your thing, than you can travel around India quite safely by yourself. The country is a triangular shape bordered by China, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Burma (Myanmar). The main religion of India is Hinduism with 82% of the population made up of practising Hindus.

You might think that the standard of accommodation in India is nowhere near as good as in Australian but it is. India has all the major hotel chains from around the world scattered throughout its cities so finding a five-star hotel or even a palace to stay in is not that hard. Getting from one city to the next can be a bit slower than we are use to but with 1.2 billion people going about their business it's just part of the way things work so you'll have to adapt to the Indian way of doing things -- patiently.

Getting to India is very simple with Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines all flying almost daily flights each week out of Sydney and Brisbane to Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

Prices are quite reasonable with a return ticket generally starting from about $1100-$1200 return however you can get them cheaper from time to time, for example around the $900 return mark.



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