According to topschoolsintheusa.com, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the largest metropolis in western India, is a mix of busy port and modern industry, countless small and large markets and glass-clad skyscrapers. More films are produced in the Mumbai film studios than in Hollywood. The Mahalaxmi Course is one of the best horse racing courses in India. The city’s most recognizable landmark is the Gateway to India. Here excursion boats start their 10 km journey to Elephanta Island with its cave temples, the walls of which are decorated with fascinating rock carvings and are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Temples of Khajuraho
In the vicinity of the city of Khajuraho in the state of Madhya Pradesh there is a group of 20 temples, all built during the Chandella Dynasty between 950 and 1120. Today the temples are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is particularly well known, the walls of which are decorated with erotic depictions.
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the largest city in India and the commercial center of the east. Established as a British trading post in the 17th century, the city’s colonial heritage remains in the buildings of Chowringhee and Clive Streets (renamed Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Netaji Subhash Road). Kolkata is a center of numerous creative and intellectual activities; some of the best film producers in the country are based here. The city’s Indian Museum is the best in Asia. Other places of interest are the Victoria Memorial, the Octherlony Institute and the headquarters of the Ramakrishna movement.
The mountainous state of Sikkim in the southern Himalayas is a wonderland of ferns and flowers, birds and butterflies, orchids and bamboo, oak and conifer forests, surrounded by gently rushing rivers, terraced fields and lush rhododendrons. The capital and hill station Gangtok is the starting point for detours to the region’s mysterious north and east, to the sacred Yaksum, Pemayangtse and the mountains near Bakkhim and Dzongri. Especially the Kangchenjunga National Park is popular with hikers.
Jaipur with its pink old town is the gateway to the desert state of Rajasthan. You should definitely pay a visit to the Palace of Winds Hawa Mahal. Here the women of the court could watch the hustle and bustle of the city without being seen themselves. Also worth seeing is the royal observatory Jantar Mantar. Those who want to enjoy the splendor of India’s ancient rulers can look around the Rambagh Palace, which now houses a hotel. Just outside is the particularly beautiful Amber Palace.
Chennai (Madras) is a renowned center of temple sculpture and home of the classical style of Indian dances. Despite an area of 130 square kilometers, there are only a few multi-storey buildings in the metropolis, Chennai has more of the flair of a market town. A visit to Fort St. George is recommended, where the history of Chennai is recorded. Also of interest is the Kapeleeswar Temple with its ornate, imposing towers.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
In the Bay of Bengal lies the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (website: www.andaman.nic.in ), a lushly forested archipelago with exotic plants. A variety of corals and tropical fish invite you to snorkel. Special entry requirements apply to the islands, and some areas require a special entry permit. Many of the islands have limited access to foreign visitors in order to protect the natives who live on some islands completely isolated from civilization.
Camel market in Puskar
One of the largest camel markets in the world is held in the small town of Pushkar (Rajasthan) every year in early November. Afterwards there is a kind of fair with camel and horse races, Ferris wheel and other attractions that attract thousands of tribal people (members of different ethnic groups) from the area.
Cave temples at Aurangabad
In north-eastern Maharashtra lies the city of Aurangabad, close to two of the world’s most famous rock-carved temples (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites). The Buddhist cave temples of Ajanta, about 95 km north of Aurangabad, are at least 2000 years old. A total of 30 caves penetrate deep into the steep walls of the gorge and are decorated with excellently preserved drawings of daily life at that time. The drawings in the Ellora Caves, about 30 km northwest of Ajanta, tell religious stories of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.
The 36 Lakshadweep Islands are about 400 km off the coast of Kerala – a tropical island paradise with coral reefs and turquoise blue lagoons in the Arabian Sea. The special permit required to visit the islands can be obtained from Kochi, which has flights to the islands three times a week. Only one of the ten inhabited islands, Bangaram Island, are open to tourism.
The Nilgiri Mountains in western Tamil Nadu, part of which are also in Kerala, with their moderate elevation and mild climate are ideal for resting from the hustle and bustle of the cities. Known as the Blue Mountains for their purple hue, they are dotted with orange groves, tea plantations, forested hillsides and tranquil lakes. There are several hill stations including Ootacamund (“Ooty” in common parlance), Coonor and Kotagiri.