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Panaji & Central Goa

Some travelers see Goa as one big beach resort, but the central region – with few beaches of note – is the state’s historic and cultural heart and soul. Wedged between Goa’s two biggest rivers, the Mandovi and the Zuari, this region is home to the state capital, Panaji, the glorious churches of Old Goa, inland islands, bird sanctuaries, spice plantations and the wilds of the Western Ghats.

Guwahati

The gateway to the Northeast, and the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the region, Guwahati serves as the starting point for many itineraries. Extending along the south bank of the mighty Brahmaputra, in the older areas near the river you'll start to feel the character and local flavour that lingers amid the ponds, palm trees, temples, single-storey traditional houses and colonial-era mansions. Only a few stretches of the riverbank are accessible in the central areas – but when you reach them, those Brahmaputra views never disappoint!

Munnar

The rolling hills around Munnar, South India's largest tea-growing region, are carpeted in emerald-green tea plantations, contoured, clipped and sculpted like ornamental hedges. The low Western Ghats scenery is magnificent – you’re often up above the clouds watching veils of mist clinging to mountaintops. Munnar itself is a traffic-clogged administration hub, not unlike a North Indian hill station, but wander just a few miles out and you'll be engulfed in a sea of a thousand shades of green.

Panaji

One of India’s most relaxed state capitals, Panaji (Panjim) crowds around the peninsula overlooking the broad Mandovi River, where cruise boats and floating casinos ply the waters, and advertising signs cast neon reflections in the night.

Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad)

The beating heart of India, this incredible neighborhood will knock you sideways with the power of its sights, sounds and smells, and with its unrelenting chaos. But if you can survive that first hit, you'll soon realize you've just landed in one of the world's truly special places. Prepare to be amazed.

Maharashtra

India’s third-largest and second-most populous state, Maharashtra is an expansive canvas showcasing many of India’s iconic attractions. There are palm-fringed beaches; lofty, cool-green mountains; Unesco World Heritage Sites; and bustling cosmopolitan cities (and gorgeous vineyards in which to escape them). In the far east of the state are some of the nation’s most impressive national parks, including Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.

Shimla

Strung out along a ridge with steep forested hillsides falling away in all directions, the Himachal capital is one of India's most popular hill resorts, buzzing with a happy flow of heat-escaping Indian vacationers. Traffic is banned from the central part of town, so walking is pleasant – even when huffing and puffing uphill. The long, winding main street, The Mall, runs east and west just below the spine of the hill. South of it, the maze-like alleys and stairways of the bustling bazaar cascade steeply down to Cart Rd.

Nagaland

Long considered the ‘wild east’ of India, Nagaland abounds in primeval beauty and tribal culture. Its dazzling hills and valleys, reaching right up to the India–Myanmar border, are other-worldly places where, until not long ago, headhunting Naga tribes fought off intruders and each other. Today Nagas have abandoned headhunting and turned to Christianity. Traditional lifestyles linger strongest in the north, where many people live in thatched longhouses and follow farming and hunting lifestyles. The sense of Naga identity among the 16 or 17 main tribal groups, with multiple languages but cultural similarities, is strong. Traditional attire comes out in full feather-and-spear colour at the many tribal festivals, above all December's Hornbill Festival near Kohima.

Bhubaneswar

Once dubbed the ‘Temple City’, Bhubaneswar is a worthwhile pit stop for a day or two. This will allow you to take in the old city’s holy centre, which surrounds the ceremonial tank called Bindu Sagar. Thousands of medieval stone temples once stood here; around 50 currently remain. Temples aside, there are a couple of worthwhile museums, an ancient cave complex and the most varied dining scene in Odisha, along with a smattering of decent hotels.

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is the homeland of one of humanity’s living classical civilisations, stretching back uninterrupted for two millennia and very much alive today in the Tamils' language, dance, poetry and forms of Hinduism.

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