india is a mystical land that presents the traveller with a bamboozling array of unforgettable experiences. Hinduism, the prominent religion, is intimately woven into the fabric of everyday life, reflected in an extraordinary range of time-honoured traditions. Apart from its ancient spiritual framework, India's vastness also challenges the imagination, being home to one sixth of the world's population.The Indian National Congress was formed in 1885, but made little progress on independence until Mahatma Gandhi began the policy of non-violent non-cooperation with the British. But the Congress itself was later split on the issue of Hindus and Muslims. The Muslims, under Mohammad Ali Jinnah, claimed a separate homeland and in August 1947 the independent states of India and Pakistan came into being. Since this time, India has been a democratic republic.Such a rich history has spawned an incredible number of exquisite palaces,temples and monuments. The most frequently visited part of India is theGolden Triangle, comprised of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Meanwhile, the people-packed cities of Mumbai (Bombay) and Kolkata (Calcutta) have a bustling, colourful charm, while the holy city of Varanasi and the awe-inspiring temples of Tamil Nadu are rewarding places of pilgrimage. For those in search of tropical bliss, there are the palm-fringed beaches of Goa and Kerala. And for fresh air and serenity, India ripples with pristine mountains and hills, from the towering beauty of the mighty Himalayas to a bevy of beautiful pine forests, orchards and babbling streams.
One of the greatest fascinations of India is the startling juxtaposition of old and new; centuries of history rubbing shoulders with the trappings of modern-day living, from slick Internet cafes and fancy fast-food eateries, to swanky bars and chichi boutiques