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The capital of the state of Sikkim, Gangtok is an attractive tourist destination, reflecting a unique ambience which derives from its happy blend of tradition and modernity. Alongside the deeply felt presence of stupas and monasteries, Gangtok also bustles like any other thriving town. Some of the key places to visit include Rumtek Monastery, Do-Drul Chorten, Enchey Monastery, Tashi View Point and the local bazaar, Lal Bazaar.
Kalimpong is a bustling bazaar town set among the rolling foothills and deep valleys of the Himalayas. Kalimpong has become an important tourist destination owing to its temperate climate and proximity to popular tourist locations in the region. It is famous for its flower market, especially the wide array of orchids. Other attractions include Buddhist monasteries including the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang - known for its rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, churches, an excellent private library for the study of Tibetan and Himalayan language and culture. Kalimpong is home to Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje - 17th Karmapa. Kalimpong is also known for its traditional handicrafts.Although not many travellers bother to visit Kalimpong, there's enough here to keep you occupied for a couple of days, and for the energetic there's some good trekking and river-rafting in the river Teesta.
Darjeeling, nestled among rolling mountains, is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Popular places to visit include Tiger Hill, Batasia Loop and the War Memorial, and the Himalayan Zoological Park and Snow Leopard Breeding Center. What should you bring home? Tea, tea, and more tea—and beautiful local handicrafts.
This former British colonial stronghold boasts evidence of over two millennia of habitation, with ornate, architecturally diverse buildings, ranging from crumbing ruins to Victorian treasures. Home to lively festivals and a vibrant artistic community, clamorous markets and packed temples, this city is crowded and polluted, but ultimately invigorating.
Laid out by British architect Edwin Lutyens, the Indian capital is a striking modern metropolis. A gracious contrast to Old Delhi's winding streets, the grand avenues and stately buildings of New Delhi are rich with history and culture, from Gandhi's Delhi home (and the site of his assassination) to the tomb of Humayun, a complex of Mughal buildings reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. Chaotic traffic is best left to the locals. Negotiate a good price for taxis or travel on the new Delhi Metro.
Located near the National Capital Region of Delhi, this upcoming district houses numerous multinational companies and as a result, has plenty of tourist-friendly malls, hotels and restaurants. The area's top attraction is the Sheetla Mata temple, a popular pilgrimage site named for the Indian goddess who could dispel small pox; a festival is held there in March and July. For a more rural setting, visit nearby Sohna, which is surrounded by ancient ruins and known for its hot springs.
Want a taste of being royal? Eat in Hyderabad, where culinary traditions have been passed down from the Nizam monarchy. Arabic, Turkish and Mughlai influences are easily recognisable. The city is famous for its rich, aromatic biryani made with lamb, chicken or vegetables and served with fragrant basmati rice. Satisfy your sweet tooth with double-ka-meetha, a bread pudding.
The city of Mahabaleshwar is a pinnacle of greenery, boasting one of the only evergreen forests in the world. The landscape abounds with lush hills, valleys and lookout points such as Lodwick Point, Arthur's Seat and Babington Point, all of which offer spectacular views. Trot along on horseback for a delightful four-legged tour of the gorgeous Venna Lake area, and savour juicy native strawberries, mulberries and corn.
Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India, is famous for its chaotic streets. For bargains and people-watching, outdoor bazaars top the list of attractions. Popular waterfront destinations are Marine Drive, where visitors go to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea, and the carnival-like Juhu Beach. More sightseeing options are the Gandhi Museum, in the leader's former home, and the cave temples of Elephanta Island. For tranquillity, Mumbai has many religious sites, lakes and parks.
East meets West in this sun-soaked state, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. To the north, the tourist-centric scene is prevalent, with an international flair that is now skewing more hip than hippie. Travel south for stretches of unspoiled sand and an escape from large resorts. Temples, mosques and wildlife sanctuaries provide diversions from the beach.
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