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Nepal's capital is situated in a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples and shrines, golden pagodas and fascinating villages. Hotels, bars and restaurants cater to all budgets. Shops offer handicrafts, carpets and Nepali paper prints. Bus services, taxis and bicycles open up the city. Trek to see the Monkey Temple, the valley's oldest and most sacred shrine. Mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square's monuments and temples, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel District.
The holy city of Rishikesh, in the base of the Himalayas, holds deep cultural and spiritual significance for local Hindus. Sacred rivers and mountains set the scene for yoga and reflective hikes, and rafting here is an absolute must. The Beatles got in touch with their Eastern spiritual side here, writing several songs during a 1968 stint at a local ashram.
Established in the Himalaya foothills by a British Army officer in 1820, the "Queen of the Hills" stands above the rest with its deep woods, favorable climate and Doon Valley views. Its name is derived from the berry-covered Mansur shrub found in abundance around this trekker-friendly area. Vestiges of its colonial past are still reflected in the cuisine and architecture. For stunning natural sights, head to Gun Hill or Childer's Lodge, the two highest peaks, or the famous Kempty waterfall.
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.
Udaipur, known as the Venice of the East, boasts several sparkling lakes against a backdrop of the Aravail hills. Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir, islands in Fateh Sagar Lake, are the site of Udaipur Solar Observatory and Nehru Garden. Famous palaces include the magical Lake Palace, now a luxurious five-star hotel, and the massive City Palace on Pichola’s east bank, featuring epic courtyards and stunning paintings.
Srinigar is a modern waterworld, dominated by Dal Lake and its twisting waterways, tree-lined Nagin Lake, and the Jhelum River. Engulf yourself in local culture by embracing your sea legs and renting one of the wooden boats called shikaras for a daytime or twilight cruise. On land, stroll through the terraced hillsides of the 400-year-old Mughal Gardens, created by Emperor Jehangir for his wife, and shop for indigenous crafts like hand-woven silks and embroidered shawls.
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.
Colombo is the gateway to Sri Lanka for most travelers—but don’t be tempted to simply pass through this diverse and interesting city. Take a train ride along the coast to Mount Lavinia, a popular beach, or explore the Talangama Wetland, which several TripAdvisor travelers say is the perfect place to take a break from the bustling streets of the city.
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