Glamorous and beguiling, North India crackles with energy and colour. Nothing compares to the splendour and romance of Rajasthan, spilling over with ancient temples and Mughal monuments. You have vibrant and exciting cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta, blissfully cool tea plantations, the soaring Himalayas and some of the world’s most outstanding luxury hotels – from historic havelis to Royal Palaces.
India is almost a collection of countries due to its vast size and dazzling regional array of languages, cuisines and religions. The topography of the northern states varies from colossal Himalayan peaks in the far north of the country to the forested tiger country of the centre; from the dramatic Ganges delta wetlands of the Sunderbands in the northeast, to the exotic deserts of Rajasthan. There are walled cities and citadels, desert villages and colonial hill stations, national parks and great rivers lined with temples and ghats. The north Indian cities are also unique: Delhi, the capital, is divided into the bustling, labyrinthine Old City and the majestic colonial avenues of New Delhi. Mumbai (Bombay) is famous for its massive population, thriving business culture and Bollywood film industry. Calcutta (Kolkata) sees itself as the capital of contemporary culture. Jaipur and Jodhpur are the great princely cities of the north-west, with thriving textiles industries and wonderful faded buildings. Few people visit the north without fitting in the luminously beautiful Taj Mahal and nearby red sandstone Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri. Many visitors come to Rajasthan to see the impossibly glamorous palaces and forts of the maharajas, many of which have become luxury hotels. The trick with India is probably to do less, rather than more, and plan to go back.