The foothills of India are a must-see for anyone looking to experience a different side of India. On the northeastern end of the country, nestled neatly between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, is truly a whole new world. It can be reached by flying or taking a train to Siliguri and then renting a jeep to take you up out of the flat plains into the cooler, jungly hills where you're guaranteed breathtaking views of the world's highest mountain peaks. One of the best towns to visit is Darjeeling, a former retreat-type town for the British and a charming town literally built onto the sides of the hills. Attractions there include a ride on the Toy Train, a walk around the Chowrasta (or main square), and a visit to the mountain climbers museum. If you're a mountain climber of trekker yourself, go to one of the local tourist bureau's and ask about the treks offered there. Darjeeling also boasts of world-wide fame for their teas so be sure so enjoy some in a small cafe overlooking Kanchenjunga (the 3rd highest mountain in the world). If you're visiting in between November and March, book an early morning tour to watch the sunrise over Mount Everest and be sure to take your camera.
The Golden Triangle
Many visitors to India wouldn't feel complete without a tour of what is called "The Golden Triangle", made up of visits to Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Delhi is the capital city of India and includes some fabulous shopping, eating, and all the sights, sounds, and smells you can handle. To experience true India, go to the Jamma Masjid and Red Fort in Old Delhi and ask for a bicycle rickshaw to take you on a ride through the narrow, crowded market streets. Qutab Minar, India Gate and Tuglakabad are some more prominent sites to take in while there.
Agra is home to the Taj Majal, built by Shah Jahan centuries ago, and is absolutely breathtaking to visit at sunset. While there, visit the Agra Fort, located across the river from the Taj Majal. This old town hub of Agra is well preserved and a fascinating way to deepen your knowledge of India both past and present.
Next, travel to Jaipur (stopping by Fatephur Sikri on the way), home of the Amber Fort, elephant rides, the Wind Palace and some of the greatest shopping in the country. Spend at least one day walking the streets and enjoying the peddlers' wares.
While in this region, you're nearby areas where tiger safaris are offered, such as Ranthambore. Ask any local travel office there to see what types of packages they offer.
A trip to India wouldn't be complete without a visit to the beaches of southern India, of which Goa is arguably the most popular. With a coastline over 100 kilometers long, you are bound to find the perfect beach. Whether the goal is secluded beaches for swimming or populous beaches with shopping, dancing and food, Goa has it all. Be sure to visit the small Christian fishing villages to get a taste of everyday life. Many a hippie have also found a place in Goa. Surfers and swimmers alike will enjoy these Indian beaches.