India is administratively divided into 29 states and 7 union territories. The states are broadly demarcated on linguistic lines. They vary in size; the larger ones are bigger and more diverse than some countries of Europe. The union territories are smaller than the states—sometimes they are just one city—and they have much less autonomy.
These states and union territories are grouped by convention into the following regions:
|Himalayan North (Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand)|
Mountainous and beautiful, a tourist destination for the adventurous and the spiritual. This region contains some of India’s most visited hill-stations and religious places. Includes the exquisitely scenic states.
|The Plains (Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh)|
The country’s capital Delhi is here. The rivers Ganga and Yamuna flow through this plain. Many of the events that shaped India’s history took place in this region.
|Western India (Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan)|
World’s second largest Salt Flat, Great Rann of Kutch. Miles and miles of the Thar Desert. Home to the colorful palaces, forts and cities of Rajasthan, the country’s most vibrant and biggest city Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), wonderful beaches and pristine forests of Goa and Bollywood.
|Southern India (Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu)|
South India features famous and historical temples, tropical forests, backwaters, beaches hill stations, and the vibrant cities of Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Hyderabad. The island groups of Andaman & Nicobar (on the east) and Lakshadweep on the west are included in this region for convenience, but they are far from the mainland and have their own unique characteristics.
|Eastern India (Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Sikkim, West Bengal)|
Economically less developed, but culturally rich and perhaps the most welcoming of outsiders. Features Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), once the capital of British India, and the temple cities of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Konark. Geographically it stretches from the mountains to the coast, resulting in fascinating variations in climate. It is also the mineral storehouse of India, having the country’s largest and richest mines.
|North-Eastern India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura)|
insular and relatively virgin, the country’s tribal corner, with lush, beautiful landscapes, endemic flora and fauna of the Indo-Malayan group and famous for Tea Gardens. Consists of seven tiny states (by Indian standards, some of them are larger than Switzerland or Austria) popularly nicknamed as the Seven Sisters.
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Below is a selection of just nine of India’s most notable cities. Other cities can be found under their specific regions.
- Delhi — The Capital of India,seat of the Federal Government, numerous historic monuments,markets, industrial hub and major gateway to rest of Northern India. If this is your first trip to India, and you think about flying to Delhi, please read the city article carefully.
- Bangalore — The garden city, once the sleepy home of pensioners now transformed into Silicon Valley with all major of software companies establishing their offices in the city and major aviation/rail hub for South Central India.
- Chennai (formerly Madras) — Main port in Southern India, cradle of Carnatic Music,Bharatanatyam and Indian Tamil Film Industry, home of the famous Marina beach, Automobile Capital of India and a fast emerging IT hub.
- Jaipur — the Pink City is a major exhibit of the Hindu Rajput culture of medieval Northern India.
- Kochi (formerly Cochin) — the Queen of Arabian Sea, historically, a centre of international trade, now the gateway to the sandy beaches and backwaters.
- Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) — The Erstwhile Capital of British India till 1911, now gateway/hub to Eastern/North Eastern India,home to numerous colonial relics, eclectic culture, street food, Indian Bengali Film Industry “Tollywood”,Oscar Winners and Nobel Laureates, has earned the sobriquets of City of Joy,Cultural Capital of India
- Mumbai (formerly Bombay) — The financial capital of India, housing most of the Indian/Multi National Corporations, major port, “Bollywood” (Indian Hindi Film Industry).
- Shimla — the former summer capital of British India located in the Himalayan foothills with a large legacy of Victorian architecture.
- Varanasi — considered the most sacred Hindu city, located on the banks of the Ganges, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world.
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India has many outstanding landmarks and areas of outstanding beauty. Below is a list of nine of the most notable:
- Bodh Gaya — the place where the Buddha Sakyamuni attained enlightenment.
- Ellora/Ajanta — spectacular rock-cut cave monasteries and temples, holy place for the Buddhists, Jains and Hindus.
- Goa — an east-west mix, beaches and syncretic culture.
- Golden Temple — Sikh holy site located in Amritsar
- Hampi — the awesome ruins of the empire of Vijayanagara
- Khajuraho — famed for its erotic sculptures
- Lake Palace — the Lake Palace of Octopussy fame, located in Udaipur
- Meenakshi Temple — a spectacular Hindu temple in Madurai
- Taj Mahal — the incomparable marble tomb in Agra Much has been written about this monument and everyone has seen the photos. But little can prepare you for witnessing it up close.it’s unlike any other place in india.
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