People go to India for all sorts of reasons. Some go to find themselves at spiritual ashrams and yoga retreats, and to chill out and spliff up on the golden beachs of Goa. Some go to hike the snowy Himalayas and to get a real understanding of Indian culture through the crematoriums of Varanasi and its Holy Ganges. Others go to marvel over Rajasthan's exquisite temples, palaces and fortresses, to eat spicy curries day after day, and to shop for handicrafts, pottery and bright, embroidered linens. And then there are those in search of tigers in the wild, camels in the desert and elephants carrying brides, and those who want to visit the stunningly beautiful Taj Mahal - the greatest ode to love of all time - or to travel into the mighty Thar Desert, meet its nomadic people and sleep under the stars.
Love it or hate it - most people feel some of each emotion - it can't fail to be an intoxicating place to visit. The pace of the cities will overwhelm you, and the wash of local colour can be a dizzying, vibrant delight. You'll see poverty that will move you and riches that will startle you - and you'll wonder how they live side by side. Some people love its contradictions and return year after year; others find once is enough.
Whatever your expectations though, India is a vast place to explore - practically a continent in its own right - with many different entry points and regions. So to make easier reading and planning, we've divided it into several regions - see right.