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A land of extreme beauty

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A country so vast is bound to have some breathtaking sights, and India has these in droves. The sheer variety is astonishing too.

From ancient temples and royal cities to sacred rivers, mountain glaciers and a dizzying array of stunning landscapes in between, there’s plenty to choose from. The colourful, chaotic, spiritual and often surprising country might evoke extreme reactions but there’s no denying the beauty of these places.

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Pangong Lake, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

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Ladakh’s high-altitude lake is renowned for its startlingly blue waters that seem to shift colour throughout the day. This long and narrow stretch of water extends into western Tibet – stroll along the southern shore to appreciate the sight of the snow-capped Pangong Range reflected in the water.

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Naga Heritage Village, Kohima, Nagaland

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Hidden way up in northeast India, with little infrastructure and very few tourists, Nagaland is a fascinating place. Naga Heritage Village is thrilling to visit year-round, with its traditional houses and brilliant exhibitions on the local culture.

But come during December to see the village at its most vibrant, as the Hornbill Festival sees tribes come from all over the state to celebrate their colourful cultures, cuisines and crafts. There are sports events, dance displays and flower shows, and you’ll get to meet hundreds of Indigenous people in incredible traditional dress.

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Udaipur, Rajasthan

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Known as the Venice of the East, Udaipur is arguably India’s most romantic city. Take a boat ride around Lake Pichola to admire the white City Palace, once home to the Maharani of Udaipur, and marvel at the Taj Lake Palace which seems to float on the water.

This marble beauty is now an extravagant hotel.

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Chadar Trek Base Camp, Ladakh

©Sra1van/ShutterstockFancy walking along a frozen river in the Himalayas? Only for the brave, the Chadar Trek is a wild adventure. There’s nothing quite like it in the world, as hikers take to the frozen surface of the Zanskar River to tour Ladakh’s majestic mountain scenery.

The hike passes remote villages and caves, and there’s even a chance you’ll see a snow leopard.

Jodhpur, Rajasthan

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The sprawling 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort dominates the skyline of Jodhpur and is one of India’s largest palaces. Other must-sees in this desert city include the blue houses of the labyrinthine old city, and the grand Umaid Bhawan Palace.

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Ooty, Tamil Nadu

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One of India’s most beautiful hill stations, Ooty is a fabulous mix of rolling green hills and swathes of pine forest, which wouldn’t look out of place in the English countryside.

Settled by the Brits in the 19th century and chosen as the summer HQ of the Madras government, it was quickly nicknamed ‘snooty Ooty’. Getting here is an equally beautiful experience – take the miniature train that winds its way around the green hills.

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Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha

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The colossal, chariot-shaped temple was built by 13th-century King Narasimhadeva to carry the sun god Surya across the heavens. Complete with enormous intricately-carved wheels and horses, this is one of India’s most famous Brahman temples.

The wheels are thought to have been used as ancient sundials. Keep a look out for some eye-opening wall carvings.

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Orchha, Rajasthan

©saiko3p/ShutterstockOne of Rajasthan’s most magical spots, Orchha doesn’t appear on the usual Golden Triangle itineraries around the state, and it’s all the better for it. The small town has a complex of towering temples, palaces and monuments within its medieval fort, and ample legends and folklore add intrigue for visitors.

Come with a guide to make the most of it, and don’t miss sunset from across the river when the ancient towers will be silhouetted against a pinkish, yellowing sky

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