India - A Travel Haven

The subcontinent of India lies in south Asia, between Pakistan, China and Nepal. To the north it is bordered by the world's highest mountain chain, where foothill valleys cover the northernmost of the country's 26 states. Further south, plateaus; palm-fringed beaches border tropical rain forests and sandy deserts.

Side by side with the country's staggering topographical variations is its cultural diversity, the result of the coexistence of a number of religions as well as local tradition. Thus, the towering temples of south India, easily identifiable by their ornately sculptured surface, are associated with a great many crafts and performing arts of the region.

In the desert of Kutch, Gujarat, on the other hand, a scattering of villages pit themselves against the awesome forces of nature, resulting in Spartan lifestyles made vibrant by a profusion of jewelry and ornamental embroidery used to adorn apparel and household linen. In the extreme north is the high altitude desert of Ladakh. Local culture is visibly shaped by the faith - Buddhism -as well as by the harsh terrain. Yet another facet of Indian culture is observed in the colorful tribal lifestyles of the northeastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur with their folk culture.

In the central Indian states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh tribal village life has resulted in a variety of artistically executed handicrafts. India's mountains provide heli skiing, river running, mountaineering and trekking.

Its beaches provide lazy sunbathing as well as wind surfing and snorkeling, and its jungles provide shooting wildlife -with a camera.