Breaking Travel News investigates: Exotic holidays in east India
Ahead of the arrival of World Travel Awards in Delhi for its annual Grand Final Gala Ceremony next week, Breaking Travel News has been taking a look at what is on offer to travellers in India.
Here we look at east India, travelling from the bustle of Calcutta to the cool and luscious mountains of refreshing Darjeeling.
Soul of Calcutta
Calcutta is the largest city in India, indeed one of the largest in the world.
Established as a British trading post in the 17th century, the city grew rapidly, acquiring a life and vibrancy of its own.
Its glory is still reflected in the buildings of Chowringhee and Clive Street; know as Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Netaji Subhash Road respectively.
It is a city which leaves no-one indifferent - fascinating, effervescent, teeming with life, peoples, and cultures.
The impact can be a shock at first; the rickshaws, cars, brightly painted lorries, and trolley buses merge with the cries of the street vendors, labourers hard at work on the construction of the vast underground railway, and the noise and colour of the huge New Market.
But the jumbled impressions soon sort themselves out.
Central Calcutta is best viewed in perspective around the rolling green of the Maidan, three square kilometres of parkland where the early-morning yoga sessions provide for the city dwellers a relaxation from the stresses of urban life.
For relaxation of another kind, visit the Indian Museum, one of the finest in Asia.
Other attractions include the huge white marble Victoria Memorial, the Octherlony Monument and the headquarters of the Rama Krishna mission.
To the north of the city is the silent beauty of the Belur Math and, across the river, the Botanical gardens (with a 200 years old Banyan tree, reputedly the largest in the world) and the Kali temple of Dakshineshwar.
Calcutta has a soul.
The Bengalis are poets and artists of India and this has affected their city.
Calcutta will certainly grow on you.
For a complete change, take a plane or boat from Calcutta to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the peaceful sun-soaked paradise in the Bay of Bengal.
Getting out of the city, try taking a train to Darjeeling from Calcutta.
The last leg of the journey from New Jalpaiguri takes place on a miniature railway which winds through deep jungles, tea gardens and pine forests.
It is one of the great journeys of the world.
Darjeeling is an unspoilt, English-style hill station straddling a mountain slope and surrounded with high green hills covered with coniferous trees, with massive drops into the enchanting valley below.
It commands a stunning view of Kanchenjunga (8,586 metres), particularly from nearby Tiger Hill, and the sunrise which breaks over the mountains is one of the most beautiful on earth.
Many Tibetan refugees live here, and it is also the home of the celebrated Sherpa Tenzing, as well as being the headquarters of the India Mountaineering Institute.
The tea to which the town gives its name is the finest in the world; where better to sample it than here.
Invigorated by the fresh mountain air, stroll along the winding paths, marvelling at the views of the massive range of snow-capped peaks which appear in all their glory as the swirling mists clear.
See the Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the breeze; it is possible to visit one of the Buddhist Monastaries, such as Ghoom which enshrines an image of the Maitreyee Buddha.
Only two and a half hours away by bus or taxi is Kalimpong, a quaint bazaar town set in rolling foothills and deep valleys at the foot of the mighty Himalayas.
There are several excursions from here to places which offer some of the finest panoramas in the world.
To the north, the mountain state of Sikkim is a land of peace and tranquillity high up in the mountains.
The capital Gangtok, on a ridge flanking the Ranipool River, is overshadowed by the Kanchenjunga, a truly spectacular sight that will imbue you with awe and wonder.
Discover the ancient beautiful Royal Chapel of Tsuk-La Khana, or enjoy the profusion of wild flowers in bloom throughout the year.
Here in orchid-strewn Sikkim the visitor becomes like an explorer who has found a forgotten land.
Even further east are the states of Assam and Meghalaya.
The state of Assam is famous for its tea, and also for its wildlife reserves which can be reached via the ancient and graceful state capital of Gauhati, situated on the river Brahmaputra.
The tiger reserve of Manas is also rich in other varieties of wildlife, while in Kaziranga it is often possible to see one of India’s one-horned rhinoceros.
Bordering Assam to the north is the beautiful mountain kingdom of Bhutan.
Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is the home of the colourful Khasi people.
The breathtaking views, the waterfalls, brooks and pine groves have all led to the state being popularly described as the Scotland of the East; Shillong also has one of the best golf courses in India.
The landscape, the people and the climate all combine to make it an ideal holiday resort throughout the year.
For more information on visiting Incredible India! head over to the official website.
There is more information the World Travel Awards Grand Final Gala Ceremony here.