Surprising and paradoxical, with extraordinary atmosphere

With amazing cultural diversity and vast range of landscapes on its enormous territory stretching from the snowy peaks of Himalayas to the tropics of Kerala, India is oftentimes said to be a continent, not just a country. The mosques standing longer than Taj Mahal itself, the rituals dating back to Egyptian Pharaohs and the sounds of the British Raj here and there – the atmosphere is provided by people coming from most of the world's main religions – and it's just a tiny slice of what you get when you get out on the Indian streets.

The independence was declared in 1947 and it seems even more impressive that India has managed to preserve so much of its heritage, especially given that the economic revolution started by Rajiv Gandhi and propelled by the trading reforms in the early '90s has changed the country greatly, allowing for the influx of new technology, goods and lifestyles.

The internal market development, however, has even more underlined the problems that India has been experiencing since way before it became the largest materialistic democracy in the world. The size of indian ghetto neighborhoods in Mumbai, Kolkata or Delhi is so massive they are actually world's biggest – just like their number of underfed children, uneducated people and houses without amenities or even access to clean water or a waste disposal. Sights like that often become heartbreaking to people who visit India for the first time. On the other hand, spiritual seekers and adventurers find themselves much surprised when they find that the country is anything but religious utopia – more like one of the most materialistic nations in the world. Others just find the feelings provoked by this vast land's dissonant revelations hard to contain.

Yet despite the harsh contrasts, wild paradoxes and disappointments, India still is a very fascinating place to visit. An extraordinary charm oozing from the crowded markets, movies and music, the scent of exotic spices with a tinge of dust and transportation smog – all of this together creates an enchanting ambiance that you are likely to remember at least for very very long. You may find it hard to decide whether to love it or hate it, but one thing is certain – India will change the way you see the world.

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