India: its mysteries, its customs, its landscapes, its gastronomy... so many things that differ from our Western culture and that make India's culture so rich that it cannot be ignored.
It is impossible not to appreciate the beauty of the women dressed in saris of stunning colours in Mysore, the diversity of the extraordinary landscapes, the chaos of the bazaars with a thousand scents in Rajwada and Kajuri, and the charm of the rich and intriguing culture.
Central India is composed of a dozen regions. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha together have more than half a billion inhabitants, the majority of which are Hindu.
Take a ride on an elephant and observe the animals in Odisha's national parks, drape yourself in the silks of Bangalore, taste a pomfret in one of the restaurants by the sea in Bombay, discover the Buddhist caves in Maharashtra and, for sporty types, enjoy the variety and number of hikes and other treks that are possible throughout the regions of Central India.
Surface area : 1262020.0 km2
Population : 558638563 inhabitants
Time difference : The UK is five and a hlaf hours behind in winter and four and a half hours behind in summer, as daylight saving is not used in India.
If you're looking for a bazaar or two, then the town of Rajwada in Madhya Pradesh is the place for you. It is known for its many bazaars, each more picturesque than the last. In Kajuri, north of Rajwada, the craftsmen specialise in gold and silver, leather goods, and traditional costumes.
In Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, there are lots of shops that sell silk, sandalwood objects and traditional jewellery. If the shop interior looks dark and gloomy, it doesn't necessarily mean it's closed; there are lots of power cuts in Bangalore.
Mysore, in the south of Karnataka, is renowned for its high-quality saris, silk, and incense. You can even watch the weavers at work.
At the Laad bazaar in the old part of Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, you can admire the local handicrafts based on pearls and glass bracelets.
The speciality in Odisha is the applique work of Pipili: pieces of colourful fabric in the shape of animals and flowers which are sewn onto bedspreads, for example. More than 300,000 weavers work in Odisha making these silk and cotton fabrics, which are unique and famous all over the world.
Puri, on the coast, is a sacred place where the use of marijuana is legal and is even sold in the State-run shops.
If you're used to eating only beef burgers, India will not be to your liking, as cows are sacred animals and the culture surrounding their meat is strictly taboo. Nevertheless, if you do fancy a burger you can find ones made of mutton or buffalo.
The coastal regions, naturally, specialise in fish and prawn-based dishes. In Bombay you can try pomfret, a very common dish that tastes like plaice. Another typical dish to try is dhansaak, made from lamb or chicken and served with spicy lentils.
In Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, you can try a type of kebab known as haleen, which is made from cracked wheat with a slightly spicy mutton sauce.
If you're looking for a snack try the thali, a versatile dish made from vegetables and bread. It's both cheap (between 10 and 20 rupees, or 12 and 24 pence) and nourishing. A banana leaf is generally used instead of a plate.
The south of India is bursting with fruit, which can be bought from street vendors. If you come across one, try a green coconut. After drinking the coconut milk, the seller will cut it in front of you so that you can eat the meat, but be quick about it as the flies won't wait!
The best time to visit India depends on the region you're travelling to. India is a very large country, which means that during any given period, one part of the country can suffering from the cold (or immersed in water during monsoon season) while another enjoys pleasant temperatures.
Try to avoid monsoon season, which starts in May or as late as June, depending on the region, or take a good umbrella!
The south has a very mild climate between October and January. It is strongly recommended to avoid visiting in the height of summer, between April and June, as the temperatures in certain areas can reach 45°C.
Otherwise, the period from mid-November to the end of March is perfect for tourism, but don't forget that it is also the high season, so don't be surprised to find yourself surrounded by tourists.