INDIA defies definition. It�s not one country but many compressed into a single subcontinent. Its epic size offers the widest choice of landscapes � from snow-capped Himalayan ranges to arid deserts, to tropical beaches and palm-fringed lagoons. North, south, east or west, every point of the compass introduces you to a new world. No other country offers such an infinite variety of destinations, beckoning the traveller to return and make fresh discoveries on every visit. It is a land of amazing contrasts and great diversity. It is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, dating back to2500 BC. Years of conquest, migration and settlement have resulted in a rich ethnic diversity that is reflected in the faces of its people � the fair-skinned Aryans of the north, the dark-complexioned Dravidians of the south, Sino-Asian people of the northeast and the tribal groups of Adivasis, the oldest inhabitants of the subcontinent. This multicultural mosaic has created a melting pot of one billion people, each with their own distinctive language, culture and cuisine. This fabled land of awe-inspiring monuments and natural wonders includes no less than 22 World Heritage Sites. It is the birthplace of four major religions � Hinduism,Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. It is where deep spirituality co-exists with abject poverty, where cosmopolitan cities contrast with thatched roof villages, and a traditional way of life has remained unchanged for centuries. All these paradoxes make India a fascinating country to explore.