The same size and scope that makes India so alluring can make planning a first visit daunting—but it needn't be that way if you prioritize.
One philosophy is to hit the highlights, and this can work if you have very specific destinations in mind and at least two weeks on the ground so that partway through you don't feel as though you're checking off "must-sees" on a mental list. If you're looking to cover a lot of ground, plan to spend as much time as you possibly can, and consider itineraries that use your time wisely—this can mean a trip customized to your specific interests and even possibly travel by private jet to and/or within India.
Another philosophy is, of course, to confine your travel to a certain region. If you opt for this path, you needn't be concerned that you'll be foregoing a chance to immerse yourself in India's sweeping history and heritage. In fact, if you choose wisely, you can combine time at historic venues with a relaxing interlude.
Many travelers making their first visit to India are drawn to such northern locales as Rajasthan because of the iconic Taj Mahal and a number of other UNESCO World Heritage sites. Repeaters and those who want an extensive sampling of the country's history and culture may well be tempted by an itinerary that includes the southern part of the country.
Indeed, the southern Indian state of Kerala has been growing steadily in popularity among international travelers in recent years. It also draws vacationers from other parts of India, eager to savor the region's beauty and history.
Kerala stretches along the southernmost part of India's west coast, with beaches lapped at by the Arabian Sea and gorgeous backwaters. Topography is varied, with mountains, waterfalls and interlacing rivers, so there's a lot to see and do, from motorboat rides to diving and surfing.
You can visit everything from temples and festivals to plantations where tea and spices are cultivated. Kerala also is home to wildlife sanctuaries.
And what better place than India to ensure ample time for yoga and spa, especially ayurvedic treatments?
You could easily spend a week touring temples and other sights that appeal to you, and then spend several days at a spa or ashram retreat, with the depth and focus of the sojourn geared toward your specific interests and goals.