India: A cacophony of moments all played in fast forward, with overlaying sounds; loud and jarring. Yes, the beauty lies in the impossible grandeur and elegance of the palaces and forts, but turn to the million rooftops they overlook, with a story beneath each one; each detail that gives this place such a feel of sensory overload. It's the carved detail on a wooden door; the spice in your morning masala chai; the gold trim of a pink sari; the creased smile of the flower vendor; the distinct call from the minaret from a mosque (beside a Sikh temple, beside a Jain temple). It's the intrigue from the village children, the fine strokes on a fresco, the heat of a real Indian curry, the jangle of Bollywood music (that is somehow growing on me), and, if you're really lucky, the flash of a leopard's eye.

A beautiful building in Rajasthan

My first taste of India...

This trip to Rajasthan was my first taste of India and I'm hooked, fully intoxicated and consumed. Each visitor to India will have a different story but, for me, it all started with an elephant and its mahout waiting beside our car at a traffic light in Delhi. Personally I think you're mad if that sight alone isn't reason enough to jump on a flight straight to Delhi. The colonial style Hotel Imperial and the contemporary Hotel Lodhi epitomise Old and New Delhi respectively. Two sides of a precious coin, these halves make up a city that is a fantastic introduction into understanding the country's rich history, and giving broader context to the rest of the trip.

Taj Mahal, Agra India

Next stop Agra...

We only had time for a fleeting day visit to see the Taj Mahal but, oh my, was it worth it! You would think that the most photographed building in the world, something we've all seen images of so many times before, could be nothing more than an anticlimax, but up close it is so intricately detailed, and I would go as far as to say the most beautiful man-made thing I've seen. The most sought after address here is the Oberoi Amarvilas, with every room having a view of the building everyone is here to see.

Hawa Mahal Palace, Jaipur India

Jaipur, the pink city...

It certainly felt like the first real burst of colour on our India adventure (partly due to the bold floral wallpaper prints at my new favourite hotel, the Raj Mahal). Head into the city and it's all flower markets, turban stalls and painted everything, from frescoes to trucks, to elephants. We were lucky enough to have a tour of the private quarters of The City Palace, through elaborate entertaining rooms of red and gold, including a magnificent dining room which has hosted the likes of Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy. Right up on its roof terrace you are away from all the crowds, with amazing views overlooking the city's cascading rooftops and the giant sundial next door, The Observatory. Make sure you have enough time to explore Amer, beyond the tourist trap of the fort walls, and discover the beautiful step wells, carved temples, water buffalo - and cheeky monkeys!

Elephant at Dera Amer Camp. Jaipur, India

Dera Amer...

On your way out of Jaipur, private elephant camp Dera Amer offers some downtime between the cities. Help bathe the elephants and take an evening walk with them before a beautiful candlelit traditional tandoori dinner under the stars. They've just added four luxury tents to their repertoire so there's no longer any need to rush back to the city for the night.

An aerial view of Jodhpur, India

Jodphur...

Jodhpur is next. Less touristy than Jaipur, with its blue walls, markets and medieval alleyways sprawling under the looming Mehrangarh Fort, it certainly demands a couple of days on your itinerary. Explore the markets piled high with spices, vegetables, sacks of onions and woven baskets, chaiwalas and sugar cane pressers. At least one sunset should be spent up at the fort, looking down on the shimmering blue city (and for the best view up at the fort, you want to stay at RAAS).

Swimming Pool at Jawai Leopard Camp, India

Leopard spotting...

Now many visitors to India don't have the time to dedicate a few days solely to the purpose of searching out a big cat which, quite honestly, can feel a bit wasted if you don't see one. Enter Jawai. Not a designated National Park, the land is in fact owned by the local herdsmen, the Rabari. Rather than a solely wildlife-focused safari, this camp works with the local people, creating a very unique experience that by no means feels makes you feel cheated if you didn't see any wildlife (although incidentally we did see two leopards!). Jawai has all the bells and whistles of a luxury tented camp, complete with a stunning pool and drinks trolley to rival all, but with an added cultural experience. Wander through their villages, take a walking safari with a herdsman through the Jurassic-esque landscape, or even just know that your game rangers are in constant communication with the Rabari, who double up as the camps incredible leopard spotters. Another plus: I only saw one other vehicle during our two game drives, and it was also from Jawai.

Lake Palace, Udaipur India

Udaipur, the city of lakes...

A trip to Rajasthan naturally winds its way down to Udaipur, the city of lakes; and what a spectacular finish it is. By this point you'll be revived and desperate to see another palace, and this city palace overlooks Lake Pichola, with the spectacular Taj Lake Palace almost sinking in the middle. I could spend a whole day here just drinking chai at a lake view terrace, or wondering through the crisscross draped bazaars, straight out of Aladdin. My highlight of Udaipur, however, was an early morning cycle through the surrounding villages, past grinning kids on their way to school, ending up back at the still lake in time for my last breakfast in India (this time round anyway).

India. The impossible near misses of tuk tuks, trucks, rickshaws, pedestrians, carts and cows. The mirror lakes and awe-inspiring beauty from the grand palaces to the painted window shutters. India is the country of everything, such contrasts and colour; any photographer's dream. There is such unique beauty here and with e-visas now available online and flight prices low, now is the time to go. My next visit? Ladakh and the Himalayas.