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The imperial mall, Rajpath, leads to the mighty arch of India Gate, designed by Edwin Lutyens in the 1920s, and now the focus of New Delhi's passeggiata. Delhi, being such a large (population around 14 million) and diverse city, absorbs its tourists with ease.

Agra and Jaipur both have sizeable numbers of Western tourists roaming around.

To the south, British-built New Delhi is a fascinating contrast, radiating out from the boutiques and cafés of Connaught Place: here, the dusty alleys are replaced by broad, arrow-straight boulevards and four-square monuments.

Alternatively, you could opt for wraps, paninis and light bites at Barista, a chain of Wi Fi-enabled espresso bars with more than 20 outlets in Delhi alone, including a branch at N-16 Connaught Place (00 91 11 2335 6076;

Barista is also in Jaipur (00 91 1), in the mall opposite the Raj Mandir cinema, but here an excellent choice is the LMB restaurant on Johari Bazaar (00 91 1; where all the food is pure vegetarian.

It is less than 500m from the Taj, and offers staggering views of the mausoleum from each of its 105 bedrooms. Agra's mid-range hotels lack character: as good a bet as any is the four-star Clarks Shiraz, 54 Taj Road (00 91 11 5; favoured by many tour companies: a deluxe double facing the Taj Mahal costs Rs6,500 (£74). Trustworthy mid-range eateries in central New Delhi include the Banana Leaf, at N-12 Connaught Place (00 91 11 2331 2355), a good, family-style restaurant serving up South Indian specialities such as dosa alongside excellent thalis.

Jaipur does better: plump for the pleasant three-star Umaid Bhawan, D1-2A Bani Park (00 91 1; - a modern building on a residential street done up as a heritage-style palace. Decent mid-range hotels in Delhi include Nirula's, L-135 Connaught Place (00 91 11 2341 7419; with well-kept three-star doubles from Rs5,100 (£59), and similarly house-proud Alka, P-16/90 Connaught Place (00 91 11 2334 4000; with doubles from Rs3,600 (£42). Nirula's, at L-135 Connaught Place (00 91 11 2341 7419; is another sound bet.

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