I'D RATHER expected the Indian government's official website to be somewhat, well, rickety. I don't mean that I thought it would be riddled with pidgin English and look like it had been put together on a pocket calculator, but it seemed reasonable to think it might be a little rough at the edges, rather like most web pages in this country were four or five years ago. Far from it, though. It's slick, colourful and easy to navigate. As indeed are most of the country's websites. For potential travellers, however, the content is sadly in the brochure league.

As with all destinations, a good guidebook can be a far more efficient and reliable way of mugging up on the best and worst about a country. Websites are only really useful for finding out about forthcoming events and getting up-to-date information about places to visit.

Some of the country's state tourist offices have their own sites, although the prose on some of them is rather overdone. Himachal Pradesh, for example, promises "lush river valleys surrounded by snow-capped peaks and dense forests that echo with birdsongs evoking enchantment and delight." But if you're unfamiliar with this part of the world, you might find it useful for background.

If you need to find a soulmate for your adventures, try the Travel Companions' Database, which aims to put you in touch with like-minded people. My request for a male non-smoker aged between 25 and 30 to go travelling for four weeks in August drew a blank, but they claim the set-up is fairly new. Perhaps it just needs time to build up a critical mass.

www.indiagov.org/

The Indian government's home page

www.123india.com/123india/travel/

India search engine.

www.inetindia.com/travel/state/index.html

Index of state tourist pages.

www.gadnet.com/traseek.htm

The Travel Companions' Database.

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