India has many faces, and seeing them takes time. So if your stay is short, map out an itinerary before arriving and make travel bookings. The train system is desperately overloaded, and Indian Airlines, the domestic carrier, is stunningly inefficient. In Delhi, bus tours are a good way to take in the city's scattered sights. But don't stop there. Take a spin in a bicycle rickshaw through the heart of Old Delhi. Wade through the bazaars of Chandni Chauk, the walled city's most famous thoroughfare. And if you buy anything, bargain, bargain, bargain.
The best guidebook is ``India: A Travel Survival Kit,'' by Geoff Crowther (Oakland, Calif.: Lonely Planet, 1987, $17.95 paper). It's lively and geared to the casual traveler, although the more upscale will enjoy its insights and tips.
From Delhi, many day trips are possible. The most frequented is to the Taj Mahal in Agra and the haunting, deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri nearby. The pink city of Jaipur is a half-day's travel. The Himalayas are a day and a half away.
More offbeat and less visited is Orchha, a half-day's train journey into Madhya Pradesh state. The village, with its fort and temples, is frozen in a medieval mode and has a lovely maharajah's palace-turned-hotel.
Lastly, remember: India is a great adventure. If you haven't had lengthy delays, if some plans haven't gone awry, and if you haven't hit bureaucratic snags, you haven't really visited India. Bring plenty of patience and a sense of humor. India will reward you handsomely.