Written By: Ben Cosgrove

“If she commanded fewer crowds than previous, official tourists like President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth,” LIFE wrote of Jackie Kennedy’s 1962 goodwill tour of India, “she [nevertheless] conducted herself magnificently.”

Kennedy—all of 32 years old and, a full year into her husband’s administration, arguably the most famous woman in the world—”wore a perpetual grin and a dazzling collection of clothes that were both perfect and simple” during her March 12-21 visit. But, as correspondent Anne Chamberlin reported, she “was not slavishly given over to Kennedy ways. One morning when a lot of Kennedys would have been up to see the sun rise over Delhi or swim 80 laps in the pool, Jackie slept late.”

While in India the stylish First Lady also had an effect on the “traditionally dowdy female press corps,” LIFE wrote: “Two lady reporters now carry, in addition to typewriters, hatboxes containing wigs, and three take notes while wearing little white gloves.”

Here, LIFE.com offers a series of photographs—many of which never ran in LIFE—that capture a young woman, wife, mother and fashion icon-in-the-making (“Her every seam has been the subject of hypnotized attention from the streets of Delhi to the Khyber Pass,” Chamberlin wrote) navigating with evident ease the high-stakes, high-stress worlds of diplomacy and international relations.

For her part, meanwhile, it was clear that Mrs. Kennedy took something of India with her when she left.

“It’s been a dream,” Jackie said of her trip.

In a sea of Indian saris, Mrs. Kennedy and Rajasthan's governor move through Jaipur airport. On her forehead is the Rajasthani mark of luck and respect, the tika. Her silver-encased coconut also honors the occasion

In a sea of Indian saris, Mrs. Kennedy and Rajasthan’s governor moved through Jaipur airport. On her forehead was the Rajasthani mark of luck and respect, the tika. Her silver-encased coconut also honored the occasion.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Indira Gandhi with Jackie Kennedy in 1962.

Indira Gandhi with Jackie Kennedy in 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The First Lady Jackie Kennedy and sister Lee Radziwill in India in 1962. LIFE estimated Jackie wore 22 different outfits during her trip; on one day in New Delhi she changed five times.

The First Lady Jackie Kennedy and sister Lee Radziwill in India in 1962. LIFE estimated that Jackie wore 22 different outfits during her trip; on one day in New Delhi she changed five times.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

On a side trip to a textile showroom in Banaras, Mrs. Kennedy wore a sleeveless pink unbelted and high-waisted sheath of linen-like silk by New York designer Donald Brooks. Covered buttons up the side.

On a side trip to a textile showroom in Banaras, Jackie Kennedy wore a sleeveless pink unbelted and high-waisted sheath of linen-like silk by New York designer Donald Brooks.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

As day followed vivid day, India's magic began to work on Mrs. Kennedy and   in a change from the first days of the trip   she became relaxed and easy

As day followed vivid day, India’s magic began to work on Jackie Kennedy and — in a change from the early stages of the trip —she became relaxed and easy.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy during her visit to India in March 1962.

Jackie Kennedy during her visit to India in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

First Lady Jackie Kennedy, center, in a white coat and hat walks with Ambassador John Galbrath, right, in India in 1962.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy, center, walked with Ambassador John Galbrath, right, in India in 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The esthetic summit of Jackie's trip was her visit to the Taj Mahal. She saw it twice  once in the morning, as here, and again by moonlight, when she returned to stand in awe before its pale splendor.

The esthetic summit of Jackie’s trip was her visit to the Taj Mahal. She saw it twice —once in the morning, as here, and again by moonlight, when she returned to stand in awe before its pale splendor.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy presents a cup to Princess Gayatri Devi, right, and members of a polo team in Jaipur in March 1962.

Jackie Kennedy presented a cup to Princess Gayatri Devi, right, and members of a polo team in Jaipur.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy attends a formal event in India in 1962.

Jackie Kennedy attended a formal event in India in 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

At Jaipur, sitting in an elaborately carved howdah, Jackie and her sister [Lee Radziwill] ride on a trumpeting female elephant, newly painted and spangled for the show.

At Jaipur, sitting in an elaborately carved howdah, Jackie and her sister, Lee Radziwill, rode on a trumpeting female elephant, newly painted and spangled for the show.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wears a pink dress and three-stranded pearls during her visit with Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, left, and Ambassador to the U.S., Braj Kumar Nehru.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy visited with Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, left, and Ambassador to the U.S., Braj Kumar Nehru.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In fitted silk apricot dress, Jackie walks through crowds at Udaipur, where she was given a noisy reception." She walks with the Maharaj of Mewar, left, during her visit in 1962.

Jackie walked with the Maharaj of Mewar.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jacqueline Kennedy

In a fitted silk apricot dress, Jackie walked through crowds at Udaipur, where she was given a noisy reception.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mrs. Kennedy, center, and Mrs. Indira Gandhi, third from left, attend a sporting event on the First Lady's tour of India in March 1962.

Jackie Kennedy, center, and Indira Gandhi, third from left, attended a sporting event on the First Lady’s tour of India in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mrs. Kennedy smiles with the U.S. ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, in 1962.

Jackie Kennedy smiled with the U.S. ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, in 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy during her tour of India in March 1962.

Jackie Kennedy during her tour of India in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy visits children in a hospital during her tour of India in March 1962.

Jackie Kennedy visited children in a hospital during her tour of India in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

First Lady Jackie Kennedy is greeted by Gov. Gurmukh Nihal Singh, center, at Jaipur Airport in March 1962.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy was greeted by Gov. Gurmukh Nihal Singh, center, at Jaipur Airport in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

On a carved wooden swing in the prime minister's garden, the First Lady sits and talks with Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter and the former president of the ruling Congress party of India.

On a carved wooden swing in the prime minister’s garden, the First Lady sat and talked with Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter and the former president of the ruling Congress party of India.”

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie walks with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the garden of his home in 1962.

Jackie walked with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the garden of his home in 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy on her tour of India in March 1962.

Jackie Kennedy during her tour of India in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

On veranda outside her room at the residence of Prime Minister Nehru, Mrs. Kennedy turns her miniature camera on photographers. Beside her, Ambassador Galbraith busies himself with his notes

On a veranda outside her room at the residence of Prime Minister Nehru, Jackie Kennedy turned her miniature camera on photographers. Beside her, Ambassador Galbraith busied himself with his notes.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in India in 1962.

Jackie Kennedy with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in India in 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

First Lady Jackie Kennedy, right, in blue sheath dress and white gloves watches a polo match with Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi, on a visit to India in March 1962.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy, right, in a blue sheath dress and white gloves, watched a polo match with Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi, on a visit to India in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

At a glittering state luncheon for her in New Delhi, the First Lady, wearing a green Oleg Cassini sheath, sits at the right hand of Prime Minister Nehru.

At a glittering state luncheon for her in New Delhi, the First Lady, wearing a green Oleg Cassini sheath, sat at the right hand of Prime Minister Nehru.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy at the Taj Mahal in March 1962.

Jackie Kennedy at the Taj Mahal in March 1962.

Art Rickerby The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

More Like This

people

Michelle Obama: Her Inspiring Story

Night with Frank Sinatra people

A Night Out With Sinatra

Christian Dior people

Christian Dior’s Conquering Eye

people

Celebrities’ Best Friends

George H.W. Bush and family at home in 1971. Left-Right: Nephew Billy, daughter Dorothy, George H.W., son Neil, wife Barbara, nephew Jon. people

The Family Life of a Young George H.W. Bush

John Wayne photo essay by John Dominis for LIFE magazine, 1969. people

Behind the Scenes With John Wayne, 1969