From the pristine natural beauty of Kashmir to the liveliness of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata to the royalty of Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and Jodhpur to the temples of Hampi to the spirituality of Haridwar and Rishikesh to the mighty Himalayas of Dharamshala and Kedarnath to the breathtaking beaches of Goa to one of the best wonders of the world, Taj Mahal in Agra -India is super diverse and there’s no dearth of the best places to visit in India.
Incredible India. Yes, India is incredible! No wonder, it invariably, finds a place on every traveler’s bucket list. It’s on your list too? Well, from Kasmir to Kanyakumari, here’s a round of the most beautiful places in India for you!
Just about 95 km from Srinagar, a quaint village set by the Lidder River, Pahalgam is unarguably one of the most beautiful places in India. No matter how many times you visit, it never loses its charm. It’s fondly known as the Valley of Shepherds.
Think lush pine forests, mist-covered Himalayas, and the playful Lidder River crisscrossing its way through the green valley – Can you picture the beauty of Pahalgam?
Apart from admiring the inconceivable natural beauty of Pahalgam with a cup of Kashmiri Kehwa, there’s so much to see and do there. Aru Valley, Betaab Valley, Lolab Valley, Chandanwari, Baisaran, Tulian Lake, and Sheshnag Lake are some of the best places to visit in and around Pahalgam. The hamlet is also host to one of the most revered journeys for Hindus, Amarnath Yatra.
You can’t visit India and not visit Delhi. The lively capital of India – Delhi is best known for its age-old history, fascinating culture, topsy-turvy yet vibrant streets and markets, and flavorsome street food. From the magic of spacious avenues of New Delhi to the charm of narrow lanes of Old Delhi – somewhere you can’t help but fall in love with the chaos and colors.
Delhi, one of the oldest cities in the world hides countless stories in its bosom. If you feel like listening and understanding the stories it narrates, explore Delhi with a local. Join one of the heritage walks and cultural tours with locals to dive into the culture, heritage, and history of Delhi.
Humayun’s Tomb, Tughlaqabad Fort, Purana Qila, Red Fort, Hauz Khas Archeological Complex, and Safdarjung Tomb are some of the best historical attractions in Delhi. If art intrigues you, add Khan Market, Lodhi Art District, Hauz Khas Village, Arjan Garh Metro Station, National Gallery of Modern Art, and Shahpur Jat to your Delhi Itinerary.
Delhi doesn’t disappoint nature lovers. There are a lot of urban spaces from Mughal Gardens, Sunder Nursery, to Lodhi Gardens, and Garden of Five Senses.
If you’re visiting Delhi with kids, don’t forget to take them to Nehru Planetarium, Chidiya Ghar, National Children’s Museum, Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, and Waste to Wonder.
From history and culture lovers, nature lovers, art lovers to spiritual zealots, museum enthusiasts, food lovers, and shoppers – Delhi has something for everyone.
PS: You can’t leave Delhi before you taste Delhicacies on a food tour of Chandani Chowk.
The capital city of Rajasthan, well-known as the Pink City, Jaipur is all things royal. An integral part of India’s Golden Triangle along with Delhi and Agra, Jaipur remains one of the top destinations to visit in India.
Some of the important sights in Jaipur include Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, and Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, Jantar Mantar, and Galtaji Temple. There are quite a few amazing day trips from Jaipur, Chand Baori, and Bhangarh Fort being the best.
Jaipur’s vibrant bazaars (markets) attract shoppers from across the world. You can buy authentic colored gems, handcrafted jewelry, block-printed textiles, blue pottery, handmade puppets, and other knickknacks.
The Pink City is also famous for its mouthwatering food. Try traditional Rajasthani food at Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar. Also, you must must taste pyaaz ki kachoris and jalebi with a hot cup of chai (tea) at one of the juke joints.
We stayed at Pearl Palace Heritage Boutique Hotel. It’s a beautiful heritage property. They don’t have room service. For food, you need to walk a little or board an auto (arranged by the hotel) to their lovely restaurant, Peacock Rooftop Restaurant.
Jaisalmer is located in the desolate Thar Desert, on the western fringe of the princely state of Rajasthan. It is known as the Golden City because of its yellow sandstone buildings and it is dominated by the 12th-century Jaisalmer Fort, which sits on a rock buttress above the sprawl of the city.
There are a lot of forts in Rajasthan but the UNESCO listed Jaisalmer Fort is special. It is one of the only living forts in the world, with 5,000 people still living and working inside the walls of this historic fort today. They are mostly descendants of the families who have lived here for centuries. A visit to the fort will be the highlight of your time in Jaisalmer.
The narrow lanes of this historic fort are perfect for aimless wandering and are a treasure trove of textile, antiques, and curio stores, restaurants, cafes, and guesthouses. You never know what you are going to find around every twist and turn.
There is also a palace and Jain temples within the walls of Jaisalmer Fort which you can visit, and numerous viewpoints that are especially beautiful when the sun is rising or setting. Along with the fort, the other big attraction of Jaisalmer is the camel safaris that leave from here. You can choose to go for a day or spend a night or more trekking on a camel and camping out under the stars. Make sure to check reviews when booking a tour.
If you are planning a trip through Rajasthan in India, you should definitely put Jodphur on your travel list. Also known as “the blue city”, not only do countless blue-painted townhouses await you here, there are also countless attractions to discover. Traditionally, the color blue signified that the inhabitants belonged to the Brahmin caste, but today also non-Brahmin have adopted this custom as well. Interesting is also that the color is said to be an effective means of repelling mosquitoes.
As the second largest city in the state, imposing forts, temples and palaces await you here, taking you back to the historic times of the Maharajas. But also the landscape around the city with the Thar Desert and the parks are impressive and should not be missed.
One of the highlights and probably the most important sight of Jodphur is the Mehrangarh Fortress on a mountain about 125 meters high. This former palace was converted into a museum and is now open to the public. Impressive is also the view of the Blue City, from the high walls you can take great photos.
Other interesting sights include the Jaswant Thada (marble palace), Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) and Sardar market, Bal Samand Lake and the Mandore Garden. But there are many more highlights to discover, so don`t miss this amazing city!
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Agra is best known for the most famous sight of India: The Taj Mahal. But it also has a lot to offer. Come with us to an exciting city with a lot of history and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The former capital of the Mughal Empire has today about 1.7 million inhabitants and is, together with Jaipur and Delhi, a very popular stop on a round trip through northern India. From Delhi, it is about 220 kilometers, which can be easily covered by bus or train.
It is highly recommended to get up early in Agra. Start your day by visiting the fabulous Taj Mahal, one of the most popular destinations for travelers worldwide. It is an indescribable feeling to see the snow-white building in all its glory for the first time through the archways in the rising sun. The fascinating structure is a mausoleum built by the Great Mogul Shah Jahan in 1631 for his late wife Mumtaz Mahal. Photos of the Taj Mahal’s reflections in the pools of water are especially popular.
However, Agra has even more to offer. Don’t miss the Red Fort with the Friday Mosque (Jama Masjid) and the Pearl Mosque (Moti Masjid). The huge fortification and palace complex was already built in the 16th century by Akbar the Great.
Akbar’s Tomb and the Itimad-ud-Daula Mausoleum are well worth seeing.
A popular destination for a day trip from Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, the ancient capital of Akbar the Great, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Varanasi is one of the most beautiful, unique, charming and intense places to visit in India. Holy to Hindus, this large city is a popular pilgrimage destination for Indians who go there to immerse themselves in the waters of the Ganga river. What’s peculiar about it is that the city can at the same time be pure chaos and mayhem, and incredibly quiet.
Your exploration should start in the Old City, an intricate series of narrow alleys closed to cars – simply because the alleys are too small for them to circulate. Most of them will take you to the Ghats, which are steps that lead into the river.
A walk along the river will take you to the many ghats. The most famous one is the Dashashwamedh Ghat, where every day at sunset you can sit to observe the Ganga Aarti, an enticing ritual during which fire is donated to the Mother Ganges – it’s one of the best things to do when visiting India. A sunrise boat tour will give you the chance to see the cremation ceremonies. Just beware that photographing the funeral pyres is forbidden.
While in Varanasi, go to Blue Lassi, a little hole in the wall where you can grab a bhang lassi – a yogurt drink mixed with an extract of flower and leaves of cannabis. A word of warning: it’s stronger than it tastes!
Very few things are more special than witnessing a group of people reverence something or someone they consider holy. Haridwar is one of those locations for the Hindu people. In fact, it is considered one of the seven holiest places within the religion.
Haridwar sits on the River Ganga, where it is believed that drops of Amrit, an elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled. The belief is that contact with this holy water will wash away your sins.
Consequently, Hindus from across India travel to Haridwar to participate in the daily prayer that commences around dusk. You will witness hundreds, if not thousands, of Hindus, gathered to offer prayers, hymns, and sacred acts to the river, Goddess Ganga. Some of the sacred acts include bathing in the river and offering the Goddess flowers and candles in exchange for the cleansing of one’s sins.
Once dusk falls, the beauty of the lit candles and the communal prayers and chants fill the atmosphere, creating a magical experience. Even if you don’t practice Hinduism, you can feel that you are experiencing something special and sacred within the religion.
In addition to witnessing this sacred Hindu experience, you also have the opportunity to shop at local stalls as well as observe men getting their hair cut along the path that leads up to the Har Ki Pauri, the major landmark of the holy city of Haridwar and the location of this sacred worship.
This is an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.
Without a doubt one of the coolest, most spiritual and peaceful places to visit in India is Rishikesh. Whether you are into yoga, meditation, nature or simply spending hours sipping chai and looking out over the Ganges, you will love visiting Rishikesh.
One of the best places to practice yoga in Rishikesh is Swami Vivekananda near Little Buddha Cafe. You can take daily yoga and meditation classes at 8 am which are the perfect way to start your day before exploring nature around Rishikesh. Another great option for classes including sound healing is World Peace Yoga School.
From Rishikesh, you can walk to Riverside Beach and relax on this beach beside the Ganges or, for a more adventurous option, take a rafting day trip down the river. You might also want to catch the sunrise at Kunjapuri Devi Mandir Temple and spend the rest of the morning hiking back to Rishikesh through the local countryside and beautiful waterfalls. Neer Garh Waterfall and Patna Waterfall are two of the best in the area.
For a more relaxing itinerary, there are so many gorgeous cafes in Rishikesh with good food (including international cuisine if you need it!), coffee, and views. Don’t miss Little Buddha or Ganga Beach Cafe. Rishikesh is a dry, holy city which means fantastic vegetarian food at every turn. Read the Rishikesh travel guide to know more.
India is filled with temples seemingly on every corner, but Kedarnath is special. Dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the Kedarnath temple is located in the lesser Himalayas and stands at nearly 12,000 feet elevation. In Sanskrit, the name “Kedarnath” means “lord of the field.”
Due to extreme temperatures, the deity of Shiva is only at the temple for half of the year; during the winters, it’s carried further down the mountain for worship. There are 12 very holy shrines of Shiva, of which this is one.
Visitors cannot access the temple directly by car. Instead, there is a 14-mile uphill walk from the town of Gaurikund. Those who would like to go to the temple may either walk or take a donkey. All this effort means that Kedarnath is certainly off the beaten path for most tourists. Most visitors are locals or devoutly religious Hindus from around the country and world.
Because of this, it’s important to be very respectful of local practices and religious observance. Still, most visitors are welcomed warmly and included in the privilege of experiencing a sacred site.
Including Kedarnath in an India travel itinerary is a wonderful way to become familiar with local religious customs, people, and food.
Amritsar, the land of a pool of nectar, is a culturally vibrant city of Punjab. It is an important pilgrim spot for the Sikhs for the presence of the Golden Temple. Called with many names, Golden Temple or Harminder Sahib or Darbar Sahib, it is the most famous and most visited place in Amritsar. This is a place where you connect with yourself and find tranquility. The first sight of the temple covered with gold foil with its reflection in the sacred pool leaves you awestruck.
But there are many other places in Amritsar worth visiting. Jallianwala Bagh is a memorial park where many innocent people were killed by unannounced firing by a British officer during pre-independence days. Partition Museum, is another place that gives a bone-chilling insight into the largest mass migration during the partition of India and Pakistan.
A visit to Amritsar is incomplete without indulging in the lip-smacking food from Amritsari kulchas to lassi to fried fish to chicken and the list goes on. After you have satisfied your appetite, shop till you drop. The traditional and colorful clothes, the famous footwear, the papadum and so much more.
When in Amritsar, do plan a visit to the Wagah Border, the border between India and Pakistan around 30 km away. Every evening there is a heart-pumping ceremony where the flags on both sides are lowered by the security forces of both countries.
There are some great hotels in Amritsar perfect for a comfortable stay. Just even thinking about all this makes me want to travel back again.
Raw and rugged. That is how we would describe Spiti, a cold desert valley in the Himalayas. On summer days, the snow capped barren mountains pierce into the blue skies where the white clouds float. During winters, the valley hides under thick sheets of snow.
Tiny villages crop up in various parts of the valley, surrounded by the mighty mountains and intercepted by the Spiti river. This vast rain-shadow region of the Himalayas is also home to some ancient Budhhist monasteries, the most notable among them being Ki and Dhankar.
Explore the villages, visit the monasteries, hike up the mountains to see secluded lakes and enjoy scenic views all along. End your perfect day in the Himalayas by hanging out with the locals with a cup of herbal tea and a bowl of steaming hot noodles.
The best way to explore Spiti Valley is by taking a road trip. You can start from Simla, visit the beautiful towns of Kinnaur district, like Rakcham, Chitkul, and Rekong Peo along the way, before arriving in Spiti Valley. Explore the towns of Tabo, Kaza, Langza in Spiti Valley, then head to Manali to complete the trip. For more adventure, add a side trip to Chadratal Lake on your way to Manali from Kaza.
Set amidst the mighty Himalayas, Leh-Ladakh is the most sought-after destination in India. It’s known for its wild rugged landscape that seems other-worldly.
The region is best explored on a road trip. The journey starts in Manali and ends in Leh, the capital city of Ladakh. The road journey takes you through some of the highest as well as dangerous passes in India. The thrilling drive through one of the riskiest highways in the world, Leh Manali Highway is once in a lifetime experience.
Ancient monasteries, bluish blue Pangong Tso, the beautiful confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers, mystic Nubra Valley, and much more – there’s a world waiting to be explored in Leh-Ladakh.
We stayed at Tukchu Homestay in Leh and highy recommend it to our readers.
Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Best known for its invincible hilltop fort, Gwalior is home to a rich cultural, spiritual, and musical heritage. Visiting Gwalior Fort is like taking a live history lesson. You can feel the stories of the past reverberating in its stones. The sound and light show in the evening adds to the entire experience.
Other places of interest in Gwalior are the tomb of Tansen, Jai Vilas Palace, Sun Temple, Siddhanchal Jain Temple Caves, Sas-Bahu Temple, Teli Ka Mandir, The Temple of Zero, Gujari Mahal, Sarod Ghar, and Samadhi Rani Laxmi Bai.
Most of the temples of Gwalior (except the Sun Temple) are situated right in the fort complex.
We stayed at Neemrana’s Deo Bagh, a 17th-century heritage property, and loved every second of our stay so much so that we blindly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh
Dharamshala, is one of the most important cities in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located in the hills of the Kangra Valley, surrounded by beautiful cedar trees. This magical destination is surrounded by a number of villages, most famously McLeod Ganj.
The town of McLeod Ganj is famous for being the seat of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. Here you will find the Dalai Lama’s temple, Tsuglagkhang, a monastery and Tibetan government buildings. The large Tibetan population means that there are lots of good Tibetan food restaurants.
The relaxed surroundings, Buddhist presence and beautiful hills, means that this is a great place to enjoy for several days. With a week in Dharamshala, explore the hillsides, take classes such as yoga, massage, and cooking; and relax from the hustle and bustle of the larger Indian cities.
From the Upper Dharamshala areas of McLeod Ganj, it is easy to walk to other small villages such as Bhagsunag and Dharamkot, for even more tourist services. Go hiking for stunning views of the forested hills and discover waterfalls. You can also do a meditation retreat and try your luck with staying silent for several days! No wonder this is a backpacker mecca!
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
If you want to get away from the crowds and the heat in India, so are Tawang in the far northeastern part of India, in the state of Arunachal Pradesh the perfect place to visit, It´s the home to most peoples surprise the largest Monastery in India and the second largest Buddhist monastery in the world I located, the Tawang Monastery.
A fully functional Buddhist Monastery which you are completely free to visit and wander around, what about attend a Buddhist study class, or just walk around the small back streets of the Monastery which are full of young Monks running around. In this part of India will you meet very few other tourists, both locals, and foreigners
And when you have had enough of the Monastery, so are also Tawang one of the best but still undiscovered hiking destinations in India, the whole area is full of deep valleys and breathtaking view of the Himalayas, here you can either do shorter day hikes to surrounding villages or what about visiting the birthplace to 6th Dalai Lama which was born here in Tawang.
But before you decide to visit Tawang, should you be aware that the roads here are not the best, so the journey is an adventure on its own, over mountain passes as high as 4000m.
Fondly known as the “Scotland of the East”, Shillong is the capital city of the Indian state of Meghalaya. The city has a spellbinding scenic beauty. Nestled between the Garo and Khasi hills, Shillong offers lush open spaces, breathtaking viewpoints, beautiful waterfalls, and umpteen number of cultural attractions.
Some of the most beautiful places to visit in and around Shillong include the Elephant Falls, Laitlum Canyon, Nan Polok (Ward Lake), Umiam lake, Shillong Viewpoint, Sohpetbneng Peak, Nohsngithiang (Seven Sister Falls), Phan Nongalit Park (Lady Hydri Park), Mary help of Christians Cathedral, Don Bosco Museum, and David Scott Trail in Mawphlang.
Literally translating to the “End of the hills”, Laitlum Canyon looks awe-inspiring. The views over the Khasi Hills are to die for. If you want to know more about the history and culture of Meghalaya, Don Bosco is the place. Laitkor or Shillong Peak offers panoramic views over the city. Umiam is a beautiful and serene lake where you can enjoy a boat ride while admiring the beauty around you. A 16 km long trail, David Scott Trail in Mawphlang attracts adventure and wilderness lovers from all across the world.
The best time to visit Shillong is in mid-November when the cherry blossoms are on full bloom and the city looks like a pretty shade of pink. It’s when Shillong hosts the India International Cherry Blossom Festival. One of the best places to see Cherry Blossoms in Shillong is Lady Hydri Park.
Yumthang Valley, Sikkim
Yumthang Valley is one of the most picturesque destinations of not only in Sikkim but also in India. Also known as the Valley of Flowers, Yumthang valley is located in remote North Sikkim. The changing season changes the beauty and landscape of the place.
However, the best time to visit the place is the spring season. The valley is full of rhododendron trees and other low-growing Himalayan flowering shrubs. During the flowering season (mid-March to May), the entire valley becomes a riot of colors. Flowers of various colors – red, yellow, pink, white, purple, and blue are seen along the valley.
During the winter, the place is a snow-covered wonderland. Monsoon brings greenery to the entire valley. In short, Yumthang has different beauty in different seasons.
Other places of interest at Yumthang Valley are the hot spring and the Zero Point or Yumesamdong. The Zero Point is located at an altitude of 15000 feet and about 1.5 hours from the Yumthang Valley towards the Indo-China border. There are a couple of hot springs at Zero Point and the place is almost always covered with snow.
Usually, a trip to Yumthang Valley is done along with Gurudongmar Lake. It is a 3 days trip from Gangtok with a stop at Lachen (for Gurudongmar Lake) and Lachung (for Yumthang Valley). So if you are visiting Sikkim, do not forget to make a trip to this wondrous Valley of flowers.
Kolkata, West Bengal
Kolkata is undoubtedly one of the most elegant cities of eastern India. Located at the banks of River Hooghly, Kolkata is a mélange of the old and the new. While Kolkata can be quite overwhelming for a first-time visitor (just like any other metropolitan cities of India), it definitely has a heart of its own. Here people love to talk about anything and everything, thrive on cultural pursuits and love food and football with equal gusto.
One of the most famous attractions of Kolkata is the Kalighat Temple. Goddess Kali is known to the guardian deity of the city. You must also not miss Dakshineswar Temple and Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramkrishna Math and Mission.
Kolkata bears the testimony of an imperial past and it can be seen in its buildings and monuments. A Kolkata trip will be incomplete without a visit to the grand Victoria Memorial, Princep Ghat, Dalhousie Square and St. Pauls Cathedral. Howrah Bridge is one of the most iconic structures of Kolkata and is literally the gateway to Kolkata.
If you are interested in knowing about old Kolkata, visit the Northern part of the city. Kolkata is world-famous for the celebration of Durga Puja. If you visit the city during the festival, you can see how the entire city becomes a carnival. Otherwise, you can visit Kumartuli, the place where the Durga idols are made by the potters.
Finally, while in Kolkata, do not miss the food. The Bengali cuisine is varied and quite delectable with a spread of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fares. The sweets of Kolkata are one of the best in India. So do not miss the Rosogollas, Sandesh and Misti Doi. Visit the “City of Joy” and get immersed in its vibrancy and old-world charm.
Darjeeling, West Bengal
Darjeeling – the Indian hill station known as Queen of the Hills is a must-visit in eastern India. Darjeeling is famous for its pleasant weather conditions – come here in summer to escape the heat of lower altitudes, its tea growing, and its hill railway. Darjeeling was established as a hill station during the period of the Raj by the British in India. Hill railways were built at this time to take visitors to the more temperature climes in the hills.
Today, 3 of those railways, including Darjeeling’s are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some days you can still ride a steam-powered “Toy Train” in Darjeeling (and it is magical!). Darjeeling gives you stunning views of the Himalayas, great tea, and at the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, you can see the endangered Himalayan wolf, the Red Panda, and snow leopards.
Sunrise in Darjeeling is also special – watching it from Tiger Hill and seeing the sun catch the peaks of Mt Kanchenjunga is quite stunning. When in Darjeeling you shouldn’t miss visiting a tea garden – there are more than 80 around Darjeeling. Don’t just stop at one – try a few and find your favorite.
Many will allow you to walk around – and will sell you tea also. The Happy Valley Tea Estate is just 5 minutes walk from town, dates back to 1850, and grows organic tea. They also offer 100 rupee guided tours, where you’ll get a full understanding of the tea process. And while the cool of the hills might be a welcome relief, don’t forget it gets colder at night, so you might want to splurge on a good hotel with heating when you visit Darjeeling!
Popularly referred to as the Temple city of India for the cluster of magnificent 6th-13th century temples, Bhubaneswar is definitely more than just temples. While living on an Indian Spouse visa, I visited this city many times and every time there is something new to see.
Coming to temples, be it the more-than-a-thousand-year-old Lingaraj temple or the Rajarani temple, built with wonderful red and gold sandstone, or the stone carvings of Mukteshwar temple, each of them will leave you spellbound.
Believed to be carved by Jain ascetics in the 1st century BC, the carved figures of Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves are a glimpse of the history of Odisha and the Jain religion. Also, a great place to see the sunset.
Love visiting zoos? Then the Nandankanan Zoological Park comes with hundreds of animals and birds, a botanical garden, and a huge lake. Definitely worth a stop.
Dhauli Giri, a Buddhist peace pagoda built by Japan Buddha Sangh and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangh, is a symbol of peace to commemorate the day where Emperor Ashoka renounced war by offering his sword to Buddha.
And finally, Bhubaneswar serves as a gateway to Puri, the beach town with the famed Jagannath temple and Konark, home to the Sun temple, a world heritage site. So if they are on your bucket list, you can cover them even in a day.
The New York of India and the Capital of Bollywood, Mumbai is the queen city for fashion, entertainment, and finance in India. The city has the charm of the old street with many ancient monuments but is very young and busy like a modern city.
There are many ancient monuments in Mumbai to visit like India Gate, Elephant Island, Haji Ali Dargah Mosque. Sunset at Indian Gate is very famous and not to miss when you are in Mumbai. Another landmark not to miss is the Taj Hotel which is very iconic and also gives the opportunity to explore the beaches of Mumbai. Marine drive is very famous for sunset views into the sea.
Mumbai also has famous parks and gardens like Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Hanging Garden. The train station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is very famous for its gothic look and reminds me of Barcelona whenever I visit.
Other experiences not to miss in Mumbai include the local train journey, rickshaw ride and of course the street food. When you go for street food, the best strategy is to go for the one that has a lot of crowds as it is an indication that it is popular amongst the locals.
Pune is a beautiful city in Maharashtra, India. Historically, it’s been known as the air conditioned city for its lovely weather, as the bicycle city, the cultural capital. It used to the hub for higher education, research centers, armed force bases and retired folks. It was the laid back city in contrast with the hyper busy city of Mumbai. It’s not all the same anymore but it’s still a lovely city to visit.
There are some historic places to visit such as Aga Khan Palace where Gandhiji was imprisoned with and his closest friends and Kasturba. Shaniwar vada and old town are filled with the rich history and culture of Marathas. The Camp is where the hot and happening hang out.
For nature lovers and hikers, Pune is heavenly. Located on a plateau, Pune is surrounded by lush greenery and mountain which make for perfect hikes, especially in the monsoon seasons. The mountains have remains of ancient forts and vibrant villages that provide authentic Marathi food to the hikers. If you’re in the area be sure to visit the Tikona fort, Sinhagad fort, Lonavala, Khandaja, or any of the other hill station resorts.
To balance the chaos and confrontation you are likely to experience traveling through India, a visit to the palm-fringed beaches of Goa is a must. The beaches of this region offer an eclectic mix catering to the raver, the yogi, the package sun-seeker, and everything in between. So it can be a bit tricky finding the best beach to suit you.
If you’re looking for something quiet, away from the crowds, and especially if you’re visiting Goa with kids, I recommend Agonda; a quiet, golden crescent of powder-soft sand, dotted with colorful fishing boats and patrolled by meandering cows that congregate in the same spot for sunset every day. Alternatively, if you want to dance the night away, head to the renowned beach parties Anjuna or Palolem, whereas Patnem or Arambol are popular for yogis. Although wherever you decide to base yourself, a day exploring the Portuguese churches of Old Goa is a must.
Just make sure you visit between November and February, as outside of this season almost everything bar the larger resorts shut down. And if you’re visiting over Christmas and New Year, make sure you book well in advance as accommodations get booked up and prices rocket. If travelling on a budget, it’s possible to find little beach shacks to stay, but arrive a few days beforehand to walk around and negotiate.
Gandikota, Andhra Pradesh
Gandikota is an offbeat destination in India that has recently started gaining popularity as “The Grand Canyon of India” pertaining to a very unique and beautiful deep gorge created by the Penna River. One can trek up the rocks all the way to the steep gorge, sit there, picnic, and watch a sunset.
It is definitely a one-of-a-kind site in India. Along with the gorge, visitors also get to see the ruins of a very old fort right beside the Gorge. And a trip to Gandikota is mostly combined with a visit to Belum Caves, accredited as one of the longest natural caves in India!! The drive to Gandikota is also awesome, through NH 7 and then state highways which are in excellent condition.
No wonder it is becoming a popular weekend getaway from the IT capital of India, Bangalore. While some do a day trip to Gandikota, but we highly recommend staying over. There are a couple of decent stay options nearby Gandikota fort like the APTDC owned Haritha Resort & Royal County in Proddatur (almost 30 km from the Gandikota fort and gorge).
By staying overnight in Gandikota, and making it a weekend trip, one can easily combine this trip with some other sites to visit on the way to Gandikota. Like Nandi hills and the mysterious Lepakshi Temple, thus creating a wonderful weekend getaway!!
Bengaluru is the capital of the southern state of Karnataka. Popularly known as the Silicon Valley as well as Garden City, Bengaluru has a cultural diversity that no other state in India can match. Bengaluru is a city worth visiting for a number of other reasons too such as pubs, stunning shopping malls and vibrant resto-bars. Amidst the hustling and bustling city, Namma Metro makes connectivity across different parts of the city really convenient.
The city is blessed with pleasant climatic conditions throughout the year. You can expect the average temperature to hover around 18 – 30°C on average.
Also known as the Garden City, Bengaluru feels enchanting. If you’re a nature lover, you could spend your day at Cubbon Park or Lalbagh which are well known also for their flower shows.
If history and traditional folk art excite you, don’t miss visiting Nrityagram Dance Village. Classical dance forms like Mohiniattam, Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, and Kuchipudi are performed.
Bengaluru is not only the Silicon Valley of India; it is a land of opportunities. Besides a job in the technology industry, the city provides immense opportunities to grow.
If you are a fan of exotic South Indian flavors, you will be delighted to indulge in the freshly prepared idly or dosa with sambar for morning breakfast. If you visit, know the best places to visit in Bengaluru. Ooty and Munnar are not very far from the city for tourists.
Hampi, the ancient capital city of the Vijayanagara Kingdom and a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of the most fascinating places to visit in India. It is home to some of the most beautiful temples in southern India, towering monolithic sculptures, musical stone pillars, and stunning royal apartments.
Most of Hampi is in ruins today. Yet, what remains is a striking reminder of the opulence and prosperity of life from 800 years ago. Be it the interesting architecture of the Hemakuta temples, the exquisitely carved stone chariot of Vijaya Vittala Temple, the colourful murals of Virupaksha Temple, the intriguing mysteries of Hazara Rama Temple, or the delicate arches of the Lotus Mahal, everything about Hampi has a unique attraction. Even the boulder-strewn landscape gives this ancient city a character of its own.
If you have only a few days in Hampi, I would highly recommend checking out some of the most iconic Hampi temples such as the Virupaksha Temple and Vijaya Vittala Temple, visiting the archaeological museum, and taking a stroll through the royal enclosures that include the Lotus Mahal and elephant stables. And do not forget to enjoy a coracle ride on the Tungabhadra.
Gokarna is one of the most upcoming destinations in India among both foreigners, as well as, local travelers. It is not hard to understand why. The sleepy temple village is surrounded by unspoiled nature and a number of tranquil palm-fringed beaches. And that’s not all, they are all connected by spectacular hiking trails making Gokarna the perfect destination for sunbathers and outdoor adventurers.
In Gokarna you can spend days relaxing on one of the scenic beaches. Some are so remote that they can only be accessed by boat or on foot such as the quiet paradise beach where it will be just you and the sea. Others are easier to get to. Om beach is famous for its om shaped cove. Despite a number of small scale restaurants and resorts it remains a tranquil and serene place.
In such a beautiful place it is tempting to stay at your resort enjoying the ocean views, but there are more things to do in Gokarna. If you are looking for some adventure, don’t miss the Gokarna beach trek. This 8-kilometer trail connects all the beaches in Gokarna with each other. It offers stunning views over the Arabian sea and you will see lots of birds. Gokarna itself is one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centers and attracts devotees from all over the country. There are several important temples in town. Despite the increase in tourist facilities, Gokarna has managed to keep its laid-back atmosphere. It remains one of the best beach destinations to visit in India if one is looking for a peaceful and quiet place.
Vijayapura or the ‘city of victory’ is the most iconic city of north Karnataka. With beautiful and painstakingly maintained monuments dating back to the seventeenth century, the city is almost a surreal time machine. During the Islamic rule, it came to be known as Bijapur and many still consider this a soulful name today. The gigantic ruins of Bara Khaman tell a tale of great ambition, from the 1600s.
The vibrant hues of Ibrahim Roza at sunset hour will convince you that there was a heartwarming love story in the Adil Shahi dynasty. And of course, the most fascinating science of the whispering gallery in Gol Gumbaz will leave you awestruck – a tiny little whisper can be heard 125 feet away on the opposite side of the gallery. As one of the largest free-standing domes in the country, you might just begin wondering how they built that massive monument!
And if you seek culinary pleasures, Bijapur will surprise you with its traditional Jolada Rotti meals, mouthwatering kebabs, freshly squeezed orange juice, and so many more delicious dishes and drinks! And if that doesn’t convince you, you will be pleasantly surprised at how cheap it is to explore the city even in the holiday season.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar are a group of islands located in the South East of India, in the Bay of Bengal. These groups are islands that are a part of India are a union territory, with Port Blair as their capital. The only airport here also happens to be located at Port Blair, which has flights to and from only a few major cities in India such as Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai. Being a secluded and offbeat part of India, these islands are still very pristine, untouched, and have a ton of raw natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes. An interesting fact to note is that India’s only active volcano, Mount Barren, is also located in Andaman and Nicobar.
Some of the best places to visit in Andaman and Nicobar islands include Ross Island, Cellular Jail, Havelock Island, Neil Island, Jolly Buoy island, and then of course there are many more.
Cellular Jail is a must-visit place in the Andamans because the British used to jail freedom fighters of India here. There is a show in the evenings, talking about the history of the jail. Ross Island is where the British oppressors used to live. We can still see ruins of the small island city they had created for themselves. Havelock island is great for snorkeling and for a natural limestone cave.
All in all, each island here is unique and so Andaman and Nicobar islands are a must-visit place.
Kochi is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kerala, God’s own country. Being an important spice trading port, there are influences of many cultures from Portuguese, Dutch to Chinese which is profoundly visible in the architecture, food, and art.
Fort Kochi is a charming seaside region in Kochi. There are so many places to visit in Fort Kochi like the famous Chinese fishing nets on the waters. They are still used to catch fish. Dutch Palace is truly a multi-cultural influence. The palace was built by the Portuguese, renovated by Dutch, and was later used by the Kings of Cochin. It is now converted into a museum that displays exhibits about the kings of Cochin. Jewish Synagogue is another must-visit place.
A visit to Kochi would be incomplete without watching a Kathakali performance. Kathakali is the classical dance form of Kerala and is known for its colorful costumes and intricate makeup.
Kochi is a paradise for food lovers. There is a wide variety of authentic vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Being a coastal town, sea-food is an integral part and a must-try.
Sit in the evening by the beach or the fishing nets and watch the beautiful sunset and cherish the times spent in God’s own country.
Varkala is a beach paradise for anyone looking for a bit more quiet than Goa. It is the perfect little beach town jam-packed with amazing restaurants and fresh fruit juice bars. Sitting on top of a cliff overlooking Varkala Beach, you can stroll on the main street overlooking the coast or head back the back streets to find a yoga center for classes or even to take your yoga teacher training if you have enough time in the town.
Or why not look for an Ayurveda center to treat you to some proper Kerala self care? After all, the best Ayurveda schools are all in Kerala, so you are pretty much guaranteed a good treatment here. But there are plenty of things to do in Varkala other than beach, food, fresh fruit juice, yoga, and Ayurveda. Head to the 2000 year old Varkala Temple, or locally known as the Janardanaswamy Temple.
This is a popular pilgrimage destination for devotees of Lord Vishnu. You should also take the trip to Kappil Backwaters where you can rent a houseboat. This is less touristy than the more famous backwaters in Alleppey. The lake of Kappil Pozhi is also worth a visit for a boat magical trip. If you’ve traveled in India for a while, Varkala is the perfect place to have some peace and quiet and recharge batteries before exploring more of the country.
Munnar is known to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India. Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, this beautiful hill station is studded with tea plantations and foggy mountains. Munnar attracts visitors throughout the year because of its ever pleasant climate and there something everyone would enjoy here.
From trekking to exploring wildlife in the forest, there is a lot to do in Munnar. Some of the most popular places to visit in Munnar are the Top Station, Echo Point, Eravikulam National Park, and the Madupetty Dam. You can also plan a day trip to Kolukkumalai located in Suriyanalle to witness the sunrise which is a must to include in your Munnar Itinerary.
Munnar is also famous for its unique tea, which is said to be some of the most delicious in the world. Nature trails and tea factory visits are some other things to try here.
Tourists also make a quick stop at Vattavada located close to Munnar at it is famed to be the first self-sufficient village in Kerala. It is known to cultivate exotic fruits and vegetables that wouldn’t find anywhere else in the state. Overall Munnar is one of the best places to visit in India if you love to connect with nature and want a relaxing vacation.
Auroville, Tamil Nadu
Imagine a place where there is no religion, race, government, or nationality — where everyone can live freely, in peace and harmony, as citizens of the world. Sounds too good to be true? Well, such a place actually exists in Tamil Nadu, India.
Founded in 1968 by Mother Sri Aurobindo, Auroville is an experimental city that aims to promote environmental regeneration, organic farming, renewable energy, free healthcare and education, women empowerment, and cultural exchange, among many others. Today, what was once a barren landscape has turned into a lush green utopia, housing over 3,000 permanent residents from various countries, as well as a rapidly growing number of volunteers.
The good news is that this place is open for visitors. Many day-trippers spend their time in the visitor’s center to learn more about Auroville. However, if you stay longer, you may get a chance to visit the famous Matrimandir. On the outside, it looks like a large golden ball sitting in the middle of a field. But once you step inside, you’ll find yourself in a meditation chamber made of polished white marble. Those who wish to meditate here must register at the visitor’s center at least one day in advance, and must observe strict silence.
As skill-sharing is a prominent concept in Auroville, long-term visitors also get the opportunity to join various classes and activities hosted by the residents and volunteers.
Auroville can easily be reached by car or public transports from Chennai and Pondicherry.
Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Located in the Kanchipuram district, overlooking the Bay of Bengal, Mahabalipuram is a world-renowned tourist attraction known for its well-preserved historic stone carvings.
Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, was established during the 7th century by the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I, who was also one of the finest wrestlers during that period. Hence he was honored as “
Ma-Mallan” (meaning best wrestler) and “ Mahabali” (meaning a king with great power). That’s how the city got its name Mamallapuram and Mahabalipuram.
Today, Mahabalipuram is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses a collection of 40 monuments, monolithic temples, and caves that portrays events and scenes from the Indian epic Mahabaratha.
A visit to Mahabalipuram is incomplete if you don’t see the Shore Temple, a stunning rock-cut temple that features temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. With 146 stone carvings, Arjuna’s Penance is yet another epic monument carved out of two monolith boulders.
The visit to Mahabalipuram is incomplete without seeing Pancha Rathas, also known as Five Chariots, and Krishna’s Butterball (a single huge boulder rock tiptoeing on a rocky hill). There are also many Mandapas, Rathas, and Cave temples scattered across the site, which are worthy of visiting. You can also visit the lighthouse and the nearby beach for leisure activity.
Mahabalipuram can be reached as a day trip from Chennai, or you can base yourself in the town to be able to explore at your own pace. The best time to visit Mahabalipuram is between October to March when the weather is a bit pleasant and not too humid.
Overall, a visit to Mahabalipuram is a treat to the eyes and a chance to delve into the rich history of Indian architecture. Needless to say, Mahabalipuram is a photographer’s delight.
Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Kanyakumari, the southernmost endpoint of India is the only place in the world with the confluence of three seas. It is a popular pilgrim spot not only because of the confluence but due to the presence of Bhagvati Amman temple, in the honor of Goddess Kanya Kumari (Devi Parvati).
Besides being a pilgrim place, it is a major tourist attraction. There are so many places to visit like the islands with Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue. The islands are accessed by a small 15-minute ferry ride. The views of the oceans and of the city are breathtaking.
In the evening visit the Kanyakumari beach and don’t miss the beautiful sunset. The sunrise behind the Vivekananda Rock memorial is equally mesmerizing.
Kanyakumari makes for a perfect day trip from Thiruvanathapuram.