Best places to visit in India
India is such an amazing country! It is one that many women are afraid to visit alone. Sure it’s got a bad rap… but it is an incredible country, it is huge, wonderful, diverse, eye opening and filled with some of the most friendly people you will ever meet! And this article will show you the best places to visit in India and have you packing your yoga pants and preparing for spicy wonderous foods and culture.
Could you imagine missing the awe inspiring Taj Mahal, the crazy capital of India; Delhi, the tasty street food, the golden temple, the thar desert or agra fort and other tourist attractions… but how about the not-so tourist place in India.
India being such a large country, it has many hidden gems and wonders you may not know about. I asked the She Roams Solo community and other top travelers to fill us with stories of their favourite destinations in India to travel. What comes next, is one killer Indian bucket list.
Enjoy! If you have other suggestions for the best places to visit in India, please do leave a comment or the contact form with your favorite….Namaste
If I had to pick one city in India as my favourite, it would have to be Pune. Admittedly, my opinion is somewhat biased due to the fact that it’s my boyfriend’s hometown and my in-laws still live there. However, it’s certainly refreshing to explore a city which is not as well known as Agra, Jodhpur or Delhi.
Pune is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra, after Mumbai of course, and is considered to be the cultural capital of the state. It has also been dubbed the “Oxford of the East” as it is an important center of tertiary education in India. Unfortunately, there is only a handful of well-preserved sights worth exploring for first-time visitors. My top pick would be the university, built in an Italian-Gothic style, and the university grounds.
Those looking for spiritual advancement may consider a visit to the famous Osho Mediatation Resort.
What I enjoyed the most, though, was exploring the streets and interacting with the locals. Make sure to do a little shopping on M.G. Road or dive into a complete shopping frenzy on Laxmi Road in the Old Town. If you are looking to grab a bite, the neighbourhood of Koregaon Park is your foodie heaven. If you have the time, I’d recommend you rent a car (perhaps including a driver) and head out of the city to one of the hill-stations surrounding it. This was one of the best experiences of all the places to visit in India.
I was here during monsoon season (which certainly had its drawbacks), but the shades of green which grazed the countryside at the time were absolutely breathtaking. There are several “ghats” for you to explore, but keep a look out for Shivtarghal Varanda ghat. It spots numerous waterfalls and is home to friendly road-side monkeys who will eagerly pose for a picture in return for a piece of banana 🙂
As grandiose slogans go, Kerala has one of the best: “God’s Own Country,” an assertion of divine origin that’s advertised on countless signposts and bumper stickers across the state. In most corners of the planet, such a boast would sound unbearably tourist-oriented branding at its tritest. But when you come to India, You will realize it is more sincere than smug.
Out of all of places to visit in India Hampi was the best. I spent 3 months in India volunteering at a school in Bangalore. While I loved the big city, my favorite place in India is a little town I took a weekend trip to: Hampi
Hampi is a small village on the edge of a river with a large temple in the center of it. That’s not what makes it a must see place in India though, that would be the ruins that are scattered all over the area. Many temples in various states of ruin that you can explore are within walking distance of Hampi. It feels like you took a step back in time, as there are no crowds, no barriers, and no guards. Exploring the culture, feeling the age and strangeness of the place, it’s not a feeling you can find in the US.
If ruins aren’t quite your thing though, there is plenty else that Hampi has to offer! Restaurants, beautiful temples at the top of a mountain (that you have to climb, so be prepared) walking paths along the river that lead to caves, scenic views, and one spot where you can cross it on what looks like large woven bowls. They’re safe, but considering the river does have crocodiles it is still a bit thrilling crossing in them!
If you’re looking for authentic Indian culture and history, Hampi is the place to go.
Do you want to experience a part of India where only very few of us venture – go and explore Zanskar valley! Because of snowfall in the high passes, this valley gets completely cut off from the outside world for up to 6 months each year. The only way to reach the valley in winter time is to hike 10 days over the frozen Zanskar river.=
As a result, the people that live in this part of the world live isolated lives, have an extremely rich culture and don’t receive a lot of visitors. At this moment, the only way to get into the valley during summer time is by traveling 250 kilometers over a rough, rocky, unpaved road… ouch!
The gateway to this slice of paradise, with naked mountains, snaking glaciers, wild rivers and incredible wildlife – is the town of Kargil. A new road is being built that will connect to the south part of the valley – but as most things in India, it will take some time to be completed.
Until then, your best option is to hop on a shared jeep in Kargil and to travel that unforgiving road into the valley. There is a bus service too, but prepare yourself for a very, very bumpy ride.
The ‘capital’ of Zanskar is a small village called Padum. From here it’s another 40 kilometers over an extremely narrow road to a tiny place called Cha. Hugging the mountains on one side and with steep drops on the other – it’s a thrilling ride to get here. There are a few homestays in Cha, where you can spend the night with a local family and get your hiking boots out.
Because from Cha, you shouldn’t miss the two-hour hike to Phuktal Monastery. Perched on a cliff and spilling out of a cave, this is one of the most impressive Buddhist monasteries in India. With an emerald blue Zanskar River flowing below and star-filled skies above – the setting is mesmerizing. Meditating here, or simply admiring the stunning scenery is an experience of a lifetime!
Chhitkul is situated at an altitude of almost 3500 meters (around 11000 ft) and is the last publicly accessible village on the Indo Tibet border in this region. Dumti, a village post Chitkul can also be accessed but you need to take permits from the ITBP in Pooh, which is about 4 hours from here. Chitkul is 28 km from Sangla; the narrow gravel roads have a drop on hundreds of feet and low hanging boulders as well. The drive is scary and not for the faint-hearted as there are no guard rails on this route.
Make sure you don’t cross this stretch on a full stomach! Although the inclines are not much, the roads are dangerous due to sharp rocks protruding on one side and deep gorges on the other. We slowly covered the stretch from Sangla to Chitkul in about an hour’s time. When we were planning our Spiti route, we searched for off-beat locations in the Kinnaur region and came across articles about Sangla. On researching further, I heard about a tiny village, Chhitkul (as its locally spelled), located about 20 km from Sangla. This is supposed to the last accessible village this side before the Indo Tibet border.
Anu from Inditales loves Goa – Goa is the land of sun and sand with India’s best beaches. It is India’s most popular beach destination. You can find the world at its serene beaches with flea markets along the beach. Local food is another highlight of this smallest state of India that has a long history of being dominated by the Portuguese. Walk in its hinterland and discover the villages that are beautifully surrounded by water bodies and hills. Discover the ancient temples that are full of devotees from around the world.
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If I had to pick one of the safest (and best) regions to travel in India, it would be Himachal Pradesh, a small state in the Himalayan mountains. From my first day of solo travelling here, I was stunned by the friendly and warm people. In its smaller towns, it is common to find water pots kept outside houses for thirsty passersby and if you look even a little lost, the locals will quickly help you out with directions or whatever else you need.
One of the first villages I visited was a small lake town called Rewalsar. The lake is sacred to the Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs. I stayed in a quaint monastery and loved the Tibetan buddhist ambiance. However, Rewalsar isn’t much known.
The most frequented places in Himachal include bigger towns like Shimla, Manali and Dharamshala. Dharamshala is the base of the exiled Tibetan government in India. This is also where the abode of Dalai Lama is situated in the nearby Tsug La Khang Buddhist temple. Shimla is the state capital and possibly the biggest mountain city of India. Manali is a pitstop into the famous Ladakh region. However, all these popular towns are facing serious traffic jams, excessive construction, water shortage and other problems due to the heavy influx of tourists. So I would suggest keeping your time in these cities minimal.
Instead, head to smaller towns. And Himachal has no dearth of those! There is Jibhi which has slowly graduated into a popular offbeat choice for travellers. Kasol is known for the abundant weed reserves *ahem*. Bir-Billing for paragliding. Manikarnika for hot water springs. The list goes on.
And if you want to go really off the beaten track then Himachal is still a great place to explore. You can start with Tirthan valley and Lahaul & Spiti. And then just keep exploring! The mighty mountains will keep you company and the roaring rivers will set the beat.
Meghalaya is an ‘all-in-one’ package for travel lovers with lots of greenery, crystal-clear rivers, distant hills, flat plains, numerous waterfalls and a unique culture. Every traveler should visit Meghalaya to see and experience the following:
- Mawlynnong – Asia’s cleanest village also known as ‘God’s own Garden’ is in Meghalaya. Here, each villager is responsible to keep the village clean and green.
- Dawki/ Shnongpdeng – The town from where the crystal-clear river Umngot passes is in Meghalaya. The water is so transparent that one can easily see the pebbles at the bottom of river even in 20 feet deep water.
- Cherrapunjee – Famous for its living root bridges is in Meghalaya. The Double decker living Root Bridge in Nongriat village of Cherrapunjee is the mecca of all the root bridges in Meghalaya.
- Mawphlang – Where nature is worshipped is in Meghalaya. The Khasi tribe of Meghalaya believes that every village must have their own sacred forest. Mawphlang Sacred Forest is one of the most famous sacred groove in Meghalaya.
- Mawlyngbna – A town rich in fossils is in Meghalaya. One can still sight fossils buried in rocks in the village. One can also find huge natural water springs and geysers in this town.
- Waterfalls – Being a state that receives lot of rainfall, Meghalaya is blessed with abundant waterfalls. There’s 7 sister’s waterfall, Nohkalikai waterfall, KrangSuri waterfall, Tyrshi falls to name a few.
bhushavali from travel.bhushavali.com thinks Gujarat is the best place to visit in India
Nandita from nanditachakrabortyauthor.com.au thinks Vrindhavan is the most wonderful place in India
‘Radhe! Radhe! Shyaam Mila De!’, translates to, “Radha please can I have a glance of Krishna!”. In every corner of Vrindhavan you will see that there is a peaceful alliance between the gods, animals and the people of Vrindhavan.
Just two and a half hours drive from India’s capital, Delhi via the new Yamuna Express, Vrindhavan is not only one of the holy must see places for all Hindus in India before they die, it also falls en route to the famous ‘The Taj’. This historical city is in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh.
It is said that Lord Krishna spent most of his childhood days here and it is known to be the playground of Krishna and his gopiyas “ladies”. His favourite lady, was Radha it is believed that if a cow sits on the road and if its refusing to budge one must just whisper ‘Radhe!”
Every corner, every road you cross, your mind is infiltrated with the smell of jasmine incense sticks, rose essence, samosas, jalebi, ghee and set to the background noise of locals bantering about politics.
As soon as you enter Vrindhavan you will come across the modern temple of Iskon, it reminds you of a small dance troupe singing the praise of Lord Krishna singing and dancing away in a place like Swanston Street in Melbourne. But amidst the commotion you will see the 5000 year old or more Indian architecture and the Banke Bihari Temple where the idol of Lord Krishna and the eyes especially glitter with diamonds.
But I come here for all the above and the silence of the river Yamuna flowing beside this ancient city. Sometimes I wonder if only the river could speak it would tell us so many secrets of this ancient city.
I come her often when I am in India and more than anything to seek some peace within my Guru’s ashram Devrahababa, across the Yamuna. The open fields and the river Yamuna flowing beside the ashram makes you go back in time. It makes you feel as though there is nothing else on earth – just the sky, the river, the field and the ashram.
You will need a boat to commute to and fro but that in itself is so special. Apart from screaming of the peacock now and then there’s nothing else to disrupt your thoughts. You can forget your worries and learn to appreciate the essence of it in totality. When I was researching for my book Meera Rising – I came across an important fact that Mira Bai lived her last 14 years in a temple here in Vrindhavan.
You will be in a time machine when you come here especially when you see the narrow lanes of Vrindhavan you will know what I am talking about. I do want you to take a dip of faith like the other Hindus to come and be touched by its magic, its food, its smell, its colours and its peace. You will not be disappointed!
Soujanya from thespicyjourney.com thinks Pondicherry is the must go to place in India
Pondicherry, or Puducherry is a former French settlement, now a Union Territory in India. The French culture and heritage has been kept intact in the White Town area – which is a region lined with brightly coloured houses decorated with bougainvillea. In these bright and cheery lanes, you’ll find bakeries selling some of the best croissants in India. Baker Street is the favourite choice among locals and visitors alike for French delicacies. Pondicherry also has a long promenade which is lined with palm trees. There’s lighthouse on one end and a pier on the other end of the promenade. It’s a popular hang-out spot in the evening. There are some nice gelato shops as well as cafes and restaurants along the promenade. Apart from this, Pondicherry also has quite a few churches. The most popular attraction in Pondicherry, however, is Auroville. It’s a universal town which is not governed by any nation. People from all over the world come here to find peace and live in harmony. The entire community is focused towards a wide range of activities, including research into organic farming, renewable energy, cross-cultural communication and much more. Just exploring Auroville makes it worthwhile to visit Pondicherry!