With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, you should start thinking about what to do. Obviously, sitting at home and following your boring daily routine is not the ideal option. And when you’re living in a beautiful country like India, it would only seem normal to explore every corner of it during your free time. It is quite surprising how a country can have so much variety. From the icy glaciers of the Himalayas in the north to the smooth deserts of the west…from the lush green forest of the east to the sandy beaches of the south. Everything that mother nature offers is in India is incredible! As though this was not enough, eye-catching monuments representing the diverse culture and beautifully lit cities are surely going to steal your heart away.
Now, you can fulfill your dream vacation in two ways,
- Get in touch with a good travel agency in India
- Plan the entire trip yourself, with the help of itineraries online
Here you go with a list of 20 best places to visit in India at least once in your lifetime:
Agra – Where The Stunning Taj Mahal Was Built
When the name ‘India’ is heard, the first image that flashes through one’s mind is that of the beautiful Taj Mahal. This place is a symbol of love. Built by the mighty Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 for his beloved begum MumtazMahal, the Taj Mahal stands near the stunning Yamuna river.
Made of ivory-white marble and designed with the great Mughal architecture, the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful monuments to be ever built. It is also one of the seven wonders of the world; the walls of the Mahal are engraved carefully with Persian and Arabic poem; every corner shine with love the emperor had towards his wife. Thus, making it a must-visit place.
Coorg –Kannada People’s Own Switzerland
Down south, in the amazing state of Karnataka lies Coorg. Also known as ‘Kodagu,’ this place is a paradise for all nature lovers. You can visit Coorg at any time of the year, with temperatures ranging between 15 to 20 degree Celsius, it is full of lush trees and misty hills. The glistening mountains with serene tea and coffee plantations are like layers of velvety blankets. Fields of sandalwood give the beautiful essence of Karnataka and its scent of homeliness.
The Kodagu district is perfect, with tiny old-style villages scattered around. It is also ideal for sports such as trekking, hiking, and fast river rafting. You can also visit the Dubare Elephant camp; children will especially be able to enjoy watching the elephants being fed, given a bath and playing.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands – Nature’s Masterpiece
This place looks like it is straight out of a painting. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands located in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman sea, the islands are a union territory of India, Indian citizens do not need to carry a passport to visit the place. Though breathtakingly beautiful, not many know this wonderful treasure. Port Blaire is the capital city, which is bustling with tourists and boasts several noteworthy monuments and the liveliness of the locals along with a variety of seafood dishes.
The islands are also famous for the deathly Cellular Jail, where famous freedom fighters were held captive during the independence struggle. However, the ghastly past of the place has been long forgotten, and now it is filled with curious tourists wanting to know more about its beauty. From Port Blaire, you can travel to the nearby islands through daily ferries and boats. On the way, you can also try some fun water sports such as snorkelling, scuba diving and peep the colourful flora and fauna of the deep blue oceans.
Manali- Lovers’ Capital
The smell of hot, steaming parathas and spicy maggie lingers in the cold air of Manali. If heaven exists, one would imagine for it to look more or less like Manali. Placed right between white, snowy mountains with freshly melted ice water flowing in its shiny rivers, Manali is the most popular tourist place, especially for college students out for adventure and newlywed couples for a warm honeymoon.
Rohtang pass, widely known by photographers, nature lovers and those that crave adventure for its scenic views and breath-taking scenery. One can enjoy skiing and mountain biking in the gorgeous Solang Valley. Just pack loads of warm clothes and get ready to explore the glistening glaciers of the Himalayas.
Goa – a Perfect Package
Despite being the smallest state in India, it has numerous factors that attract millions every year. With soft, sandy beaches that stretch up to 100-kilo meters and crystal blue waters. The warm weather and golden sun that makes your hair shine in beautiful shades of brown. Goa has a Portugal history; thus, the cities boast old European architecture and gorgeous catholic churches.
Panjim is the capital of Goa and offers a lot of transport facilities with the north and south parts of goa; it is also well connected with an international airport. Baga and Calangute beaches are extremely popular amongst Indian tourists. You can even enjoy quality family time in cruises that offer lunch on waters and sports such as snorkeling and kayaking. Enjoy the soft winds by parasailing and so much more. The nights in Goa are something out of this world. Youth rises as the sun sets, wild parties in the colourful clubs of Goa is the best highlight of the trip.
Jaipur – a Royal Vacation
Jaipur is located in Rajasthan, a vibrant state in the northwestern part of the Indian Subcontinent. Famously called the ‘Pink City,’ Jaipur is known for its colourful palaces and courts. It is a city of many stories and tales of the rich past of India’s culture. It houses the famous UNESCO world heritage sites such as Jantar Mantar and Amer Fort.
Tourists can enjoy luxurious and exotic lifestyles of the Rajput by living in the hotel turned palaces. This place is the best for families and history lovers. Furthermore, it is also home to a few of the busiest and buzzing markets in the world! Food streets with sweet and savory delicacies being served left and right and pretty handicrafts waiting for you to make a purchase, you can shop to your heart’s content.
Delhi- The Capital
Obviously, if you don’t know Delhi, you must be living under a rock. The cosmopolitan city is called ‘’Dilli’with love by the locals. It is a huge city with a deep history. Being the personal favorite of the Mughal emperors, Delhi is home to stunning monuments such as the mighty Qutub Minar and Humayun’s tomb. Also, make sure you visit the jaw-dropping Lotus temple and the peaceful ISKON temple. Delhites are huge foodies, so be sure you spoil yourself with some spicy kebabs and delicious kulfis.
The city is packed with large malls and vibrant markets for the shopaholics out there. Central Delhi is the powerhouse of the country, with all the political monuments such as RashtrapathiBhavan and the India Gate, you’ll get to see what the central Indian governance is like. However, Delhi has its extreme sides, especially with the weather and atmosphere, so do plenty of research before heading there, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma.
Shimla – Pure Bliss
The capital of Himachal Pradesh and the most popular tourist and honeymoon destination. It is nestled between beautiful hills and lush woods. Everything in Shimla looks like it is straight out of a painting. The weather is pleasant at almost all times; most tourists prefer summers as the winters get quite cold. Shimla was the Britishers’ favourite city; they would flock to Shimla as soon as the temperatures rose in other parts of the county. Hence, the city’s beautiful colonial architecture and calm churches.
Along with Shimla, the beautiful town of Kufri is also visited for its scenic landscapes and snow-covered hills. It is also famous for having the highest cricket stadium in the world! Shimla has hosted many important events, such as agreement meetings with Pakistan. Furthermore, it is also used as a famous set of thousands of popular Bollywood films; this can just tell a person how gorgeous Shimla is!
Mumbai – Birthplace of Bollywood
Bombay or Mumbai, the city where dreams either come true or get lost forever. One of the favorites of British, with the welcoming gateway of India and an array of beaches. It is one of the largest and most populous cities in India. The capital of Maharashtra is a huge metropolitan, but Mumbai is a major tourist attraction of foreign and domestic tourists.
It is the financial hub of the country, and it comes from visitors! With huge museums and palaces to rows and rows of shops and markets. Mumbai has extreme ends; you can see the massive penthouses of the Mumbai elite and the luxurious hotel Taj to the run-down but lively slum colonies. There is just so much to learn about this city! Marine drive and thousands of eateries on the beaches are the symbols of Mumbai.
If you visit Mumbai, do not return without trying the excellent street food such as tangy chaats and flavourful kulfis. Mumbai special ‘Pizza Dosas’ is on a whole new level; one might go to Mumbai solely for the crazy good food that it offers.
Kerala – God’s Own Country
Breezy coconut trees and warm humidity envelopes the entire state of Kerala. It quite rightly abides by its name as once you go in, you never want to leave the place! The coastline extends up to 600-kilometers with the bright Arabian sea and laid back, calm backwaters.
If you are tired of the hustle of city life, Kerala is the best option for a relaxing vacation. Surrounded by the serene hills of the Western Ghats and carefully preserved forests. Wayanad is paradise; god must have spent quite a time creating this one. You can explore the exotic culture of Kerala; Kathakali, the traditional dance form is portrayed everywhere.
All the seafood fanatics, unleash your hunger, and devour all the fantastic fish curry the Malayali make! Be sure to try out Kerala’s alcoholic coconut drink, Toddy. Staying in the houseboats in the peaceful backwaters is therapy much needed by every individual on earth!
Sikkim – A Whole New World
This beautiful state of northeast India that shares its border with Tibet, Nepal and West Bengal is a real treat to the eyes. Sikkim’s occupants are one of the kindest and sweetest people you will ever come across. They will make you feel extremely welcomed in their tiny home place.
It is full of fresh, crisp meadows, deep woodlands and stunning views of snow-peaked mountains. The famous Kanchenjunga which is the third highest peak in the world is a major tourist attraction in Sikkim. Initially, it was a kingdom run by the monarchy. However, it merged with India and hence has become an important part of the country. There is an airport in the capital city of Gangtok, which permits better connectivity across India.
Hampi – Dwell Into The Paradise of Ruins
The pride of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi was once the second-largest city in the world (in the1500s). The scale is too stunning to be real. A lot of history is hidden in the carefully engraved structures of the now-ruined city. A lot of efforts have been made to preserve its elegance. This is definitely a tourist place people would never miss out on when backpacking across Karnataka.
Though more than half of it was destroyed by the Mughals and then later by the British, the remains still stand strong to show their glory. The famous Virupaksha temple, carved entirely from a huge boulder is the truest example of the wonders of our ancestors. You can see how advanced the rule of the great king Krishna Devaraya was. There are over 500 monuments and museums in Hampi, and it is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites.
Gujarat – The Land of The Great
Houses a rich heritage and vibrant culture. Everywhere you can see great pieces of artwork, music, and history. Gujarat offers beautiful landscapes and marvellous coastlines that you can spend days admiring. Other than that, Gujarat is also the home to jaw-dropping ancient cave paintings that really make you wonder about the amazing civilizations of past.
There is also the Gir National park, where tourists can take an adventurous Jeep safari deep into the jungles and into the habitat of the wild lions. This will turn out the be the most enjoyable trip for both kids and adults. Gujarat is the birthplace of the father of the nation- Mahatma Gandhi, there many museums and ashramas that conserve the beliefs of Gandhi and depict his story. It is truly a state with a perfect blend of history, enjoyment, and culture.
Leh-Ladakh– India’s Own Moonland
One of the nine union territories of India, Ladakh is situated in the lap of two great mountain ranges, The Himalayas and the Karakoram and lies across the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range of mountains. Ladakh is a land of highways, valleys, trails and passes, pristine lakes, monasteries, and gompas (Tibetan learning fortresses), national sanctuaries and parks and much more.
Leh the largest city of Ladakh, is a famous tourist attraction of Ladakh, as it distinguishes itself from all other tourist attractions with its picturesque mountain scenery and valleys, beautiful monasteries and much more. The world-renowned Pangong Lake with its crystal blue waters that change from season to season and tranquil hills surrounding it make it a hot tourist spot. There is Magnetic hill, the first-ever in India that has an anti-gravitational effect to it.
Leh has much to offer in natural landscapes such as the various charming valleys such as Nubra Valley and Zanskar Valley, large monasteries such as Namgyal Tsemo and Phugtal monasteries, lakes such as Tso Kar and Yarab Tso. There are also rafting opportunities in Zaskar River and many trials and passes in Ladakh for the trekking and hiking aficionados.
Ooty- Queen of Hill Stations
Built by the British in the 18th Century as a resort town, Ooty is one of the finest hill stations in South India with its lush tea plantations, beautifully designed bungalows that dot the exquisite hills filled with well-maintained gardens and lakes. Ooty has become a regular escape for some from humid North India as it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in India.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a delightful train ride that covers most of Ooty in a span of 5 hours and is so popular it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Lakes such as Ooty Lake and Emerald Lake are picturesque and exquisite. The Ooty Botanical Gardens and Rose Garden are a wonderful treat for nature lovers. There are also many waterfalls in Ooty’s vicinity such as Pyakara Fall, Katari Fall, Halashana Falls and Kalhatti Fall that offer a mesmerizing experience.
Varanasi- The Heart of India
One of the holiest cities in India, Varanasi is a cultural and religious pilgrimage destination for many Hindus and even Jain in India and worldwide as well. Located at the banks of the holy river of Ganges, it is home to many Ghats and temples. Also known as Kashi and Banaras, Varanasi is also held by many as the site where one can be liberated from the cycle of rebirths by taking a dip in the sacred waters of Ganges.
Many Hindu festivals such as Dusshera, Durga Pooja, Holi, Diwali etc. are celebrated lavishly with great fervour and excitement. The Ghats in Varanasi are the huge steps that lead to the River Ganges and hold great significance, main being the Assi Ghats, Dashaswamedha Ghat, Harichandan Ghat etc.
Ghats such as Manikarnika Ghat is the main cremation Ghats where hundreds of bodies are burnt every day. Varanasi is also home to 23,000 ancient temples such as Kashi Vishwanath temple and Durga Temple. Varanasi is also world-famous for its brocade sarees called Benarasi Sarees.
Kasol- Up In The Mountains
Kasol is a quaint little village situated at the banks of River Parvati in the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. This village is fast becoming a major tourist attraction especially for trekking and hiking enthusiasts, backpackers and nature lovers. Kasol is the perfect location for a laid back, peaceful and relaxed holiday. You can take a walk along the Parvati River with its gushing stream of water and the scenic hills surrounding it.
There are many trekking and hiking trails in Kasol, including the Kheerganga and Pin Parvati Pass. Tosh is another scenic village nearby Kasol that offers an amazing view of the Himalayan Range. Kasol is being called Mini Israel because of the small population of Israelis residing here. You can try the Israeli food here for a wonderful experience.
Udaipur- The City of Lakes
Located in Rajasthan’s Aravalli Hills and surrounded by seven rivers, famous being the Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar River. A boat ride along any of these rivers is a phenomenal experience. Udaipur is home to many palaces, havelies and temples and some of the famous hotels in the world. The Jagmandir Palace on an estuary island in the middle of Lake Pichola is a spectacular monument made from white and black marble that offers views of sunset on Lake Pichola.
The City Palace located on the banks of Lake Pichola is a beautiful palace and an in specimen of Rajput Architecture. The Taj Lake Palace is a floating palace on Lake Pichola and has been converted into a luxurious hotel. Built-in ivory-white marble houses many courtyards, gardens, and other amenities.
The Fateh Sagar Lake is another picturesque lake with sparkling blue water. It offers boating rides for a tranquil experience. Mansapurna Karni Ropeway offers rides from Udaipur to the Karni Mata Temple located on the Machhala Hill. It covers almost all of Udaipur and offers a great aerial view of the city.
Jaisalmer- The Golden City
Situated deep in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, this desert city has become one of Rajasthan’s most sought after tourist spots. Basked in golden sand dunes and warm weather, Jaisalmer has everything a tourist would look for in a desert city. The Jaisalmer Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a stunning sandcastle that has been standing since the 12th century.
The fort offers a gorgeous view of the whole city of Jaisalmer. It is the largest inhabited fort in the world where currently 3000 people reside. You can also go on desert safaris of the Thar Desert and the city of Jaisalmer offered by various travel agencies
Hyderabad- The City of Nizams
Hyderabad is situated in South India in the state of Telangana. It is a bustling metropolitan city that still has traces of its ancient history as the seat of the Nizams. The Old City is filled with monuments such as Charminar, Chowmahalla Palace, Jama Masjid and the New city or Cyberabad is filled with IT companies and tech centers.
Charminar is situated in the heart of the city and is a beautiful structure with four minarets and a mosque at the top. Golconda Fort is a splendid fort built by Quli Qutb Shah, the former ruler of Hyderabad. The Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and the official residence of the Nizam OF Hyderabad.
Chowmahalla literally means ‘Four Palaces’ in Urdu. The brilliant monument is constituted of four palaces interconnected by hallways, two huge courtyards and a grand dining hall known as ‘Khilawat’.