Udaipur, known as the 'Venice of the East,' is a historical city characterized by its numerous lakes and bridges, which contribute to its unique charm. The city still has a palace where a royal family resides, giving it a timeless feel. Udaipur offers a blend of history, culture, incredible food, shopping opportunities, and pleasant weather. It gained fame as a backdrop for James Bond's adventures in the movie 'Octopussy,' and visitors can explore its historical and cultural sites as well as indulge in its culinary delights.
Known as the birthplace of Bollywood, Mumbai is a vibrant metropolis with over 20 million people. It offers a mix of attractions, including flashy seafront promenades, impressive Raj-era architecture, and upscale neighborhoods like South Bombay (SoBo) with its art quarter of Kala Ghoda, upscale restaurants, and shopping in Colaba. The city also boasts architectural icons like the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the trendy seaside neighborhood of Bandra, known for its old-world churches, trendy restaurants, and thriving nightlife.
India's capital, Delhi, is a beautiful and diverse city that showcases the country's food, craft, and cultures. The historic district of Old Delhi is a bustling labyrinth of narrow alleys filled with charming markets and street food. The grand Mughal-era monuments of Red Fort and Jama Masjid are must-see attractions. In New Delhi, you can explore trendy shopping and dining precincts like Khan Market and visit historic venues like Lodhi Gardens, known for its tombs.
Goa, a palm-fringed state on the seaside, is renowned for its lively beaches, bars, and delicious seafood. Popular beaches such as Vagator and Anjuna offer casual beach shacks, upscale resorts, flea markets, and vibrant nightspots. Apart from its beach scene, Goa has evolved into a sophisticated tourist destination. You can explore colonial-era architecture in the Latin Quarter of Fontainhas or visit the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary for bird watching in sprawling mangroves.
Known as the "Pink City," Jaipur showcases its architectural beauty with salmon-hued buildings in its Old City. The grand City Palace and Hawa Mahal are standout examples of this unique color scheme. The vibrant markets of Johari Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar offer a wide range of colorful textiles, embroidered bedspreads, and traditional leather jutti footwear. Jaipur also retains its royal heritage, with attractions such as hilltop fortresses like Amer and Nahargarh, as well as luxurious "palace hotels."
Chennai, formerly known as Madras, holds a special place in India's cultural and artistic scene. The historic center of Mylapore and the seaside area of Marina Beach offer classic South Indian fare, fashion, and warm hospitality. For a more vibrant atmosphere, you can visit the nearby party town of Mahabalipuram. Chennai provides a glimpse of ancient India thriving within a bustling urban city.
Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry, attracts visitors for its French colonial history reflected in its architecture, culture, and food scene. Heritage buildings showcase the city's colonial past, while its beaches offer opportunities for relaxation and adventure activities. Some come to admire the buildings, while others enjoy the sun and salt at the beach or engage in various adventure pursuits.
Located in the state of Himachal Pradesh, Manali is a popular mountain resort town nestled in the lush green Beas valley. It attracts tourists with its stunning mountain views, pleasant climate, and outdoor activities such as trekking, climbing, skiing, and rafting. Manali also has a vibrant backpacker culture, with hippie villages surrounding the town and offering a relaxed atmosphere.
Pune, often overshadowed by Mumbai due to its proximity, is an exciting destination in its own right. The city has a large student population and attracts expats seeking a cooler, less polluted, and less crowded environment. Pune offers a mix of history, culture, exciting restaurants, and pubs, making it a vibrant place to explore.
Shimla, a delightful hill station in northern India and one of the country's smallest cities, attracts tourists from all over India and beyond. It offers a pleasant climate, cooler in the summer and occasional snow in winter, and is known for its cleanliness and greenery. Situated at 7,100ft, Shimla can be reached via winding roads or the popular narrow-gauge 'toy train'. The main attraction is Mall Road, a pedestrian-only walkway lined with shops and restaurants on one side and picturesque valley views on the other. Promenading along Mall Road is a popular activity day and night.
Bangalore, also known as Bengaluru, is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India, but it offers much more than just technology. The city is rich in cultural, historical, architectural, artistic, and natural attractions that can keep visitors engaged and entertained for days.
Best Places To Visit in India
Madhya Pradesh is a vast state located in the central part of India, home to dense forests where elusive Bengal tigers, wild elephants, and sloth bears roam. It houses national parks and reserves such as Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Satpura, and Pench, which provided inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book.' Visitors can embark on guided safaris and stay in cozy lodges to witness India's enchanting wildlife up close.
Assam, situated in India's remote northeast region, is characterized by its low hills covered in tea estates. It serves as a gateway to the Eastern Himalaya and is renowned for being the habitat of the endangered one-horned rhino. Visitors can stay at luxurious Raj-era plantations, savor refined Assam tea, embark on cruises along the mighty Brahmaputra river, and explore the wild grasslands of Kaziranga National Park for a chance to spot rare rhinoceroses.
Mysore, a former royal city in the southern state of Karnataka, is gaining popularity among tourists due to its traditional atmosphere and striking heritage architecture. It is known as a hub for yogis and offers opportunities to perfect the ashtanga yoga practice. Visitors can explore vibrant markets filled with lavish silks and sandalwood, and visit the opulent Mysore Palace, which showcases ancient artworks and intricate wood carvings.
Himachal Pradesh, surrounded by the majestic Himalayas, is a mountainous state that offers breathtaking vistas at every turn. It is a paradise for nature lovers, with high-altitude mountain passes, apple orchards, rhododendron forests, and glacial rivers. Popular towns like Manali, Shimla, and Dharamshala attract city-dwellers from the plains during the summer. Adventurous travelers can embark on treks such as the Pin Parvati to explore picturesque Himalayan villages like Nakthan.
Kolkata, the former capital of British India, exudes vintage charm with its old-school yellow taxis, heritage tram network, and stately Victorian mansions. Known as an arts and music hub, the city is home to architectural landmarks such as the Victoria Memorial and St Paul's Cathedral. Visitors can immerse themselves in the bustling flower markets, savor breakfast dim sum in Chinatown, and explore the vibrant Park Street. The Bengali Hindu festival of Durga Puja is a recommended time to visit, as the city comes alive with celebrations honoring the goddess Durga.
Kochi and Kerala
Kochi, a port city in Kerala, is often the starting point for exploring the diverse heritage of this verdant state. Kochi was once a significant center of the spice trade and has been influenced by the Dutch, British, and Portuguese over the centuries. Visitors can learn about its rich history by strolling through Fort Kochi, known for its spice shops, artsy cafes, European churches, and Chinese fishing nets. Other experiences include indulging in ayurvedic massages, savoring appam (a type of pancake), and cruising through the coconut-palm-lined backwaters on a houseboat.
Palitana, best experienced at sunrise, is a place that will truly leave you awe-struck. It is the holiest pilgrimage site in the world for followers of Jainism, an ancient Indian religion, and is adorned with over 1,000 temples atop the mountaintop. While it requires climbing steps for at least an hour and a half, the effort is rewarded with fewer crowds compared to other tourist destinations. Palitana is also the only city on Earth where buying and selling animal products has been legally outlawed since 2014.
Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, offers grand havelis (lavishly painted mansions) and vibrant textile markets in its UNESCO-listed old city. Day trips from Ahmedabad allow visitors to explore mind-boggling monuments like the Rani Ki Vav stepwell and the Sun Temple in Modhera. The city is renowned for its culinary delights, and indulging in a Gujarati thali is considered one of the most indulgent culinary experiences in India. Despite being overlooked by many tourists, Gujarat offers unique experiences waiting to be discovered.
Arunachal Pradesh, located in the northeastern part of India, is one of the least-visited states due to its disputed border with China. Entry requires an easily obtained permit, but the effort is worthwhile. The state offers sprawling Himalayan vistas, a chance to experience diverse tribal cultures distinct from the stereotypical image of India, and the opportunity to enjoy untouched landscapes without being crowded by tourists.
Majuli, a river island in Assam, provides an alternative to the popular backwaters of Kerala. It is one of India's seven northeastern sister states. Instead of houseboats and motorboats, visitors can encounter quiet fishermen in wooden longboats. Exploring Majuli involves cycling through friendly villages of bamboo huts on stilts, and evenings can be spent enjoying locally made rice beer called apong.
Ladakh, situated in the Himalayas, is a region known for its snow-capped mountains, serene lakes, and sprawling valleys. It offers a range of adventure activities such as trekking, mountain biking, and river rafting, along with the chance to explore Buddhist monasteries. Traditional festivals like Hemis Tsechu and Saka Dawa add to the cultural experience, which includes cuisine, handicrafts, and music unique to this mystical land.
Chhattisgarh, located in central India, is often overlooked but offers a wealth of attractions. It is known for its ancient temples, ruins, and monuments, including the famous Bhoramdeo temple. The state's natural beauty, lush green forests, waterfalls, and wildlife sanctuaries make it a paradise for nature lovers. The Bhimbetka caves, with their rock paintings by India's earliest human inhabitants, should not be missed.
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir, located in the northernmost part of India, is often referred to as a "heaven on earth" due to its breathtaking landscapes and serene natural beauty. From the majestic Himalayan mountain ranges to the tranquil Dal Lake, the state offers a plethora of ultra-scenic spots to explore. In addition to its natural wonders, Jammu and Kashmir is home to several historic temples, forts, and monasteries, including the Amar Mahal Palace and Hari Parbat Fort.
Uttarakhand, known as the "Land of Gods," is a must-visit destination for nature and adventure enthusiasts. The state is famous for its hill stations like Mussoorie and Nainital, as well as the holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh. Uttarakhand offers a blend of spirituality and natural beauty, providing opportunities for trekking, wildlife exploration, and immersing oneself in the region's rich cultural heritage.