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Top 10 places to visit in India

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India is one of the most enchanting countries in the world. After any visit, you’ll likely leave with a profound understanding and appreciation for its age-old culture and religious heritage and, most of all, a strong desire to come back.

India is a vast country, often referred to as a sub-continent. It’s also a land filled with contradictions, where noisy, raucous towns buzz below peaceful mountain villages. But one thing is certain: its undeniable beauty. India will surpass any country on your favorites list and leave an indelible mark on you, so what are you waiting for? Read our top 10 places to explore in India, and speak to one of our local experts to get planning your epic trip.

McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala

Brace yourself to get wet, because McLeod Ganj sees a lot of rain – this is just one thing that adds to the enchantment of Dharamsala’s popular suburb. Spend some time soaking up the tranquil atmosphere, as you stroll into its bookstores and explore their Buddhist readings. Alternatively, get warm by purchasing a traditional woolly jumper and dive into a quaint little coffee house, to chat with other travellers or read and drink Indian tea until night sweeps.

It’s no surprise that McLeod Ganj has become a hub for tourists in search of peace and pure serenity, as it offers both in abundance. Spectacular views, forest walks and yoga retreats will cleanse your soul and clear your mind. Come evening, the mountain air is particularly refreshing and crisp, and will offer its welcome embrace as you stumble out of one of the great local restaurants. A relaxing stay in McLeod Ganj will most certainly leave its carefree mark on you.

McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala

The Taj Mahal

Visiting the iconic Taj Mahal is an essential and awe-inspiring experience for anyone exploring India. As you approach the entrance, the grandeur of this architectural masterpiece becomes increasingly apparent with its pristine white marble facade. The intricate details of the marble inlay, the reflective pool, and the lush gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal create a sense of serenity and elegance. Whether at sunrise or sunset, the play of light and shadows enhances its ethereal beauty, making it a truly unforgettable experience and a must-visit destination in India.

Make sure to get your fill of water and sun cream before you enter, because a strict search at the gate means all liquids are prohibited from the site. If you can, cover as much as possible of your body and head from the burning heat, and allow two to three hours for your visit.

Taj Mahal through the trees

Mumbai

Mumbai, the vibrant metropolis on the west coast of India, offers a kaleidoscope of experiences for travellers. As the financial capital of the country, the city seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. Begin your exploration at the iconic Gateway of India, a symbol of Mumbai’s rich history. Dive into the bustling energy of Colaba Causeway for a shopping spree filled with eclectic finds, and for a taste of Bollywood glamour, visit the famous Marine Drive and the historic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

Don’t miss the culinary adventures at the street food haven of Chowpatty Beach, or the unique UNESCO-listed cave temples at the nearby Elephanta Island. From exploring historic neighbourhoods to catching a mesmerising sunset along the Worli Sea Face promenade, Mumbai promises an unforgettably dynamic culture and endless scenic draws.

A view of the Gateway of India in Mumbai

Hampi

Forming a simply fascinating landscape, Hampi’s ruins will leave you bewildered and astounded. At the focal point of the main bazaar is the Virupaksha Temple, but a mere 2 km walk away, bending round the enchanting riverside, is the even more impressive Vittala Temple. On your walks around the peaceful town, you will encounter precarious boulders nestled beside incredible river landscapes, where monkeys dance and lizards bathe.

View of a temple and ruins in Hampi

Goa

Nestled along the sun-kissed shores of the Arabian Sea, Goa is India’s premier beach destination, offering a delightful blend of relaxation and vibrant cultural experiences. Begin your Goan adventure at the picturesque beaches of Baga and Anjuna, where the atmosphere and water sports create a lively coastal scene. Dive into a rich Portuguese heritage at the Basilica of Bom Jesus and Sé Cathedral in Old Goa, each one showcasing stunning architecture and religious significance.

The markets of Mapusa and Anjuna beckon with an array of local crafts and spices, providing an authentic shopping experience. Indulge your taste buds with spicy and flavourful cuisine, a fusion of Indian and Portuguese influences, at beachfront shacks or quaint eateries. For a serene escape, explore the Dudhsagar Waterfalls or the spice plantations, immersing yourself in the natural beauty that Goa has to offer. With its laid-back charm and diverse attractions, Goa promises pure enchantment at every turn.

Beachfront in Goa

Kerala’s backwaters

Languid Kerala is yet another perfect chill-out spot on your India travels. A lazy river ride down its interminable backwaters will forever etch a perfect picture of lush landscapes and pure serenity into your mind. The intricate network of tributaries branch off through hundreds of beautiful rice paddy fields and lagoons of thriving wildlife, while tiny, tranquil streams are overhung by dense greenery. It is the sunlight beaming on the bright trees and reflecting off the still waterways that makes this the perfect river ride.

Boat on the river in Kerala

Darjeeling

Embrace the array of Himalayan cultures as you cross paths with Tibetan, Bhutanese, Nepalese and Indian people in Darjeeling, a quintessential Himalayan hillside town.

The steep tea plantations here are matched in beauty only by the breathtaking backdrop of Himalayan peaks and sporadic distant clouds, creating a seemingly-endless skyline. Trek through the tea fields and into the colonial-era town, passing picturesque Buddhist monasteries and traditional clothing stores, to earn yourself a sit-down with a rewarding brew (need we say a cup of Darjeeling?).

Clouds meet tea plantations in Darjeeling

Rajasthan

It’s remarkable how many great cities Rajasthan boasts – so many, in fact, that they warrant a list of their own. Whether it’s the Pink City of Jaipur, the Blue City of Jodhpur or the romantic scenery of Udaipur, Rajasthan has a scintillating amount of charm, enough to arguably be India’s greatest state.

Start off by visiting Jaipur’s iconic Jal Mahal and majestic Amber Fort. Then, prepare for your vision to turn all shades of blue as you meander through Jodhpur’s streets. Navigate your way through the spindly network of alleyways and stairwells, and follow the path up to one of the largest forts in India – Mehrangarh Fort. The views of the city from this magnificent landmark are one-of-a-kind.

Jodhpur at night

Ladakh

Ladakh‘s largest city (and arguably its best) is Leh, located at an elevation of 3,500 m. The second home of the Dalai Lama, it features mesmerising treks and several opulent Buddhist temples. When touring this area, it is imperative that you focus on its scenery, and a trek to the Chang La Pass is particularly worthwhile for these purposes. Closed during the harsh winter, it is a gateway to the splendid, vast Himalayan landscape. It may take a little time for you to acclimatise up there, as the 5,360 m pass has thin air and tough treks; overcome this, however, and you’ll be rewarded with views of the beautifully serene Pangong Lake. Hidden between the mountains, it’s the most idyllic spot in all of India.

Houses on the river in Ladakh

Varanasi

Varanasi, the spiritual heart of India, beckons with its ancient charm and sacred aura. Begin your exploration at the ghats lining the Ganges River, where the mystical ritual of Ganga Aarti unfolds each evening, creating a mesmerising spectacle of lights, music, and spirituality. Wander through the narrow lanes of the old city where centuries-old temples, including the revered Kashi Vishwanath Temple, offer glimpses into Varanasi’s rich cultural tapestry.

Embrace the spiritual ambiance with a boat ride along the Ganges during sunrise, witnessing the city come alive with prayers and rituals. Delve into the cultural heritage at the Banaras Hindu University, home to the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum. Then, indulge in the vibrant street food scene, savouring local delicacies like chaat and lassi. Deeply rooted in tradition and spirituality, Varanasi provides visitors with a chance to soak up the essence of India’s spiritual heritage.

Varanasi rituals by night

Make it happen

Has India piqued your interest? If so, get in touch with our local experts and start planning your next adventure today!

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