To other places in the world you may go as a tourist but to the land of wonders and ecstasy that is India, you must always travel as a pilgrim.
Whether it’s your spiritual vein, the curiosity of history and cultures, or the pure spirit of red-blooded adventure that’s driving you to India, brace yourself for a riveting and soulful experience.
Here go the ten amazing places where you would find your awakening when touring in India.
Nestling in the lap of Himalayan high reaches, the valley of Kashmir situated at the crown of the Indian land exudes a beauty so ethereal that it can make a poet out of any man. From the regal gardens of Srinagar, excellent hill station habitats of Gulmarg and Sonamarg to awe-inspiring trek routes treading deep into the mountainous idyll, Kashmir presents an unparalleled sublime handiwork of the creator all through.
Collect a lifetime’s worth of memories here with splendid stays at houseboats in Dal Lake, trekking and mountain biking up the slopes, Gondola rides along sweet rives, and much more. Also, don’t miss Kashmir’s gourmet fare of Wazwan if you are a true foodie!
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To the north of Leh, in the province of Ladakh- the ‘Land of the High Passes’, lies a stretch of high altitude cold desert where double-humped Bactrian Camels roam about the rugged landscapes. Surrounded by terrific subranges of the Karakoram and Himalayas, the valley resonates with an unusual grandeur. The villages at the fringes of the desert are full of flourish and a wholly different flavor of life. Thickets of tall willows and poplar dot this landscape while the desert is scant of vegetation except for arid shrubberies.
Among other awe-inspiring attractions of Nubra besides its stark landscape and grandeur of the rugged slopes, there is a statue of the Maitreya Buddha, a whopping 32 meters high!
Sikkim and Further Northeast
The North-East of India to which the doorway opens at Sikkim will draw you into another mood of pure wonderment. Embraced with amazing dense forests, monasteries of old antiquity, snow-covered mountains, valleys, glacial lakes, and plummeting waterfalls, the north-east of the country is nothing short of the magic that is India.
Enter Sikkim to witness the grandeur of the Himalayas and the old Silk Route, tall mountain passes and monasteries of the yore. The streets of Gangtok are also the best places to shop all things quirky and Tibetan ethnic. To experience the amphitheater of high peaks revealing all around, hit the outdoors on a bike and drive by the highest motorable road of Nathula Pass reveling in oodles of thrill!
Make your way further into the states of Meghalaya, the place receiving highest annual rain, Manipur and Mizoram, the states of fascinating Garo-Khasi cultures, Nagaland for the surreal undulating green hemisphere of Dzukou Valley, and Arunachal Pradesh for Namdapha National Park. The states of Assam and Tripura on the lower reaches also constitute the identity that is essentially North-East India.
Darjeeling, one of the popular summer havens in the hills in India from the times of British Raj, this little town is known to the world for its special aromatic tea plantations. This quaint little paradise features charming ‘toy trains’ zigzagging around the slopes, vibrant and cheery across the backdrop of a blue sky and the magnificent ice-capped Kanchenjunga peak glowing in the golden sun.
On a week-long vacation, you can trek to the Tiger hills to witness an ethereal sunrise, spend a day out at the Rock Garden, or go boating in the lakes of Mirik.
Moving North of the country again, you will come upon Rishikesh—a spiritual town laid out on the banks of the holy river Ganges and known to the world as the Yoga Capital of the World. There is an overwhelming religiosity about this town that invites thousands of pilgrims to take a dip of penance in the holy waters of the river and offer prayers at the ancient temple complexes.
Besides, the town has been a site of spiritual discipline for many famed yoga gurus, including the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of the Transcendental Meditation legacy. There are a number of top reviewed yoga schools based in the town offering comprehensive courses of yoga teacher training and related fields of practice.
Visit this town to enhance your level of holistic wellness with yoga, to soak in the beautiful scenic location in the Shivalik Hills, and adrenaline pumping adventure sports in white waters and cliffhangers surrounding the foothill town.
The three historical cities form the famous Golden Triangle tourist circuit of India. This route opens up the varying geographies of the national capital of Delhi to the Desert town of Jaipur in Rajasthan.
Highlights of the Golden Triangle include historic monuments from the Mughal era in Delhi and Agra to the palaces of Rajputana in Jaipur. The timeless architectural wonders of the Agra Fort, the sprawling ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri, and mausoleums of Humayun and Akbar make up the catalogue of places to visit in Delhi-Agra. The Hawa Mahal of Jaipur on the other end is another splendid architectural wonder.
However, it is the splendorous marble wrapped mausoleum of Taj Mahal, a classic icon of love and the most photographed monument in the world that takes away all the spotlight of this marvelous route.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient temple city of Khajuraho is a testimony to the superlative history and art of India. The walls of the temples are famously engraved with erotic depictions in the Nagara style of architecture which is absolutely fascinating!
A hippie stock favorite unleashing a relaxed pace of life by beautiful beaches, tropical climate, exotic savories, and inexpensive wine, Goa makes for a tranquil holiday experience that you would love to keep coming back to.
You can check in at an Ayurvedic Spa Resort, go surfing on the beach or rent a scooter to surf the bylanes of the old sea town according to your mood and liking.
An enchanting city of South India famous for the glittering royal palace of Mysore of the Indo-Saracenic architecture, Mysore is charming with its palaces, monuments, and bazaars. It is also the hometown of the great Ashtanga yoga masters Krishnamacharya, K. Pattabhi Jois, and B. K. S. Iyengar and carries their legacy till date.
The list has got to end with Kerala, aptly named the ‘God’s Own Land’. Situated on the far south of the subcontinent, Kerala remains a province of unblemished beauty. From low-lying forested hills, waterfalls, rivers, and quaint villages by the sea, Kerala is forever wrapped in a cocoon of peace.
Besides getting a golden tan on the tropical beaches, eating your heart’s full of Kerala’s delicious cuisine, and exploring the quaint hinterlands, you might also like to heal and rejuvenate with Ayurvedic therapy that Kerala is famous for!