India is home to stunning architecture constructed over various periods including the rock-cut caves of the Gupta period, majestic forts of the Deccan plateau, Mughal architecture, and impressive colonial structures including the Gateway of India. These beautiful sites depict India’s history and diverse culture.
India is also blessed with varied scenery from the coral islands of Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep, long coastline and fishing villages, mountain passes in the many mountain ranges including the Western Ghats, the sand dune deserts of Rajasthan and the arid desert of North India, and the dense forests of central plateaus.
While I have seen many of India’s touristy places, I do not know about all the beautiful places in India. And that’s why I turned to my fellow travel bloggers and asked them about their favorite places to visit in India. The response was stunning and it makes me want to go back right now and see them all in a majestic road trip. So here’s a list of the country’s most beautiful places:
Also, did you know that you can see most of them in a two-week-long India itinerary?
Architecturally Beautiful Places In India
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
When it comes to Jaipur, one of the most iconic places to visit is the awe-inspiring Hawa Mahal or Palace of winds. The incredible structure is located in the Pink City on the main road near Badi Chaupar and City Palace complex. It is walking distance from other Jaipur attractions such as Jantar Mantar, The City Palace, and Bazaar.
Built-in 1799 AD by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the pink palace was made so the royal woman could still feel connected to the outside. Many tiny windows looked over the city, allowing them to watch the life and events of the city below as they were not allowed out in public! Today the top level offers views of Jantar Mantar, the city palace, and the busy Sireh Deori Bazaar.
The beautiful architecture is said to replicate a beehive, it raises up five stories high and has 953 small windows called jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework. Apart from admiring the inspiring palace and its views, there is a museum that is also worth a visit.
By Kayla Manoe Of Kelana By Kayla
Golden Temple, Amritsar
Amritsar’s Golden Temple is truly a magnificent sight. It is a glistening structure surrounded by a pool, where the golden building’s reflection enhances its beauty. Amritsar, translated as “pool of ambrosial nectar”, is a highly spiritual place, where both the Buddha and the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, spend time in meditation.
After Guru Nanak passed away, his disciples continued to visit, making it a holy place for Sikhism. It is also where the Guru Granth Sahib, a Sikhism sacred scripture is kept.
Once consisting of a forest and a lake, in the 16th century, the Hari Mandir, or Temple of God, was built and the lake transformed into a pool. Due to its location, in Punjab, Amritsar was in the midst of the Mogul Empire feud and was therefore destroyed and rebuilt several times.
After many reformations, and due to the efforts of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Hari Mandir was transformed into its current golden-gilded, marble-adorned structure that makes it so visually appealing today. The marble walls are carved using “pietra dura”, intricate inlays with semi-precious stones.
Yet it’s biggest draw is not only the beauty of the structure but the spiritual atmosphere, where visitors circumambulate around the perimeter to the peaceful and hypnotic chants. Although it is a Sikhism holy place, all people are allowed to visit and a free meal is provided to all guests, which can be up to 50 million per year.
The complex is open from 2:30 am to 10 pm every day and it’s best to come out of peak holy days like Diwali, where queues can become large and unpleasant. You can get to the temple by taxi in about 20-30 mins from Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport or catch a train to Amritsar station from all over India and take a bus or rickshaw to the temple complex.
By Mar Pages Of Once In A Lifetime Journey
Sri Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
In a country full of stunning landmarks, the Sri Meenakshi Temple complex in Madurai is one you should definitely add to your list of must-see things in Tamil Nadu.
The temple complex has 14 incredible gopurams (gateway towers) that soar into the sky, the tallest one being almost 52 meters high. Each of the towers has thousands of intricately carved statues of animals, gods, and demons. They’re in the most amazing bright colors and each tells a story. It’s estimated that there are around 33,000 sculptures combined on the towers!
The temple complex is huge – it covers 15 acres and you can see it on the horizon from many parts of Madurai. It’s a breathtaking sight to turn the corner and see the amazing temples in front of you. The temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Pavarti and Sundereswar, a form of Shiva and is a major pilgrimage site for Tamil Hindus.
As well as the towers which date back to the early AD, there are many other interesting things to see including the sculptured mandapas (pillar halls) such as Ayirakkal (the 1,000 pillar hall), Kilikoondu-mandapam, Golu-mandapam, and Pudu-mandapam. These were built by kings and wealthy patrons over the years and are an impressive sight in their own right.
The temples are located in the city of Madurai, which is easy to reach from many South Indian cities. It’s worth noting that you must dress conservatively to enter and non-Hindus aren’t permitted to enter inside the inner sanctum to view the idol of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwarar. Also, cameras aren’t permitted inside the temple complex. The temple is open daily from dawn until 12.30 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm.
By Kylie Gibbon Of Our Overseas Adventures
Charminar is one of the most iconic monuments in Hyderabad and perhaps the entire country, India. It is a Hindi word which means Four Minarets. Built-in the 16th century, this majestic piece of limestone and granite hosts a mosque inside it and is one of the most important landmarks in Hyderabad.
The Charminar is famous for its architectural brilliance along with the historical importance during the Qutub dynasty. There are 4 clocks, 1 on each face of this monument which helps you in keeping the track of the day.
The Charminar is surrounded by the Laad Bazaar on all sides which is a very famous market in the city for street food and shopping. This entire place is buzzing with the crowd till late night during the holy month of Ramadan where you get to taste different kinds of Hyderabadi food and biryanis.
Charminar is located at a distance of 20kms from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport and at a close distance of 5kms from the railway station. Hyderabad is the state capital of Telangana, the southern state in India is well connected via flights, train or bus from other cities of the country.
The ideal time to visit Hyderabad is usually throughout the year however, the best time can be considered in winter from October to February. The temperatures are usually moderate during this season and there is almost no rainfall.
Hyderabad is a city that offers a mix of all the cultures from ancient times to the modern world. The city is one of the most important IT hubs in our country and is famous for many historical monuments and food. You may also visit the Golconda Fort, the Qutub Shahi Tombs, the Taramati Baradari or the Chowmahalla Palace located in the city.
By Saumya From Road To Taste
Sun Temple Of Modhera, Gujarat
In the heart of the Mehsana district of Gujarat, a mere two hours (100km) drive from the capital city, Ahmedabad, lies one of the most eye-catching architecture spectacles of India. The Sun Temple of Modhera is the 11th-century creation of Solanki King Bhimdev of the Patan empire.
As far as sun temples go, this is the best specimen in the entire country, several notches up compared to the more famous Sun Temple of Konark. Sun Temple of Modhera belongs to the Solanki period, which is known for the most brilliant of Indo-Aryan architecture.
The golden brown stone edifice of the temple is built directly on the Tropic of Cancer that passes through the country. The layout of the temple is such that on the days of equinoxes, the rays of the sun enter the entrance arches to hit the main idol inside, illuminating it as if a thousand light bulbs had been switched on.
The facade is engraved richly with innumerable stone carvings of celestial beauties, rejoicing figures and celebratory processions. There are 12 different Sun idols for 12 months and 52 intricately carved pillars for each week of the solar year.
The loveliest part of the temple is the huge Surya Kund (stepwell), which has a zigzag pattern of steps going down to the water level. Hundreds of small and big shrines decorating the stepwell add to its timeless appeal. Spend time in the Sun Temple of Modhera trying to decipher the multiple layers of symbolism. Sit on the steps of the Surya Kund and feel the calm. Or just bask in the glory of the sun.
By Punita Of 100 Cobbled Roads
Sunder Nursery, Lodhi Gardens, Delhi
Escape the hustle and bustle of New Delhi with a stroll through Lodhi Gardens. Situated on over 90 acres, this massive park also is the home to historical monuments. There are plans to combine Lodhi Gardens, Sunder nursery (also on 90 acres) and a third yet to be developed the area into one large Central Park in Delhi.
Unlike other tourist hotspots in India where you run into hordes of tourists, Lodhi Gardens is very much a part of everyday living for locals. The naturally shaded jogging trails are popular with locals and are great for tourists to enjoy as well. There are several large monuments located within Lodhi Gardens. The oldest of which is a tomb built in 1444!
You can freely explore the buildings inside and out. Just keep in mind that they have not been retrofitted for safety. There are uneven steps without railings and sudden drop-offs when you’re several stories up. Still, many appreciate the freedom to wander about. You can book guided tours through the park as well (summers excluded).
If you wanted to do more than walk around and explore the historic buildings, there’s plenty more to keep you occupied. Sunrise yoga and meditation classes are popular in Lodhi Gardens. A local restaurant also leads foraging tours through the park. Afterward, a meal using the foraged ingredients is served family-style.
Alternately, Lodi – The Garden Restaurant located within the park serves European food from seasonal organic produce. To avoid crowds at all sites in Delhi, plan to visit early and on a weekday.
By Dana Sikand Of Adventures With Children
Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur
The whole city of Jaipur, in the heart of Rajasthan, is a beautiful landscape, but the jewel in its crown is the magnificent forts. All are spectacular, especially Nahargarh Fort. In English Nahargarh Fort translates to “the abode of tigers”, a fitting name for such a grand structure. As soon as you arrive in Jaipur, you’ll notice this huge fort high on the hill above the city. Its walls seem to stretch for miles over the peaks and it’s immediately identifiable as Rajasthani architecture.
The fort was built in the 18th Century to protect the Rajas (Indian royalty) from invaders, though it never needed to be used. It was built alongside Amer and Jaigarh Forts to create an impregnable defensive retreat for the city. Nowadays, anyone can explore Nahargarh Fort. As well as wandering the city walls there is also a restaurant with a terrific view and a rather unusual looking wax museum inside the fort.
Getting up to Nahargarh Fort is fun in itself as you wind your way up the steep road, looking out for peacocks and monkeys as you go. We advise organizing a tuk-tuk or car to wait for you, there is no public transportation from the fort and haggling for a return journey when they know you have no other choice is a recipe for disappointment.
The main reason we love this place is not just for the structure (which is incredible), but also for the stunning views of the city, especially at sunset. You can head to the sunset viewing point and enjoy a cold drink in the early evening or grab a spot on one of the walls if you dare. Sunset in Jaipur is particularly photogenic as the desert haze turns the sky a pale orange, making the view over the city from Nahargarh Fort just that little bit more special.
By Cat Of Walk My World
Buland Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra
Another prime example of Mughal architecture, Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of Emperor Akbar. The famed Buland Darwaza serves as the entrance to the walled city. Literally translated, the Buland Darwaza means the Gate of Victory and was built in 1572 to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat.
At 54 m above ground, the semi-octagonal structure is the tallest gate in the world and the entire city of Fatehpur Sikri was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. Located in Agra, the site is easily accessible from Delhi and you can see Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal in one visit.
The gateway is made of red and buff sandstone and decorated with marble work, minarets, and other embellishments. It has Quran inscriptions etched in impressive Arabic calligraphy. Visitors need to climb over 40 steps to reach the gate.
We recommend visiting early in the morning, in winter, to see the gate without crowds. The city of Fatehpur Sikri has many other monuments worth seeing besides the Buland Darwaza like the Jama Masjid (mosque) and is a must-visit when in Agra.
Ajanta And Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Ajanta and Ellora caves are Buddhist caves located in the western state of Maharashtra. I have visited these monumental caves on more than one occasion and have always been impressed by their scale, rock-cut architecture, and beautiful sculptures.
In fact, the caves were where my fascination with rock sculptures and rock-cut architecture began and led me to Petra in Jordan and to Easter Island. The Ajanta caves are the oldest with work continuing from 2nd century BC to 6th century AD while the Ellora Caves were built from the 6th century to the 10th century.
These caves, constructed during the Gupta period, are excellent specimens of Buddhist artwork and architecture that flourished in ancient India and hence are included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.
The caves have multiple rock-cut structures which at one time were used as monasteries, prayer halls, and resting places. The caves are artistically decorated with vibrant paintings and murals depicting the life of the Buddha and display many intricate sculptures.
While the Ajanta caves are primarily Buddhist caves, the caves at Ellora are a mixture of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist caves and contain sculptures of various Hindu gods.
Amer Fort, Jaipur
Prior to traveling to Jaipur, I had very little knowledge of what to expect. We traveled to Jaipur, India with Scoot Airlines to film a family travel campaign with my 10-year-old daughter as the star. I had never considered traveling to India before this opportunity presented itself.
The first shoot was held at Amer Fort, Jaipur. We drove up and parked on the main road and when I got out of the minibus I was able to take in the pure size of Amer Fort sitting up on top of the hill.
There are two ways to gain access to Amer Fort, either on elephant back on many of the waiting working elephants waiting to take tourists up or you can get a jeep up the entrance. Once you get to the top, you will be presented with a very well preserved fort.
Built-in the 1500’s the fort is constructed using red sandstone and marble. Most impressive is the Ganesh Pol (Ganesh Gate), regularly photographed, it’s a jaw-dropping sight. Between 1550 – 1614 the Amer Fort was referred to as the Amer Palace and was ruled by Raja Man Singh I. The Fort is divided into six separate sections, each with their own gates.
Amer Fort was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2013. Amer Fort was a great introduction to Jaipur and set the scene for an amazing visit.
By Sally Of Our3kidsvtheworld
Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
When it comes to India, there are so many incredible sites that it is just difficult to choose which one to visit or not. The only problem is that the more time you spend in India, the higher the chances are that you will fall in love with it and want to explore it.
Each place in India has a unique site or place to visit. And Delhi is no exception. As most travelers arrive in India through Delhi, you might want to explore the infamous capital before heading farther. Yes, it is dusty, and the traffic is horrible. But it also hides a lot of beautiful sites, one of them being Humayun’s Tomb.
If you are a fan of Mughal architecture, the genius style that gave us the Taj Mahal, then you shouldn’t miss Humayun’s Tomb. It was built in 1565 A.D., nine years after Humayun’s death by his widow Bega Begum. It is so remarkable that it has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
And surprisingly it is the first significant dynastic mausoleum on the Indian subcontinent, that will later inspire the building of the Taj Mahal. You can walk around the mausoleum, as well as in the gardens surrounding it, take a look at the mosques next to it and indulge in the remarkable Mughal architecture.
The easiest way to get there is either by rickshaw, taxi, or metro, the closest station being JLN Stadium. It is open for visitors daily, and there is an entrance fee, Rs 500 for foreigners and Rs 30 for Indians. You have plenty of time to visit it as it is open from sunrise to sunset.
By Andra Of Our World To Wander
French Quarter, Pondicherry
Pondicherry, which forms the set of The first act of Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning ‘Life of Pie’, has to be one of the most beautiful cities of India. Wander the old quarter and every now and then a little bit of the past will appear from around a corner, transporting you to a quaint French village, complete with patisseries, colorful colonial architecture, and beautiful churches.
Pondicherry (which has recently changed its name to Puducherry, but locals refer to it as ‘Pondy’) has a relaxed pace, which you’ll immediately notice (and appreciate) if arriving from one of India’s larger cities. Spend your visit strolling along the shady tree-lined streets of the French quarter, marveling at the old colonial architecture and visiting the churches and temples, then pop into a café for a latte and croissant to catch up on your travel journal or read a book.
We particularly loved the French food in Baker Street. If you’re visiting Pondicherry with kids, the little ones will love meeting Lakshmi the elephant at Sri Manakual Vinayagar Temple or playing in the playground at Bharathi Park.
Every evening, Beach Rd/Goubert Avenue, which runs parallel to the seafront, is closed from 6 pm to traffic. This is when it springs to life with seemingly all of Pondy’s residents taking a romantic evening stroll in the cool evening air. Join them. It makes for a wonderful evening.
Nearby are also some lovely beaches. Flag down a tuk-tuk to take you to Paradise beach to enjoy a stroll past the brightly-painted fishing boats, along with the sand to the sound of crashing waves. You can also pick up some fresh seafood from the local fisherman which is then BBQ’d on the beach.
By Jenny Of TraveLynn Family
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Think Rajasthan and images of grand forts looming over old towns, majestic palaces reminding you of an opulent era and intricate carvings reflecting the heritage and workmanship of its people come to mind. There are many big and small cities to visit in Rajasthan but my favorite and a must-do on any India itinerary is Jodhpur.
Why Jodhpur, you ask? The renowned Mehrangarh Fort that can be seen from anywhere in the old town is reason enough. Add to that other architectural marvels such as Jaswant Thada, step-wells such as Toorji ki baoli and Clock Tower in the heart of the city will make for a fine cultural immersion.
Mehrangarh Fort, built around 1460 is one of the largest and best-preserved forts in India. The fort at 410 feet looms larger than life over the city and is surrounded by thick imposing walls. There are many restaurants and rooftop bars that advertise a brilliant view of the Fort which is lit up beautifully after dark. The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan.
Seeing the Mehrangarh Fort with its expansive courtyards and museums, taking in the lovely views of the old town of Jodhpur from various vantage points of the Fort makes for a great half-day trip. One km away from Mehrangarh Fort is the stunning structure in white marble, Jaswant Thada. Your visit should be combined for both these fine examples of Jodhpur architecture.
Jodhpur is well connected to Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Mumbai by air/trains. For accommodation, there is a wide range from some uber-luxury palaces converted to hotels to budget guesthouses and everything in between.
By Shweta Of Zest In A Tote
We were so lucky to get to tour much of Southern India on the India Blog Train, taking the luxury train from Karnataka, all the way down to Goa. Along the way, we hit Hampi and visited the famed elephant stables which were truly a sight to see.
Hampi is pretty easy to reach, its best to reach it by train or car. There are many bus lines running straight into the city. Hampi is located in Karnataka and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is so much to see in Karnataka!
There are over 350 temples located in Hampi, also known as the City of Victory. It was an advanced city for its time, with a groundbreaking irrigation system and so much grandeur. With such a plethora of temples, there is much to see in Hampi but it is especially known for its elephant stables.
These stables were built by the Vijayanagara Empire in the 15th century to provide living quarters for their royal elephants. The extremely detailed work on the structures that is still visible today shows the incredible craftsmanship of the artisans of the day.
Some other must-see spots in Hampi include the Hanuman Temple also known as the Monkey Temple, the Vijaya Vittala Temple, the Hampi Bazaar, and the Gagan Mahal also known as the Old Palace, just to name a few.
The Monkey Temple is totally filled with monkeys. If you want to interact with them, you can bring food, but it’s not actually recommended because they can get a bit aggressive! Make sure to watch your belongings as they’ll steal whatever they can grab!
By Kaila Of Nylon Pink
Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Everyone knows that India is famous for a lot of gorgeous places. There are some that take you completely by surprise. For me, Mahabalipuram was one of those places. Our aim was to squeeze in a stop where we could rest on our road trip to Pondicherry but in retrospect, I feel that Mahabalipuram was the highlight of our trip.
Located in the state of Tamil Nadu, Mahabalipuram lies on the coast. Unlike many UNESCO sites, it isn’t just one structure but a collection of structures that dates back to an age-old civilization. It is a place where you can see temples carved into stone, a lighthouse rising high above the skyline and the entire coast in all its beauty.
There are so many things to see in Mahabalipuram that you can easily spend an entire day wandering around unless you have your own transport that is. Contrary to belief, not all of these beautiful monuments are close to each other, however, they are close enough to walk to.
If you do visit Mahabalipuram, I would suggest getting up early and heading to the shore temple. The temple, true to its name, lies on the beach and the rising sun makes a gorgeous backdrop for the photographs you no doubt would love to click.
It would be remiss of me if I did not mention that the seafood is also something that you must try. All in all, Mahabalipuram is a great place to chill and relax. It is a small town and hence not too loud either!
By Penny Of Globe Trove
Taj Mahal, Agra
Ranked among the 7 Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal in Agra is undoubtedly the epitome of architectural beauty. Constructed from ivory-white marble, the Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum dedicated to Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Aesthetically built on the banks of the river Yamuna, the Taj Mahal’s central tomb is flanked by minarets, landscapes gardens, and walls. The Taj Mahal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being an excellent example of Mughal architecture in India.
The Taj Mahal is as beautiful from the inside as it is on the outside and has vaulted ceilings, bejeweled walls, Persian and Indian decorative elements, lotus motifs, and intricate carvings. Arabic verses and poems are carved on the structure. The gardens were originally created in Muslim style, however, during the British colonial rule of India, they were changed to resemble the royal gardens in London.
The Taj Mahal is visited by a staggering 8 million visitors annually. You can visit the Taj Mahal from 6 am to 7 pm though we recommend visiting early to avoid the crowds.
Have less time in India but want to see the most important attractions? Did you know that you can visit the highlights of Jaipur, Delhi, and Agra, including the Taj Mahal, on an easy Golden Triangle road trip?
Scenic Landscapes In India
The Western Ghats
One of the most beautiful landscapes you can find in India is the Western Ghats. The Western Ghats are a mountain range running parallel to India’s West Coast. Spanning approximately 1600 km, they stretch from Gujarat over Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala all the way to Tamil Nadu. Also known as Sahyadri, or Benevolent Mountains, it one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To many, it is primarily known for its famous hill stations built by the British. They offer a reprieve from the sweltering heat in the lowlands and attract thousands of tourists every year. Among the most famous hill stations is Ooty, Tamil Nadu.
Ooty is also a great gateway for exploring the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. Alternatively, you can marvel at beautiful Hindu temples or visit one of the area’s many tea plantations. Real tea lovers, however, head to the town of Munnar, Kerala which is even home to a Tea Museum.
If you are short on time, you can easily visit the Western Ghats from Pune or Mumbai. You will need a car, but the drive is certainly worth it. Particularly during monsoon season, the mountains come alive and lush green. Pack a picnic basket (and perhaps a banana for the local monkeys) and enjoy nature within less than 2 hours driving distance (e.g. Pune – Tamhini Ghat). Tamhini Ghat offers scenic views of the dense forest and imposing waterfalls very well worth a picture or two!
By Jacky Of Nomad Epicureans
Tea Plantations, Munnar
One of the most beautiful landscapes in India is the tea plantations around the hills of Munnar in Kerala. Kerala is India’s most southern state and especially known for its tropical beaches and the lush and exotic backwaters. However, you should certainly also visit the area of Munnar, since it’s a great contrast to Kerala’s other tourist destinations.
The drive to Munnar is a little bit long and exhausting, since the road is very windy, and it will take you several hours by bus to get up into the mountains. Keep also in mind that you’re on a higher altitude and while southern India is very hot and humid, it cools down quite a bit in Munnar and you will most likely need a jacket especially in the evenings.
The small town of Munnar is the perfect base to explore the tea plantations and surroundings. Hire a tuk-tuk and drive through the hills, you will have beautiful viewpoints from everywhere. I’d also suggest going for a short hike – I just left Munnar and walked up some of the tea plantations to get a beautiful sunset view.
During the day, you can also watch the locals working in the plantations and picking tea leaves. They are very happy to pose for a picture and show you their work, however, they will ask for a small tip in the end.
Finally, no visit to Munnar is complete without visiting a tea factory. There are plenty of factories around and you’ll get the chance to see how the tea leaves are processed. Finally, Munnar’s landscape is one of India’s best – so, make sure to visit!
By Patrick Of German Backpacker
The Kerala Backwaters are one of the most beautiful landscapes in India and is a must-visit if you are exploring the country. Located in Southern India is the Kerala State, the backwaters are a chain of lagoons, rivers, canals, and lakes which stretch over 900 kilometers. This covers nearly half the length of the state of Kerala.
There are five large lakes that make up the Kerala Backwaters. These are linked by canals which are both made by man and natural, as well as thirty-eight rivers. The largest of all the lakes is Vembanad lake which covers an area of 2033 kilometers squared.
This complex aquatic system lays parallel to the Arabian Sea. As a result, the waters are a mixture of fresh and sea, creating a unique ecosystem. The animals you can find there include crabs, mudskippers, frogs, otters, turtles and a wide variety of birdlife.
No doubt one of the best ways to experience the Kerala Backwaters to do an overnight houseboat. There are plenty of companies to choose from which cover a variety of travelers’ budgets. Though, best to be aware that the conditions of these houseboats can change a lot, make sure you do some research, check reviews and book with a reputable company. Many boat companies depart from Alleppey which is just 53 kilometers south of the capital, Kochi. You can travel between the two by bus, taxi or pre-arranged private transfer.
If you are not feeling like the boat is best for you there are plenty of gorgeous hotels and resorts which overlook the backwater landscapes. One of my favorites is Coconut Lagoon, which is located right on Vembanad Lake. Known as one of the best hotels in Kerala, this beautiful property will provide you with a unique experience thanks to the traditional houses they have converted into villas.
By Tasha Of Backpackers Wanderlust
The Urban Landscape Of Mumbai
While I have tried hard to not include entire cities in this list, it all stops short at Mumbai. Mumbai is not just a city; it is an entire landscape of India’s very being.
Full of resplendent colonial architecture, the city has two UNESCO world heritage sites: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the recently declared Victorian and Art Deco architecture of old town in South Mumbai. It has an ever-changing skyline and the glorious Marine Drive; it also is home to Asia’s biggest slums at Dharavi and consists of beautiful ruins such as the Elephanta Caves.
Mumbai is home to a hundred different kinds of people from the ultra-rich and the mega glamorous to the hard-working dreamers and simple middle-class families like you and me. The city offers every type of experience that you could possibly crave for.
Mumbai’s food scene is legendary and undoubtedly one of the best in India and a meal can be had for anywhere from INR 10 to INR 5000. Mumbai is spectacular, grand, crumbling in parts and bits, rebuilding and rejuvenating itself every day.
Chinese Fishing Nets At Sunset In Fort Kochi
There is something about Fort Kochi that makes it my favorite city in Kerala. It started off as a small fishing village and thanks to the trading industry, it became the first European township in India. Here you can really feel the history as you walk the streets. You can find India’s oldest European church, the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth and one of the oldest antique markets in India. These are just a few of the things to do in Fort Kochi.
But where the real magic happens is at the waterfront, where you find the famous Chinese Fishing Nets. These fishing nets first appeared in Fort Kochi in the 15th century. They were erected by some of the first foreign visitors to the Malabar Coast, the Chinese community. What is most incredible about these nets is that they are still in use. Not the originals from 600 years ago, but the technique being used is the same that the first traders used.
You can still watch them in action, being lowered down into the sea and see them how they work to catch the fish. Although it has become such a tourist attraction that it is likely that you may have to pay the fishermen to make them work. If you don’t want to shell out for this, just walk along the Vasco de Gama Square and Fort Kochi beach during sunset and prepare to be amazed by the most incredible sunset and the beautiful silhouettes of the Chinese Fishing Nets in the foreground. Pure magic!
By Teresa Of Brogan Abroad
32 Strip Serpentine Road, Sikkim
The 32 strip road is a fantasy in East Sikkim and the road extends from Thambi View Point to Zuluk which falls under the Silk Route in India. The sunrise on the snow-clad peaks can be seen from Thambi’s viewpoint at around 6 am in the early morning.
After watching the spectacular sunrise one can go for a self-ride on this strip of road which extends to Zuluk.The road is a challenging one and one must have first hands experience of driving on twisted turns and hilly curvy slopes before going for a self-drive in the artery.
This is the first and only road in the country which is visited by more than hundreds of visitors every day. The Silk Route is actually a very important route in the Indo China border and protected by the military forces in the region.
There used to trade operations in the region between India and China but it was discontinued a few years back due to local protest and some disputes between the neighboring nations.
By Somnath Roy Of Travel Crusade
Chandrataal Lake, Spiti Valley
Chandrataal Lake literally means the Lake of the Moon. Located in the Spiti Valley area of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India, the lake is crescent-shaped and hence the name.
Access to the lake is over rough, frequently unpaved roads and limited to 4WD vehicles and motorbikes. On the way, you will come across landslides and traffic jams caused by sheep. If you are driving on your own, we suggest being very careful on the roads.
The lake is surrounded by mountains and looks beautiful when it mirrors the barren mountain ranges. The lake also beautifully reflects the colors of the sky at sunset and mesmerizes visitors each day.
There are many beautiful experiences to be had at Chandrataal lake including camping a short distance away from its banks over the alpine meadows and hiking around the lake. The night sky from the lake is one of the darkest in the country and campers can easily view star-studded skies and many galaxies.
Chandrataal Lake is accessible only in the summer from June to September and remains frozen for the rest of the year. This lake should definitely be added to a Himachal Pradesh / Spiti itinerary if you have the time.
Beaches Of The Konkan Coast
One of my all-time favorite landscapes is the beaches along the Arabian Sea coast. While many states including Goa have a coastline, the pristine and rarely frequented beaches of Maharashtra are the best of the lot.
Known as the Konkan Coast, this coastal strip extends all the way from north of Mumbai to the state of Goa. The Konkan strip is full of local colors and character and is a medley of fishing folk villages, famous temples, ancient forts, famous temples, coconut palm-fringed beaches, rich red soil, a uniquely hot and spicy seafood-rich cuisine, and orchards of the famous Alphonso mango.
The beach towns of Konkan strip are unlike any beach towns you will expect or encounter. Catering primarily to the local tourist, these towns have an exclusively local vibe – think regional cuisine and dialect, a back to basics ambiance, and complete lack of tourist fanfare. Homestays have prevailed in this area even before there was a thing elsewhere.
The Konkan strip has majestic Maratha empire sea forts including Janjira and Sindhudurg and famous temples such as Ganpatipule. The strip has beautiful pristine beaches that are often off the tourist track and historic lighthouses looking far out into the sea. The Konkan strip also has ferries and upcoming water sports centers that cater to tourists especially at Alibaug and Tarkarli.
Valley Of Flowers, Uttarakhand
The Himalayan meadow full of flowering alpine flowers is one of the most photographed nature spots in North India. Valley of Flowers National Park located in the western Himalayas is an established UNESCO Site because of its vibrant and vivid flora and because of rich wildlife. The valley has a gentle slope and stands out against the backdrop of the towering Himalayas, creating a truly beautiful site especially when it blooms.
The best time to visit Valley of Flowers National Park is from May to September with the flowering season peaking in July and August. The only way to experience this beautiful vista is on a 17 km (~10 miles) long trek of moderate difficulty through the Himalayan mountain ranges. The visit is worth the effort as you will be greeted with pure mountain air, the perfume of alpine blooms, and ice-cold gurgling streams along the way.
Auli, located in the foothills of the Himalayas, is one of the key skiing destinations in India. In February, people from all over the country, and different parts of the world arrive here for skiing. You can even sign up for skiing courses during this time.
After all, the panoramic views of the highest peaks of the Garhwal region are going to hook you to this location. There are a few hikes in the region, the popular one being the Kuari Pass trek. Apart from this, you can hop onto a ride in the cable car (second highest ropeway in Asia), and visit the highest altitude artificial lake here.
In order to arrive in Auli, first reach Joshimath from Rishikesh (253 km). Then you can either travel by road to Auli (15 km) or take the ropeway (4 km). It takes about 12 hours to reach Auli from Rishikesh. Reserve a day for travel.
By Raksha Of The Roving Heart
Aru Valley, Jammu & Kashmir
Many people call Kashmir heaven on Earth and I couldn’t agree more. It has breathtaking nature, very hospitable people, yummy food, and authentic villages. Despite mass media news and stereotypes, the people of Kashmir gave me a feeling of inner warmth and peace: they opened their homes, fed me, guided me around, watched silent mountains with me which they see daily and still get fascinated.
If you want to experience authentic Kashmiri hospitality, visit small villages. Aru is one of them and it often gets overlooked in favor of its touristic neighbor Pahalgam which is just 12 km away. There are day visitors coming to Aru Valley, yet very few actually stay there.
I recommend staying in Aru to experience authentic Kashmiri Kahwah (tea) while watching the snowy mountains, do one of the day treks from the village to get surrounded by snowy peaks overlooking the valley, talk to the villagers and understand their lifestyle. There is no internet and quite limited phone connectivity in the area, hence this is a place where people talk to each other, laugh and emanate simplicity.
Some local people have a strong sense of belonging which is fascinating. They love their village and come up with some initiatives by themselves to keep it greener, cleaner and more organized.
Reaching Aru is easy, it is a village in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. There are locally shared jeeps going from Pahalgam bus stand to Aru and back once they get filled. Usually once an hour or so. The journey takes 20-30 minutes but it’s a scenic one.
By Natalia Of My Trip Hack
Sand Dunes Of Thar Desert
The Thar Desert, also popularly known as the Great Indian Desert, is a vast sandy desert spread over parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and extends well over into Pakistan.
The Thar desert has a varied environment consisting of scrub forests with low vegetation, gravel plains that are home to wildlife including blackbucks, gazelles, and lots of migratory birds, saltwater lakes, and rolling sand dunes. It is these dunes that are the most scenic parts and a major tourist attraction of the Great Indian desert.
The dunes are beautiful geographical forms and create a living landscape that rapidly moves in desert storms. The sand dunes easily change colors; appearing a soft gold in the harsh light of the day and a rose pink at twilight.
The rolling sand dunes are home to a variety of ecotourism tents ranging from the most primitive to ultra-luxury. Activities include camel safari, jeep safari, dune bashing, and desert hikes. Spending an evening under the desert sky, listening to Rajasthani folk music and seeing their beautiful dance while you sip a cup of hot tea and savor the rich Rajasthani cuisine is a beautiful experience.
Tree Bridges, Meghalaya
The living tree bridges of Meghalaya are a unique tourist attraction. Located in eastern India in the state of Meghalaya, these bridges are handmade by the tribal people of Meghalaya from the roots of the rubber fig tree.
This particular tree produces secondary roots from its trunk. These aerial roots are shaped, tied and twisted, and guided over streams and rivers until they grow big enough to support the weight of humans. The bridge gets sturdier over time as new roots grow and support the existing bridge.
Some of the strongest root bridges in Meghalaya are more than a century old.
The Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge in Nongriat Village near Cherrapunji is the most visited one. This is a double living root bridge and reaching it involves a fairly long hike over the nearby hill and crossing rickety old bridges to reach the village of Nongriat.
After visiting the bridge, visitors can stay in the village and hike back the next day. Nongriat also has other living tree bridges apart from the double-decker bridge which can be easily visited with a local guide.
Dal Lake, Srinagar
Sitting at a small boat in the middle of the Dal Lake, surrounded by nothing but peace and quiet, it’s hard to imagine that this beautiful place is located at Srinagar, the capital of the most controversial state in India. Disputed between India and Pakistan since 1947, Kashmir is a heavily militarized zone, and it’s impossible not to feel the tension in the air sometimes. However, the experience is worth a visit!
With a beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas and very few tourists around, you can sail through markets, beautiful landscapes, and local villagers. And if you just can’t get enough of the lake (like us), you can stay at a houseboat, literally, a boat turned into a house!
Nowadays, many of them are rented to tourists, with properly set up bedrooms and local food. They are usually stationary and offer an amazing view, especially in the morning or evening. It’s a memorable experience, but we recommend researching the houseboat and prices ahead of time.
When you arrive in Srinagar, there are plenty of people outside the airport offering tours, taxis and houseboats, and not all of them are reliable. Whenever in India, always research ahead of time to avoid any scams or inconvenience.
The best way to reach the area is by taking a flight from Delhi. Buses are less frequent, and the roads at some points are just holes carved inside mountains and can be quite dangerous in some areas, next to high ravines. Apart from that, the road stays open only for 12 hours every day (the other 12 hours are for buses on their way back).
We visited the area at the beginning of the Spring, in April. The weather was still cold during the morning and evening, but quite pleasant in the afternoon, and in that month you can also visit the largest tulip garden in Asia, or go skiing in Gulmarg!
By Leticia Of Happee Travelers
Did you like our list of these 30 most beautiful places to visit in India? Do you know any place that we missed? Let us know in the comments!