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Cheap holiday destinations in India

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by RinkiBhalla, Nov 24, 2016.

  1. RinkiBhalla

    RinkiBhalla New Member

    I am low on budget but need a seven day holiday after a lot of work. I am looking for some holiday destinations but which would fit my budget. I don't really mind on where I go, as long it is a good holiday destination, and as mentioned I would be spending around seven days there.

    Members, please suggest me cheap holiday destinations in India, where I can unwind.

  2. Deepak1511

    Deepak1511 New Member

    Well, low budget holidays make some of the best and memorable trips. Where are you based? Look for options closer to your city. If you are in or around Mumbai, you would be well placed to visit amazing places at low cost. What is your approx budget and place?

  3. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!



    Traveling doesn't have to mean spending so much money especially on India. That's why the term backpacking was coined, wherein travelers can enjoy traveling without putting a dent in their pockets. Fortunately, India has many destinations that backpackers, or those in a budget, can go to. Whether you love nature, or maybe heritage sites, even beach destinations, there's a place that you can explore even within a limited budget. So don't be afraid to explore places even if you're short on cash, you can enrich the wanderlust in you without going overboard with spending. Read on and find out which are the best places to visit in India when you're a bit short on cash.

    Cheap Holiday Destinations in India

    Affordable cities to have fun in...

    1. Mumbai - Mumbai is a destination for both luxury travelers and backpackers. It has an assortment of options regarding food and accommodation, ranging from budget ones to expensive ones. Being the City that Never Sleeps, the attractions here are also never-ending and truth be told, suitable even for those who doesn't have much money to spend. If you're coming from a major city, Mumbai has the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which is an attraction in itself. Its Victorian era style of architecture is worth taking a selfie with and you won't even spend a dime to do so. Explore offbeat places such as the Dhobi Ghat, the largest open-air washing area in the world or maybe take a stroll around one of the largest slums in the world, Dharavi. Such attractions would open your eyes to the reality of life in the city, wherein it's not all about posh localities only. There are numerous beaches around Mumbai too, like the Chowpatty Beach and Juhu Beach, both are a bit crowded though. Away from the center of Mumbai, more serene beaches can be found like the Aksa Beach and Marve Beach. A stroll around the Marine Drive, especially during night time, can be enjoyable too. Another free attraction is the Gateway of India, where the majestic Arabian sea can be viewed from. A ferry ride from here can take you to the Elephanta Caves, although there's a minimal entry fee to access the caves. For staying options, you have plenty starting as low as Rs. 300 per night for dormitories and starting at Rs. 400 per night for budget hotels. If ever you get hungry, numerous food stalls line the busy streets of Mumbai where you can get cheap snacks like kebabs and vada pavs. For as little as Rs. 150 per person, you can satisfy your taste buds with these affordable eating places in Mumbai.
    • Free attractions to visit - Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Dhobi Ghat, Dharavi, Chowpatty Beach, Juhu Beach, Aksa Beach, Marve Beach and Gateway of India.
    • Cheapest hotels - Hotel Popular Palace, Hotel Delight Inn and Aviva Hotel.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Bachelor's (Marine Drive), Sardar Pav Bhaji (Tardeo) and Apna Dhaba (Andheri).
    2. Kolkata - We now go to Kolkata, another metro city in India, yet has more affordable rates as compared to Delhi. Being progressive, Kolkata won't disappoint when it comes to tourist infrastructures. And although some of the attractions here have entry fees, majority don't have entry fees. For example, the prime landmark of the city, the Howrah Bridge, can be visited without any costs at all. It connects Kolkata with Howrah, as the bridge spans over the Hooghly River. Close to the bridge is the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to Goddess Kali. It stands as one of the most revered Hindu temples in Kolkata. The Birla Temple, built in a span of a three decades, is another free attraction in the city. Its pure white facade made using marble gleams whether in day light or evening light. The carvings in its walls depicting scenes from Hindu mythology are also worth exploring. Another must-visit attraction here is the Marble Palace, built by Raja Rajendra Mullick during the 18th century. Unlike other palaces, the exhibits here are quirky and not as organised, so it exudes a more fun vibe. For Indians, attractions like the Victoria Memorial Hall and Indian Museum are worth exploring since the entry fee isn't that high, below Rs. 20 per person. Lots of guest houses and budget hotels also line Kolkata, with prices starting from Rs. 400 to Rs. 900 per night. For food, you have a plethora of options as well, ranging from street food stalls, to budget restaurants. For a simple meal in a street food stall, even a budget of Rs. 50 would leave you satisfied.
    • Free attractions to visit - Howrah Bridge, Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Birla Temple and Marble Palace.
    • Cheapest hotels - Hotel Pushpak International, Hotel Aston and Hotel Venkateswara.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Apanjan, Anadi Cabin and Ralli's.
    Marble Palace in Kolkata (Image from Buzz in Town)

    Hill stations to keep you cool...

    3. Kasol - This quaint hill station is located a few kilometres before Manali. In fact, you can ride any bus going to Manali and be dropped along the way in Bhuntar and ride a bus from there to Kasol. Its resemblance to Manali is undeniable too, with a river flowing within it, the pleasant climate all-year round and the beautiful greenery surrounding the place. Even during winters, the hill station receives snowfall, much like Manali. However, Kasol is off the beaten track and is somehow, more affordable than Manali as the attractions here are all free. Its prime attraction is the Manikaran Sahib, where a hot water spring flows, much like the Vashisht Temple of Manali. The Parvati River is also worth visiting, with its milky white appearance and the backdrop of the mountains, you're sure to spend a few hours of solitude here. There are also some villages around Kasol that you can visit. Noteworthy of which is Malana, where supposedly the descendants of Alexander the Great reside. There's also the village of Chalal, where numerous Israelis have made the place their home already. The mixture of both Indian and Israeli cultures is apparent here, which is quite a different experience to have. For staying options, perhaps that's the downside of Kasol, as the rates here are a bit on the higher side. Your cheapest option here is The Hosteller, which has a nightly rate of Rs. 299 per person. Other budget hotels charge as much as Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500. For meals, there's a variety of Israeli dishes here along with some Indian dishes. Meals would cost around Rs. 300 for 1 person.
    • Free attractions to visit - Manikaran Sahib, Parvati River, Malana Village and Chalal Village.
    • Cheapest hotels - The Hosteller, Hotel Blue Diamond and Hotel Anupam.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Bhoj, Stone Garden Cafe and Moon Dance Cafe.
    4. Kodaikanal - A hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal receives less visitors than the other hill stations in the region. As such, the beauty of the hill station remains untouched by commercialisation and even pollution. Kodaikanal has enough attractions to keep you busy for a few days and even more amazing is that most of them are free of charge to access. The Kodaikanal Lake is the star attraction of the hill station, literally, as the lake is actually star shaped. While you can try out boating within the lake or horse riding around the lake, it's also okay to go for the budget style and just admire the lake from the side. Around Kodaikanal, there are also some waterfalls that you can explore, but they require some form of transportation to reach. You can hire a bike or even rent a taxi to reach these waterfalls, namely: Vattakanal Waterfalls, Bear Shola Waterfalls, Fairy Waterfalls and Silver Cascade Waterfalls. If you enjoy trekking, try reaching the caves of Guna and Kukkal. The Guna Cave became popular because of a movie, from which it was named after. On the other hand, the Kukkal Caves have a rich collection of stalagmites and stalactites that are worth exploring. Love nature? Then you would surely enjoy a visit to Kodaikanal. For under Rs. 1,000 per night, you can enjoy staying in a decent hotel here as well. And when it comes to food, you have options ranging from Indian cuisine, to Tibetan cuisine and even Italian cuisine. Expect to pay around Rs. 300 per person for a full meal in a restaurant here.
    • Free attractions to visit - Kodaikanal Lake, Vattakanal Waterfalls, Bear Shola Waterfalls, Fairy Waterfalls, Silver Cascade Waterfalls, Guna Cave and Kukkal Caves.
    • Cheapest hotels - Vedanta Wake Up, Sarvesh Residency and Hotel Saliha International.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Tava, Royal Tibet and Hilltop's Biryani.
    Kodaikanal Lake (Image from Make My Trip)

    A few days in beaches would be paradise...

    5. Gokarna - Once an important pilgrimage site, well, it still is, Gokarna has stolen the hearts of beach lovers in the recent years. Gokarna is easily accessible from cities of Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune. It has five main beaches, all of which are more secluded than the beaches of Kovalam and or even North Goa. You won't need to pay any entrance fees too as these are all public beaches. The main beach is that of the Gokarna Beach but it is not that pristine, perhaps only suitable for surfers. A little further to the south of the city centre of Gokarna is the Kudle Beach. It is a very lively beach, with stretches of white shores along with palm trees. A laid-back beach about 20 minutes away from the former beach is the Om Beach, named so because it resembles the symbol of Om when viewed from above. It is also very lively, with tons of water sports to keep tourists busy. The last two beaches, Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach, are comparatively smaller than the previous ones but offer utmost seclusion to tourists. For accommodation options, for as little as under Rs. 800 per night, you can have a safe hotel in the city. There are also small cafes around the city that have very affordable meal rates.
    • Free attractions to visit - Gokarna Beach, Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach.
    • Cheapest hotels - Hotel Sri Sai Ram, Hari Priya Residency and Paradise Holiday Cottage.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Prema, Cafe 1987 and Namaste Cafe.
    6. Goa - You could spend an entire week in Goa and still don't have enough of it, that's the beauty of this state. Even more interesting is that it is known as a backpacker's paradise, due to the assortment of both food and accommodation options in the budget range here. All the beaches here are also accessible by guests, no entry fee required. If you enjoy the crowds, both Baga Beach and Calangute Beach have busy shores, lined with shacks and lots of vendors. Most water sports are also available here so you can have a grand time, although they do come with charges. On the other hand, the southern beaches of Mobor and Benaulim are good options for those who enjoy a bit of solitude. And even though Cola Beach requires a bit of travelling and trekking, make sure that you add it into your itinerary as its lagoon, lake with confluence of the sea, is quite stunning. Further south, Palolem Beach and Patnem Beach are both lively but still isn't as crowded as the central beaches of North Goa. Each city or town has their sets of guest houses, hotels and other accommodation options. Dormitories such as Backpacker Panda Goa and Goa Tourist Dormitory has beds for under Rs. 500 per night. Beach shacks are your best friends for affordable meals in Goa. There are also some budget cafes and restaurants which you won't need to spend more than Rs. 200 per person to feel satisfied with their meals.
    • Free attractions to visit - Baga Beach, Calangute Beach, Mobor Beach, Benaulim Beach, Cola Beach, Palolem Beach, Patnem Beach and many more.
    • Cheapest hotels - Backpacker Panda Goa and Goa Tourist Dormitory.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Alex Beach Shack (Candolim), Chelsea Beach Shack (Calangute) and Cafe Inn (Palolem).
    Something about the past...

    7. Hampi - With its glorious ruins, Hampi would transport travellers into the bygone era. It's the place where each stone, each boulder and each ruin has a story to tell. A place where you can get lost in time just by exploring its architectural marvels. A whole week spent here is not going to be wasted, as you learn a lot about the history of the Vijayanagara dynasty. Divided into two parts, it's as if each region is a different world in itself. You begin by exploring the magnificent ruins of the different religious sites in Hampi, like the Virupaksha Temple, dedicated to the Lord Shiva, with such elaborate carvings in its exterior walls. On the other hand, the Vittala Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and likewise, has quite well-crafted carvings in most of its boulder parts and stone parts. Around Hampi, there are also some other sites to explore, like the huge Narasimha Statue or even the underground Shiva Temple. Such places would give you a glimpse of the importance of Hampi during the pre-colonial period. After exploring this part of the town, you can take a boat ride along the Tungabhadra River and visit the other side of Hampi. This side is known as the Hippie Island and here, there's an abundance of paddy fields and lush greenery, quite in contrast to the other side of Hampi. For accommodation options, your best bet would be guest houses, which cost less than Rs. 1,000 per night. For dining options, there are lots of restaurants around the town, you need a budget of around Rs. 300 and above per meal though.
    • Free attractions to visit - Virupaksha Temple, Vittala Temple, Narasimha Statue, Shiva Temple and Hippie Island.
    • Cheapest hotels - Sunny Guest House, Padma Guest House and Rocky Guest House.
    • Cheapest restaurants - The Gopi Island, Laughing Buddha and The Goan Corner.
    8. Pushkar - If Jaipur or Udaipur are a bit too mainstream for you, why not venture further into Pushkar? It's a fairly small village in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan but regarded holy by devotees of Lord Brahma. It is home to the only Brahma Temple in the country and one of the only three temples dedicated to Brahma in the world. The temple has a bright blue and orange facade which only makes it stand out more in the village. Just nearby the temple is the sacred Pushkar Lake, which is revered holy by many pilgrims. Just one dip here can equate to years of meditation and prayer. The surrounding temples add to the serenity of the lake. Also worth visiting is the Savitri Temple, dedicated to the first wife of Brahma, Savitri. There are two ways of reaching this temple as it is located on a hillock, either by foot or by ropeway. If you have the time, you can also indulge in a camel safari around the dunes of Pushkar. However, this can cost a bit so only do this if you have excess money in your budget. When it comes to your accommodation options, Pushkar has plenty of hotels and guest houses. Guest houses average between Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 per night while budget hotels average between Rs. 500 to Rs. 800 per night. For meals, expect to pay around Rs. 200 and below for a full meal in the several cafes here.
    • Free attractions to visit - Brahma Temple, Pushkar Lake and Savitri Temple.
    • Cheapest hotels - Narayan Palace, Hotel Diamond and Hotel Amardeep Palace.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Funky Monkey Cafe, Pawan and The Rasta Cafe.
    Religious sites to explore...

    9. Varanasi - The narrow streets, the slums, the chaotic appearance, these are all the characteristics of Varanasi. It is regarded as sacred by Hindu devotees because the holy Ganges river flows within it. Aartis are a common sight to here especially since numerous ghats line the place. Perhaps the most well-known ghat here for aartis is the Dashashwamedh Ghat. There's also the Manikarnika Ghat where cremation rites are done. Of course, numerous temples can also be found within the city. The Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the most popular one, and is one of the holiest Shiva temples in the country. You must also visit the Durga Temple, dedicated to the consort of Shiva which is Goddess Parvati. Lastly, find the time to reach Sarnath, about 13 kilometres away from Varanasi proper. This town is considered sacred by Buddhists as this is where the Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. Varanasi has an assortment of cheap guest houses, with rates as low as Rs. 300 per night. Most restaurants offer Indian dishes for very affordable prices not exceeding Rs. 200 per person.
    • Free attractions to visit - Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Vishwanath Temple, Durga Temple and Sarnath.
    • Cheapest hotels - Golden Lodge, Old Yogi Lodge and Siyaram Guest House.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Dosa Cafe, Niyati Cafe and Ganpati Restaurant.
    Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi (Image from Piczload)

    10. Amritsar - Amritsar is a bit of an underrated tourist destination in India. It has a number of temples that you can explore which don't have any charges to enter for tourists. The city is also easily accessible, especially from the major cities in India, like Delhi. From Delhi, a Sleeper Class train to Amritsar won't cost more than Rs. 300, so very affordable even for budget travellers. Amritsar is known primarily for the Golden Temple, also known as the Harmandir Sahib, one of the most revered temples for the Sikhs. The temple has this mixture of colours: the golden facade of the temple itself, the blue colour of the lake, the orange flag signifying that it is a religious site for the Sikhs and the surrounding colours of the tourists add to the vibrancy of the place. They even serve free meals for guests in their Langar Hall, which is open 24 hours in a day. Just nearby the Golden Temple, you can visit the Jallianwala Bagh, the place where the Amritsar Massacre occurred, wherein hundreds of Indians were killed by the British during the year 1919. You can even spot the bullets fired here in the walls surrounding the place. Again, entry is free for this attraction and it is open all days of the week. In contrast to the former temple, there's also the Durgiana Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga, a Hindu deity. Its facade has a mixture of both silver and gold motifs, with carvings of the different avatars of Goddess Durga. Lastly, about 32 kilometres away from Amritsar, is the Wagah Border. It is famous for the Beating Retreat Ceremony that occurs everyday either from 4:30 pm or from 5:30 pm. Entry is free but make sure that you reach the place at least an hour before the ceremony so you can get a good spot to view the ceremony. For as little as Rs. 500 per night, you can find a decent hotel to stay in Amritsar too. And for food, you can have your meals at the Golden Temple or try out some cheap dhabas around Amritsar. For as little as Rs. 200, you can have a full meal to yourself.
    • Free attractions to visit - Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple and Wagah Border.
    • Cheapest hotels - Hotel Grand Hitesh, Hotel Bharat Residency and Hotel Anand.
    • Cheapest restaurants - Langar Hall of Golden Temple, Kesar Da Dhaba and Kulcha Land.

    Who says travelling has to be expensive? With these destinations in mind, you can explore India even on a limited budget. Don't fret though as these places are still full of colours, stories and activities to keep you busy. Never mind that empty pocket, at least you have memories that would last a lifetime when you visit these places. Enjoy!