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Top holiday destinations in India

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by Shushil, Nov 9, 2016.

  1. Shushil

    Shushil New Member

    When going on holiday I have only really been to places in North India especially destinations in Himachal Pradesh. I have recently retired and would like to take my kids and wife to other beautiful places in India. I would like some advice from experienced and knowledgeable traveler to know the top holiday destinations in India.

    I would slowly like to visit these places with my family before I get too old and be unable to travel.
     
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Shushil, welcome to the forum!

    Overview

    India is no doubt one of the most fascinating and diverse destinations in the world. It is home to about 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, an evidence of the preservation of the country of its many historical landmarks and structures. While some countries are known only for its beaches or maybe forests, India has them both and more. Cities in the country are as progressive as Western ones, with the advent of shopping complexes and IT hubs. But as you venture further into the south or into the north, the beauty of the rural parts of India, the hill stations, the national parks and the natural attractions would mesmerise you. While it's hard to list all of the destinations around India, there are some places that do stand out and are visited by the most travellers.

    Top Holiday Destinations in India

    Metro cities, a unique blend of heritage and modernity...

    1. Delhi - At the top of the list is the capital of the country, Delhi. It is truly a destination of contrasts, heritage sites on one end and posh buildings on the other, street food stalls everywhere and luxury dining places too, pollution at one hand and greenery on the parks. All these contrasts make Delhi what it is and you either take it or leave it. Bearing a resemblance to the iconic heritage site of Agra, you know what I'm talking about, is the Humayun's Tomb. But no, it didn't take inspiration from the Taj Mahal, but the other way around, as it was built way before the famous mausoleum. The tallest brick minaret in the world, the Qutub Minar, stands tall in the city. Its architectural style is that of the Mughals and the ruins of the ancient mosque below it are also worth exploring. The Bahai Lotus Temple is the best example of modern architecture in the city. Shaped like a huge lotus flower, complete with water works and lawns, it has become a favourite attraction in the city. Even more inviting is the fact that everyone, of any religion, is allowed to enter the complex. The Red Fort is yet another historical place worth visiting, imposing yet still exudes a kind of serenity. Its red sandstone facade is very apparent and inside, you can explore the several buildings built by the Mughals during their reign. A visit to Delhi won't be complete without shopping, you can try street markets like Dilli Haat or Sarojini Nagar, or maybe higher end places like Select City Walk or Connaught Place.
    • Must visit attractions - Humayun's Tomb, Qutub Minar, Bahai Lotus Temple, Red Fort, Dilli Haat, Sarojini Nagar, Select City Walk, Connaught Place and many more.
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    Humayun's Tomb in Delhi (Image Courtesy of Indo Vacation)

    2. Kolkata - Did you know that Kolkata is one of the cheapest metro cities to live in India? It's definitely a backpacker's paradise but even families can have a nice holiday on the City of Joy. It was once the capital of the British empire but actually, progression has been slower in the city thereafter. This is evident from the sights of trams and hand-pulled rickshaws, which might seem backwards but are actually signs of preservation of the heritage of the city. Left after the reign of the British is the Victoria Memorial Hall, one of the most lavish memorials in the country. Made with pure white Makrana marble, the structure is an epitome of beauty and the grandeur of the bygone era. The Howrah Bridge is another landmark in the city, it is one of the longest cantilever bridges in the world. The home of Rabindranath Tagore, the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, is also located in Kolkata. If you're a fan of the poet, you would find this place fascinating as you can view personal pictures and mementos here. You cannot also miss the opportunity to visit the largest library in Asia, the National Library, located in Kolkata as well. Even its architecture is admirable, with a pure white facade, reminiscent of the British style building in the region. Kolkata might not be as rich as Delhi, or as fabulous as Mumbai's Bollywood, but nevertheless, its people, culture, food and heritage, are features that make it stand out.
    • Must visit attractions - Victoria Memorial Hall, Howrah Bridge, Jorasanko Thakur Bari, National Library and many more.
    3. Mumbai - Oh, the City that Never Sleeps, Mumbai is at the heart of every Mumbaikar. While it might seem chaotic for a first-timer in the city, with the overflowing trains, the slums, the posh localities and basically, just a mixture of everything, it is actually these things that make Mumbai unique. The city where the Dabbawalas exist, where the largest open air washing centre is found (Dhobi Ghat) and where Bollywood was founded... There's plenty more that makes this city very interesting. There's the Marine Drive, where you can go to when all these things just seem too overwhelming for you. And where else can you find a railway station designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site? That is none other than the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, featuring a blend of Indian, Victorian and Gothic architectural designs. Greenery is also abundant in the city with places like Kamla Nehru Park and Shivaji Park. A heritage site in the city, the Bandra Fort, is also another attraction that even locals spend some time in. Aside from the ruins of the fort, the views of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link from here are quite stunning. Several street markets also line the city, with the likes of Colaba Causeway, Linking Road and Chor Bazaar. Excursions out of the city centre can be at Film City, perfect for Bollywood lovers, and Elephanta Caves, accessible only by a ferry ride from the Gateway of India in Mumbai.
    • Must visit attractions - Marine Drive, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Kamla Nehru Park, Shivaji Park, Bandra Fort, Colaba Causeway, Linking Road, Chor Bazaar, Film City and Elephanta Caves.
    Because there's nothing cooler than hill stations...

    4. Manali - A place that the whole family can certainly enjoy is Manali. Its pleasant climate, almost all-year round, may be the culprit for this. It also helps that the hill station has the perfect views of the snow-capped mountains. The flowing Beas River and the abundance of flora and fauna all around are also features of the hill station. When you visit in summer, there's the possibility of playing with snow in the Rohtang Pass. Not only that, you can also indulge in activities like skiing and sledging. The surrounding greenery adds to the beauty of the place and this is also the best time for visiting the numerous temples here like the Hadimba Temple and Vashisht Temple. Or if you're visiting during the winter season, Solang Valley offers the opportunity to play with snow or even the possibility of experiencing snowfall. Monsoon is yet another good season to visit the numerous waterfalls around Manali like the Jogini Waterfalls and Rohini Waterfalls. Yup, Manali is a popular destination because it has something to offer for every season there is.
    • Must visit attractions - Beas River, Rohtang Pass, Hadimba Temple, Vashisht Temple, Solang Valley, Jogini Waterfalls and Rohini Waterfalls.
    5. Munnar - Munnar can melt the heart of any nature lover, with its sprawling tea gardens and unending views of the lush greenery. While the state of Kerala has many more hill stations, Munnar is probably the most visited one. You would need your own vehicle though to visit all the attractions around it or maybe hire a taxi for convenience. Starting with Top Station, which is about an hour away from Munnar proper, the views of the mountains and valleys below are very beautiful here. You can also view the ruins of the Kundala Valley Railway Station here, which was the first ever monorail system in the country. There's also the beautiful Kundala Lake, where you and your loved ones can enjoy in boating or just have a nice picnic beside the lake. A bit more offbeat is the Mattupetty Dam that also has boating facilities for guests. A wildlife safari in the Eravikulam National Park is also a must and if you're lucky, you can even spot the endangered Nilgiri tahr here. What's a visit to Munnar without engaging in trails around its several tea plantations? Top-rated ones are of the Kulukumalai Tea Factory and the Talayar Estate Factory.
    • Must visit attractions - Top Station, Kundala Valley Railway Station, Kundala Lake, Mattupetty Dam, Eravikulam National Park, Kulukumalai Tea Factory and Talayar Estate Factory.
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    Top Station in Munnar (Image Courtesy of Make My Trip)

    6. Shimla - Why did the British choose Shimla as their summer capital? Is it because of the pleasant climate of the hill station? Or maybe because of the serenity and beauty of it? The answer is, all of the above, actually and even more. Shimla is yet another hill station in Himachal Pradesh, one of the most popular ones amongst foreign tourists and even Indian nationals. It has retained that colonial charm with places like The Mall Road and the Viceregal Lodge. But other than these places, Shimla has numerous attractions to keep you busy. The Jakhoo Temple, located on Jakhoo Hill, is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, there's even a 108-feet statue of the deity in the premises of the temple. The Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary, aside from being the main water source of the hill station, is also home to several species of monkeys and even the elusive leopard. And if you visit Shimla during the winter season, you can also witness snowfall, which can be a fun experience for families with children. An excursion out of Shimla can take you to the Hatu Peak, the highest point in the hill station. The views of the mountains from here are very clear and it is reachable by foot or even by vehicle.
    • Must visit attractions - Mall Road, Viceregal Lodge, Jakhoo Temple, Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary, Hatu Peak and many more.
    Grandeur of the bygone era...

    7. Jaipur - Jaipur is this perfect balance of modernity and tradition. The famed Pink City of Rajasthan sees throngs of tourists every year, yet it remains moderately paced, in sync with the modern life, yet away from the hazards of modernity like pollution and extreme traffic. Home to many heritage sites, the city is the best place to get to know the bygone era. The City Palace is probably the gem of the city, with its unique blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles of architecture. The in-house museum is also worth a visit, where you get to view the lavish lifestyles of the royal dynasty, with the former royal costumes and even weaponries in display. The beautiful Man Sagar Lake is another must-visit attraction in the city. In the midst of it is the Jal Mahal, seemingly solitary yet still seems to have found its place in the water. The Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, is yet another architectural marvel in the city. Numerous small windows can be viewed here, where the former royal women used to look out to into the city, without being seen. There are no stairs in the palace too, as the royal women were wheeled from one place to another, hence the need for ramps instead. The Amer Fort and Palace is the last attraction that you cannot miss here, which you can even reach through an elephant ride from below the hillock. Make sure that you set aside at least a day to explore the fort as it is located on the outskirts of the city and has many structures inside it.
    • Must visit attractions - City Palace, Man Sagar Lake, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort & Palace and many more.
    8. Udaipur - Just a boat ride amidst the Lake Pichola can make you understand why Udaipur has been named as the Venice of the East. Around the lake, there are several islands too that you can visit through a boat ride. There's the Jag Niwas, where the beautiful Lake Palace is built upon, once the summer residence of the royals. Now it is a premier heritage hotel, so you cannot view its inside unless you book a room here. The Jag Mandir Palace is another must visit here, with its numerous courtyards and gardens along with an ancient temple. Other lakes located in Udaipur are the Fateh Sagar Lake and Jaisamand Lake. These beautiful lakes make the city a romantic destination but not just that, it also has a number of historical sites that give it that vibe of royalty. Just like Jaipur, Udaipur also has a City Palace, undeniably bigger and more in contrast with the former. Different rulers have left their mark by constructing different buildings here. Yet despite this fact, the structures inside the City Palace seem to blend well with one another. Shilpgram is another must visit attraction in the city, as it showcases the rich heritage of Udaipur. A carefully crafted village that mimics that of an authentic Rajasthani one. And lastly, end your day with a trip to the Monsoon Palace. It is not as grand as the other palaces in the city, but the sunset view here is very mesmerising.
    • Must visit attractions - Lake Pichola, Lake Palace in Jag Niwas, Jag Mandir Palace, Fateh Sagar Lake, Jaisamand Lake, City Palace, Shilpgram and Monsoon Palace.
    9. Agra - Despite being close to the cities of Delhi and Jaipur, Agra has remained partly rural and partly urban. It is here where you can enjoy the slow pace of modern life. Of course the city is known for the world-famous Taj Mahal, heralded as one of the seven wonders of the world. This attraction needs no introduction, with its white marble facade that gleams in any time of the day. But Agra is not only home to this heritage site, as there are two more designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city. The other one is the Agra Fort, comprising of several grand structures inside like palaces, mosques and halls. This red-bricked beauty might not be as popular as the mausoleum but its architecture is truly one-of-a-kind as well. The next heritage site is Fatehpur Sikri, located on the outskirts of the city centre. It is an abandoned city, although for a time, it was the capital of Akbar the Great. Lesser known attractions in the city are the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah and Mehtab Bagh. Despite being slow paced, Agra still has an assortment of hotels that caters to both budget and luxury travellers. But aside from these heritage sites, there is little to do in the city.
    • Must visit attractions - Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah and Mehtab Bagh.
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    Agra Fort (Image Courtesy of Aamir Sayeed)

    Of ruins that speak of many stories...

    10. Hampi - Hampi is a different world in itself, because on one side, you get these majestic ruins of temples and then on the other, you get this wonderful place filled with paddy fields. The city is well-known though for the numerous temples around it, some are in a ruined state while others are still intact. The main attraction of the city is the Virupaksha Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the oldest temples in the country, built around the 7th century. Located close to the Tungabhadra River, it is as serene and picturesque as can be. On the other hand, the Vittala Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This is perhaps the most intricate out of all the temples, with beautiful craved pillars and boulders. The Royal Enclosure is famous for its underground Shiva temple. Although not as well-maintained, the temple is worth visiting too, but make sure that you bring a torch with you and beware of the bats around. The Queen's Bath is an evidence of the lavish lifestyle that the royal had back then. Its sheer size can tell you just how importance was given back then to the royal women. Take a boat ride to reach the other side of the river and here, you can visit the Hippie Island. The rural lifestyle of the region is very apparent here and you can also enjoy the natural sceneries all around. It's the perfect way to end your trip to Hampi, after a tiring day of exploring its ruins.
    • Must visit attractions - Virupaksha Temple, Tungabhadra River, Vittala Temple, Royal Enclosure, Queen's Bath and Hippie Island.
    11. Khajuraho - The Khajuraho Group of Monuments was built around the year 950 by the Chandela dynasty. It is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site although for several years, it was left abandoned. Fortunately, the structures remained intact, for the most part. Although famed for their erotic carvings, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments have much more interesting features than just that. In fact, only ten percent of the actual sculptures are comprised of erotic images. All the other carvings depict the daily life of the locals back then. Many of the structures depict daily activities like hunting, women putting on makeup or even festivals. Some structures are dedicated to Hindu deities and Jain saints too. At the end of your trip, make sure you make time for the light and sound show at the Western Group of Temples. Khajuraho is really a rural town and there's not much you can do or explore here. Excursions away from the village can lead you to Benisagar Lake, where you can indulge in boating, or into the Panna National Park, where you can spot animals like leopards and sloth bears. Both are under an hour away from Khajuraho.
    • Must visit attractions - Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Benisagar Lake and Panna National Park.
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    Khajuraho Group of Monuments (Image Courtesy of Bout India)

    12. Mahabalipuram - Tamil Nadu has its fair share of historical destinations, like Mahabalipuram, another designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was once the capital of the mighty Pallavas, hence the structures here are reminiscent of that era. It is a place of mystic and unusual phenomena, like the huge Krishna's Butter Ball, staying balanced on a slope in a hill. And then there's the Shore Temple, standing next to shores of the ocean, on the verge of being ruined due to its location. Beautiful and cannot be missed are the Panch Rathas, sculptures depicting the different chariots or vehicles of Hindu deities. Located close to it is the sculpture depicting the story of Arjuna's Penance, although at times, it is referred to as the Descent of the Ganges. All these attractions can be visited while walking or you can hire a rickshaw for convenience. You can also cover most of these attractions in a day.
    • Must visit attractions - Krishna's Butter Ball, Shore Temple, Panch Rathas, Arjuna's Penance
    Beaches enjoyed by anyone and everyone...

    13. Goa - If anyone asks you, which is the most accessible beach destination from Delhi, what do you say? Goa, of course! The best thing about this state is that it is easily accessible by train, by bus or by flight. Goa is such a small state that you can spend a whole week here and enjoy the best of the region. Notorious for its night life, Goa is more than a party lover's destination, as it offers tranquility and serenity for families and couples too. For example, North Goa is known for the crowded Baga Beach and Anjuna Beach. Yet you can still find more serene beaches here like that of Arambol Beach, Morjim Beach and Querim Beach. Plus, the capital of the state, Panjim, is also located here. You can visit Old Goa and relish in the old Portuguese churches here. Or take a stroll around the vibrant Fontainhas, where brightly coloured Portuguese homes can still be found. South Goa is known for its more beautiful and serene beaches. While Colva Beach and Palolem Beach are very much lively, they are still less crowded than the popular beaches of North Goa. You can even enjoy numerous water sports in both beaches. Cola Beach, accessible by road from Canacona and further by trekking, is one of the most pristine beaches of Goa. It has a lagoon which adds to the beauty of the place. But even easily accessible beaches in South Goa like Benaulim Beach and Mobor Beach are suitable beaches for families and couples. Around South Goa, there are also historical places that you can visit like the Cabo De Rama Fort and Rachol Fort & Seminary. An adventurous trek to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls is also recommended, although not suitable for small children or those not physically fit.
    • Must visit attractions - Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach, Arambol Beach, Morjim Beach, Querim Beach, Old Goa, Fontainhas, Colva Beach, Palolem Beach, Cola Beach, Benaulim Beach, Mobor Beach, Cabo De Rama Fort, Rachol Fort & Seminary and Dudhsagar Waterfalls.
    14. Andaman - The pristine islands of Andaman is also worth mentioning here. Sure, it's not easily accessible like Goa, but that adds to the adventure, right? After all, not all beautiful places are easy to find. Located off coast of the Andaman Sea, close to Thailand and Myanmar, these islands have the most beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters. With its rich marine life, this is also one of the best places for snorkelling and diving. The Andaman Islands are starting to become developed though not yet that crowded as it can only be reached by a ferry ride or by flight. Port Blair is its capital, a bustling city in close proximity to beaches, waterfalls and other beautiful islands. The Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex is located here, where you can indulge in every kind of water sport imaginable. The Havelock Island is yet another cannot be missed place, where the Radha Nagar Beach can be found, one of the best beaches in Asia, said so by numerous online websites and travel magazines. Neil Island, on the other hand, is famous for its rich marine life and diving sites. But the Andaman Islands is not just all about beaches, it also has other natural attractions like the Limestone Caves of Baratang Island or the Barren Island Active Volcano. There are also wildlife sanctuaries here located in Diglipur (Saddle Peak National Park), Wandoor (Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park) and Interview Island (Wildlife Sanctuary).
    • Must visit attractions - Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex, Radha Nagar Beach (Havelock Island), Diving Sites (Neil Island), Limestone Caves (Baratang Island), Active Volcano (Barren Island), Saddle Peak National Park(Diglipur), Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (Wandoor) and Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary (Interview Island).
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    Active Volcano in Barren Island in Andaman (Image Courtesy of Planet Ocean)

    15. Gokarna - If somehow Goa does not appeal to you due to its reputation or maybe Andaman Islands is too far from your budget, you still have another beach destination to consider, Gokarna. It is easily accessible from Bangalore, as several buses reach the city from there. By train, you'd have to reach the Gokarna Road Railway Station although you might need to board connecting trains for this. Gokarna is located in Karnataka and is a hidden beach destination. Furthermore, it's perfect for those in a budget as it isn't as expensive as Andaman yet offers the same serenity. Kudle Beach is one of the best attractions here, with its stretch of white sandy shores, lined with palm trees. Although you won't find water sports here, you can indulge in swimming and even dining at one of the numerous beach shacks lining the shores. Om Beach is a bit more lively, located to the south of the former beach. It has options for water sports such as water skiing, banana boating and surfing. Half Moon Beach is a small stretch of beach after Om Beach. It is relatively secluded and perfect for couples who want some time away from the busy crowds. And lastly, accessible by trekking or by a boat ride, is the Paradise Beach. It is pristine as well, but very much isolated so preferably visit this during day time.
    • Must visit attractions - Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach.
    The best wildlife in India...

    16. Ranthambore - The Land of the Tigers in India is the Ranthambore National Park, which has about 61 tigers in its premises. It has the highest tiger density out of all the national parks and tiger reserves in the country. There are a total of ten zones but it is said that the first five zones have the highest chances for seeing tigers. Regardless, whether you spot a tiger or not, the experience is surreal. The dry deciduous forests of the national park coupled with the rich wildlife of animals like hyenas, sambars, chitals, sloth bears, macaques and many more are enough to keep you interested for a couple of days. For tiger sightings though, it's best to reach the national park during the peak of summer season, when the tigers go to watering holes for some relief from the heat. Inside the national park, you can visit the Ranthambore Fort too, which apart from its architectural splendour, has flocks of birds hanging out in it plenty of times. There's also the Raj Bagh Ruins, a collection of ruins of ancient palaces, domes and step wells that add to the authentic jungle experience even more.
    • Must visit attractions - Ranthambore National Park with Ranthambore Fort and Raj Bagh Ruins.
    17. Kaziranga - When you hear the words Kaziranga National Park, what comes to your mind? Is it the majestic one-horned rhinoceros? Kaziranga National Park is home to the highest number of one-horned rhinoceros in the world. There are over 2,000 wild one-horned rhinoceroses here, which means that about 70% of the world's population of the endangered animal species is here. The national park is located on the state of Assam, about 4 to 5 hours away from its capital, Guwahati. It also has the distinction of being a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. While the one-horned rhinoceroses are no doubt the main attraction here, the national park also has rich flora and fauna to boast of. It lies close to the Brahmaputra River which adds to the serene beauty of its jungles. The combination of grasslands and tropical forests make the national park a hot spot for a variety of different animals like Indian wild boars, langurs, sambars, Assamese macaques and Asiatic black bears.
    • Must visit attractions - Kaziranga National Park and Brahmaputra River.
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    Kaziranga National Park (Image Courtesy of Mouth Shut)

    18. Bharatpur - A close distance from Agra and Delhi is the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, also known as the Keoladeo National Park. While you might wonder why a simple bird sanctuary is included here, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is one the best bird watching destinations in India, if not in Asia. There are over 400 species of birds residing in the sanctuary which increases even more during the migratory winter season. It's best to arrive in the sanctuary by early morning and explore it the whole day. You can do so by hiring an auto rickshaw or hiring a bicycle as the place is to huge to be covered by foot. Commonly spotted bird species here are of the Asian palm swift, purple swamp hen, Indian pond heron, Indian black ibis and forest wagtail. If you're lucky, you might even be able to spot endangered bird species like the lesser florican, greater adjutant, Egyptian vulture and saker falcon. Actually, you can also spot mammals like antelopes and deers roaming freely around the sanctuary. Outside the bird sanctuary, you can also visit other places like the Deeg Fort & Palace and Lohagarh Fort.
    • Must visit attractions - Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Deeg Fort & Palace and Lohagarh Fort.
    Life is all about taking risks...

    19. Rishikesh - Rishikesh is known as a pilgrimage destination, with the sacred Ganges River flowing within it. Aside from aartis and temple yatras, there's a lot more that you can do in the city though. It is an adventurer's paradise and there are plenty of activities here that can keep you busy for many days. In the Ganges River, white river rafting is a popular activity, especially after the monsoon season when the rapids are in full force. Kayaking is a more laid-back activity though and you can even choose which rapids would be suitable for your strengths. If you're more into chill-provoking activities, there's bungee jumping, where you jump off of a platform of about 120 feet. The flying fox, where you are hung while sliding across a line, is another good activity here, but certainly not for those who have a fear of heights. Other activities that can be done in Rishikesh are camping, trekking and rappelling. Around Rishikesh, there are also numerous ashrams that you can visit and try out meditation or yoga.
    • Must do activities - River Rafting, Kayaking, Flying Fox, Camping, Trekking, Rappelling, Meditation and Yoga.
    20. Leh - Do you enjoy barren landscapes and remote civilisations? Then, head on over to Leh in Ladakh, difficult to reach but has undeniable beautiful landscapes that cannot be paralleled with any other. Once an important trading route, the region is also lined with numerous monasteries and palaces. For example, the Spituk Monastery, built around the 11th century, is dedicated Goddess Tara. It stands amidst a hillock, almost blending with the barren landscape due to its white facade. The Sankar Monastery is dedicated to Dukkar, built about 90 years ago, also stands amidst a hillock. Although it doesn't have a grand facade, its interiors are designed with numerous sculptures and paintings. The Namgyal Tsemo Monastery has the three-storey high statue of Maitreya Buddha. There's also the Shey Monastery and Palace, where the huge statue of Sakyamuni Buddha can be found. Once the home of the Namgyal dynasty, the region also has many structures depicting the bygone era. First of which is the Leh Palace, it is quite unique with its bricked facade but certainly not as grand as the Rajasthani palaces. There's an air of serenity in the palace though especially as you look out into its terrace and view the surrounding mountains. Stok Palace exudes more elegance and even a stay here is allowed, as long as requested for in advance. Its white facade along with red accents compliments the faint colours of the surroundings. If you have the time, take some excursions out of Leh, into Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Nubra Valley.
    • Must visit attractions - Spituk Monastery, Sankar Monastery, Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, Shey Monastery & Palace, Leh Palace, Stok Palace, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Nubra Valley.
    21. Ziro Valley - Ziro Valley is becoming popular in the past few years as a trekker's haven. A small town in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, it boasts of beautiful paddy fields, rivers and mountains of pine forests. Indulge in a trail around the pristine forests of Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, where pines and firs are abundant. You might even be able to spot, if you're lucky, the elusive clouded leopard. Other animals that reside here are barking deers, giant squirrels and wild boars. There's also the Meghna Cave Temple, dedicated to Lord Lakulisha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It's not just the caves, but rather its position that enables one to have a commanding view of the surrounding forests and mountains. There are also numerous hillocks around Ziro Valley that you can partake in trekking in like Dolo Mando, Hapoli and Ziro Puto.
    • Must visit attractions - Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Meghna Cave Temple, Dolo Mando, Hapoli and Ziro Puto
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    View from Dolo Mando in Ziro Valley (Image Courtesy of Worth View)

    Cannot be missed destinations...

    22. Alleppey - Ever tried a houseboat cruise? If not, there's no better place for that than in Alleppey in Kerala. The views of the rural village life, fishermen, housewives doing laundry or children playing around, would give you a much needed relaxation. And you can even indulge yourself in an authentic Ayurvedic massage, right at the houseboat. If ever you've had enough with cruising around the backwaters, Alleppey has a number of attractions too that you can explore. One of which is the Ambalapuzha Shri Krishna Temple, famous for its delicious paal payasam that they give to devotees free of charge. The Mannarasala Shri Nagaraja Temple is dedicated to Nagaraja and visited by many childless couples as it is believed that visiting this temple can grant them their first born. The Krishnapuram Palace, built around the 18th century, is a perfect example of the traditional Keralan style of architecture. Alleppey also has a number of beaches worth visiting like the Alappuzha Beach and Marari Beach.
    • Must visit attractions - Backwaters, Ambalapuzha Shri Krishna Temple, Mannarasala Shri Nagaraja Temple, Krishnapuram Palace, Alappuzha Beach and Marari Beach.
    23. Kutch - Kutch is a district in the state of Gujarat, it is best known for the seasonal marshland called the White Desert of the Great Rann of Kutch. The beauty of this marshland is beyond words and it sparkles especially during daylight. It's also a sight to behold during night time, when the moon sparkles over its white beauty. The Rann Utsav, an annual festival held during the months of November to February, is also done here. There's also the Little Rann of Kutch, where the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary can be found. This is where you can find khurs in their natural habitat, as they are an endangered specie of animal as well. Other places that you can explore in Kutch are Chhari Dhand, a bird watching sanctuary and Narayan Sarovar, an ancient temple with a freshwater lake in its premises.
    • Must visit attractions - White Desert (Great Rann of Kutch) and Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary (Little Rann of Kutch).
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    White Desert in Great Rann of Kutch (Image Courtesy of Go Travel, Discoverer)

    24. Shillong - Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, also known as the Scotland of the East, is more than just beautiful, it is hauntingly idyllic. Blessed with natural attractions, it is a pleasant getaway for families, nature lovers and even couples. The views of the faraway mountains with the misty clouds along with the abundance of greenery make Shillong a nice respite from the chaos of the usual cities. The Barapani Lake, also known as the Umiam Lake, a manmade lake, is the prime attraction of the city. Boating around the lake is an enjoyable activity that the whole family can partake in. Nearby the lake is the Lum Nehru Park, where you can spend some leisurely time in too. Shillong Peak is another attraction here, where the views of the mountains and the city can be clearly seen. There are also numerous waterfalls around the city that you can visit, noteworthy of which are the Elephant Waterfalls and Sweet Waterfalls.
    • Must visit attractions - Barapani Lake, Lum Nehru Park, Shillong Peak, Elephant Waterfalls and Sweet Waterfalls.
    There are plenty of holiday destinations around India. This list only covers the most popular destinations that have plenty of facilities for travellers. They are perfect for families with children or those who just want to dip their feet in the water first. Click through and read the guides for further information about these mentioned destinations. But if you are feeling adventurous, why not check out this list of offbeat destinations around India? Enjoy!
     

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