India is an incredibly huge and diverse country with so many amazing places to see that often the hardest part of planning a trip to India is narrowing down where to go and deciding which places in India you simply can’t miss.
From buzzing cities to ancient temples, flamboyant palaces and crumbling forts, from the desert to the snow capped peaks and colourful Tibetan monasteries of the mighty Himalayas, to the tropical beaches and backwaters of Kerala, there is no shortage of places to visit in India.
With so much to offer it’s hard to choose, so after 7 visits to this incredible country I’ve narrowed it down to 5 of the most interesting and iconic places in India that you simply must visit Asia.
These destinations are perfect for your first holiday to India because they allow you to tick off the famous sights and places in India whilst also giving you an exciting insight into India’s rich culture, landscape and heritage.
The Golden Triangle is India’s most popular touring route and consists of the cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur The destinations that make up the Golden Triangle are only a short distance apart but contain some of the most famous and iconic sights in all of India. You can see the best of the Golden Triangle in just a few days, starting in the capital Delhi, a fascinating city packed with important historical relics. Next, the city of Agra is home to the most beautiful building in the world – the unmissable Taj Mahal and finally ‘The Pink City’ of Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, India’s most flamboyant state, and home to elaborate palaces, imposing forts and colourful bazaars.
The desert state of Rajasthan is packed with history, ancient forts and extravagant palaces. Rajasthan is India at its most colourful, regal and flamboyant so no wonder it’s one of the most popular places to visit in India.
Jaipur, known as ‘The Pink City’ is home to the intricate Hawa Mahal, the majestic Amer Fort, the City Palace and much more. While in Rajasthan you can also explore the massive ancient golden fort city of Jaisalmer and take a camel safari into the surrounding desert. You also have the chance to spot tigers at Ranthambore National Park. The blue city of Jodhpur, home to the imposing Mehrangarh Fort, the romantic city of Udaipur with its mesmerising lakes and places and the holy town of Pushkar, home to the legendary camel festival, are also some of the most enthralling destinations in India.
Kerala is a laid back, luscious and tropical state in South India. Kerala offers a total contrast to busy North India and is one of the most relaxing places in all of India. Kerala is most famous for its gorgeous, languid backwaters and no visit to Kerala is complete without taking a cruise along the backwaters in traditional rice barge that has been converted into a luxurious house boat. Kerala also has gorgeous beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, spice plantations, hill stations and rolling tea plantations to explore as well as the chance to experience a much more relaxed pace of Indian life.
India is a deeply spiritual country and one of the holiest places in India is the ancient city of Varanasi situated on the banks of the holy Ganges river. If you want to understand more about India’s rich culture, spirituality and religion then Varanasi is an essential stop on any Indian adventure.
One of the best things to do in Varanasi is to take a boat ride along the holy river Ganges at sunrise and see the whole place bathed in a magical dewy glow while all the rituals of life , and death, are played out along the ghats. Visiting Varanasi is quite an experience as Hindus believe that dying here releases you from the cycle of death and rebirth and being cremated along the holy river is very auspicious for Hindus and a unique and unforgettable sight for tourists. There is also a nightly Ganga Aarti (prayer) ceremony that tourists are welcome to attend
Escape the heat of India and head to the cool mountain air, stunning views and spiritual serenity of the Himalayas. There’s a huge range of places to visit in the Himalayas, some of the top mountain destinations in India include Himachal Pradesh, in particular Manali and Dharamshala, the home of the Dalai Lama. Darjeeling and Sikkim are also worth a visit to see the world famous tea plantations and stunning, colourful Tibetan monasteries and also Leh and Ladakh where you can explore a very different culture with ancient palaces, monasteries and surreal landscapes on the Tibetan plateau.
With so much to see it would take a lifetime to see all this incredible country has to offer. It would be hard to fit all of these top destinations in India into one trip and of course there are so many more places to see, this is why many people return again and again to India.