1. Shimla – a stunning city in the Himalayan foothills which is one of the best places to explore in India.
A popular tourist destination located in the north-west Himalayas, gorgeous Shimla is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Queen of Hills.’ Its colourful colonial past is still evident today and the town is characterised by unusual neo-gothic buildings surrounded by thick forest and outstanding views, offering a very different feel to the rest of India.
‘The Mall’ is the main shopping street and the hub of the city where tourists and locals like to meet, shop and eat. This area also has a good number of clubs and bars great for those looking to step it up a gear.
The Christ Church is also worth a visit – it’s the second oldest church in northern India and its stained glass windows are designed in a distinctive style that you won’t find anywhere else. Also don’t leave Shimla without visiting Jakhu Hill – the highest peak which is also home to many playful monkeys who hang out waiting to be fed. From Shimla, you can also visit a comparatively offbeat destination called Chai.
2. Goa – the famously beautiful beach and party resort.
The famous idyllic party place should not be missed and it’s still one of the most popular places to visit in India as well as the most beautiful. If you decide to take a trip, I recommend not leaving the island’s coastal areas. Goa is the smallest state in India and has the most beautiful beaches by far – when you’re here you’ll want to make the most of them.
Many refer to Goa as a tropical paradise and when you’re here enjoying the warm temperatures, clear turquoise water, and palm trees you’ll also probably agree. If you time your visit around the Goa Carnival held every February you’ll be treated to three days and nights of music, lights, dancers, and awesome food.
This is when the legendary King Momo takes over the state and the island becomes party central. Originally celebrated in the 1800s by locals only, now both tourists and locals come here to have a good time.
3.Mumbai – the bustling and vibrant city which is one of the most famous cities to visit in India.
This place has a kind of beauty all of its own. Formally known as Bombay, Mumbai is the most populated city in India. Noisy, frantic, and polluted, Mumbai is a melting pot of different cultures, religions, and wealth extremes. Even though the city is developing at a fast rate, unfortunately, you’ll still see many scenes of poverty.
The city is also the birthplace of Indian cinema and there are many theatres to watch movies from all over the world.
A visually impressive city Mumbai has a large metropolitan area comparable to the size of New York’s skyline and a fine but eclectic mix of colonial buildings, stylish bars, colourful bazaars, and shiny new malls. Finding something to do here would not be a problem.
4.Varanasi – an intriguing and beautiful city which is regarded as sacred by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.
If you wanted to bottle the essence of Hindu spirituality, then Varanasi would be the place to do it. Walking along the ghats along the River Ganges in this Uttar Pradesh city is not an experience that any visitor ever forgets.
While this city is very much alive, it is also fundamentally about death and rebirth. Here you can watch public cremation ceremonies at the Ganges by day and witness the Hindu aarti ritual by night. Aarti is a part of puja (worship) where light is offered to the gods at the different ghats.
Holy men (known as sadhus) as well as babas and aghoris all spend their days down at the ghats. The sadhus are holy men, often swathed in orange, babas are so-called spiritual gurus and aghoris drink the blood of the dead and cover themselves in cremation ashes.
Not all of them have good intentions so be careful. It is common for holy men to be naked and covered in powder or ashes, some adorn their penises and even do tricks with them for tourists. Varanasi is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
5.The backwaters of Kerala – a network of brackish lagoons and a famous beauty spot to visit in India.
The backwaters are a beautiful chain of lakes and lagoons along the Arabian sea coast and are a place in India that definitely shouldn’t be missed – they are considered to be the number one tourist destination in India. Ferries here will take you anywhere and you can even hire a houseboat to stay in.
In the Kuttanad region of Alappuzha you’ll also be treated to boat races, where you will also find snake boats that can hold up to a hundred oarsmen. Thousands of fans line the riverbanks and cheer on their favourite teams which makes for a great atmosphere.
There are dozens of villages and communities throughout this area which you can visit and get a real sense of everyday life and culture in this interesting place.
6. Kapaleeshwarar Temple – the temple’s towers were once the tallest structures in one of the oldest cities in India.
Chennai and the state of Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most spiritual regions, with many exquisite Hindu temples and ruins. In the region of Mylapore in Chennai (formerly known as Madras) you can find the wonderful Hindu Kapaleeshwarar Temple. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva with an incredible rainbow-coloured gopuram (tower), with a large pool within its walls.
Nearby is the busy Marina beach, the second longest urban beach in the world, a hectic stretch of land complete with a market and its own lighthouse. At the nearby San Thome Cathedral, you can attend mass and visit the tomb of St Thomas the apostle that resides there.
7.Jodhpur – the beautiful and incredible ‘Blue City’
Jodhpur in Rajasthan is known as the ‘Blue City’ as so many of this city’s buildings are painted in a Brahmin blue colour. Residents did this to distinguish themselves as Brahmins.
This isn’t the only history to be found here as it’s also home to the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Inside one of India’s largest forts is Maharaja Gaj Singh II’s personal collection of riches, and there are a lot of them, with over 15,000 treasures to see in total.
There are cultural performances that take place in various areas of the fort throughout the day. For those that want even more history, there is also the Umaid Bhawan Palace, the Jaswant Thada marble building, and the beautiful Mandore Gardens
8.Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab – a beautiful and spiritual place and the main attraction in the city.
Amritsar is a city close to India’s border with Pakistan that is the beating heart of Punjab as well as a principal place of worship for Sikhs. The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) is considered the holiest shrine in Sikhism and draws people from all over the world to marvel and worship at it. Many tourists return to the temple after darkness falls to listen to the sounds of prayer emanating from it.
Everyone that visits the temple can sit down for a free meal, known as langar, which is served to 50,000 people by hundreds of volunteers every day. The food is made in vats due to the scale of it, and each plate is washed 5 times afterwards. In the early evening, don’t miss the Wagah-Attari border ceremony.
This is an elaborate ceremony performed by the Indian and Pakistani military to show comradeship between the nations.
9.Ladakh – a beautiful city located on the crossroads of the historic “Silk Route” .
To be in with a chance of seeing India’s snow leopards, you need to travel up to Leh, in the Northwest corner of the country. Whether you are looking for the elusive leopard or not, Ladakh is a jaw-dropping place to hike through its mountains and valleys.
The town of Leh has its own palace, as well as several Buddhist stupas and monasteries, making it a serene place to spend time at a high altitude.
10. Konkan Coast, Maharashtra – a little-developed shoreline running south from Mumbai all the way to Goa.
The Konkan Coast runs from the city of Mumbai all the way down to Goa, with many serene beaches and interesting attractions along the way. Some of the most beautiful beaches to visit are Alibaug, Kashid, Diveagar, Murud, Karde, and Ganpatipule.
Ganpatipule even has a Ganesh Temple located right on the beach. Winter is a great time to visit as there are dolphin sightings on a daily basis.