Since ancient times India has been the kaleidoscope that has mesmerized and fascinated the world with its rich heritage, diversity, and mysteries. Although modern India has developed and changed in many ways, its romance with the unknown continues and makes it a darling of global tourists who are on the path to self-discovery. Visiting the tourist destinations across the length and breadth of India feels like a journey through the annals of time that will thrill your senses and revitalize your spirits. Here are some unique destinations in India that you must visit as they represent the uniqueness of India perfectly.
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Rajasthan: Over the centuries India has been ruled by many kings and queens who have defined the periods of their reign. The historic cities of Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner still exude royalty of a bygone era that pampers the ego of one and all visiting these magnificent cities dotted with palaces, havelis, and forts that housed the indomitable and brave kings and queens of the Rajputana. The Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar Amer Fort, and the Nahargarh Fort are some of the must-visit tourist destinations of this royal state. Once you have soaked in the royalty, you may indulge in a camel ride and find your own oasis in this magnificent desert. The best time to visit this Royal splendor is during the winter months when the temperatures drop.
Uttar Pradesh: A trip to the north of India is never complete without visiting Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is the largest state of India and is famous for its spiritual and religious tourist destinations. Uttar Pradesh has many cities of historic, spiritual and religious importance which include Varanasi, Agra, Ayodhya, and Lucknow. The state has been ruled by the Rajputs, Mughals and the British and the amalgamation of various cultures finds expression in the crafts, architecture, music and art forms that have originated in these cities. The city of Agra is best known for the Taj Mahal that was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the remembrance of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Some of the other prestigious tourist destinations of Agra include Fatehpur Sikri, Jama Masjid, Moti Masjid and Agra Fort. Situated on the banks of river Ganga, the city of Varanasi is famous as a great Hindu pilgrimage. Tourists from all over India and abroad flock to Varanasi to watch the Sandhya Aarti performed on the Dashashwamedh ghat by priests clad in traditional Saffron attires. Another destination of historical and religious significance in Uttar Pradesh is Ayodhya which is also known as the Ram Janmabhoomi. The best time to visit Uttar Pradesh is during Diwali when all the cities light up and the city looks like a newly-wed bride.
Gujarat: Have you ever wondered what does the desert sand look like under a full moon? You must visit the western state of Gujarat during the Rann Utsav to experience this breathtaking sight. The Rann Utsav is a festival of colors, craftsmanship, music and local art forms that are celebrated on the Rann of Kutch and is a colorful prism showcasing the tradition and culture of Gujarat. One night among the shimmering sand dunes of the Rann will make you a fan of this magnificent fun fest. Apart from the Rann Utsav, some of the tourist attractions in Gujarat are the Gir Lion’s sanctuary, Somnath temple, Aina Mahal, Kutch museum, Siyot caves, and the Bhadreshwar Jain temple.
Uttarakhand: Guarded by the magnificent Himalayas, the valley of flowers is blessed with several spiritual and picturesque tourist spots that are frequented by domestic and international tourists. The pilgrimage destinations of the Char Dham which include Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri are some of the most popular Hindu tourist destinations. Rishikesh is also very popular and is well known as the birthplace of Yoga. So, it’s not at all surprising to come across a host of locals with an old-world charm well versed in Yoga who practice and preach this art as a discipline. For the more adventurous tourists, Rishikesh offers hiking expeditions of various difficulty levels. Thus, Uttarakhand has something special to offer to all breeds of travelers.
West Bengal: Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal is known as ‘The city of joy’ and is popular for its sweets and fishes. Kolkata is often referred to as the cultural capital of India. Bengalis love their Hilsa fishes and roshogollas. If you are a non-vegetarian then you must sample them when in Bengal. Kolkata used to be the capital of British India before Delhi became the capital in 1911. The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria and now serves as a museum that attracts domestic and international tourists but West Bengal didn’t compromise with its natural beauty and pristine mangroves to usher in the development that has changed the complexion of the state in recent years. You can still find the rare Royal Bengal tiger announcing its presence in the mangroves of Sundarban. The spiritual tourist attractions of Dakshineshwar, Kalighat, and Mayapur will help you find inner peace. The best time to visit West Bengal is during the Durga Puja which is the biggest festival celebrated in Bengal. Pandal hopping during Durga Puja will give you a taste of the creativity and the passion with which the Bengali community welcomes Goddess Durga who fought with and annihilated the cruel and ferocious demon King Mahisharura.
Punjab: Often dubbed as the agricultural capital of the country Punjab is the land of Golden Harvest. A lot of Agricultural produce from this land feeds the people of India. However, Punjab is not just the land of agriculture but a land of festivities in its true sense. Punjabis celebrate their festivals with color, zest and a larger-than-life spirit that is unique to them. Beyond the festivities, Punjabis are also known for their devotion and a Testament to that fact is the astounding Golden Temple situated in the heart of Amritsar. The 4th Sikh Guru, Guru Ramdas had excavated a tank and had turned it into a lake of holy water or Amrit Sarovar. That is how Amritsar got its name. The Golden Temple is the most celebrated pilgrimage of the Sikh community and is always open to any person who wishes to pray and experience the peace and tranquillity that is synonymous with this astonishing Sikh pilgrimage.
Mumbai: Mumbai is known as the financial capital of India and is home to the two largest stock exchanges of India. It is called the city of dreams and produces the biggest film stars of Bollywood. It is said that Mumbai never sleeps. Mumbai is famous for its dabbawalas who deliver almost 2 lakh lunch boxes every day and on time without fail. Mumbai celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi with great passion and enthusiasm. This is one of the biggest festivals in Mumbai and is considered the perfect time to visit the city and experience the one-of-a-kind celebrations. Some of the best places to visit in the city include Marine Drive, Shree Siddhivinayak temple, Hanging Gardens, Juhu Beach, Malabar Hill and the Gateway of India.
Kerala: The southern state of Kerala is popularly known as God’s own country. Kerala holds an exotic blend of traditional and modern that invigorates and rejuvenates all the tourists visiting this southern wonderland. Kerala is rich in art forms and boasts of several dance forms which include Kathakali, Mohiniattam, Krishnanattam, Koodiyattam, and Thullal. The state is well known for its traditional forms of Ayurvedic therapies that have been integrated with modern spas. Some of the best places to visit in Kerala include the tea estates of Munnar, the houseboats of Kumarakom, the backwaters of Alleppey, the Thekkady wildlife sanctuary and the temples of Thiruvananthapuram. A noteworthy tiny island in the backwaters of Kerala named kakkathuruthu or the ‘island of crows’ was featured in the National Geographic’s ‘Around the world in 24 hours’ program. One of the best times to visit Kerala is during Onam when the whole state is in a festive mood and is presents an endless and timeless carnival.
Meghalaya: If you are a fan of the monsoons then you must visit Meghalaya which is one of the wettest places on earth. This small northeastern state will enthrall you with its natural beauty. The two places Mawsynram and Cherrapunji receive the highest and the second highest average annual rainfall in the world. Meghalaya also boasts of several limestone caves containing stalactites and stalagmites. The Mawsmai cave in Cherrapunji offers the most exciting cave trips among these limestone caves. The living root bridge is another amazing tourist destination in Meghalaya. The bridge is made from the roots of rubber trees by Khasi and Jaintia tribes and doesn’t decay despite the perennial rains, unlike the wooden bridges. When in Meghalaya, one must visit the Umangot river in Dawki, the border town of India and Bangladesh. A boat ride in the crystal-clear green water of the Umangot river encapsulated by mountains is an unforgettable experience for any traveler looking for a thrill.