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Things To Do In India
India is more than just the home to Taj Mahal. It is a land with many parts that make a whole, parts that are idyllic stretch of beaches, mountains that open their arms to those who want to conquer them, temples as old as time, forts as strong as the kings that held them, caves carved by the prehistoric father of man, rivers that run with a thousand prayer flowers and supply hydroelectricity too!
When in India, you cannot be left out of the thousand and one things that the country’s many varied parts have to offer. You are welcome to visit the Taj Mahal and soak in the love that still resonates from the many carvings of its walls. At the same time you can pack your bags and turn to the Himalayas for a trek up snow-capped peaks. Or go south to relax in the lap of Ayurvedic massages. Or explore the temples of MP and forts of Rajasthan. Things to do in India are not bound by any limit. Read on to find more!
The Himalayas are as much a sightseeing destination as they are a trekking destination.
There are some pretty ancient temples, sacred pilgrimages and holy sights resting in Himalaya’s lap. The Badri Kedar temples, Roopkund Lake, Gangotri etc are some of the best sights in the mountains. What’s more, they also have religious significance. The Tulip gardens and Dal Lake in Srinagar, as well as Gurez valley and Sonmarg are heavenly sights in Kashmir.
The Himalayas also double up as amazing hiking routes. The belt from Kashmir to Nanda Devi is known for conifers, pines and wild Rhododendron flowers lining the way. Treks in these regions vary depending on the height and terrain of the region. The Indrahar Pass in Kangra, Beas Kund in Manali and Bhrigu Lake in Shimla are also quite scenic.
One of the most famous festivals in India is the Hemis Festival, combined well with the Markha Valley trek through Ladakh. Other festivals include Losar and Ladakh Harvest Festival, Yuru Kabgyat in Lamayuru Monsatery (near Leh) and Eid in Srinagar.
Ladakh also boasts of some thrilling treks, including Chadar Trek over the frozen Zanskar river, Lamayuru to Alchi and Tso Moriri to Spiti Valley. These trek routes offer breath-taking sceneries, a round of some of the biggest Buddhist Monasteries and maybe a chance to spot snow leopards. Key(ki) Monastery and Tabo in Spiti, Stakna in Ladakh and Thiksey in Leh are some of the most beautiful, peaceful monasteries that should be on your list.
Leisurely Holiday Destinations:
You can also spend some leisurely time in the lap of the himalayas in places such as Srinagar, Pahalgam, Manali, Shimla and Dharamsala. There are Auli Ski Resorts and the Singalila National Park for luxury travellers to explore. Each comes with its own adventures as well as lazy pampering.
North India and Rajasthan
Sightseeing in Delhi:
Take a day tour of Delhi to explore places like Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Hauz Khas Village, Chandni Chowk (for lip-smacking street food) and India Gate.
The Taj Mahal:
A day in Agra is well spent exploring one of the seven wonders of the world - the Taj Mahal. When the sun is about to set, do visit the Sikhri Fort for a breath-taking view of dusk in this town.
Activities in Amritsar:
The Punjabi city of Amritsar is known for the Golden Temple. Visit this temple and do not miss the langar food here (lunch that is offered to all visitors for free and is one of the tastiest Punjabi meals). There is also the India-Pakistan Wagah border in Amritsar, which opens every morning and evening for a salute parade between soldiers from both sides.
Adventure in the Ganges:
Soak the sight of Ganges in Haridwar and go river rafting from Rishikesh. There is a peculiar mix of the ancient and the modern that Ganga embraces in its bosom. It is not understood in words but felt in the air on its bank. Don’t miss it.
Palaces and Temples:
Going west to Rajasthan, the Pink Palace and Jal Mahal in Jaipur are unmissable. Go to Udaipur for a tour of the Lake Palace and the City Palace, said to be the home to one of the oldest dynasties in the world - that of the House of Mewad. Nathdwara, a town not too far from Udaipur is a land of one of the biggest temples in India. It houses the deity of Krishna in the form of Shrinathji and must be visited, especially during Holi or Diwali.
Also visit the Ranthambore forest for a wildlife safari to see tigers.
Western and Central India
Forests and Safari:
Travel to Gujarat to sight Asiatic Lions at Gir Forest. The Gir Forest Reserve also takes regular tours to sight other wild animals. The Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh is another great exploration of the wild, known for its tigers.
Festivals and Shrines:
Take a tour of the plains of Kutch and don’t miss the famous kite festival in January. There are the Someshwar and Akshardham temples too for peace and quiet. The Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad is also a place of peace, tranquil vibes and the echo of Mahatma Gandhi's teachings. Visit this ashram (hermitage) to learn more about the man who brought India to liberation, without even picking a weapon. Attend the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai and don’t forget to pay a visit to the Siddhivinayak temple at Worli (Mumbai).
Sightseeing in Mumbai:
When in Maharashtra, don’t forget to visit Mumbai, the home of Bollywood! Also explore the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Hotel, eat some amazing vada pav (burger-like Indian street food) and lots of bhel Puri (savoury snack-mix). Spend a night sitting by the shore at Marine Drive and feel peaceful in the lap of ‘Bombay.’
The beaches in Goa are another great attraction and range from insanely hippy, party-all-night tourist beaches to quaint, quiet ones. Tattoos are a rage here and if you want to get one, there are some great opportunities.
Temples and Forts:
Central India is a mine of ancient structures and temples. The carvings at Khajuraho temple are some the oldest and boldest, and broaden one’s horizon on Indian culture. Visit the Gwalior Fort and Konark Sun Temple too. Kaal Bhairav Temple in Ujjain is another mystic temple, known for offering alcohol to the god of time.
East and North East
When in the East, Kolkata becomes your hub.
Sightseeing in Kolkata:
Visit the Victoria Memorial, take a boat ride under the Howrah Bridge, go around the Indian Museum and gorge on some mouth-watering puchkas. The St. Paul’s Cathedral and Fort William are rich carriers of the British Colonial architecture and should be perused for the history they bear.
Monasteries and Treks:
Going up North East, Gangtok becomes your destination to explore Buddhist Monasteries, quiet hills and idyllic treks. Sikkim and its surrounding villages become your gateway to the Himalayas, with Rhododendron flowers lining your way. The Kaziranga National Park is known for the one-horned Rhinoceros and is a safari worth taking.
Sights of the Hills:
Meghalaya is a very wet state, with Cherrapunji’s living root bridges as a group of marvels you must experience. They are used as natural bridges over stretches of water bodies. Elephant Falls and Khasi Hills here are also lush and wet, bringing a perfect rainforest dream to life. Also check out the Yumthang Valley of Rhododendron flowers in Sikkim.
While onto souvenirs, don’t forget to pack some fresh tea leaves from Darjeeling and Calcutti red and white silk sarees. You can also carry home the Buddhist prayer flags that are said to bring peace, love and tranquility where they are hung.
The South of India makes for some beautiful lush green sceneries, floating houseboats on backwaters, rice paddy fields, coffee plantations, rural churches and intricately carved temples.
Houseboats and Ayurvedic Massages:
When in Kerala, experience rides on houseboats through silent backwaters, catch some fresh trout for lunch, go for Ayurvedic massages and practise meditation. Float in the backwaters of Kumarakom or Kozhikode and avail the massages with essential Ayurvedic concoctions that make up for soothing oils. Relaxation will be the way to go for you.
Go to Kochi to take a tour of Fort Cochi, a British colonial trading post. Camp in Pondicherry for its French charm and small, cute cafes. Visit Munnar for tea estates, Hampi for Lotus Mahal and Coorg for its elephants and imposing waterfalls. Cycle through Nilgiri tea farms in Tamil Nadu and party hard in the Silicon Valley of India - Bangalore.
Temples of the South:
Do not miss the Meenakshi Temple, Tirupati Temple and Jagganathpuri Yatra (during Rath Yatra festival in July-August). There is also the Ayyappa temple, renowned for its deity Lord Ayyappa, Padmanabh Temple, Guruvayur and Rameshwaram.
Eat the traditional idlis and dosas (rice pancakes served with coconut dip) here and enjoy fresh seafood. South India is known for simple, flavourful, less spicy fare; a kind of taste that best suits western and Mediterranean palate.