India is a showstopper with its varied culture, traditions, regional cuisines, costumes and pathbreaking architecture. Equally varied, interesting, intriguing and stunning are her bygone stories, history and historical places, which dot the length and breadth of this ancient region.
So why restrict your travel plans in India to just a handful of places?
Even if you are planning your first ever trip to India, I suggest you to not limit your India itinerary to just Delhi/Mumbai or a place or two.
Yes! These are definitely historical places to visit. However, to appreciate the true essence of Indian culture and its destinations, I recommend you venture into its interiors — picturesque towns of Himachal, ancient heritage circuits in Tamil Nadu, littoral villages off the Malabar coast, the Shekawati towns dotted with bygones, and rolling mountains of the northeast with unexplored history, to name a few.
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Beautiful and Historical Places in India – Our recommendations
If you are inspired after reading our prologue, and on the lookout for historical places to visit in India or chalking out a list of best places to visit on your next India trip, then be sure to read ahead!
Also, are you curious about places to visit, recommended vegetarian food outlets, and where to stay in these historical and beautiful places in India?
Then, look no further. For we have it all compiled in this blog post of ours on historical and beautiful places to visit in India.
Some of the places on this list are truly what one calls off-beat, while others like Delhi and Kolkata, have been cultural hubs and a constant on many an India itinerary. Yet we have included a link to a Delhi post, as we anticipate first time international travellers and tourists to land in Delhi.
1. Goa, south-western India
Contributed by Lavina D’Souza of Continent Hop
Goa is a beloved travel destination in south-west India. Sandy beaches, water sports, attractive nightlife and delicious seafood, the state has it all.
Panjim, the capital city of Goa is a must-visit destination with art galleries and quaint cafes. Don’t miss the Fontainhas — a vibrant neighbourhood with gorgeous lanes dotted by Portuguese houses.
Goa also has a rich culture and beautiful architecture, ranging from forts to churches. Visit them on a full-day guided tour of Goa.
Also, while the Chapora Fort and Aguada Fort are some must-visit forts in North Goa, there are some lovely beaches in Goa where you can enjoy water activities or relax in the shacks.
Head to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls. It is at a height of 1017 feet which is an unreal sight to witness, especially in monsoons.
Travel Tip : Visit the Arpora market, held every Saturday, to indulge in some retail therapy.
Recommended eats and drinks in Goa
When in Goa, it’s a must to try the local liquor known as Feni, made from cashews and coconuts. You can also go for a local Feni tasting session or indulge in a food tour to sample local Goan cuisine.
Opkapi Vegan Kitchen, located in Mapusa, is a great place for vegan food. Their food is delicious and most ingredients are locally sourced.
Recommended stay options in Goa
You can stay in Morjim, famous for the tranquil Morjim Beach. This area is quite peaceful. Mayfair On Sea is a great hotel to stay in with your family.
How to reach Goa
You can take a direct flight or train to reach Goa. Buses are also available from all the major Indian cities.
Best season to plan a Goa trip
Goa is buzzing all around the year but it is one of the best places to visit in India in March due to its vibrant atmosphere.
2. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, southern India
Contributed by Laura Meyers of Laure Wanders
Mahabalipuram is one of the best places to visit in the south of India. This ancient town is famous for its 7th- and 8th-century Hindu monuments that were built by the Pallava Dynasty.
What to see in Mahabalipuram
Some of the best places to see in Mahabalipuram are the famous Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram Lighthouse, the Mahishasura Mardini Cave, Krishna’s Butterball, Trimurti Cave Temple and the Five Rathas. There are many more, and you can easily spend an entire day exploring the ancient structures of Mahabalipuram.
It is good to know that this town is located along the seashore, and a great thing to do here after visiting its historical sites is to relax at Mahabalipuram Beach.
How to reach Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram can easily be accessed from cities like Chennai and Pondicherry using public transportation. Alternatively, you could also opt for this guided tour from Chennai to Mahabalipuram with lunch.
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels within walking distance of the Mahabalipuram Group of Monuments.
One of this town’s most renowned hotels is Hotel Mamallaa Heritage. This hotel is set in an old monument and features renovated rooms and a pool.
Where to eat
Although Mahabalipuram is famous for its seafood restaurants, this city is also home to some great restaurants serving vegetarian food. The Golden Palate is argued to be the best one!
3. Pondicherry aka Puducherry, southern India
Contributed by Sinjana Ghosh of Backpack & Explore
If you are looking for a family getaway that blends culture, adventure, and spirituality, then the now Puducherry or the colonial Pondicherry, is the perfect destination.
Often referred to as the ‘French Riviera in India,’ this coastal town offers a unique fusion of French and Indian culture due to its history as a former French colony.
Historic temples, vibrant markets, well-kept parks, and museums – there is a plethora of activities to enjoy in Pondicherry.
A day in Pondicherry
Begin your trip in Auroville, an experimental city aiming to promote the world-view of the spiritual teacher Sri Aurobindo. It’s a great place for children to learn about this influential guru as well as a lesson for all on how to live in harmony with nature.
Next, take a ride to the White town, also known as the French Quarter. As you stroll through the streets here lined with pastel-coloured buildings, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a picturesque European postcard.
In addition to its colonial architecture and beautiful French churches, you will also find sculptures reflecting the story of post-independence India. Notable among these are the Mahatma Gandhi statue, Ambedkar Memorial, and the Police Museum.
Afterwards, head to the sea. The palm-lined promenade painted in white is decorated with iconic statues, sculptures along and vibrant street art. End your day in Pondicherry by watching the sunset at the Rock beach.
Where to eat in Pondicherry: Recommended restaurants
There are ample small and big eateries dotting the city, which serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
Oceans’ 7 in White town is a highly recommended restaurant for pure vegetarian food. You could also try organic vegan dishes in Auroville.
Where to stay in Pondicherry : Stay options in Pondicherry
The area in and around White Town has some good properties to stay in Pondicherry. However, if you can splurge a little more then, The Promenade, is a highly recommended property in Pondicherry for a perfect stay with a mesmerising sea-view.
How to reach Pondicherry
Pondicherry is 150 km away from Chennai, and you can reach the place within hours via the ECR highway while commuting by bus or cab. This union territory is also well-connected by trains.
4. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, western India
Contributed by Shweta Singhal of Zest In A Tote
Jaisalmer, also known as the ‘Golden City’ is a historical and popular destination in the desert state of Rajasthan, next to the Pink city of Jaipur.
It holds a special place within Rajasthan destinations because of its massive fort and proximity to the sand dunes of the Thar desert.
What to see in Jaisalmer?
The Jaisalmer Fort is one of the most interesting places to visit in Jaisalmer. Beyond its immense architectural significance, it’s also home to more than 3,000 locals who reside within its historic walls.
Owing to this unique feature of the fort , the Jaisalmer Fort has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the fort with a private guided tour of Jaislamer’s expanse.
Of course there are other places to visit in Jaisalmer: several havelis with intricate work within the walled city, Bada Bagh, Jain temples, to name a few. As is the experience of spending a night in the Thar desert gazing at the star-studded sky.
Where to stay in Jaisalmer : Recommended stay options
There are several hotel and guesthouse options within the walled city. But for a truly royal experience, you can choose the Suryagarh, a palace hotel outside the main city. The breakfast spread and hospitality at Suryagarh is worth mentioning.
Where to eat in Jaisalmer : Our recommended restaurants
You must try the local Rajasthani cuisine on a trip to Jaisalmer. There is no dearth of Rajasthani / Indian restaurants in Jaisalmer, though a bit on the spicy side. You can try Desert Boy’s Dhani for Indian cuisine and Jaisal Italy restaurant for Italian fare.
5. Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, central India
Contributed by Sundeep and Bedabrata of Delhi Fun Dos
Gwalior in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state, is a historical place that is truly underrated.
The impressive forts, the ancient temples and museums coupled with great food and a safe environment make Gwalior worth the wait. It is the perfect destination for exploring the heart of India, which is Madhya Pradesh.
What to see in Gwalior
Gwalior Fort – Built in phases starting from the 10th century, the must-visit fort retains some beautiful tile inlays. Don’t miss the colossal Jain statues just outside.
Sahastrabahu Temples – These are two Hoysala temples dating back to the 11th century. Beautiful sandstone carvings adorn the temples.
Teli Temple – Built by the oil merchant community from Telangana, this temple has a high Shikhara in Dravidian style.
Tansen’s and Mohammad Ghaus’s tombs: The music legend Tansen and his guru Ghaus are laid to rest in marble tombs with intricate latticework. Although in a market, the place is serene.
Jai Vilas Palace and Jivaji Rao Scindia Museum: These are private collections of the last rulers of this region, the Scindias. The museums have eclectic displays.
Mitawali – 50 km from Gwalior is the Ekattarso Mahadev temple in Mitawali. The Indian Parliament is designed on this structure. Unfortunately, this magnificent architecture lacks maintenance.
What to eat : Recommended eateries in Gwalior
Kachori at SS Kachoriwala, poha at Agarwal Poha Bhandar and gajak from Morena are vegetarian must-tries. The evening snack market at Chaupati carries many unique street food items.
Where to stay in Gwalior : Recommended stay options
There are a variety of options from 5-stars to hostels. City Centre and DD Nagar are the best areas to stay.
Best season to visit Gwalior
Summers are simmering hot in Gwalior, so the best season ideally would be either winters or spring.
6. Pushkar, Rajasthan, western India
Contributed by Jitaditya Narzary of TravellingSlacker
While Pushkar in Rajasthan is reasonably famous, only some of its aspects get all the attention. It is best-known for the Cattle Fair while the Brahma Temple makes it spiritually and mythologically unique.
The small town of Pushkar is built around the eponymous lake, which has as many as 52 ghats. While Hindu pilgrims have been visiting it since time immemorial, the hippies discovered it during the swinging sixties. So, a clear division can be seen in this small town.
On one side there is a typical Indian bazaar with conventional, dull-looking budget hotels for pilgrims, while the other side is dominated by young travellers from all over the world and full of trendy backpacker hostels, homestays, and eateries serving everything from Italian to Israeli food, although even these are equally affordable!
What to see in Pushkar
The best way to enjoy Pushkar is to take it easy. Give it a few days, just walk around the town and the ghats of the lake, interact with old timers including regular visitors and shop owners (everyone has a story to tell), and of course, eat your heart out.
Apart from the Brahma Temple, there are scores of other temples in the town. Some of them are built around the lake but you’ll find more if you venture into the inner alleys. If you need a more panoramic view, you can reach the Savitri Temple, which is a couple of KMs ahead. If you don’t feel like hiking up the hill, don’t worry, they’ve even built a ropeway to the top!
The major attraction here remains the Cattle Fair that takes place every November. This is an opportunity for the farmers and traders of the whole state to buy and sell cows as well as camels. Although primarily an economic activity, it has now become a full-fledged festival as well as a goldmine for photographers.
Recommended stay options in Pushkar
The best part of Pushkar is that it is as cheap as it gets. You can find a room with a rooftop cafe and still pay less than INR 1000 if you know where to ask. We would suggest staying at Sai Baba Haveli. Properties like these also provide great food and this one even has a huge Pizza furnace in the ground floor.
What to eat in Pushkar
Pushkar mostly serves vegetarian food. And, there are many affordable eateries dotting the town.
How to reach Pushkar
The nearest major city is Ajmer, which is well connected with the rest of the country. From here, you can easily find a bus, auto rickshaw or cab to Pushkar.
7. Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India
Contributed by Joydeep Phukan of The Gypsy Chiring
Dirang is a quaint town, relatively less explored, located in the West Kameng District of India’s Arunachal Pradesh state.
At 5310 ft above sea level, this northeastern town settled on the river banks of the Kameng River and hills all around become a scenic landscape full of natural beauty.
If you have travelled to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, Dirang is the next town after Bomdilla. The Monpa ethnic group are its local inhabitants. The town is popular for its monasteries, valleys, and the farming of kiwis, apples and apricots.
Travellers and trekkers usually frequent Dirang for its Monpa Trail trek, and for the mountaineering course at NIMAS, Dirang.
What to see in Dirang
While here, we recommend visiting the Thubsung Dhargyeling Monastery, Dirang Dzong followed by Sangti Valley and Thembang Village.
The Thembang Village, currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site nominee, is an ancient village established before the first century A.D. Prehistoric remains have also been found.
While the two 12th-century Dzong (fort or gates designed with Monpa traditional architecture) signify the history of Monpa rulers, the Thembang Wari Memorial commemorates the martyrs of the Sino-Indian War.
What to eat in Dirang
To experience the taste of ethnic Monpa dishes, it is best to eat in the homestay you are staying.
Where to stay in Dirang
While there are a number of homestays, you can stay at the Dirang Boutique Cottage near Dirang Dzong or the Letro Homestay at Sangti Valley.
8. Amritsar, Punjab, northern India
Contributed by Sarah Carter of A Social Nomad
At just 28 kilometres from the Pakistan Border, the Punjabi City of Amritsar is an incredible and historic place to visit in India.
The city’s past is steeped in India’s freedom struggle and triumph over militancy. In the year 1919, the British Army massacred hundreds of Indian civilians at Jallianwala Bagh, which led to backslash from the people in India at an unprecedented level.
Take a guided tour that dwells into the sombre past of the Jallianwala Bagh, and also mindfully steps away from darkness into the enlightening Golden Temple, also known as Harmandir Sahib. This spiritual center for the Sikh Faith is a place of faith, peace, and beauty, a truly incredible location. Whatever your faith, or lack of it, you’ll be welcome here. The mix of Hindu and Islamic architecture is a sight to behold.
The local tourism board runs daily walking tours around the old town explaining the history – good and bad – of the city.
You also won’t want to miss heading to the border with Pakistan at the infamous Wagah, where a highly symbolic, and incredibly amusing border closing ceremony is the highlight of a visit.
Recommended places to eat in Amritsar
The glorious winding alleys of the old city is the place to eat Amristari fry fish, luxurious lassis, and stunningly content laccha paratha.
The paratha with chana and dal fry at Kesar da Dhaba is sublime as a top-recommended place to eat.
You could also opt for this cultural tour which also lets you sample local Amritsari delicacies. Alternatively, eat for free in the communal dining of the simply magnificent Golden Temple.
How to reach Amritsar
Getting to Amritsar is easy, as there are several daily trains from Delhi, but the night mail train arrives in Amritsar in the early morning hours, and seeing the city at sunrise as it wakes up is a delight.
Where to stay in Amritsar
Family travellers to Amritsar should stay at the WelcomITC, an excellent centrally located hotel with superb facilities and a pool for relaxing.
9. Kochi , Kerala, southern India
Contributed by Ami Bhat of Thrilling Travel
Located in India’s southern state of Kerala, Kochi is one city that is a melting pot of different cultures with a rich history. It is this that makes Kochi, also known as Cochin, an ideal destination for travellers who want to experience a mix of old and new.
Originally a fishing village that was under a Chera Maharaja, Kochi became home to the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. Each of these rulers have left their mark on the city’s architecture and culture – relics of which still exist in a locality called Fort Kochi.
Sightseeing in Kochi
One of the must-visit attractions in Fort Kochi is the Jew Town with the Matancherry Palace and the Paradesi Synagogue. The town is one of the oldest settlements of Jews in India and still has the heritage homes.
Besides the Jew town, one must stop by the Fort Kochi beach to see the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets (called Cheenavala).
Recommended eateries in Kochi
Kochi is a food lover’s paradise with local delicacies like appam, puttu, and kadala curry.
Brindhavan restaurant is a great option for vegetarians to get a taste of these Kerala specialities.
Besides this, you will find tons of art cafes like the Loving Earth cafe serving you vegan and vegetarian continental food.
Best places to stay in Kochi
Given most of the key places to visit are in the Fort Kochi area, this locality is the best place to stay in the city.
You can opt for the many heritage properties that have been converted to hotels. The Brunton Boatyard is one such luxury property built in a shipyard owned by the British.
How to reach Kochi
Kochi has its own international airport, and is also well connected by rail to the rest of India.
10. Munnar, Kerala, southern India
Contributed by Paul D’Souza of Paulmarina
Munnar is a hill top town known for its tea gardens in Kerala, Southern India. Located amidst the Western Ghats mountain range, at an altitude of over 5000, it has long been a magnet for those escaping the heat of the South.
The bright-green rolling hills surround the town and the misty weather just adds to the fantastic vibe of the place.
Sightseeing in Munnar
You could opt for this highly recommended guided tour of Munnar which covers spectacular water cascades, plantations and tea museums.
Alternatively, you can also explore the destination on your own.
The Eravikulam national park is a popular national reserve for visiting the area and a prime spot for families with kids to learn about the natural environment and eco-sphere.
To learn more about the history of the town and the tea culture, visit the tea museum, located right in the centre of the town. The process of making tea is explained in detail in a region where tea is the main source of income.
Of course, when in Munnar, make sure to get a good choice of quality tea from the region as a souvenir. I can recommend the organic tea from Munnar, which is airy, light and pure in flavour.
Where to eat in Munnar
Head over to Saravana Bhavan for tasty South Indian thalis served on a banana leaf. Also, when in Munnar don’t forget to try the flaky Malabar Paratha.
Recommended stay options in Munnar
Take your family to the Tea County Munnar, a 4-star property, which offers spacious family-friendly rooms with stunning tea garden views.
How to reach Munnar
Due to its location, Munnar can only be accessed via car or public bus. Fly into Kochi airport and take a cab to Munnar.
The drive from Kochi to Munnar takes about 3 hours in total, and it’s a curvy-rich road, but you will get some breathtaking views.
11. Manali, Himachal Pradesh, northern India
Contributed by Ruma Dey Baidya of The Holiday Story
Manali is a small mountainous town located near Kullu Town in Himachal Pradesh. A picturesque scenic view of the Beas River and snow-capped Himalayas makes it a popular tourist destination.
It is in the north of the state capital, Shimla. This town is a gateway to Lahaul-Spiti, known as the centre of Buddhism. For its impeccable beauty, Manali is famous for honeymoons and backpack destinations.
Sightseeing in Manali
When in Manali, there are a few places which are a must visit. Opt for the 2-hour cultural walking tour that also discovers the spiritual trails of Manali.
Situated 51 km from Manali is the famed Rohtang Pass, which is popular with bikers and tourists alike.
For the uninitiated, Rohtang Pass is a narrow gap between the Pirpanjal range that offers a breathtaking view. Mountain biking and hiking in this area is a famous activity.
The Solang Valley is another famous spot to visit to explore the snow-covered beauty of the Himalayas. During winter, snowmobiles and skiing are the best activities to try, and in warmer months, you should do paragliding and zorbing.
Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple, The Manali Gompa, Himalayan Nyingmapa Buddhist Temple, and Gauri Shankar Temple are ideal places to get a spiritual vibe.
Do include Jogini Waterfalls, Bhrigu Lake, Arjun Gufa, Nehru Kund, Kothi, Gulaba, Rahala Falls, Chandrakhani Pass, and Van Vihar on the trip. Its enigmatic view, lush forest, several pilgrimages, and mythological richness make tourists visit this place annually. Travellers often do a Shimla-Manali tour jointly.
Places to eat in Manali
There are few pure vegetarian places to eat local, Gujarati, and Punjabi cuisine. Satyam Pure Veg restaurant is among them to serve delicious vegetarian food.
You might also want to take this food tour when in Manali.
Where to stay in Manali
The old Manali and the Mall Road areas are the best neighbourhoods to stay.
Hotel The Conifer is a 3-star property in Old Manali that offers nice views and various amenities at an affordable rate.
How to reach Manali
For reaching Manali, the nearest broad-gauge railway stations are Ambala and Chandigarh. You can either travel via the narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla railway or take a flight to Kullu-Manali airport. Several buses, taxis, and cars can reach Manali from these places.
12. Jodhpur, Rajasthan, western India
Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
One of the best places to visit in western India is the Blue City Jodhpur. Mostly blue painted in the old sections of the city, it is a delight to just walk around Jodhpur’s chaotic streets to get up-close with the daily routine of local people and their professions.
What to see in Jodhpur
The main attraction and a must to add to your Jodhpur itinerary is the majestic Mehrangarh Fort which dates back to 1438 and provides sweeping views of the blue-painted city.
The fort is enormous so you can easily spend half a day walking around seeing everything. There are also restaurants inside if you feel like having a snack or lunch in the fort itself.
The adventurous will also enjoy the zip-line at the fort, the Flying Fox.Other points of interest near Mehrangarh Fort are the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park and the majestic Jaswant Thada Palace.
Next, head to what was the world’s largest residence, Umaid Bhawan Palace. With 347 opulent rooms and a collection of classic cars, it shows the richness of the wealthy of Jodhpur. The museum inside shows the history of the Jodhpur Royal family. It houses a luxury hotel and is home to the former Royal Family of Jodhpur.
Where to eat in Jodhpur
For a great vegan or vegetarian meal, try Sam’s Art Café. They have great food and a rooftop overlooking the fort.
Check in at Casa de Jodhpur for a unique and traditional experience. They serve a lovely vegetarian breakfast too.
How to reach Jodhpur
Getting to Jodhpur is easy by car, train or bus from other cities in Rajasthan and New Delhi.
There is a domestic airport, but if you are coming from abroad, the easiest way is to fly into New Delhi and travel by bus, train or car to the Blue City.
13. Bengaluru, Karnataka, southern India
Contributed by Raksha Nagaraj of SoloPassport
Known by many names such as the Information Technology (IT) capital of the world, Silicon Valley of India, Garden City and the City of Lakes, Bengaluru or Bangalore is in the southern part of India in Karnataka state.
Founded by Kempegowda I in the 16th century, Bengaluru is a perfect place to cherish old and ancient landmarks and temples across the city. With the best weather throughout the year, the city is suitable for all kinds of travellers, including families.
Even though Bengaluru is very modern, and technology driven, the city is still very traditional and known for its heritage, culture, and history.
Places to visit in Bengaluru
There are many places that you can visit, like the museums where you can learn about the history of the city, parks and botanical gardens where you can take a stroll and jog, art galleries where you can appreciate local and international artists, and lakes where you can bird watch.
If you are a wildlife enthusiast and an animal lover, then one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences to do in Bengaluru is to volunteer in a Bear Rescue Centre at Bannerghatta National Park. Operated by Wildlife SOS, the Bear Rescue Centre is an ideal place where you can participate in day-to-day activities and learn about the rescued and rehabilitated sloth bears.
Recommended eateries in Bengaluru
If you are a foodie and love trying local food, then Bengaluru surely will not disappoint you as well.
There are many restaurants and darshinis ( south Indian fast-food centres), namely CTR in Malleshwaram or Taaza Thindi in Jayanagar and Banashankari, where you can try local cuisine. The Masala Dose is a must try at both these darshinis.
Best places to stay in Bengaluru
The best places to stay when you are in Bangalore are around the Racecourse area or Mahatma Gandhi Road, as they are close to most of the attractions in the city and have proximity to the metro stations. They are also some of the safest areas in the city.
Bengaluru is one of the major hubs in southern India, and hence the Kempegowda International Airport is a major airport with connectivity to most of the cities in the country and across the world. You can also take a train or a bus to the city as the city is well connected by railway lines and buses.
14. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, western India
Contributed by Jack and Abbie of ACouplesCalling
Ranthambore National Park is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in India for families!
Although a popular safari destination today, Ranthambore was once an exclusive hunting ground. Owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur, the forest was a hunting destination for the Royal family, which led to a decline in wildlife numbers, especially tigers.
Luckily, in 1980 the forest was declared a national park just seven years after the Project Tiger Scheme came into place. Since that initiative, tiger numbers have increased significantly, and the reserve is now considered to be one of the best places in the world to spot these gorgeous creatures.
Getting to see tigers in the wild is something you’ll never forget, and it’s a fantastic experience to enjoy as a family. There are 10 safari zones in Ranthambore and typically, it’s believed that zones 1-5 are the best for tiger sightings.
You’ve also got a chance of spotting a variety of other wildlife including sloth bears, striped hyenas, leopards, macaques, jackals, and boar.
Recommended places to eat
After enjoying some time in the national park, why not head to the nearby Ranthambore Fort? You’ll also find plenty of fantastic restaurants nearby where you can grab something to eat, including Goyal’s (Food Circle) and Kanha’s Restaurant.
How to reach Ranthambore
If you’re planning to go on a safari at Ranthambore then you’ll need to reach Sawai Madhopur, a city in Rajasthan. This city is accessible by bus and train from other popular destinations in India including Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and New Delhi.
You could also visit the Sariska National Park to continue your lucky streak with spotting the tigers!
15. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, central India
Contributed by Melissa Kruse of mountainsandmahals.com
The town of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh offers a UNESCO World Heritage site with ancient temples and, just next door, a sprawling National Park famous for its tiger repopulation.
The Khajuraho Temples, built during the Chandella dynasty, showcase a unique fusion of religious, mythological, and sensuous art through the intricate carvings. You can tour the Western Group of temples in a few hours and learn about the history and meaning behind the temples, which belong to two different religions, Hinduism and Jainism.
Nearby Panna National Park offers jeep safaris exploring the natural beauty of the park with a guide to track down animal sightings. If you’re lucky you’ll get the incredible experience of observing a tiger in its natural habitat. Other animals to keep a look out for include leopards, jungle cats, sambars, langurs, kingfisher, mongoose, blue bucks, white-spotted deer, serpentine eagles, mongooses, vultures, and more!
Where to stay in Khajuraho
For a truly memorable visit, you should stay at Taj Pashan Garh, located in the buffer zone of Panna National Park, making the grounds themselves a beautiful landscape with lots of animal activity to witness.
The hotel arranges safaris with their knowledgeable naturalists on staff to provide interesting and action packed drives through the park. The staff goes above and beyond to provide excellent service and delicious meals catered to your and your family’s preferences.
How to reach Khajuraho
Though a little remote, the best way to get to Khajuraho is to fly directly into the Khajuraho airport from Delhi or take a train to Khajuraho Junction. If you want to find more flight options, look at Jabalpur airport, which is a five and half hour drive away from Khajuraho.
Do check out our quick guide on sightseeing places in Madhya Pradesh.
16. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, western India
Contributed by Ketki Gadre of explorewithecokats.com
Soak up the cultural highlights, catch a glimpse of traditional architecture, sample local culture and explore the fascinating history of Amdavad as it is locally and fondly called.
Ahmedabad, honoured as India’s first World Heritage city by UNESCO in July 2017 is the perfect blend of urban and traditional landscapes.
Sightseeing in Ahmedabad
Overwhelming at times due to its ever growing traffic, there are places to visit in Ahmedabad that offer you historic serenity, festive vibrancy and delicious palette.
For the all the first time visitors to Ahmedabad, the best way to get introduced to the city is to participate in the Ahmedabad Heritage Walk. Advertised as Mandir se Masjid tak, the walk starts at a temple and ends at a mosque. This walk is a two-kilometre guided walk held every day that covers 20 sights such as Hindu and Jain temples, alleys, heritage houses, mosques, chowks and exquisitely carved bird feeders.
The end of the walk signals time for breakfast and what better way than how the locals do. Gorging on piping hot Fafda and Jalebis.
What and where to eat in Ahmedabad
Fafda is a street-side snack that is even served in five star restaurants and generally served with green papaya spiced salad and Kadhi (thick gravy made from gram flour and yoghurt with Indian spices).
Made from gram flour and fried in hot oil, there are chains of family run restaurants since generations in Gujarat who make and sell Fafda and Jalebi for all days of the year, making it a must have in Ahmedabad.
The best place to try Fafda and Jalebi is Oshwal at Ashram Road.
Where to stay in Ahmedabad
Heritage homes in the pols (old lanes) of Ahmedabad have different flavour with typical Gujarati tapestry and furniture. Stay in one of such homes to get the homely Gujarati feel. Mangaldas ni Haveli or French Haveli offers a wonderful stay in Ahmedabad old city.
17. Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra, south-western India
Contributed by Simon Zhelyazkov of backpackmoments.com
The Elephanta Caves are just a stone’s throw away from the bustling megapolis of Mumbai. Located on the tiny island of Gharapuri, they are carved into the solid rock onshore.
These ancient caves date back to the 5th to 7th centuries and are a UNESCO Heritage site. They are a testament to India’s rich cultural heritage, and a must-visit if you go to Mumbai.
What to see at the Elephanta Caves
There are 7 caves in total, all dimly lit and full of intricate sculptures and bas-reliefs dedicated to Lord Shiva, the main deity of the caves. The most iconic sculpture here is the colossal three-headed Shiva, a masterpiece that will surely mesmerise you.
Cave 1 is the biggest and most impressive one measuring 39 metres in length and complete with shrines and statues.
Wondering if you’ll see any elephants on the small island? No, you will not. The name was coined by Portuguese sailors who found elephant statuettes in the caves.
How to reach the Elephanta Caves
To get to the caves, hop on a boat leaving from the dock behind the Gateway of India. The boat ride takes about an hour one way and there is frequent service throughout the day.
Where to eat
After your exploration, head back to Mumbai and treat yourself to the vegetarian cuisine of The Chetana Restaurant serving exquisite dishes since 1946. Try the different kinds of Thalis: Gujarathi, Rajasthani, or Maharashtrian.
Where to stay
For a comfortable stay with your family, consider booking a hotel in the Colaba or Churchgate neighborhoods of Mumbai. They are both close to the Gateway of India and many of the other attractions. One great option for families is the “The Gordon House Hotel,” with spacious rooms and helpful staff.
18. Siddhpur, Gujarat, western India
Contributed by Mayuri Patel of fernwehrahee.com
Siddhpur is a historical town located in the Patan district of Gujarat, India. It is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, ancient temples, and historical significance.
The town is approx. 25 kms from Patan and 100 kms from Ahmedabad. You can combine your visit to Rani Ki vav along with Siddhpur.
What to see in Siddhpur
Siddhpur is believed to be one of the oldest towns in Gujarat, with a history dating back over a thousand years. It was an important centre of trade and commerce during the mediaeval period and was known for its prosperity.
The town is so colourful and adorned by its beautiful havelis– owned by Muslim Bohra community.
The Dawoodi Bohra community has its roots back to Yemen, and they settled in Gujarat during the medieval times. A majority of them now live abroad, and most of the havelis are empty. However, you can see a few of them, thanks to their caretakers!
Ofcourse, you cannot visit these havelis from inside, but can request them to have a peep inside.
The area is popularly known as Boharavad and most of the havelis are built in European style architecture dating back to the 18th century. Take a leisure walk through the streets and visit the architectural marvels of Siddhpur.
The town is also known for its numerous Hindu temples. The most famous among them is the Rudra Mahalaya Temple, which is a historically and architecturally significant structure. It was built during the Solanki dynasty’s rule in the 10th century and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is known for its intricate carvings and stunning architecture.
The Siddhpur town is also known for its traditional craftsmanship, including the production of Bandhani sarees (tie-and-dye) and embroidery work.
Being a Gujarati town, you can have taste of veg Gujarati cuisines like dhokla, fafda and Jalebi in the clock tower area of the town.
Where to stay
You can opt to stay at Ahmedabad or Patan for better experiences as the town is very small and does not offer many stay options nearby. You can take a day trip to Siddhpur.
How to get there
Sidhpur is well connected by public transportation. You can reach via bus or train easily. If you want to travel in luxury, you can reach by taxi from Ahmedabad.
19. Haridwar, Uttarakhand, northern India
Contributed by Martina of PlacesofJuma
Located on the banks of the holy river Ganges in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, Haridwar is a very special city in India, full of spirituality and cultural significance.
It is one of the seven holiest places in Hinduism and the site of the Kumbh Mela, a major pilgrimage that attracts millions of visitors from India but also from around the world every year.
What to do in Haridwar
An unforgettable experience in Haridwar is to witness the fascinating Ganga Aarti ceremony. This takes place every day at the main site at Har Ki Pauri Ghat.
It is said that there is a footprint of God Vishnu in the stone. As the sun sets, priests perform rituals with fire, incense and chanting, creating a spiritual atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression.
Recommendations on where to eat in Haridwar
Haridwar is also known for its authentic vegetarian cuisine. The Big Ben Restaurant, a local favourite, serves many traditional Indian dishes such as dal, paneer dishes and delicious desserts.
Best places to stay in Haridwar
For accommodation, stay in the Har Ki Pauri area for easy access to the Ganga Aarti and other attractions.
The Pilibhit House, a magnificent 5-star hotel with traditional charm and proximity to the holy river, offers a quiet and luxurious stay for friends and families.
How to reach Haridwar
Getting to Haridwar is easy. The town is accessible by train, with Haridwar Junction being a major railway station connecting the city with various cities in India.
The city is also well-connected by road and is accessible by both public buses and private vehicles. To reach Haridwar by air, one has to fly to the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun.
20. Hampi, Karnataka, southern India
Contributed by Soumya Nambiar of Travel, Books & Food
Hampi is a UNESCO world heritage town located in the southern state of Karnataka in India. It was the capital of the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century.
Most of the city is now in ruins and is a perfect destination in India for an architectural lover. There are over 1500 ruins around the town and even a week may not be enough to cover the famous landmarks in Hampi.
What to see in Hampi
Hampi has a combination of multiple Hindu temples as well architectural marvels like bath houses, elephant stables, mandaps and so much more.
If you have limited time in Hampi, then some of the must visit places in Hampi include the following:
- Virupaksha Temple
- Vittala Temple complex which has the world famous chariot seen on Indian rupee notes. (Most recommended by travellers to Hampi)
- A trek to the Matanga temple on Matanga hill.
- Watch the sunset from the many vantage points across the city.
- Elephant stables
- Lotus Mahal and the Zanana enclosure
- Queen’s bathhouse
- Take a coracle ride in the Tungabadra river
- Badavalinga temple
- Lakshmi Narasinha temple
- Hemakuta hill
- Underground Shiva temple
- Krishna temple
- Kadelakalu Ganesha
- Stepped tanks
- Take a boat ride in the Sanapur lake
- Archaeological museum
- Rock climbing
- And so much more
Where to stay in Hampi
Since most of the sites are located in a 15 square kilometre, it is best to stay in the centre of the city. There are multiple homestays but if you are looking for luxury hotels, then Evolve Hampi or Hyatt Hampi are your best bets.
How to reach Hampi
The easiest way to get here is by road from Bengaluru. It is around 350 kms and takes approximately 5-6 hours one way.
Additionally, you can take many of the group tours or public volvos from Bengaluru to Hampi.
Pro tip: Stay an additional week and combine it with other historical places in the area like Pattadakal, Aihole, Badami and Bijapur.
Look out for a second part to this article with quick information on more historical and beautiful places to visit in India, soon!