1. Rajasthan: a state rich in magnificent palaces and colorful festivals
Rajasthan is an unparalleled tourist destination when it comes to culture and heritage. Stretching over 342,200 square kilometers, the state contains the Thar Desert and is intersected by the Aravalli Mountain Range, which runs diagonally from the northeast to the southwest.
Rajasthan is popularly known as the Land of the Kings as it was once ruled by the many maharajas and their royal families. The state is home to various famous forts including the Amber Fort in Jaipur, the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer Fort. Here, you can also find Ranthambore National Park, the best tiger spotting location in India.
Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, is the capital of the royal state of Rajasthan and is among the largest cities in India. This city, along with Delhi and Agra, is part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit.
The most popular places to visit in Jaipur are the ancient palaces and forts. They boast an elaborate architecture that serves as a glorious reminder of their royal heritage. Some of these places include the Amber Fort, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Nahargarh Fort, and Jaigarh Fort. Hawa Mahal
Udaipur is located near the southern portion of the mighty Aravalli Hills which separate the city from the Thar Desert. Udaipur is also known as the ‘Venice of the East' as it has an abundance of lakes, natural beauty, and breathtaking architecture.
Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake are the most popular of Udaipur's man-made lakes. Visitors can explore these lakes by renting a paddleboat or motorboat. The City Palace is a complex that contains 11 incredible palaces and is another must-see attraction here. Udaipur is also known as the ‘Venice of the East'
In the evening, you can head to Ambrai Ghat to watch the sunset over the water.
Jodhpur is the second-largest city in Rajasthan. It is also known as the Blue City because it looks completely blue from the air due to the blue walls and rooftops of most buildings. The houses in Jodhpur were originally painted to signify that they were occupied by Brahmins, the highest caste in India.
Mehrangarh Fort is one of the city’s main attractions. This immense fort was carved from stone and contains a museum with a display of royal memorabilia including about 15,000 items from Maharaja Gaj Singh II's collection. Mehrangarh Fort is one of the city’s main attractions
Visitors can also check out the famous Clock Tower and the neighboring Sadar Market which sells handicrafts, spices, saris, and fabric.
Jaisalmer is the city where one can witness the perfect combination of desert landscape, architecture, hospitality, and adventure. The city is also known as the 'golden city' as it is home to many golden dunes and castles made from yellow sandstone.
Jaisalmer Fort is the city’s most famed attraction. The fort contains many hotels, guesthouses, temples, handicraft stores, restaurants, and the former maharaja's royal palace. Jaisalmer is known as the golden city
Visitors should also explore the renowned Jain temples and walk through the city's magnificent historic Havelis or mansions.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most popular national parks in North India. It is 130 kilometers from Jaipur and covers an area of 392 square kilometers. The park is famous for being the best tiger spotting location of India.
Ranthambore National Park contains more than 300 species of plants and animals and visitors can take a jeep safari through the jungle to see the wildlife. Jeep safaris are guided by a park naturalist who will explain details about the park to guests. You will also get a chance to take pictures of the animals in their natural habitat. Ranthambore National Park is famous for being the best tiger spotting location of India
Keoladeo Ghana National Park
Formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This sanctuary contains over 29 square kilometers of wetlands, grasslands, woodlands, and swamps which attract a wide variety of migrating birds. Some of the birds in the park come from places as distant as Siberia each winter.
The park attracts over 375 bird species including Egrets, cormorants, grey herons, storks, cranes, peregrine falcons, and steppe eagles. Keoladeo’s diverse habitat is also home to many animals including the famed Nilgal (Asian antelope) and the endangered softshell turtle. This sanctuary attracts a wide variety of migrating birds
Taking a boat ride that is navigated by a park expert is the best way to explore the wetlands. The boatmen act as guides and will point out bird colonies and significant flora and leave you plenty of time to get the best shots. Bicycles and cycle-rickshaws are also available for exploring the forest paths.
Learn more about Top 10 Places to Visit in Rajasthan.
2. Kerala: an enchanting mosaic of coconut groves, wide beaches, and canals
Kerala is a charming South Indian state that contains the famous backwater villages, sprawling tea estates, pristine hill stations, and beaches bordering the Arabian Sea.
Some of the top places to visit in Kerala include the old Portuguese port city of Cochin, the hill station of Munnar, and the twisting canals and villages of Alleppey.
Situated on the south-west coast of India, Kochi (or Cochin) is a bustling commercial port city with an abundance of scenic beauty and dramatic landscapes. The city has been influenced by many different cultures including the Arabs, British, Chinese, and Portuguese.
The Chinese Fishing Nets are the most iconic and photographed spot in Cochin as they are often beautifully-silhouetted against the sea at sunset. The Chinese Fishing Nets are the most iconic and photographed spot in Cochin
The colonial-era buildings in Fort Kochi are another famous attraction in the city. Here you can eat at modern restaurants, buy beautiful clothes, or check out some spice stores.
Munnar was once the summer resort of British government officials during colonial rule in South India. This hill station is one of the most sought after honeymoon destinations in Kerala with its sprawling tea fields, cardamom plantations, picturesque towns, and winding lanes.
One of the main attractions near Munnar is Eravikulam National Park which is home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and several species of rare butterflies, animals, and birds.
Two kilometers away from Munnar is the Atukkad Waterfalls which are perfect for romantic trips and picnics.
Munnar is also a famous Indian hill station and one of the top locations in the country for growing tea. Munnar contains around 24, 000 hectares of sprawling tea estates and plantations. When visiting, travelers can tour the plantations and get the chance to see the tea pickers working in the tea gardens. Sprawling tea estates and plantations in Munnar
Most tea field workers are local women because their thinner fingers are preferred for the delicate task of plucking tea leaves.
Besides the tea plantations, the gentle hills of Munnar also offer excellent bike rides and walks.
Whether you are on honeymoon, traveling with family, or on a solo trip, Alleppey is the perfect destination to unwind and relax.
The town of Alleppey or Alappuzha is famous for its wide network of palm-lined canals that make up an area called the backwaters. It is also the perfect place to spend some time at rejuvenating Ayurvedic resorts.
Allepey is famous for its houseboat cruises that pass through the serene backwaters, where you can catch glimpses of life in the villages. Alappuzha Beach is a great place to relax under the palm groves and go for a picnic. Houseboat cruises that pass through the serene backwaters
Periyar National Park
Periyar National Park is known as a sanctuary for elephants and tigers. The Periyar Lake, a year-round source of water, and the abundant grasslands make the park an ideal habitat for elephant herds and wild tigers. The park was officially declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978.
Taking a two-hour boat ride on the mist-shrouded Periyar Lake is one of the best ways to spot wildlife, especially the elephants. Safari trips guided by nature experts are also available for travelers who want to explore the forests, grasslands, and tropical evergreen interiors of Periyar.
When going deeper into the park, guests have the opportunity to see macaques, Indian bison, and sloth bears.
Learn more about Top 12 Places to Visit in Kerala.
Goa is one of the smallest states in India and is located along the country’s southwestern coast a few hours from Mumbai. Approximately 400 years of Portuguese colonial rule has shaped Goa’s distinct culture and is still visible in the area today.
Goa is one of India’s most popular holiday destinations because of its idyllic beaches, whitewashed churches, and grand mansions. For foodies, this is also the perfect place for Indian-European fusion food.
Panaji is Goa’s capital and is known for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, especially in the leafy avenues of the old residential quarters. The old quarters are located between Ourem Creek and Altinho Hill and are characterized by beautiful colonial buildings like the Santo Tomé Church and Fundação Oriente.
Fundação Oriente is now a Portuguese foundation that is devoted to artistic and scientific work. The building also contains a library that is open to the public. To keep up with the city’s traditional Portuguese building style, most houses are painted pale brown, indigo, or yellow making it a colorful streetscape.
There are dozens of restaurants and cafes in Panaji serving delicious European and Goan food. Visitors often love the fresh seafood dishes such as crab masala and fish curry rice, as well as the laid back ambiance and relaxing vibes.
Old Goa was once a vast Portuguese city filled with elegant palaces and mansions before the viceroy moved his residence downstream to Panaji in the mid-18th century. Today, Old Goa is well-known for its significant and beautiful monuments leftover from that time.
A magnificent European style complex of cathedrals and churches, most of which were designed by Portuguese or Italian architects, makes up the majority of Old Goa. A walk through this area provides travelers with insights into important religious monuments like the Basilica de Bom Jesus and the Sé Catedral. A magnificent European style complex of cathedrals and churches in Goa
The Basilica de Bom Jesus is a grand Baroque structure that was built by the Jesuits in 1594. It’s widely revered by Roman Catholics because it contains St Francis Xavier’s sacred remains in a marble and jasper tomb. Designed in the 16th century, Sé Catedral was built in the Renaissance style with intricate Corinthian detailing inside and a gilded high altar.
There are some other equally beautiful churches in the area. Some of the most famous include the Royal Chapel of St Anthony, the Church and Convent of St John of God, and the Church of St Francis of Assisi.
Palolem’s crescent-shaped beach is the loveliest in South Goa. This beach is particularly famous for dolphin sightings as well as its spectacular sunsets. Palolem is ideal for people looking for a quiet and relaxing holiday due to its remote location away from the crowded beaches of northern and central Goa.
Besides water sports, on Palolem, visitors can take boat rides operated by local fishermen in search of dolphins or relax in a thatch-roofed beach shack under the coconut trees.
Calangute Beach is the longest beach in North Goa, stretching from Candolim to Baga. It is also one of the busiest and most developed beaches in the area. Calangute is full of great restaurants, shacks, and clubs serving cocktails, beer, and seafood. Goa's beach is ideal for people looking for a relaxing holiday
Here, travelers can enjoy an array of water sport activities including parasailing, surfing, banana boat rides, and jet-skiing. In the evening, the beach comes alive with upbeat parties, dancing, music, and great food.
Learn more about Goa's Complete Guide.
Punjab is also famously referred to as the ‘Land of Five Rivers’ because the rivers of Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Chenab, and Jhelum all run through the state.
Amritsar is the most famous city in Punjab, famous for being the location of the Golden Temple.
The iconic city of Amritsar is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. The city is located in northern Punjab around 25 kilometers from the border with Pakistan. Amritsar is the state’s main center of business, culture, and transportation.
Amritsar is most famous for being the location of the Golden Temple which is one of the most spiritual places in India. The temple attracts pilgrims from all over the world and looks particularly amazing at night when its large golden dome is illuminated. Sikh gurdwara Golden Temple in Amritsar
Learn more about Top 12 Places to Visit in Punjab.
5. Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is full of clear and serene lakes, lofty mountains, ancient temples, and cheerful people. The state is known for its eco-friendliness, natural scenery, colorful culture, and adventure sports. One of the most famous destinations here is Manali.
Manali is nestled in between the snow-capped slopes of the Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar mountain ranges. It is one of the most popular hill stations in the country blessed with jaw-dropping views, lush green forests, sprawling meadows, and gushing blue streams. A Monastery in Manali
Solang Valley is the most visited spot in Manali for its breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and its slopes that are great for skiing in the winter. In the summer, the valley becomes a paragliding haven.
Learn more about Top 12 Destinations in Himachal Pradesh.
6. Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is situated in the northern part of India, bordering India’s capital city of Delhi. It is the most populated state in the country with many historical monuments and places of religious significance. The city of Agra with its world-famous Taj Mahal is located here
Along with Delhi and Jaipur, Agra is one of the cities that forms the Golden Triangle of tourism in India.
Agra is located on the banks of the Yamuna River and is a great place to go to experience India’s rich Mughal heritage through architecture, monuments, and local customs.
Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This white marble mausoleum is a symbol of love and was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal is a symbol of love
Varanasi is situated on the west bank of the Ganges and is India’s holiest Hindu city. This is the city of Shiva and it is said that Shiva whispers to the elderly who come here to wait for their death.
Many Hindus consider dying in Varanasi to be very honorable as it’s believed that through passing in this location their earthly sins will be cleansed and they will attain moksha, the liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Most people visit Varanasi for spiritual and religious purposes. All kinds of religious ceremonies, rituals, and practices can be observed every day here. Attending the evening aarti allows travelers to get involved in the sacred mantras while also witnessing devotees offering oil lamps and ringing the bells. You can also send your offerings of flowers and diyas (oil lanterns) floating down the river. Attending the evening aarti
There over 700 temples in Varanasi, some of which are said to be over 1,000 years old. The riverside is lined with numerous temples, shrines, and ghats (stairs leading down to a holy river). The Dasashvamedha Ghat is one of the holiest spots in Varanasi and is where devotees come to worship Brahma, the Creator.
The Vishwanath Temple is topped with 750 kilograms of gold and is dedicated to the god Shiva. The riverside is lined with numerous temples
Learn more about Top 12 Places to Visit in Uttar Pradesh.
7. Gujarat Pradesh
Located in between Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Gujarat is home to several architectural marvels and is famous for its vibrant culture and rich heritage. Gujarat contains Ahmedabad, India's first UNESCO World Heritage City, and is home to diverse Hindu, Muslim, and Jain communities.
Ahmedabad Old City
Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat for many centuries, was declared India's first UNESCO World Heritage City in 2017. It is the perfect destination for tourists who wish to discover the medieval art and architecture of India.
Travelers will find many incredible historical monuments in this city including the Bhadra Fort with its magnificent palace, the Bhadrakali Temple which was built in honor of the Hindu Goddess Bhadra, and the Sarkhej Roza which is a mosque and tomb that showcases the striking Islamic architecture of the Mughal era. The historical mosque in Ahmedabad
Learn more about Top 16 Places to Visit in Gujarat.
8. Jammu and Kashmir
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is well-known for its scenery, snow-capped mountains, plentiful wildlife, and exquisite monuments. Ladakh is the top destination in this state because it is surrounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Himalayas and the Karakoram.
Ladakh is the perfect place for hiking and visiting Buddhist monasteries.
Ladakh is the largest of the 10 provinces of Jammu and Kashmir. The province is further divided into Leh (the capital), Nubra, Zanskar, and Rupshu. Nubra Valley in Ladakh
The Leh Palace, also known as 'Lhachen Palkhar' is one of the most historically rich structures in India. It is nine-stories high and offers panoramic views of the entire town as well as the Stok Kangri and Zanskar mountains of the Himalayan Range.
Leh is a great place to relax in the crisp clean air while enjoying the mountain views of this small and quiet town.
Learn more about Top 20 Things to Do in Ladakh.
Karnataka was ranked 3rd in the list of the most popular tourist locations in India in 2014. The state is home to 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Hampi, Pattadakal, and the Western Ghat Mountains. Its capital, Bangalore, is also a popular tourist destination with Bangalore Palace as its main attraction.
Bangalore, now called Bengaluru, is the capital city of Karnataka. It is the third-largest city and one of the most livable areas in India. Bangalore is especially loved for its pleasant weather, beautiful parks, and lakes. The city has earned several nicknames including the Silicon Valley of India, the Pub Capital of India, and the Air Conditioned City.
Bangalore Palace was built by Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1887 and its design was inspired by England's Windsor Castle. The Tudor-style architecture of the palace is showcased in its fortified towers, arches, green lawns, and elegant woodcarvings.
Mysore, officially called Mysuru, was once the capital city of the Wadiyar rulers, Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan. Mysore is an important center of culture and heritage in Karnataka, known for its elegant buildings and variety of artwork including ivory work, silk-weaving, sandalwood incense, and carvings.
The city’s most famous attraction is the Amba Vilas Palace, also known as the Mysore Palace. Built by the Wodeyar rulers, this palace has an Indo-Saracenic style of architecture complete with domes, turrets, and colonnades. It’s also a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art. The city’s most famous attraction is the Amba Vilas Palace, also known as the Mysore Palace
The public Durbar Hall is richly decorated with gold and turquoise. The image of the goddess Durga in her various incarnations is displayed in a series of paintings on the wall. The private Durbar Hall is smaller but extremely beautiful with stained glass imported from Glasgow. During weekends and festivals, thousands of lights illuminate the palace’s exterior.
Learn more about Top 16 Places to Visit in Karnataka.
10. West Bengal
The beautiful state of West Bengal is blessed with mesmerizing mountains, lush mangrove forests, ancient temples, and magnificent British monuments. Its cosmopolitan capital of Kolkata is home to the Victoria Memorial, a museum that holds a collection of items from the British colonial period.
Kolkata, also known as Calcutta, is the capital of West Bengal. While the city used to be known for its slums and poverty, it is now widely referred to as the cultural capital of India. Kolkata is famous as being a place of creativity that has produced many famous works of Indian literature, art, cinema, music, and theater.
Named after England’s Queen Victoria, the Victoria Memorial is a huge white-marble colonial-era building and museum. Here, visitors will see a collection of impressive paintings, sculptures, and books. The Victoria Memorial is a huge white-marble colonial-era building and museum
Kolkata is also well-known for its street food and immigrant Chinese population.
Learn more about Top 16 Places to Visit in West Bengal.