Out of all the states in India, Rajasthan is the most visited as it is rich in magnificent palaces and forts, colorful festivals and bazaars, and natural reserves such as Ranthambore National Park.
Travelers who are looking for an outdoor adventure can go to Himachal Pradesh or Jammu and Kashmir. Those in search of a more peaceful and relaxing vacation can head to Kerala or Goa.
For visitors interested in learning more about India’s culture and history, Punjab and Gujarat Pradesh are the perfect places.
People who are visiting India for the first time should visit the Golden Triangle cities to see the country’s most famous sites. India"s Golden Triangle is the country’s most popular tourist circuit which includes the national capital of Delhi and the beautiful cities of Agra and Jaipur.
- Rajasthan is home to Ranthambore National Park, the best-known tiger spotting area in India.
- Kerala contains peaceful backwaters, sprawling tea estates, pristine hill stations, and beaches that overlook the Arabian Sea.
- Even though it is one of the smallest states in India, Goa attracts millions of visitors every year with its scenic beaches such as Calangute and Agonda.
- Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state in India and is the location of Agra and the Taj Mahal.
- Jammu and Kashmir are famous for their scenic splendor and snow-capped mountains. The most famous area in this state is Ladakh where you can get the best views of the Himalayas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visitors should also explore the renowned Jain temples and walk through the city"s magnificent historic Havelis or mansions.
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 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.
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.
Goa is one of the smallest states in India but with a coastline stretching for over 100 kilometers, it has some of the best beaches. Calangute is one of the more popular beaches due to its length and beauty.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kolkata is also well-known for its street food and immigrant Chinese population.
Discover the Splendid Civilization of South Asia
Explore India with Asia Highlights
If you are planning to travel to India and don’t know which states are best for you then plan your trip with us. At Asia Highlights, we can help you create the perfect travel itinerary based on your individual preferences. Contact us to talk to one of our travel advisors and start planning a journey full of meaningful experiences.