Being an avid traveler, I feel like India has a lot to offer tourists with it’s vast natural landscape, rich culture and historical background. India for many years has been overlooked as a holiday destination making it out to be a destination for only budget travelers looking for adventure in a harsh environment. This cannot be further from the truth. While India does catch the eye of budget travelers and backpackers, it more than caters to luxury travelers and as a family vacation destination. In my earlier post I shared 10 Reasons Why India MUST be on your List of Holiday Destinations. In this guide I would love to share my personal top travel picks to the best of what India has to offer. Making a choice on some of these was not easy as I was torn with more than one destination and it all boiled down to personal choice. While this post merely scratches the surface of this magnificent country it’s a start to discovering more. Feel free to leave your thoughts and picks for the best on India in the comments below.
Best Beach in India
With a coastline of over 7,500 kilometers picking a best beach was by no means an easy task. While the obvious choice is to pick a beach on the mainland of India and most would say that would have to be in Goa, my pick for the Best Beach in India lies about 900km away from India on the remote Islands of the Andamans- Radha Nagar Beach,Havelock Island. It is also known as just Beach No. 7.
In 2004 the TIME Magazine rated this pristine beach one of the best beaches you can get to on the planet. From the article: “By latitude, you’re a little south of Vietnam’s China Beach, a little north of Phuket, and about level with the Philippines—a position that helps explain the stunning combination of white sand and gin-clear sea before you. A quick snorkel confirms the impression that these waters are among the most pristine on earth. That’s because in 1998, when the sea-warming, coral-bleaching phenomenon known as El Niño swept the oceans, devastating coral formations such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Andaman Sea was largely spared. Havelock Island is largely untouched by humankind too—visited by a mere 10,000 tourists a year (compared with the millions swarming Phuket across the water). That means plenty of room on the beach for everyone.”
Best place to encounter wildlife in India
India has over 96 national parks and hundreds of wildlife sanctuaries spread across the whole country. My pick for the best place to encounter a wild animal especially the sought after Royal Bengal Tiger is the Jim Corbett National Park, Uttaranchal.
Extending over a tract of 520 sq km, the Jim Corbett Park is a large valley with forest ridges running through it. The magnificent Ramganga River winds through its entire length in a south-south westerly direction and the numerous forest streams and rivulets that flow into it carve up the area into little ridges and ravines. Corbett is a haven for Tigers as well as its prey, which include four kinds of Deer, Wild Boar and some lesser-known animals. Leopard, bears, elephants, peacocks, porcupine, crocodiles and monkeys are all part and parcel to a visit here.
Best place to experience Indian rural culture
A major part of India’s population resides in rural villages. If you want to experience the roots of most Indian’s and this part of the country life with all it’s simplicity and hardships a trip to the state of Rajasthan is a must.
The desert state of Rajasthan is scattered with numerous villages away from the hustle and bustle of chaotic city life and provides a chance to view the colorful lifestyle of the remote villages. Though they usually lack any forts, palaces, gardens and wildlife sanctuaries what otherwise the State is famous for, they are worth visiting for the very reason that they present rural life in it’s simplest and most basic existence. These villages seem frozen in time seemingly unchanged over centuries. It’s people living day to day lives of survival and hardships.
A simple village has a group of people living in circular thatched roof huts with walls made up of plaster of clay, cow dung, and hay. If it weren’t for the herds of cattle and other domesticated animals like the camel, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that a settlement of humans is living their daily lives existed there. Dependent on agriculture and other related occupations, the people though simple and poor are the epitome of Indian hospitality. There are many villages in Rajasthan which can be visited. Prominent among these are the villages in the Shekhawati region. Apart from these other typical villages are located around Jaisalmer and Bikaner.
Best place to party in India
While most metro cities of India will boast of having an active nightlife scene…there’s just no place like Goa when it comes to partying. This party hub of India is known the world over for it’s laid-back beach life during the day and the endless array of things to do at night. Most famous for it’s New Year’s parties Goa is also popular for the sun, surf and food.
From beach shacks to cruises and family dine & dance to casinos & bars, Goa has something to offer everyone looking to kick of their shoes and have a good time.
Best place in India to feel like you’re not in India
This pick was easy cos not only does it feel like you’re not in India when you visit it but it’s like no other place in the world. My pick for the best place in India to feel like you’re not in India is Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Moonland’ because of it’s unusual terrain and barren landscape, this mountain wonder is set atop some of the highest accessible peaks in the Himalayas at an altitude of about 3,000 m (9,800 ft). Strongly influenced by Tibet and largely inhabited by people of Tibetan descent, Ladakh sometimes doesn’t feel like a part of India.
India known for it’s tropical weather houses the second coldest place on Earth after Siberia, Drass which is right in Ladakh itself. With it’s snow capped mountains, barren landscape and clear blue lakes Ladakh is a site which can never be compared to another in this world.
Best place to try out a new adventure sport
While you can have a go at a number of adventure sports in India including paragliding, para sailing, rock climbing, mountaineering, skydiving, skiing and more.What you won’t get a chance to do anywhere else is White water raft over the rapids in the Himalayas.
The thrill of riding in a raft in the gushing waters snaking through the rocky mountains, the sudden rapids with rocks and boulders, swirling holes and rumbling roars of the pristine rivers is a adventure to experience. With over 7 white water rafting destinations in the Himalayas alone, you can take you pick based on experience levels. Rishikesh on the river Ganga is easily the most popular and my pick for the best place in India to try out an Adventure sport.
Best luxury vacation destination in India
Fit for the Maharajas(kings) the palace hotels in Rajasthan scream luxury mixed with rich culture and history. The one Hotel that stands out the most among the other hundreds there are is the Taj Lake Palace Hotel sitting in the middle of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, Rajasthan. This majestic white marble structure was home to Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar – believed to be descendants of the Sun God. The Royal Butlers descendants of the original palace retainers look after all contemporary comforts and ensure that all guests are treated like Royalty.
Best place for an unusual stay experience
My pick for the most unusual stay experience in India are the Houseboats of Kerala which offer a panoramic view of one of the most picturesque aspects of the God’s Own Country. A cruise along the palm-fringed waterways of Kerala in a luxury houseboat is just about the most enchanting holiday experience in India today.
The backwaters of Kerala stretch over 1900 kms and with about 9 destinations you can take your pick of which part of Kerala you’d like to cruise through.