Travel while you’re still young. Lose yourself to find your own self. Live like there’s no tomorrow. And whatever you’ll explore today will last a lifetime with you. So, here’s a list of 70 amazing tourist places to visit in India before you turn 30. What are you waiting for? It’s time to pack your bags and set on a journey to scratch off a few destinations from your bucket list.
Choice of vacation destinations in India seem to be infinite; from scenic destinations to historically and culturally soaked sites, from cities bustling with chaos and confusion to destinations offering laid-back and relaxed stays. Amidst this huge list of destinations, there is always a dilemma of choosing a destination that is really worth a visit. Well! Relieving you of this dilemma, here is a list of top 15 destinations that make it to the list of ‘Must-Visit’ destinations in India for all travellers. Let’s now, find out the reasons as to why this is so.
Varanasi (Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈraːɳəsi] ), also known as Benares, Banaras (Banāras [bəˈnaːrəs], or Kashi (Kāśī [ˈkaːʃi] ), is a city on the banks of the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, India, 320 kilometres (200 mi) south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and 121 kilometres (75 mi) east of Allahabad. A major religious hub in India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism and played an important role in the development of Buddhism and Ravidassia. Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra, and Delhi, and is served by Varanasi Junction railway station and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport.
According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by Shiva, one of three principal deities along with Brahma and Vishnu. During a fight between Brahma and Shiva, one of Brahma’s five heads was torn off by Shiva. As was the custom, the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy, and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonoured Brahma’s head and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared in the ground. Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy site.
A city immersed in a splendid Mughal charm, Agra needs no introduction. Home to the eternal symbol of love, the iconic ‘Taj Mahal‘, Agra finds one of the topmost places on the world heritage map. Having to its acclaim of being the only city in the world glittering with three world heritage sites, Agra definitely makes it to the list of popular Indian travel destinations. With its three gems, the impressive Taj Mahal, magnificent Agra Fort and splendid Fatehpur Sikri; the city lures thousands of tourists including historians and art lovers from all across India and the world. From savouring on the city’s authentic and traditional Mughlai flavours, shopping in the lively markets teeming with marble handicrafts adorned with fine inlay carvings and fine leather items, watching the epic of the timeless love between Shah Jahan and his beloved, Noor Jahan coming to life at the ‘Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Center’ to soaking your spirits in the enthralling fiesta of the ‘Taj Mahotsav‘, there is much more to do in the historic city of Agra than just exploring its monuments. For a more closer and adventurous face off with this cultural city, get on an off the beaten path journey and explore the narrow alleyways of the old city, ancient temples or visit the renowned poet, Mirza Ghalib’s birthplace.Embed from Getty Images
The land of majestic snow-capped mountains, serene alpine glacial lakes, enchanting valleys and ancient colourful Buddhist monasteries, Leh-Ladakh is one of the ‘must-visit’ destinations in India for nature lovers and people seeking peace and serenity away from the busy city lives. Being home to plenty of serene alpine glacial lakes, some of the world’s highest mountain passes and high-altitude scenic trekking trails, Ladakh is also a dream destination for intrepid travellers and adventure freaks across India and different corners of the world. Be it the feeling of extreme spirituality and divinity listening to the chants and hymns of lamas in the ‘Hemis Monastery’, the tranquillity of ‘Pangong Lake’ offering an indescribable sense of peace and solitude, an unforgettable adventurous experience of trekking on the frozen ‘Zanskar River’, the fun of a unique sand-dune safari sitting on the back of Bactrian camel discovering the rugged landscapes of ‘Nubra Valley’ or the excitement of spotting a snow leopard in the thick of the ‘Hemis National Park’ – Ladakh has in its store, something for its every tourist. Being part of the colourful ‘Hemis Festival‘ is something which must definitely be on the itineraries of every tourist to the mystic land of Leh-Ladakh.
Ellora & Ajanta Caves
In the state of Maharashtra, you can explore the caves of both Ellora and Ajanta. At Ellora, there is an enormous complex of shrines carved from the rocky landscape. These 34 cave shrines are up to 1,500 years old, and they are from three distinct religions: Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Two hours away is Ajanta, which is also home to 29 caves. The Ajanta caves are covered in murals and paintings, most of which reflect Buddhist stories. While the two cave complexes are two hours away from one another, it is well worth visiting both to compare these incredible attractions.
Also known as the ‘Land of Golden Sand’, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is a beautiful city known for its rich cultural heritage and stories of bravery and chivalry of the great Rajput rulers. An exotic city set amidst endless stretches of golden Thar Desert, Jaisalmer spells a magnetic pull at travellers sitting in different corners of the world. Be it the magnificence of the ‘Sonar Quila’ or the ‘Jaisalmer Fort’ beaming in its full glory, the magical charisma of the ancient ‘Salim Ji ki Haveli‘, ‘Nathmal Ji ki Haveli‘ and ‘Patwon-ki-Haveli‘ reminding us of the royal grandeur of erstwhile wealthy Rajput merchants, an enthralling experience of ‘Sand Dune Bashing’, a rustic charm of a ‘Camel Safari’ exploring infinite stretches of golden sand or an unforgettable culinary experience of authentic Rajasthani cuisine; Jaisalmer impresses its every visitor with an extensive range of cultural offerings.
The annual ‘Jaisalmer Desert Festival‘ is a visual treat to eyes and it makes much sense to plan for a holiday trip to Jaisalmer during this festival. Folk dances, cultural musical performances, campfires under the open starlit sky, enthralling camel shows, local hats selling exquisite jewellery and handicrafts; exuberance and vivaciousness of this gala event can be seen at every nook and corner of the city. One of the most colourful and vibrant places, Jaisalmer, for sure is one of the most striking places to visit in India.
Pristine backwaters, coconut fringed beaches, rejuvenating Ayurvedic massages and colourful festivals; Yes! You guessed it right. I am talking about God’s own country, Kerala, one of the most picturesque places in India with a footfall of thousands of tourists every year. Tucked between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, Kerala has been blessed with immense natural beauty. Besides serene backwaters and pristine beaches, Kerala is also home to the scenic hill station and numerous wildlife sanctuaries. Offering an umpteen number of tourist activities, a trip to Kerala is a ‘must-have’ experience for every traveller across the world. From memorable houseboat stays on backwaters of Alleppey, nature walks through lush slopes and sprawling tea gardens of ‘Munnar’, thrilling elephant rides at the ‘Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary’ to watching mesmerizing Kathakali performance at the ‘Kathakali Centre’; Kerala is a destination worth visiting once in a lifetime.
When in Kerala, you simply cannot miss gorging on the aromatic Kerala food served traditionally on banana leaves or experiencing a rustic stay in a treehouse. A vibrant temple festival showcasing the cultural legacy of the state or observing the massive Chinese Fishing nets being operated by the fishermen on the beach of Fort Kochi is also something you will find only in Kerala
Andaman & Nicobar
Known for their picturesque beauty with pristine beaches, azure waters and verdant forests, Andaman & Nicobar are a group of more than 500 shimmering islands tucked in an infinite expanse of the Bay of Bengal. Relatively unexplored, these islands have that enigmatic charm to them that lures thousands of tourists every year. Packed with an array of interesting activities, a holiday in Andaman & Nicobar is sure to be one of the best vacations in India. Asia’s best beach, ‘Radhanagar Beach’ on the ‘Havelock Island’ is a paradise for honeymoon couples who can be seen here immersed in romantic walks holding each other’s hands and witnessing the beautiful sunset. For water sports lovers, the azure waters teeming with diverse marine life and coral reefs, offer a perfect ambience to indulge in some world-class scuba diving and sea walking experience. If you are looking out for an adventurous twist in the serenity of these beautiful islands, go for boat safaris through thick mangrove forests leading to dark limestone caves at the ‘Baratang Island’, take a challenging trek to the ‘Saddle Peak’ snaking through scenic terrains and thick forests sighting few exotic colourful birds or camp under the open moonlit sky and try your hands at a bar-be-que experience of cooking your own fresh catch of a fish or crab.
Rishikesh, also known as Hrishikesh, is a city governed by Rishikesh Municipal Corporation (since October 2017), and a tehsil in Dehradun district of the Indian state Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the “Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas” and “Yoga Capital of the World”. It lies approximately 25 km (16 mi) north of the city Haridwar and 43 km (27 mi) southeast of the state capital Dehradun. According to Census of India, 2011 Rishikesh had a population of 102,138 making it the seventh most populated city in the state of Uttarakhand. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.
In September 2015, the Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma announced that Rishikesh and Haridwar will be the first in India to be given the title of “twin national heritage cities”. Due to the religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh. The city hosts the annual International Yoga Festival on the first week of March since 1989.
With bursting energy and enthusiasm, the twenties is the best time to enjoy thrill and adventure, especially with your friends. Travel to the adventure capital of India, Rishikesh and ride on the mystical but fierce fast-flowing waters of Ganges. Rishikesh is a must-visit place in India if you haven’t yet crossed the age bar.
Home to the world’s largest mangrove forests, inhabited with the man-eating royal Bengal tigers, Sunderbans is one of the most famous offbeat places to visit in India. Situated on the mouth of the mighty Brahmaputra and river Ganges, the forests are also home to unlimited species of other wild animals, reptiles and birds. Evoking a mysterious fervour, Sunderbans has always lured adventure buffs, nature lovers and bird watchers from across the globe. Tracking down a ferocious beast, standing on the deck of your boat navigating through the dense mangroves engulfed in a sheer silence that is only occasionally broken by the whispering of bushes, squeaking of lizards and chirping of birds; the adventure is definitely one of the most exciting and enthralling experiences you can have at Sunderbans. Besides the spine-chilling adventurous journey, a trip to Sunderbans also offers you an unmatched scenic and bird watching experience that is indescribable in words. Needless to say, a visit to this world heritage site, for sure makes for an unforgettable holiday excursion. As a remembrance to this mysterious world, fresh forest honey and brown rice make for a perfect buy.
Revisit childhood by hopping on the colourful toy train from Kalka to Shimla as it makes way through the pine forests and verdant valleys. Experiencing this exceptionally elating toy train experience is a must for everyone on their trip to this best tourist place in India at least once in a lifetime.
Rann of Kutch
An enormous stretch of a white salt that is submerged underwater for 4 months in a year, the great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is an incredible place to visit in India. With its astounding natural beauty, the world’s one of the greatest salt desert is swarmed by an endless number of tourists every year, especially during the famous ‘Rann Utsav’ when the white canvas gets painted into different hues and shades. Live folk music and dance performances, camel safaris, a rustic stay and a delicious Kutch cuisine make this experience an unforgettable one for every visitor. From walking along vast stretches of white getting a glimpse of salt-making process, watching colourful migratory birds in the Chhari Dhand Bird Sanctuary, getting breath-taking views of the infinite expanse of the Rann from ‘Kala Dungar’ to seeing the artisans creating magic with their hands making exquisite embroidery pieces; a trip to Rann of Kutch is truly an eye-opener. What adds to the charm of this memorable trip is a stay in traditional ‘Bhungas’ or cylindrical shaped huts with conical roofs in the enchanting ‘Hodka Village’ nearby. Providing you a feel of a rustic village life, these huts are beautifully decorated with traditional mirror work patterns and delicate latticework. During the night, enjoy a bonfire and watch a folk dance performance under the moonlit sky relishing on the tasty and spicy home-made Kutch delicacies.
Also known as the ‘abode of clouds’, Meghalaya is a hidden gem nestled in the lap of pine-covered Khasi and Garo Hills in the Eastern Himalayas. One of the most picturesque states of North East India with its lush terraced slopes, gushing waterfalls, mystic caves, dense forests and sparkling lakes and rivers; Meghalaya is an ideal holiday destination in India for trekkers, cavers and nature enthusiasts. It is only in Meghalaya where you will come across unique man-made living root bridges that are grown and not built. Yes! You heard it right the ‘bridges which are grown’. The people of Khasi tribe in Meghalaya have been growing these bridges since ages by directing the intermingled roots of rubber trees over hollowed beetle nut trunks to make them run over streams and rivers. The roots mature over a span of 10-15 years and gain strength with each passing year. Fully mature bridges can take a load of dozens of people. The ‘double-decker living root bridge’ in Cherrapunjee is one such artistic splendour that has been standing strong for over 200 years.
The awe-inspiring and claustrophobic caves of ‘Krem Mawsmai’ is another tourist attraction in Meghalaya that leaves you spellbound with its impressive shapes of stalactites and stalagmites formed over hundreds of years. You will also be amazed to know that ‘Mawlynnong’, the cleanest village in India is also a part of this beautiful state.
Offering some of nature’s finest and incredible vistas, man-made artistic splendours and an experience of a rustic village life, all topped up with a dollop of delicious local food; Meghalaya for sure makes it to the list of must-see places in India.