While planning our trip to India, we of course wanted to see the Taj Mahal and we understood that India is a large, vibrant country. India is a land of art, culture, historical monuments, and lots of natural beauty. It has something for everyone. You love beaches, India has it! You love hills & mountains, India has them! Most people have India on their travel list. But because of a massive unfortunate event that is COVID-19, India has been on lockdown for months. Good news for travelers is that some major tourist destinations have started opening up.
India is most famous for its white marvel- the Taj Mahal. It is not just the incredible architecture that makes your jaw drop. The beautiful love story attached to it makes the Taj Mahal all the more special. Shah Jahan couldn’t bear his wife’s demise and built this magnificent piece of architecture in her memory.
But India is so much more than this. There are a lot of places you can visit and a lot of fun activities that you can do. For travelers like us, who like a little bit of everything on their trip, India is no less than a treasure chest.
These are some of the places you can visit to explore the real India, besides the Taj Mahal.
Visiting Rishikesh is like playing in the lap of mother nature. Mountain, snow, and lots of greenery- it is a sight for sore eyes. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, Rishikesh is a holy destination for Hindus. Devotees from all over India come here in search of spiritual peace. This place is full of positive energy, and it will seep into you as soon as you visit Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is 273km away from Uttarakhand.
Besides, there is a lot to do in Rishikesh- river rafting, biking, bungee jumping, and camping. Or if you want something spiritual and utterly relaxing, you can join an authentic Yoga class. The true essence of Rishikesh is to connect to God and your inner self.
Goa is known for its breezy attitude, long beaches, and colorful festivals. This is a place where everyone comes to relax. Just take a beer, sit on the beach with your friends, and have fun.
If you are an outdoorsy person, you can rent a bike or a scooter and explore Goa. The cathedrals present are sure to attract your attention. You can also visit Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Galgibaga Beach, and Harvalem Falls. There are many street shops which are full of local art and craft.
You can participate in water sports. Go kayaking, white water rafting, snorkeling, and scuba diving. If you decide to visit Goa around the new year, don’t miss out on the New Year parties. They are huge and potentially wild! But full of fun. Performers and musicians come from all around the world to perform at these parties.
Darjeeling, famous for its mesmerizing tea. But there is so much more to it. Did you know you can see Kanchenjunga from here? Kanchenjunga is the third highest peak in the world. The view and the tea is to die for. It is a beautiful place to visit if you are outdoorsy and want to explore the best of nature.
Darjeeling has the most amazing ropeway. You might ask what is so amazing about this one? Many places have ropeways, but none like this. This cable car is the longest in all of Asia. It takes over 80 minutes to complete one full trip- 40 minutes to the other side and 40 minutes back. You will be exposed to the rolling tea garden during your journey on this cable car. The view is magnificent.
Other than this, there are fun activities you can indulge in. Food, for instance, is terrific in Darjeeling. It is a subtle mix of Indian, Nepali, and Tibetan. There is something for everyone. You can explore other places like the Rock Garden, Nightingale Park, and Chowk Bazaar.
If you want to have a little French taste in India, you must visit Pondicherry. It is known for its French colonies and elegant architecture. It makes an excellent destination for a pre-wedding shoot. There are not many energy-filled activities to do here. But you can indulge in some calm activities like bird watching, visiting temples and churches, and heritage walk.
You can indulge in some water activities like boating, scuba diving, and surfing. And in the evening there are many restaurants which serve great wine. Just eat, drink, and dance- all night long.
If you don’t want to live in a standard hotel room, you can choose to live on the beach. Many hotels offer an exclusive stay in a lovely cottage or shack near the beach. You can also visit Pondicherry botanical garden and museum. Pondicherry also has an Eco Park, which signifies the importance of minimalistic living. But more than anything, the people here are great. They are interactive and open to helping strangers.
Srinagar, the crown jewel of Kashmir. If you want to get lost in snowy mountain caps and sail in a houseboat, this is the place for you. More than anything, its rich culture will attract you. If you are visiting Srinagar for the first time, you must visit Dal Lake, Shalimar Bagh, and Tulip Garden.
Local cuisine is to die for. And surprisingly, they are not as expensive as you would expect. You get quality food at an amazing price. The combination of authentic Rogan Josh and Kashmiri Pulao is just heavenly.
If you visit Kashmir, take home a piece of it. The streets of Srinagar are loaded with local art and craft, and there is just so much to look at. Apparels to accessories and whatnot. Pashmina shawl is a must buy. Besides that, you can browse through beautiful wicker baskets, embroidered scarfs, silver jewelry, and jewelry boxes. If you are looking for something adrenaline-filled- try out skiing, rafting, and paragliding.
It does not get any better. There is so much to do in India besides seeing the Taj Mahal. With monuments, architecture, wildlife, and street food, everything is waiting for you in India.
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