Are you planning your first trip ever to India? What comes to your mind when you think of India? Probably the majestic Himalayas, saints wrapped in saffron, cheerful people, lots of colours, spicy indian food, and not to forget the world famous indian ‘chai’. And yes, what’s India without its Yoga? India has often been associated with spirituality and meditation, and yoga originated in India.
So, are you confused about how to spend your limited time in India wisely and make the most of your visit? Don’t worry, we are here to help. There are some cities in India that give the real essence of the country, and at the same time are different worlds altogether. Below are those 5 cities, you can’t take a chance to not visit them. Come, let’s take a sneak peak into what each city has in store to offer to its tourists. Let’s go!
Rishikesh is one city in India that has earned the title of being the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ owing to the ever increasing number of ashrams and institutes offering yoga courses and meditation classes. The Beatles visited Rishikesh in the 1960s, and since then Rishikesh has become very popular among people looking to find purpose in their lives or for some respite from their busy work lives.
Rishikesh is a perfect blend of nature, beauty and spirituality. Set on the banks of the Holy Ganga, this town has everything for everyone that sets foot on its ground. Be it spirituality, meditation, yoga, food, shopping or its proximity to nature. The vibes of this place are bound to bring a transformation in you. You will be healed for the better!
This is a beautiful town in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, 10 kms ahead of Dharamshala, and is also where His Highness the Dalai Lama resides. He came here in 1959, when he was forced to leave China. As a result, many Tibetans in exile live here. McLeod Ganj is sometimes called “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” because of its large population of Tibetans. Buddhism has flourished here.
Tourists come here to study Tibetan Buddhism, culture, crafts and many times to attend the Dalai Lama’s sermons. The town is also famous for Tibetan handicrafts, carpets, garments, thangkas and other souvenirs.
Mcleod Ganj also serves as a base for the Triund Trek. Triund is a beautiful hill, 9 kms from here. You got to take a trek to this peak while you are in McLeod Ganj. So, don’t forget to pack your hiking gear, your Bates tactical boots and loads of enthusiasm when you are visiting this town ;).
Often known as the ‘Pink City’, Jaipur is best known for its rich cultural heritage, history, Rajputana architecture and handicrafts. One of the major attractions of Jaipur are its palaces and forts, Amer fort, Nahargarh Fort and City Palace among the few. These forts are huge, and often take a full day to walk through them. The craftsmanship and intricate carvings are a visual delight to the tourists.
Due to its growing popularity, Jaipur has become dotted with cheap hostels and guest houses, giving backpackers multiple options to choose from. The Rajasthani cuisine served at almost all restaurants is a paradise for gourmets. Jaipur is also a perfect place to collect souvenirs for your family back home. The Rajasthani handloom, jewellery, handicrafts, dresses and wooden carvings are some of the options to choose from.
Amritsar is a cultural and spiritual centre of Sikh religion. Widely known for being home to the ‘Golden Temple’ gurudwara, Amritsar is also close to the Pakistan border, known as Wagah border. This town is also infamous for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that took place in 1919.
People visit this town to sink in the spiritual vibes at the Gurudwara, witness the beating retreat border ceremony at the Wagah border, and see the bullet marks at the Jallianwala bagh. One wakes up to the spiritual prayers heard from the gurudwaras every morning, and prepares to relish in Punjabi cuisine during the day.
What had been missing till now was a place to let go off your clothes, and bask in the sun on a beach, with a beer in hand. Yes, Goa is that place! Winters being the best time to visit this place, Goa sees an influx of tourists round the year. Anjuna and Arambol are the beaches that attract foreigners more than the Indian tourists.
Goa was once a Portuguese colony, and therefore has a lot to offer visually through its beautiful architecture. South Goa is an ideal place to be in, if you want to be away from the crowd. One can also indulge in seafood delicacies that the restaurants here offer. Seafood + beer, a nice combination for sure.
India truly does justice to the tourism campaign name ‘Incredible India’ used by the Government of India. You have to be in India to see this for yourself, and with this list of must-visit cities in India, we are hopeful we have made it easier for you. Happy Travelling!
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.