India’s charm is often portrayed in cinema for many viewers, but the true beauty of India can only be experienced by visiting the place. There are very few countries that sit on layers of history yet so vibrant in nature. A cultural destination with beautiful landscapes, each part of India is filled with diversity.
The country beams with different languages, food, traditions, art and even the style of clothing. Fascinating isn’t it? It is a treasure trove for history buffs as there are currently 32 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites across the nation. While most people have heard of the Taj Mahal, Mumbai, Himalayas, there are many undiscovered places to give you a rich sense of each province.
If you like soaking in the sun and experiencing the beach life, Goa and Kerala are the ideal choices for you to unwind. Traveling today has become more about the journey than the destination. People across all age groups looking to travel to new destinations with the hope of discovering the undiscovered.
India’s tourism tag line is “Athithi Devo Bava” when translated means guests are equivalent to God. The basic tradition of Indian culture is to make travelers feel at home. The country over the years has seen a huge growth in tourism.
Travel blogger, Sakshi Nahar says, “From its variety in culture and its vivid colours, there is so much more to India than what’s visible to the naked eye. Only the curious at heart would believe in the power of discomfort and the courage to unravel the beautiful land’s untold stories.”
“Sand in between toes and a little bit of vitamin sea”
Goa is often termed as the “Las Vegas of India”, making it a great destination to relax, eat seafood and enjoy some of the biggest music festivals including Sunburn, a commercial EDM festival that is held annually. A perfect day in Goa would involve digging into a scrumptious breakfast at the popular Indian-Italian restaurant Infantaria in Calangute.
Their flaky pastries, English breakfast and a sip of their piping hot coffee should give you a real kickstart to your day. The best tip is to get in early before the good stuff runs out.
Goa boasts of a culture that has temples, Portuguese style churches and of course the famous partying spots. The Indian state, like all others, is filled with history. Old Goa is home to Basilica of Bom Jesus which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Interestingly, the church hosts the holy remains of St Francis Xavier, which even non-religious travelers are welcomed to visit. It is the land of hippie vibes which began in the late 1960-70s. Many foreigners came here, burnt their passports, and lived naked on the beach. A few of them are still living in Goa, while the music, yoga retreats, and laid-back attitude have stuck around, too.
The nightlife of Goa attracts a lot of tourists from around the world.While partying is an obvious choice, the famous shopping markets at Anjuna and Vagator are the best places to look for hippy styled pants and funky jewelry. But if you are a party animal, Tito’s lane boasts of nightclubs, hep restaurants and shacks on the beach which serve some of the best seafood. While in Goa, the crab masala, prawn curry, andfish thali should be on top of everyone’s must-try dishes.
Further down south the culture is a complete contrast. Cities like Hampi, Chikmagalur, and Coonoor are a haven for travelers who want an offbeat vacation.
Chikmagalur in the province of Karnataka is nestled among lush trees, coffee plantations, and lip-smacking food. If you love to hike, get set to trek to the highest point in Karnataka. The trek comes with a stunning view at Mullayangiri peak almost 2000 meters high.
Chikmagaluru is every coffee lover’s Disneyland. This place is the birthplace of Indian coffee. The first seeds were sown around 350 years ago on the slopes of Baba Budan Giri Hills in Chikmagaluru. As history tells it is the Arab Connections that led to the mushrooming of the coffee industry in India. You can also pick your own coffee beans through specialized tours. The ideal way of soaking into the spirit of the place is by living in the heart of a coffee plantation away from the hustle-bustle of the city.
Rakesh Gowda a resident of Chikmgaluru and a private homestay owner says, “Everyone who visits this place wants to come back again. It is the perfect destination for people to unwind from hectic urban lives.”
Archaeology to architecture, Hampi is a treasure trove
The province of Karnataka is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site Hampi. This undiscovered gem made it to the number two spot on “New York Times must-see places in 2019”.
The ruins here are dated back to the Middle age, stunning hills of boulders, temples, and carvings this is a gold mine for archeology lovers. Hampi has something for everyone. Right from hippie islands to Virupaksha temple this place never seems to disappoint.
Archaeologist Ravi Thimmaiah says Hampi is the perfect combination of culture and heritage. He says, “You can find seventh-century temples, cafes in Hippie Islands, ruins that showcase Indian history all in one city. People are stunned by the architecture of the temples. The city is culturally diverse which truly helps to bring out the spirit of India.”
Royalty at its best
A chance to explore traditional architecture with a royal history that tells the tales of Kings and queens, beautiful monuments and rich culture the province of Rajasthan is the ideal destination. The cities of Jodhpur, Jaipur, and Udaipur gives one a feel of being in a Bollywood movie. Exotic locales, scenic views, palaces with lush gardens one can never get enough of these places. In fact, some of the top names in the entertainment industry around the globe have got hitched in this province.
A few months ago, Taj Umaid Bhavan in Jodhpur, Rajasthan was the center of attention when Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas got married. This city has been at the top of every destination wedding list. Names like Beyonce, Katy Perry, Russell Brand too have visited this province when on tour in India.
Nikita Puri a well-known wedding planner from India says, “The wedding phenomena in Indian culture is huge. But now people across the globe come down to Rajasthan to get married in lavish ceremonies. In fact, people want to incorporate the rich tradition of Rajasthan even in their white wedding ceremonies which I feel is beautiful. A lot of people say that getting married here gives them a feel of royalty.”
Travelers get to experience local tours of palaces, camel rides, delicious vegetarian food, traditional shopping and a taste of local music. In the heart of Thar Desert, Jaisalmer is known as the Golden City for its beautiful sun-soaked sand dunes, exuberant forts, and rich culture and traditions. Known for its forts, palaces, and temples, the city is got its name from Maharaja Jaisal Singh. Jodhpur is an extension of the royalty that you get to see at Jaisalmer and Jaipur. The royal city has got several forts, palaces, and temples to enchant travelers from different corners of the world. Famous as the Sun City because of its sunny weather, Jodhpur is also known as Blue City for the blue houses near the Mehrangarh fort. The blue houses have played muse to the acclaimed photographer Steve McCurry.
India’s very own New York, Mumbai
Mumbai, the city of dreams is the land of Bollywood, Business, and beaches. This city that is home to people from across the globe is also the financial capital of India. The Gateway of India, the iconic Taj Hotel, Leopold café, Juhu-Chowpatty beach, Marine drive are a few of things that culminate the essence Mumbai. Travelers can encounter the old, modern and fast-paced life laced into one when they visit this city.
While top names of the film, business world reside here it is also known for Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slum. Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire revolved around the people living here. Interestingly the district has an estimate of 5000 businesses and 15,000 single-room factories. Dharavi exports goods around the world ranging from leather products, jewelry to various accessories, and textiles. Tourists are often given a tour with the help of a localite.
Actor Sourav Jahangir says, “Mumbai is known as the city that never sleeps. Although it is known for its glitz and glamour the people make the place beautiful. The staple Vada Pav, Pav bhaji and gola are a few of the things that one should dig into. The city is one of an experience as it brings together people from different backgrounds to produce creativity in its best form.”
From the food to the holy rivers, scenic landscapes, the people, historic value, beaches, diversity, spirituality, the endless adventure, India, in a nutshell, is every travel junkie’s dream destination. From the barren hills to the edges of Kanyakumari, India has untamed, unexplored, hidden lands waiting to be discovered. The next time you have a sense of wanderlust, you now know where to head!