Things not to miss

written by Andy Turner
updated 8/31/2021
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Honey-coloured citadel, emerging from the sands of the Thar Desert.

© muzato/Shutterstock

#02 Kanha National Park

Deep in the eastern tracts of Madhya Pradesh , this park is rich in animal and birdlife, including tigers and even the occasional leopard.

© Santanu Banik/Shutterstock

#03 Konark

A colossal thirteenth-century temple, buried under sand until its rediscovery by the British.

© Strahil Dimitrov/Shutterstocki

#04 Gokarna

The beautiful beaches on the edge of this temple town are popular with budget travellers fleeing the commercialism of nearby Goa .

© Vladimir Zhoga/Shutterstock

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#05 Taj Mahal

Simply the world’s greatest building: Shah Jahan’s monument to love fully lives up to all expectations.

© Richie Chan/Shutterstock

#06 Thrissur Puram

More than one hundred sumptuously caparisoned elephants march in Kerala’s biggest temple festival, accompanied by ear-shattering south Indian drum orchestras.

© Tyshchenko Photography/Shutterstock

#07 Khajuraho

Immaculately preserved temples renowned for their uncompromisingly erotic carvings.

© Kevin Standage/Shutterstock

#08 Kochi

This atmospheric harbourside is strung with elegant Chinese fishing nets.

Sunset over chinese fishing nets boat in Cochin, Kochi, India © johnnychaos/Shutterstock

#09 Keoladeo National Park , Bharatpur

Asia’s most famous bird reserve, where millions of migrants nest each winter. The perfect antidote to the frenzy and pollution of nearby Agra and Jaipur .

© Sourabh Bharti/Shutterstock

#10 Thikse

The most architecturally impressive of the many dramatic monasteries within striking distance of Leh .

© mbrand85/Shutterstock

#11 Orchha

This semi-ruined former capital of the Bundela rajas is an architectural gem, rising up through the surrounding forest.

© Inderkant/Shutterstock

#12 Varanasi

City of Light, founded by Shiva, where the bathing ghats beside the Ganges teem with pilgrims.

© Joolyann/Shutterstock

#13 Mehrangarh Fort , Jodhpur

The epitome of Rajput power and extravagance, its ramparts towering above a labyrinthine, blue-painted old city.

© Alexandra Lande/Shutterstock

#14 Amritsar

The largest city in Punjab , and site of the fabled Golden Temple, the Sikhs’ holiest shrine.

© JE TAE GYEONG/Shutterstock

#15 Rajasthani handicrafts

The teeming bazaars of the Pink City in Jaipur burst with vibrant cloth, jewellery, Persian-style pottery and semiprecious stones. Simply the best place to shop in the Subcontinent.

© neelsky/Shutterstock

#16 Kathakali

Kerala is the place to experience kathakali and other esoteric ritual theatre forms.

© Shutterstock

#17 Gangotri and the Gaumukh Glacier

The holy and atmospheric village of Gangotri serves as a base for the trek into the heart of the Hindu faith – Gaumukh, the source of the Ganges.

© Nila Newsom/Shutterstock

#18 Udaipur

Arguably the most romantic city in India, with ornate Rajput palaces floating in the middle of two shimmering lakes.

Jag Mandir Palace, Lake Pichola, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India © Blue Sky Studio/Shutterstock

#19 Palolem

Exquisite crescent-shaped beach in Goa’s relaxed south, famous for its dolphins and local alcoholic spirit, feni.

South Goa bungalows © Dan Baciu/Shutterstock

#20 Durga Puja

An exuberant festival held in September or October, when every street and village erects a shrine to the goddess Durga. Kolkata (Calcutta) has the most lavish festivities.

© adycreative/Shutterstock

#21 Manali–Leh Highway

India’s epic Himalayan road trip, crossing some of the highest mountain passes in the world, is the most popular approach to Ladakh , and revered by motorbikers, cyclists and drivers alike.

Barlachala pass in Leh Manali Highway © Avik/Shutterstock

#22 Pushkar Camel Mela

This fair is the largest camel trading fair in the world, Rajasthan.

© OlegD/Shutterstock

#23 Dharamsala

Perched on the edge of the Himalayas, this is the home of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism in exile.

© hrui/Shutterstock

#24 Madurai

Definitive south Indian city, centred on a spectacular medieval temple.

© RudiErnst/Shutterstock

#25 Zanskar

A barren moonscape with extraordinary scenery and challenging trails over the high passes.

© martinho Smart/Shutterstock

#26 Boating on the backwaters of Kerala

Lazy boat trips wind through the lush tropical waterways of India’s deep south.

© Curioso/Shutterstock

#27 Fatehpur Sikri

The Mughal emperor Akbar’s elegant palace complex now lies deserted on a ridge near Agra, but remains one of India’s architectural masterpieces.

Fatehpur Sikri - Agra, India © Roop_Dey/Shutterstock

#28 Mamallapuram

A fishing and stone-carving village, with magnificent boulder friezes, shrines and the sea-battered Shore Temple.

© rachata photography/Shutterstock

#29 Ellora Caves

Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves, and the colossal Hindu Kailash temple, carved from a spectacular volcanic ridge at the heart of the Deccan plateau.

© Thotsaporn.S/Shutterstock

#30 Rath Yatra , Puri

Three colossal chariots with brightly coloured canopies are pulled by crowds of devotees through the streets of eastern India’s holiest town.

© Rudra Narayan Mitra/Shutterstock

#31 Hampi/Vijayanagar

The capital of a great Hindu empire, sacked five centuries ago to leave a site strewn with ruins and medieval sculptures.

Vittala Temple, Hampi © Dmytro Gilitukha/Shutterstock

#32 Varkala

This pleasantly low-key Keralan resort boasts sheer red cliffs, amazing sea views and a legion of Ayurvedic masseurs.

© Vasily Gureev/Shutterstock

Top image © SasinTipchai/Shutterstock

Travel advice for India

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written by Andy Turner
updated 8/31/2021
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