India has to be one of the most romantic places in the world. Its beguiling mix of ancient forts, pretty palaces, shimmering lakes and gorgeous beaches is bound to get many a traveller feeling the love. If you're looking for a special setting to spend time with a special someone, here are the most romantic destinations in India to set the heart soaring.
With its sumptuous pink-hued palaces overlooking a series of placid lakes, Udaipur in Rajasthan is probably India’s most immediately romantic city. While the lakefront has been overtaken by hotels, head to the labyrinthine backstreets to find the true heart of the city and experience the Udaipur of old, as you wind past traditional havelis and historic bazaars. Alternatively, approach the romantic Taj Lake Palace from the water and admire its irresistible old-time allure.
Where to stay: There are plenty of uber-romantic places to stay in Udaipur, many on Lake Pichola. The Amet Haveli is one of the best, built in the 18th century. The rooms have glittering lakeside views, and the restaurant and pool are sublime.
Sunsets don’t get much more romantic than this. Travellers to Kanyakumari on the southernmost tip of India at Chitra Pournami – or full-moon – will be rewarded with a fabulous sunset in tandem with the moon rising. This makes it one of the best places to visit for couples in India. Almost entirely surrounded by water, Kanyakumari is where the Bay of Bengal meets the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. It’s also a popular pilgrimage site, and the 3000-year-old Bhaghavathy Amman temple, perched on the sea shore, is well worth a visit.
Where to stay: The beachfront Sparsa Resort Kanyakumari is our pick, just a 5-minute walk from Sunset Point. Facilities are excellent, and there's an outdoor pool and tennis courts on site, too.
Observe Mughal architecture at its most magnificent at the Taj Mahal in Agra. Aside from being one of the most beautiful places in India, the Taj is surely the biggest, boldest romantic symbol on the planet. It was designed to house the body of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s favourite wife, Muntaz Mahal. Created from precious materials and semiprecious stones from around the world, it took more than 20 years and about 20,000 men to build. It’s ostentatious and extravagant, but there’s no doubting that this wonder of the world is utterly spectacular.
For any lovers itching to visit the Taj Mahal, why not combine your trip with a wildlife safari? Spotting monkeys and leopards against spectacular Indian landscapes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sharing it with your loved one is unforgettable. See it all by booking our Indian Wildlife Safari trip today.
Where to stay: For opulence and heritage style plump for either the Oberoi Amarvilas Agra or the Grand Imperial. Both have jaw-dropping decor, as well as luxurious spa facilities. Anyone tempted by a couple's massage?
For a quintessentially Keralan experience, spend some time cruising the enchanting backwaters of Kumarakom on a traditional houseboat. Bordered by lush, green banks, the setting is nothing short of magical. Enjoy the sounds of water lulling your boat lazily to a coconut tree-lined shore, evoking a sense of old-fashioned romance, as you enjoy the best of Keralan cuisine. Check out our comprehensive Kerala guide before you go.
Where to stay: While booking a trip on a houseboat is a compulsory Keralan experience, there are plenty of romantic places to stay on dry land, too. Why not book a villa at Taj Bekal Resort & Spa? The Kappil River flows through the resort, which offers a whole host of activities to enjoy with your loved one, from fishing to boating. Rooms are chic, the pool is divine and the food delicious.
High in the Himalayan mountains, picturesque, snow-topped Manali in Himachel Pradesh is a magnificent stop for a romantic retreat. Revel in your adventurous side with activities such as paragliding, skiing or mountaineering, making the most of the crisp mountain air. Or, take in the delightful views down the Solang Valley from the cosy warmth of a riverside cottage.
If tremendous landscapes set your heart aflutter, consider Rough Guides' North India Explored: From Delhi to Shimla itinerary. You can expect superlative panoramas as you traverse the Himalayan foothills, especially from the heady train ride through the peaks. This isn't just one of the most romantic spots in India, it's one of the most romantic places in the world.
Where to stay: Treebo Trend Celebriti Manali is our pick of the bunch for couples staying in Manali, where the inside decor features plenty of wood. There's a fire pit in the garden, where tables offer stupendous Himalayan views (as do the balconies in the rooms).
What could be more romantic than a night under the stars in the spectacular Indian desert? Jaisalmer in Rajasthan offers just that. While a camel trek itself may not make you fuzzy-hearted, as the sun sets and the sky fills with shooting stars, the mysterious desert is sure to enchant you. Spend the night in a luxury tent and relax into the isolated, peaceful surroundings.
Where to stay: While camping in the desert will likely feature as part of a camel trek, there are plenty of romantic options in Jaisalmer itself to book-end your adventure. Moustache Jaisalmer has heritage rooms with bags of character, and famously friendly staff. Boutique Helsinki, meanwhile, has jazzed itself up with splashes of colour all around.
Kodagu in Karnataka may be known as the Scotland of India, but as clouds of mist unfurl above the verdant, green, swirls of coffee plantations, it reveals itself as far more exotic. Breathe in the scent of fresh coffee and spices and luxuriate in Coorg’s laid-back way of life as you explore its sleepy plantations. There are also plenty of opportunities for loving strolls due to the area’s rich birdlife and atmospheric teak and sandalwood forests.
Where to stay: Couples should check into the Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa, clinging to a hillside some 4000ft above sea level. The views across the misty forests are achingly beautiful, while lovers can relax in the Jive Grande Spa, set across three floors. With a great restaurant, swimming pool, fitness centre and bookable activities – from nature walks to cookery lessons – you'll never want to leave.
Escape from the hectic pace of modern-day Chennai in Puducherry (also sometimes Pondicherry or just Pondy) in Tamil Nadu. With its crumbling colonial villas and colourful leafy streets, the influences of French rule are clear to see in the French quarter. And, known as “Little Paris”, it certainly espouses some of the City of Love’s romantic charm. Take a walk along the beach promenade for panoramic views out over the Bay of Bengal.
Where to stay: For a touch of old-world charm, look no further than Le Dupleix. The property once served as the mayor's residence, the decor oozes romance and the beach is just a 5-minute walk away.
Just the name of this town conjures up the fragrant scent of tea leaves. Situated in the Himalayan foothills, Darjeeling is among the most romantic places in India, its curving rows of manicured tea plants elegantly shaping the hilled landscape into emerald-green curving undulations. To experience it's old-world charm, plunge through the mist-covered mountains on the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Where to stay: Simplicity and clean lines are the order of the day at the Sterling Darjeeling, stationed some 7600ft above sea level. Couples with kids in tow will delight at the club house – where there's entertainment in the form of chess and table tennis – and the in-house babysitting facilities. Leave your little ones in safe hands while you sit down for a candlelit meal, strike out on a romantic stroll or take advantage of the hotel's spa and wellness centre in peace.
Dubbed the blue city for its famously cobalt-coloured buildings, Jodhpur in Rajasthan is an irresistibly alluring destination in India’s so-called Golden Triangle. Above the city, imposing Mehrangarh Fort rises, its red-sandstone walls perched at the top of the cliff. Stay in a heritage property within the fort’s walls and look out over the city from intricately carved windows. It's hands-down one of the most romantic destinations in India. If you're getting married and considering a stay in Jodhpur, read up on why Indian is the ideal honeymoon destination.
Where to stay: For jaw-dropping luxury to mark the most romantic of occasions, book a room at the Umaid Bhawan Palace. It's an handsome sandcastle of a structure, set in more than 26 acres of gardens – making it one of the world's largest private residences. Expect Art Deco details, a fabulous spa, two swimming pools, a yoga studio, tennis courts and even a "Champagne Museum Walk". Oh, and the toiletries are all Molton Brown, of course.
In the monsoon season, this white desert stretching between India and Pakistan is covered with water. But, once the water dries up, it transforms into a barren landscape of pearlescent salt flats. Visit during Rann Utsav, the festival of joy, between November and March, which brings colour, music and crowds to the land. Away from the party, the white earth here contrasts enchantingly with the clear blue skies overhead.
Where to stay: Just 5 miles from Rann of Kutch, you can bed down in simple thatched huts at the Rann Resort Dholavira.
With its palm-tree-lined white-sand beaches overlooking the turquoise waters of the Arabian sea, the idyllic cluster of islands that make up Lakshadweep boast the country’s only coral atoll. Part of the same marine mountain range as the Maldives, the islands’ diving and snorkelling opportunities are unsurpassed, and they feel a world away from modern life, making this the ultimate Indian honeymoon destination.
Where to stay: Visitors to Lakshadweep should head for Bangaram Island Beach Resort, where simple but airy rooms open directly onto the sands. It's pure paradise.
While the town itself may be overrun with visitors, nothing can detract from the majesty of the historic structures at Mamallapuram. Carved in the seventh century, the awe-inspiring UNESCO-listed temples and sanctuaries are a spectacular sight, particularly as the sun goes down. Local sculptors in the street also give lessons on how to carve, so you could create a locket for your loved one.
Where to stay: If you are a couple that likes your creature comforts, you may want to opt for one of the luxury hotel chains that does things right. The Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay is the perfect retreat, with gorgeous decoration, large outdoor pools and even a golf course. Wave your worries goodbye.
Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in India for decades. While the area has been hit by outbursts of violence in recent years, it still remains one of India's most beautiful places to visit. Stay on a Gurkha houseboat on the Nagin Lake and cruise the waters of the “Venice of the East”. Or, take a romantic shikara ride out into the water at night and watch the stars cluster overhead.
Where to stay: Book aboard a vessel with the Heritage Group of Houseboats for a truly romantic stay. A continental or buffet breakfast is offered every morning, too. Tuck in.
Bordered by the snow-covered Himalayans, Leh is a great place for adventure lovers. The area offers fantastic trekking opportunities, as well as mountain biking. But there’s also a wealth of sights to explore, from the medieval Tibetan Leh Palace to the golden-roofed Karma Dupgyud Choeling Monastery and the more recent Shanti Stupa “peace pagoda” inaugurated by the Dalai Lama. The pagoda’s terrace is a picturesque setting to watch the sun rise over the mountains, or to take part in a yoga session. If you want a more active honeymoon, book onto our Trek Through Ladakh's Markha Valley, which takes in exquisite Himalayan scenery, hilltop monasteries and the hub of Leh.
Where to stay: Environmentally conscious couples should make for the Grand Dragon Ladakh, fitted with solar panels on its roof and energy-conserving features. Inside, the tasteful decoration combines antique furniture and detailed woodcraft with colourful prints.
India is one of the most romantic places in the world, with any number of colourful towns, remote hillside villages, blissful beaches and adventurous activities to share with your loved one. If you've got an idea in mind for an Indian honeymoon, or just a couple's trip, speak to one of our local experts today. They know all the best places for couples in India, and can help customize every last detail to match your preferences.
Top image: Hanging bridge on the way to Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India © ImagesofIndia/Shutterstock
This article contains affiliate links.