India has to be one of the world's most romantic destinations. 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 place to spend time with a special someone, here are the most romantic places in India.
With its sumptuous pink-hued palaces overlooking a series of placid lakes, Udaipur 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.
Sunsets don’t get much more romantic than this: journey to Kanyakumari on the southernmost tip of India at Chitra Pournami, or full moon, to see the sun setting in tandem with the moon rising. 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.
Observe Mughal architecture at its most magnificent; surely the biggest, boldest romantic symbol on the planet, the Taj Mahal 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 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.
High in the Himalayan mountains, picturesque, snow-topped Manali 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.
What could be more romantic than a night under the stars in the spectacular Indian desert? Jaisalmer 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.
Kodagu 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 amorous strolls due to the area’s rich birdlife and atmospheric teak and sandalwood forests.
Escape from the hectic pace of modern-day Chennai in Puducherry (also sometimes Pondicherry or just Pondy). 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 stroll along the beach promenade for panoramic views out over the Bay of Bengal.
Just the name of this town conjures up the fragrant scent of tea leaves. Situated in the Himalayan foothills, Darjeeling is stupendously sited, 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.
Dubbed the blue city for its famously cobalt-coloured buildings, Jodhpur 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.
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.
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 honeymoon destination.
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.
Srinagar 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 the country'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.
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.