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It can take an entire lifetime to see the incredible country that is India. How do you cover something as big? Here’s a bucket list of 25 places in India which you simply must visit before you die. How many of these have you visited? Keep ticking ‘em off.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll go to heaven after you die, why not enjoy a little heaven here on earth itself?


1. Trekking in Leh-Ladakh 

Source: blogspot.com

Ladakh is one of the most surreal places in India. The trek is also one of the most treacherous. Acres of plain land at that altitude, a lake so clear the surface could be mistaken for glass – a visit to Ladakh can be life-changing. A bike ride from Manali to Ladakh is regarded as almost a rite-of-passage for adventurers.

Best time to go: May-October

2. Shikara in Kashmir

Source: wikimedia.org

Not for nothing is it known as paradise on Earth, and not for nothing are two countries fighting for it. Sailing on a decorated shikara, in the Dal Lake, surrounded by the icy Hiamlayas in the background is the closest you can get to experiencing heaven.

Best time to go: May-August coz in winter the Dal Lake would be frozen. If you wanna see the flowers in full bloom, go in spring – April is the time when the famous Tulip Festival is held.

3. Paragliding in Manali

Source: sightseeinginmanali.com

Manali could be India’s official hill station. The place offers a range of activities ranging from white water rafting to paragliding and zorbing, not to mention the warm springs, and the cafes.

Best time to visit: September-October

4. Toy train to Shimla

Source: Flickr.com @annyatoma

The best way to breathe in the hills surrounding Shimla is to take a ride in the toy train from Kalka. It takes around 4-5 hours to reach Shimla, passing through canopies of trees on the hills.

Best time to visit: March to June and October-February

5. Chandni Chowk in Delhi 

Source: tushky.com

Shah Jahan’s city overflows with history. See the Red Fort, Qutub Minar, roam the streets of Chandni Chowk feasting on chaat, visit Jama Masjid, the newly restored Humayun’ s Tomb, the markets – the list is endless.

6. Taj Mahal in Agra

Source: wanderingearl.com

Nothing needs to be said about this one. See the Taj Mahal. That’s all. 

Best time to visit: October-March (winters)

7. Tiger Spotting in Corbett

Source: indiawildlifetravel.wordpress.com

Jim Corbett is located in the district of Nainital, and is a great place to spot Indian wildlife.

Best Time to Visit: Mid-November to Mid-June

8. River Rafting in Rishikesh 

Source: http://holidayhotelsharidwar.wordpress.com/

No questions asked. Rishikesh is the best place for river rafting in India. Strong rapids and shallow waters, the place is a hub for river rafters.

Best Time to Visit: October-June

9. Aarti in Varanasi-Haridwar 

Source: theholidayindia.com

Chillum-smoking sadhus, evening aartis at ghats teeming with pilgrims, floating diyas on the Ganges – the religious towns of Varanasi and Haridwar are the face of spiritual India. If possible, time your visit with the Maha Kumbh Mela that is held in February.

Best Time to Visit: October-March

10. Choki Dhani in Jaipur

Source: blogspot.com

The culture is as colourful as the desert is white. Forts, palaces, Rajput artillery, folk arts – not for nothing is Rajasthan the cultural state of the country. Amer fort, Hawa Mahal, Queen Sisodia’s Palace Garden, and Johari Bazaar are the main attractions to cover.

Best time to visit: October-March

11. Camel Ride in Jaisalmer

Source: Flickr.com @23021805@N05

Jaisalmer holds a desert festival every year in February. There are folk performers, camel rides, longest moustache competition, and much more. The ‘Golden City of Indiais known for its havelis, desert, camel rides, and colourful handicrafts.

Best time to visit: February (October-March)

12. City Palace in Udaipur

Source: Flickr.com @68695366@N07

The city of lakes is Rajasthan’s only respite from the heat. City Palace beside Lake Pichola is the central attraction and a most romantic place to enjoy royal splendor. A meal at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake is a must.

Best time to visit: September-March

13. Durgo Pujo in Kolkata

Source: Flickr.com @23985194@N06

Durga Puja in Kolkata is as grand as can be. The pandals are there at every street corner, and each is better than the previous one. Women dressed in bright sarees, the sweet Prasad, holy smoke in the air – Durga Puja is a mesmerizing affair.

Best time to visit: November-February

14. Konark Temple in Orissa 

Source: google.com

The Konark Temple of Puri, located by Chandrabhaga beach, is an architectural marvel. Every year in the month of December, the famous Konark festival, which sees folk dance n music performances, is organized here.

Best time to visit: November-April

15. Wagah Border at Amritsar

Source: wikimedia.org

The changing of guards ceremony at Wagah border is an overwhelming sight for spectators. Every day hundreds of people gather to witness this event. Whether you are patriotic or not, the ceremony is sure to induce a lump or two in your throat.

Best time to visit: October-March

16. Houseboat in Kerala

Source: keralaholidays.info

God’s own country has lots to offer – beaches, backwaters, massages, hills, tea estates, Ayurvedic massages. An afternoon spent on a houseboat, sipping filter coffee or whatever you prefer, might just undo all the stress accumulated over the years.

Best time to visit: October-Kerala

17. Sunset at Hampi - Karnataka

Source: 500px.org

Hampi is a land of temples. They are the most beautiful ruins and rocks you will ever see. And when the sunrays fall on them at sunset, it’s a sight to behold. Don’t be surprised if you feel a tear or two falling down your cheek.

Best time to visit: November-April

18. Café in Pondicherry

Source: livingonacanal.com

The former French colony has the beauty of a coastal Indian town and grace of French architecture. Its neat promenade, French cafes, temple elephant, and Auroville city are what one must have tried in Pondicherry.

Best time to visit: November-February

19. Lazed in a hammock in Goa

Source: blogspot.com

Goa is one destination you should have definitely visited before you get married. You need to have attended a beach party, done parasailing over the Arabian Sea, or drank crazy. But even if you have roamed at Anjuna Beach, ridden a Scooty, or just lazed away in a hammock, you have been there. Check out the list of Goa’s best 10 things to do before you head to Goa.

Best time to visit: November-February

20. Breathe in the North East 

Source: getawaymemoires.com

The North East, with its lush greenery, hilly terrain and simple people, is a backpacker’s paradise. There’s Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, the Ziro festival there is a new kid on the block, and is a great hit. Assam’s Kaziranga Park, Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival are some of the many highlights of the region. Meghalaya is an all-rounder. It’s got peaks, caves, lakes, waterfalls, and the wettest places on earth.

Best time to visit: November-April (barring December which is chilly)

21. Had Pav Bhaji on Juhu Beach in Mumbai

Source: Flickr.com

Nothing is more relaxing than indulging in a plate of steaming Pav Bhaji with dollops of butter on it, strolling on Juhu Beach, with the sea resounding the perfect tune in the background. Who says Mumbai is a fast-paced city?

Best time to visit:

22. Sculptures in Khajurao Temples

Source: Flickr.com @79009234@N07

It’s no secret that the Khajurao temples exhibit erotic sculptures, the eroticism of which could put to shame even the most liberal of Western minds.

Best time to visit: September-March (the annual Dance Festival is held in March)

23. Cruise in Andaman

Source: tripadvisor.com

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are India’s exotic holiday location. It has not only scenic beauty, but also a dark history. The place has amazing climate, clear blue waters, and a non-touristy feel. We Indians come here when we want an overseas holiday without spending the corresponding amount.

Best time to visit: October-May

24. Rann of Kutch and Gir

Source: zigwheels.com

Gir is home to the now endangered Asiatic lion, while Rann of Kutch is the white desert of Gujarat. Every year in December and January, it holds the Great Rann Utsav which sees folk dances, music, artisans, and camels with colourful embellishments in the white background of the desert.

Best time to visit: October-March

25. Tea estate in Darjeeling

Source: vedicodyssey.com

Darjeeling is the official tea-maker of the country. This town that was a popular summer retreat during the British Raj, offers scenic views of the Himalayan mountain range – trekking through the tea estates is a must. Kasto maza hai lelaimaa (How much fun it is when a train goes up and down on a hilly track).

Best time to visit: April-June and September-December 

Nishi Jain spent some precious years of her life studying English literature, editing novels, and writing newspaper articles. Then one day, as she was sitting under a tree with no branches, a rotten pancake fell on her head from the window above and she had her Newtonian moment. From then on, all she does is eat pancakes, write, and profess fake love to pastry chefs.

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