From the sun-drenched beaches down south to the soaring snow-clad Himalayas rising in the north; from the sprawling desert in Northwest India to the indomitable charm of the Seven Sister states in Northeast India; India is an intense land bursting with glaring contrasts, staggering diversity, and plethoric other charms that will sink into your being. There are so many experiences this land has to offer, that is it near impossible to have it all. Right from its spiritual beliefs, cultural traditions, architectural gems, deep forests, oh-so-delicious food, the bitter-sweet chaos of its cities, colourful festivals, India is less of a country and more like a feeling. A feeling that has visitors returning to its shores, to seek what they don’t find elsewhere. Here are the 10 most beautiful places of this great land:
Nubra Valley, Ladakh
A sprawling desert valley amidst the remote Himalayas in the Indian hinterland, Nubra Valley is one of those places where you arrive and let yourself a few moments to look around in disbelief. Wedged in the eastern part of the Indian state Jammu & Kashmir, cradled by glaciated peaks and a smattering of sublime Buddhist monasteries, endangered Bactrian camels, and musical rivers flowing through the valley, the austerely charming Nubra Valley is one of the most beautiful places in India.
This pristine archipelago, off the southern coast of India, is a beautiful union of twelve atolls, 36 islands, three reefs, and five submerged banks. These palm-fringed, white-sand islands, give out some extraordinary, otherworldly tropical feels, owing to its balmy beaches, irresistible seafood, gorgeous lagoons, and some epic water-sports opportunities, such as kayaking, snorkelling, canoeing, scuba-diving, or just a leisurely swim in the tranquil blue waters. Once here, watch out for top islands like Minicoy, Bangaram, Agatti, Kaatti, and Kalpeni.
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Carpeting the slopes of the western ghats in the south of India, with myriad hues of green, the rolling spice and tea plantations, and scenic towns, make Munnar one of the most beautiful places in India. Savour some memorable strolls or drives through the scenic roads meandering through the tea estates, surrounded by rolling, mist-clad hills. This quaint hill town was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India.
Dzukou Valley, Nagaland
Bordering the Indian states of Nagaland and Manipur, the celestial Dzukou valley sits at an altitude of over 2,000 meters, revelling in a sprawling expanse of untouched, divine flora and fauna. The entire valley gleams with copious swarms of bright wild flowers, dramatic green hilltops, and blue mountaintops jutting out in the horizon. Though the valley can cast a spell on you at any given time during the year, visit during the monsoon season, to witness the flower blooms at their peak.
Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
Travel around 22 kms from the breathtakingly beautiful hill town of Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, to arrive at Khajjiar, the “Mini Switzerland of India”! A miniscule hill town on its own, Khajjiar packs a punch with is jaw-dropping landscape comprising of rolling green meadows ensconced amidst a thick cover of deep Himalayan cedar trees, with the snow-clad Himalayan peaks soaring in the backdrop. Zorbing, horse-riding, or a simple picnic are a few activities one can enjoy here.
Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
Nestled in the Chamoli District of the Indian State of Uttarakhand, against the dramatic Zanskar ranges, the Valley of Flowers is a virtual paradise, exploding with the best facades of nature. Sprawling across an expanse of over 87 square km, sitting high up in the Himalayas, the Valley is famous for its endless meadows of alpine wild flowers blooming in thousands, and myriad other floral pastures with crystalline streams running by. The Valley is also a designated UNESCO site, home to endangered wildlife species including snow leopards, musk deer, red fox, Asiatic black deer, and more.
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Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
The Great Rann of Kutch is one of those places that remind you how insignificant and tiny you are, against the vast magnificence of our beautiful planet. Miles of white barren land, merging into the clear blue sky in the horizon, the Great Rann of Kutch is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The sheer scale and beauty of this place will leave you stunned – enjoy a camel ride through the salt pans and watch the white surface glitter under the moon light! The culture of this destination is equally delightful – especially the variety of art forms and handicrafts coming from this region.
Resembling a hamlet from your favourite Swiss scenes, Pahalgam, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, is a paradise for hikers, backpackers, or nature lovers looking to get consumed by the raw charm of nature. Strewn with alpine meadows, glistening lakes, and deep mountains studded with massive conifers, and stunning vistas of the mighty Himalayas, Pahalgam is a favourite with Bollywood, with numerous movies shot here. This place captures the true essence and beauty Jammu and Kashmir is known for, world over.
Taking your imagination to a new high altogether, Hampi’s surreal landscape has caught the fancy of travellers for years and years. Baffling it’s visitors with a near-mystical mix of ancient ruins, massive boulders, and mythological temples, Hampi is believed to be an erstwhile mythical kingdom. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi’s massive boulders, balancing on a quasi-stable position continue to puzzle its spectators. These boulders were once massive monolith rocks, that metamorphosed into boulders, after years of erosion.
India’s quintessential beach paradise, Goa, beckons backpackers and leisure seekers from far and beyond, with an irresistible combination of endless sun, stretches of uninterrupted golden sand beaches, divine seafood, beautiful roads, hidden coves, and a sweet blend of India and Portuguese cultures. Come here to get away from the cacophony of mainstream life, to relax by the beach with a sundowner, to top up your Zen game, and to savour some of the planets most exotic seafood!