This August 15, 2017, India will celebrate her 70th year of Independence. Although you do not need any reason to travel to India, yet Tale of 2 Backpackers brings you 70 awesome reasons that you should travel India.
India is one of the largest countries of the world. It is a country that has extreme diversity in geography, climate, language, culture, ethnicity and much more. And definitely, India is not a land of elephants and snake charmers; though we love them all. Like every other country in the world, India too has her share of good and bad. But in this post, it is only about the good and the better! As I have always said, we should always focus on the good; the worse will automatically go away.
All the 29 states and 7 union territories of India are unique in their own. So travelling across India is the best way to know the country and its people and culture. And I can definitely say that most of us Indians do not know our own country properly!
Table of Contents
- Unity in Diversity
- The Himalayas
- Spirituality and Yoga
- Architectural Tourism
- Kashmir, Paradise on earth
- Handicraft Tourism
- Erotic sculptures
- Hiking & Trekking Trails
- The Taj Mahal
- Ganga Arti at Haridwar and Benaras
- Mountain Railways
- Kumbh Mela, an awe-inspiring gathering of people
- The Chadar Trek, a test of grit, determination and tolerance
- Darjeeling and Assam Tea
- Holi in India
- Rich heritage
- Indian Railways
- Street Food
- Indian sweet dish
- Bodh Gaya – The origin of Buddhism
- Pangong Tso, the remnant of Tethys in India
- Chinatown in Kolkata
- Rann Utsav, the ultimate desert festival
- Delhi, the capital of the country
- Mumbai, the city that never sleeps
- Kolkata, the eternally romantic city
- Hyderabad, the land of Nizams and Biriyani
- Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of mainland India
- Music & dance of India
- Temples, Churches, Mosques & Monasteries of India
- Benaras, the oldest city in the world
- Hill Stations
- Indian Beaches
- Auroville at Pondicherry
- Durga Puja celebration
- Goa, the ultimate beach destination
- Explore the Rajasthan royalty and have an Arabian Nights experience at the deserts
- Sundarbans, largest mangrove
- Backwaters of Kerala and Ayurveda
- Mawlynnong, Asia’s cleanest village
- Andaman, a tropical paradise
- Jatinga, a place where birds commit suicide
- Rishikesh, the spiritual and adventure retreat
- Loktak Lake, the floating lake
- Hornbill Festival
- Caving at Meghalaya & Mizoram
- The Unakoti, Tripura – looking for the magic number
- Destinations for all Seasons
- Gir Forest, the home of Asiatic Lion
- Lonar Crater, Maharashtra
- Get enchanted by Theyyam of Kerala or Gomira of Bengal
- Adventure sports
- Monasteries of Trans-Himalayan region
- Folk and tribal art & culture
- The majestic Mughal architectures
- Wonderful British architecture
- Rivers of India
- Lofty waterfalls of India
- Epic Road trips
- The Western Ghats, the Sahyadris
- Bactrian Camel & Cold Desert at Nubra Valley
- Maharaja Express, A royal experience
- The innocence of the people of the mountains
- Guests are treated as God – Atithi Devo Vaba
Unity in Diversity
With a country so large, diversity is the norm. We have 22 scheduled languages and 1652 mother tongues spoken in India! The temperature of the northern most part differs greatly from the southern most part. The cultures differ in each of the states. But the best part is that there is unity in the diversity that binds such a great country.
The Himalayas should be one of the greatest reasons to visit India. The Indian Himalayan Region touches the Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and northern parts of Assam and West Bengal. The mighty Himalayan ranges are a treasure to look.
Spirituality and Yoga
India has a long history of spirituality. The Yoga that is so popular now in the western countries had its origin in India. There are so many places in India that serve as spiritual centres and yoga destinations. Rishikesh, Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, Auroville are a few known ones. But there are hundreds of lesser known places where you can connect with your inner self and spirituality in India.
India is a hub of architectural tourism. Having such a rich heritage, the country has contributions from many rulers and dynasties each having their own distinct architectural styles.
Kashmir, Paradise on earth
“Agar Firdaus bar ru-e-zamin ast, Hami ast o- hami ast o- hami ast”. – Farsi Couplet by Amir Khusrao.
“If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this”. This perfectly summarizes the beauty and elegance of Kashmir. The four seasons have different beauty and Kashmir is a sheer wonder in all the seasons, days and time.
The handicrafts of India are as diverse as the country is and also rich in history and religion. The dokra, terracotta, brass wares, bamboo crafts, bandhani are something connoisseurs collection.
India was a far more liberal land before the 13th century which gave equal importance to secular and spiritual. Sex was never a taboo and “Kamasutra”, world’s first sex treatise was written here. The evidence of the liberal times can be seen in the erotic sculptures found in many Indian temples like Khajuraho, Ajanta and Ellora, Konark Sun Temple, Virupaksha Temple and much more.
Hiking & Trekking Trails
With the Himalayas in North and the Sahyadri ranges in the western coast, India has some of the most adventurous and beautiful trekking trails. The Sandakphu Trek in the eastern Himalayas, The Rupin Pass and Roopkund Trek in the Garhwal Himalayas, the Goechela in Sikkim, Hampta Pass trek in the Himachal Pradesh are only a few of the amazing treks in the Himalayas. The Sahyadri also has some very beautiful hiking trails.
The Taj Mahal
One of the seven wonders of the world, Taj Mahal is something that has to be experienced. Situated on the bank of River Yamuna, the marble white mausoleum truly stands as a symbol of love and perfection.
Ganga Arti at Haridwar and Benaras
You will not understand what Ganga Arti is unless you see it. The Hindu priests offer prayers to the holy river Ganga by using oil lamps. The Ganga Arti at Haridwar and Benaras are a spectacle to watch.
The Mountain railways of India are one of the unique modes of transportation. The Darjeeling Himalaya Railways and the Kalka Shimla railways are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Imagine chugging along the hilly terrain in a quaint train! Other important Mountain Railways include the Nilgiri railways, Matheran Hill Railways, Kashmir Valley Railways and the Kangra Railways.
Kumbh Mela, an awe-inspiring gathering of people
The Kumbh Mela is said to be 2000 years old! It is also the largest gathering of people of its kind. The Kumbh Mela is held every three years switching between four locations – Haridwar by the River Ganga, Prayag at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, Ujjain by the River Shipra and Nashik by the River Godavari. The fair is a pilgrimage and a celebration of faith where the Hindus believe that their sins are washed off by dipping into the holy rivers during the fair.
The Chadar Trek, a test of grit, determination and tolerance
Enduring a temperature between 5 degrees to -35 degrees and walking over a blanket of ice is what Chadar Frozen River Trek at Ladakh is about. Read more about the trek here.
Darjeeling and Assam Tea
Darjeeling Teas are one of the best varieties of teas in the world. The tea is highly exported to all parts of the world. The Assam tea is also quite famous. In India, everything happens over a cup of ‘Chai’. Tea is the elixir of the common Indian man.
Holi in India
Holi is the most colourful festival of India and it is celebrated with so much fervour. Visit Mathura and Brindavan during the Holi and you can see the colours and festivities there. Barsana in Uttar Pradesh is famous for Lath Mar Holi. And if you want a peaceful celebration, then visit Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan for a different kind of celebration. Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan is the brainchild of the Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. You can read more about Basanta Utsav here.
Being one of the oldest civilizations of the world, India is rich in heritage and culture. Most of its cities have eons of history and heritage in each nook and corner. Enjoy the heritage of the country as you travel.
Indian Railways are the most incredible modes of travel across the country. With a country so vast, the railway does a commendable job of connecting the dots. And the journey is also commendable experience. The local train network of India also needs to be mentioned. Take a local train in Mumbai and you can understand what I am talking about!
You cannot fully experience a place unless you have tasted its local cuisines. And in India, there is no dearth of variety. The speciality of Indian food is in its rich blend of spices. Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, the options are plenty. Simply give in to the rich and tasty culinary specialities of the country.
Yes, street food needs a separate mention, because we Indians simply love our ‘chaats’. The phuchkas and rolls of Kolkata, bhelpuri of Mumbai, kebabs of Delhi or idlis of Chennai, the street food are simply heavenly.
Indian sweet dish
Indians have a real sweet tooth. From the Rosogolla of Bengal to the Gulab Jamun of Delhi, you cannot but give in to the sweet delicacies. In between, there are Gajar ka Halwa, Agra ka Petha, the delicious Mysore Pak, the tasty Shrikhand and so much more.
Bodh Gaya – The origin of Buddhism
The place where Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment, the history of the town can be traced back to 500 BC. Buddhism had originated in India and later spread to the rest of the world. India has many Buddhist heritage structures notably in Nalanda, Sanchi, Amravati, Dhauli and the Diamond Triangle of Orissa.
Just a trivia: The Buddha statues found in Borobudur, Indonesia are actually stylistically prototypes of the Buddha statues found in Ratnagiri, Odisha.
Pangong Tso, the remnant of Tethys in India
Pangong Lake at Ladakh is one of the most beautiful lakes in India and is also the only remnant of Tethyan ocean floor. Read more about the lake here.
Chinatown in Kolkata
The largest Chinatown in the country, Chinatown in Kolkata is not only about the Chinese community in Kolkata. It is the only one in India to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival.
Rann Utsav, the ultimate desert festival
One of the largest salt deserts of the world, the great Rann of Kutch is a white land stretching across miles. Rann Utsav is a carnival of music, dance and celebration of the beauty of the place.
Delhi, the capital of the country
The capital of a country is always special. And Delhi is actually a celebration of senses. You can read all our posts about Delhi here.
Mumbai, the city that never sleeps
The trade capital of India, Mumbai is a place where dreams come true. The city has a pace and that can be quite infectious.
Kolkata, the eternally romantic city
Kolkata is the city of joy and the city with a soul. This is a city where people are too attached to their language, culture, love for football and politics and don’t miss any occasion to celebrate them.
Read more about our Kolkata stories here.
One of the most cosmopolitan cities, the capital of Tamil Nadu has a lot to offer. With the longest beach of India, the Marina Beach, Chennai is a city whose history speaks for itself.
Hyderabad, the land of Nizams and Biriyani
Full of regal history and buzzing with commerce, Hyderabad flaunts its heritage and history as well as its technology and modernity with equal panache.
Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of mainland India
The Arabia Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet at Kanyakumari. And don’t forget to experience the sanctity of the Vivekananda Rock.
India is so geographically varied that it has a variety of wildlife. The India wild Ass found in Rajasthan and Gujarat has its counterpart the Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass) in Ladakh. Similarly, the Nilgiri Tahr of Tamil Nadu and Kerala find its close relatives in Himalayan Tahr of northern India. The wildlife of India is so varied and diverse!
Music & dance of India
We Indians love both the classical and contemporary music forms. We enjoy our traditional Carnatic and Hindustani music forms as well as the upbeat Ziro Music Festival of Arunachal Pradesh. The dance forms of India are one of the most expressive and complex dance forms. You can only watch in amazement the Indian dance of Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Chhau and many many more.
Temples, Churches, Mosques & Monasteries of India
There are so many temples, beautiful churches and majestic mosques and mausoleums, mystic monasteries that will keep on enthralling and enchanting you!
Benaras, the oldest city in the world
Well, India is one of the oldest civilizations of the world and Benaras is one of the most ancient cities of the world still continuously inhabited. The ancient ghats of Benaras are a treat to the senses.
Surrounded by the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, India can only boast of wonderful beach destinations. Radhanagar Beach in Andaman has been voted as the most beautiful beach in Asia.
Auroville at Pondicherry
Auroville is a place, which no nation can claim as its own. It is a global township having residents from almost 140 countries and all the states of India. Auroville was the dream of Rishi Aurobindo and Mira Aalfassa, fondly and reverently known as the Mother. Auroville is an experience in itself.
Durga Puja celebration
Being a Bengali, I just could not resist the temptation about writing about Durga Puja! Durga Puja is not only a festival but also is a carnival. In West Bengal, it is the time of celebration, family reunion and all things good. Nowadays, Durga Puja is celebrated with the same fervour in other parts of India also. Kumartuli is the place in Kolkata where these idols get the life.
India is the best place for street shopping because you never know at what price you will actually get the item! In some of the best markets of India, you will find everything, if you look for it.
Goa, the ultimate beach destination
If sun and beach are your things, and you are fond of fun and frolic, there is no better place than Goa. The lovely beaches, quaint churches, Portuguese architecture are the things to look out for.
Explore the Rajasthan royalty and have an Arabian Nights experience at the deserts
Feel and travel like a king while in Rajasthan. Get mesmerized by the majestic forts and have an experience of a lifetime in the deserts on a moonlit night.
Get enthralled by the majestic ruins and the captivating landscape of Hampi, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Sundarbans, largest mangrove
Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove located at the delta of the Ganga and Brahmaputra Rivers between India and Bangladesh. It is also the only one having tigers – the Royal Bengal Tigers.
One of the oldest cities in India, Pushkar is also the only city where there is a temple dedicated to Brahma. Pushkar Fair is an annual 5 days camel fair held between October and November and is a spectacle worth visiting.
Backwaters of Kerala and Ayurveda
The Kerala backwaters are one of the most beautiful destinations of India. Comprising of stretches of serene lakes and lagoons lined with coconut and palm trees, it is a place where you can commune with nature. The ancient science of Ayurveda had its origin in India and Kerala provides one of the best Ayurvedic treatments. Simply get indulged in Ayurveda and get rejuvenated.
Mawlynnong, Asia’s cleanest village
Mawlynnong near Shillong, Meghalaya is considered the cleanest village in Asia. The quaint hamlet is indeed like a picture postcard. Also near Mawlynnong is Riwai village where you find the living root bridge.
Andaman, a tropical paradise
Clear blue waters, pristine beaches and exquisite marine life along with the most beautiful coral reefs summarize the grandeur of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Jatinga, a place where birds commit suicide
Do you know that every year during the late monsoon months, several migratory and local birds fly to their death in Jatinga, a little village of Assam? Just after the sunset between 7 PM and 10 PM, these birds fly down from the sky and plummet to their deaths by crashing into buildings and trees. The locals believed that evil spirits were responsible for this strange phenomenon, but later scientific studies and experiments provided answers to this phenomenon.
Rishikesh, the spiritual and adventure retreat
Rishikesh is a spiritual town, a place where you will get the best of Yoga as well as the best of adventure sports. It is the only place in India where you can experience Bungee jumping!
Loktak Lake, the floating lake
The largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, it also has the world’s only floating National Park. It has 233 species of aquatic plants, more than 100 species of birds and 425 species of animals.
Hornbill Festival is the premier festival of Nagaland celebrated in December every year. All the tribes of Nagaland showcase their tradition and cultural diversity here.
Caving at Meghalaya & Mizoram
Meghalaya and Mizoram have many well developed natural caves. Caving at Meghalaya and Mizoram is an adventurous activity worth taking.
The Unakoti, Tripura – looking for the magic number
Massive idols of Lord Shiva are chiselled out of a hill and they are 99,99,999 in numbers! Unakoti at Tripura is as grand as it can get.
Destinations for all Seasons
India is such a place where you have destinations for all seasons. Be it summer, winter, monsoon, autumn or spring, you have a place for all times.
Gir Forest, the home of Asiatic Lion
The only place where you will find lions other than Africa is the Gir Forest of Gujarat.
Lonar Crater, Maharashtra
This is Maharashtra’s best-kept secret. This crater was formed almost 52000 years ago when a meteor crashed into the earth. Now the base has been transformed into a green lake.
Get enchanted by Theyyam of Kerala or Gomira of Bengal
Theyyam or Kaliyattam is a ritual dance form that incorporates dance, mime, music and rudiments of ancient culture. Similarly, Gomira is an ancient masked dance performance.
Interestingly, in both the dance forms, it is believed that the god enters the dancers while they are performing.
You can experience the best of adventures here in India. From Scuba diving, white water rafting and many other water sports to Bungee jumping, paragliding, rock climbing; you name them, we have them!
Monasteries of Trans-Himalayan region
These monasteries are situated in unique locations. Majestic and towering structures nestled on top of hills, these places are the epitome of tranquillity and spirituality.
Folk and tribal art & culture
Ancient Indian folk art and painting has been practised for centuries and has been passed down from generation to generation. The Madhubani paintings of Mithila, Phad of Rajasthan, Bundi miniature paintings, Pata Chitra of Bengal and Odisha are only a few to name.
The majestic Mughal architectures
The Mughals have ruled in India for more than 300 years and they had left a legacy of awe-inspiring architecture to behold.
Wonderful British architecture
India was a British colony for almost 200 years and the British had left some spell bounding architectural delights in many of the cities and towns.
Rivers of India
India is such a country where rivers are worshipped. The rivers have a different appearance at different places of the country. And most of our major cities have grown around these mighty rivers.
Lofty waterfalls of India
India has some of the mind blowing and cascading waterfalls. The Chitrakoot Waterfalls is the widest of all. And there are so many that do not even have a name; you just have to admire them.
Epic Road trips
The road trips of India are one of the best and most adventurous. If you think you are a master at driving, then the Indian roads will push you to new limits. And if you conquer these, you will conquer all!
The Western Ghats, the Sahyadris
Older than the Himalayas, the Western Ghats is so unique in its flora and fauna. Also known as the Sahyadris (the benevolent mountains), they lack the snow-capped peaks of Himalayas but make up for in biodiversity. And the amazing hiking trails are an added bonus!
Bactrian Camel & Cold Desert at Nubra Valley
The Bactrian Camels or double humped camels are critically endangered species found only in Gobi desert and in the Nubra Valley region of Ladakh. Nubra Valley also has the only coldest desert in India.
Maharaja Express, A royal experience
If you want to be treated like a royal, then you must board the Maharaja Express. It is the world’s leading luxury train and offers extravagant experience while exploring the rich heritage of India.
The innocence of the people of the mountains
The simplicity and innocence of the people simply touch your heart. Talk to them and you will get a lifetime of memories.
Guests are treated as God – Atithi Devo Vaba
Yes, in India we are very happy when guests visit us and we revere them next to God.
Well, Wish you all a very happy Independence Day!
Now while you are travelling in India, keep connected to your friends and family as well as others by getting internet access and cheap SIM card here. Hippie in Heels has a wonderful guide about how to get a SIM Card in India to save you from much travel hassles.
PS: This post would not have been possible without the help of my family and friends. Thanks and gratitude to Uttara Gangopadhyay, Debika Banerji, Nandini Bhattacharya, Ritwik Neogi, Dipankar Bose, Oyindrila Sengupta and Kanchan Pillay.