India is a very interesting country, that’s getting more popular for tourists, probably because there are many things you can see only there. India is a whole new world. Official statistics say that the number of tourist arrivals in India has increased by 97% in the past ten years.
However, most of these tourists visit the big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata, the ghats of Varanasi, the beaches of Goa, or few spots in the Himalayas like Manali, Kasol, and Rishikesh. I lived in India for a year, I met many tourists and expats, but only a few people I met visited some of the places that I am going to write about today. So I thought I should give these places some love by mentioning them in this article since they are definitely worth a visit.
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10. South Andaman Island
I’ve seen Goa and I have seen many other beaches across India in my year there. After that, I can claim that Goa doesn’t have the most beautiful beach in the country. There are two places in India with beaches even more amazing than Goa. And this is one of them. The island has a lot of great spots for scuba diving and skydiving as well. It’s always more adventurous when you skydive over an island. And the sigh is much nicer as well. You can also visit a nearby island known as Barren Island, a home to the only active volcano in South Asia.
Shillong, known among locals as ‘The Scotland of the East’, was one of my favorite places during my journey to this part of India. I will never forget the blue mountains, the lush green forests filled with romantic rivers accompanied by waterfalls, the amazing wildlife, and most importantly the wonderful traditions and rituals wrapped around the mist, which seemed ubiquitous in the Northeast, especially Shillong.
The real challenge is the temperature difference is really difficult in the beginning. When I visited I was coming to Delhi, where the temperature was around 45 degrees, and in Srinagar, the temperature even dropped below 0 in the night. Srinagar is an amazing city. A lot of its charm comes from its two lakes: Dal Lake and Wular Lake. The city is also home to one of the biggest floating markets in India. You can buy literally everything here, including hash and weed, if you’re into this stuff.
Tura is another small, but beautiful town surrounded by lush forests and hills in the state of Meghalaya. Tura is known for its Siju Caves, which is one of the longest caves in Asia. Other highlights include the Tura peak that will give you an amazing view of Tura and Balpakram, which is the real place for you if you’re a fan of tribal stories and folklore. If you go to India in search for new spiritual dimensions, this is definitely one of those places.
6. Silent Valley National Park
This is my favorite National Park in India. Located in the state of Kerala, Silent Valley national park is one of the most amazing gifts from nature to mankind. The lush forests make the temperature bearable, and the humidity is lower compared to the rest of India. The most impressive part about Silent Valley is the wildlife: 34 species of mammals, 292 species of birds, 31 species of reptiles, 22 species of amphibians, 13 species of fishes, 500 species of butterflies and moths, besides a multitude of lower forms of animal life most of which are yet to be documented.
5. Nubra Valley
Nubra valley is a cold desert located in the Northern state of Kashmir, geographically belonging to the Tibetian Plateau. Some amazing things to see here are the sand dunes, the three-humped camels, which can only be found in three other places in the entire world and Turtuk- the village of serenity that became open for tourists after 2010. Many people don’t visit Nubra because of the conflict between India and Pakistan. However, during my last visit a couple of months ago I can say the entire region was looking pretty peaceful.
Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is another amazing place. The entire city is built on a hill and you’re practically hiking even if you want to go from your hotel to the supermarket. Gangtok and Sikkim are other examples of how diverse India as a country is. The people look similar to the people from the Land of the Seven sisters; a term used for the 7 states of northeast India. But Sikkimese traditions and customs are different than the other states. Even I thought that Sikkim was a part of the 7 sisters until I visited.
Ladakh- the land of high passes, untouched nature, mystic lamas, snowy mountains, and caring people. Another notorious place, according to the media, which is home not only to unreal winter beauty but also to some of the most caring people I have met. The people of Ladakh is what makes this cold piece of land so warm. There are only two roads that leave to this city, and both of them are in a really bad condition and under snow through a large part of the year. So Ladakh can basically stay isolated from the rest of the world if the weather Gods decide to be violent.
2. Nicobar Island
At the beginning of the article, I said that there’s one place in India with beaches better than Goa. That’s definitely Nicobar. This is an island with untouched nature. The island is filled with dense forests and dreamy beaches like I haven’t seen anywhere else. What makes this place special are the tribal belts that divide the island. Yes, there actually are tribal people living here, but the access to this area is forbidden for tourists.
1. Aksai Chin
Aksai Chin is another place located in Kashmir, which is my personal favorite. This place is located on the ceasefire line between China and India. This place has been notoriously called ‘One of the most dangerous places in the world’. I don’t know how it was a few years ago, but when I visited there it was completely safe. For some reason, the Indian media wants the rest of the country to think that Kashmir is a dangerous place, but the reality is a bit different. When I arrived at the notorious place, there was literally no one else there. Just me, the snowy mountains, heavenly lakes, and cold deserts. The highlight of Aksai Chin is Pangong Lake, located at more than 5,700 meters above ground, giving you a view that looks like it was made in Photoshop or designed for a fairy-tale.