Ask a few people about holidaying in India and you’re bound to receive a variety of takes on the subject. To some degree, that’s fitting; the South Asian country is the 7th largest in the world in terms of land area and the second-most populous. An estimated 1.3 billion people live there, all from different walks of life, belonging to a variety of faiths and cultures.



There’s simply no straightforward way to define a place of that magnitude. As such, the best way to experience the country may be to just get in there and see it for yourself, and the easiest way to do that is to shop around for tour packages in India. Meanwhile, read on for a list of locations and attractions that should definitely go on your must-visit list:



 Jaipur 

One of the most well-known stories about the city of Jaipur is that it was painted pink in 1876 in preparation for a visit from the then-Prince of Wales, Albert Edward. The colour was chosen because it represented hospitality, and to this day locals have kept up the tradition.


Jaipur is not only visually stunning, but it’s also full of some of the warmest and friendliest people you’ll ever meet during your travels. It’s a major tourist destination, currently ranked 7th on Conde Nast Traveller’s list of the best places to visit in India.

Main draws include:

 Hawa Mahal 

This gorgeous red and pink sandstone palace was built in 1799 and are most famous for intricate lattice façade, which resembles the structure of a beehive.



It was designed this way so that noblewomen could observe the street below without being seen, in accordance with purdah, a practice in certain Hindu and Muslim groups that mandated they stay out of sight of strangers. 

 Amer Fort 

Part of the six hilltop forts that form the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Hill Forts of Rajasthan, Amer Fort is also referred to as Amer Palace, Amber Fort, or Amber Palace.


It’s an architectural marvel that was built in 1592 and was used by the royal family until the capital was moved to Jaipur proper and the City Palace was completed for them to reside in. The sprawling complex is divided into six main sections that can all be explored for a small fee. 



 Jodhpur 

Nicknamed “The Blue City”, Jodhpur is arguably the most photogenic destination in India. Its oldest sections are painted in bright shades of blue, creating a striking contrast when viewed against the backdrop of the imposing Mehrangarh Fort at its centre.


Jodhpur’s claims to fame include its incredible local food scene, a thriving handicrafts industry, and the aforementioned Mehrangarh being used as a key location in the 2012 Christian Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises.


Don’t miss the chance to see: 

 Mehrangarh Fort and Museum 

Towering 410 feet above the city, Mehrangarh Fort is a silent, colossal sentinel that keeps watching over all of Jodhpur. It’s one of the largest forts in the country, and the museum housed within is one of the most well-stocked in the entire state of Rajasthan.

Image via www.travelescape.in

There are a total of seven-period rooms and six galleries that showcase the heritage of the Rathore, the Rajput clan that founded and ruled over the area. Of particular interest is its collection of houdahs, those carriages set upon the backs of elephants for kings and other members of royalty to ride on.

There’s also the gallery of palanquins, which were mainly used by noblewomen. If history and culture isn’t your thing but adrenaline-pumping pursuits are, try out the Flying Fox zipline adventure courses on the north side of the fort, where you can whizz around and above the fort’s battlements like a video game character

 Toorji’s Step Well 

Built sometime in the 1740s, this well used to be a vital source of drinking water for the citizens of Jodhpur until it was rendered obsolete by modern plumbing systems. For decades thereafter, it languished, becoming decrepit and unused. It has since been cleaned up and restored, and it now serves as a major attraction for both guests to the city and local youths, who use it as an informal swimming pool. You’ll find them jumping off its lofty walls into the water below.

Image via kevinstandagephotography

The best vantage point for watching these kids is from the café that has occupied a space atop the well. Make sure to order a refreshing lassi, and situate yourself on the viewing deck for great action shots. The steps leading down to the water are also a fantastic textural backdrop for your next display photo.



 Lakshadweep 

This group of islands off the coast of Kerala in the Laccadive Sea is, in a word, paradise. It is composed of about 39 islands and islets that include 12 atolls, 3 reefs, and 5 submerged banks. Only ten of the islands are currently inhabited, and permits are required if you’d like to visit, making this one of the last truly unspoiled coastal frontiers left in the continent.


If you’re tired of taking your white sands, pristine waters and coral reefs with luxury resort trappings and gaudy developments (as well as the inevitable damage to the local ecosystem that results with their presence), the archipelago of Lakshadweep is for you.


For views and experiences that will blow your mind, head to: 

 Agatti Island 

Only 7-and-a-half kilometres long, this small island is one of the few in Lakshadweep that is open to tourists. An entry permit from the Lakshadweep Administration is required to visit, a formidable barrier that most visitors tend to baulk at.

Image via www.travellersofindia.com

Your efforts at obtaining one will be richly rewarded, though—imagine having virtually no competition for real estate at the spectacular beaches, nor will there ever be a need to fight through crowds to see and swim in the island’s magnificent lagoon. The coral reefs surrounding the island are in excellent condition and teeming with life, making this one of the more popular spots for indulging in the sport, too
 

 The Princess Royal wreck 

In 2002, archaeologists were able to find the remains of an 18th-century British ship in the Arabian Sea, where the islands of Lakshadweep are. They say that it is most likely Princess Royal, sunk in the battle against the French over 200 years ago. Divers have since recovered various artefacts from the sunken vessel and donated them to the Lakshadweep Museum. The wreck, however, still sits about 35 meters below the surface in clear water and is nothing short of an exhilarating thrill to explore.

How about you? Which place in India would you like to visit next?
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