Between traditional roots and modern evolution, India is a country of contrasts, as beautiful as it is authentic. With nearly one billion three hundred thousand inhabitants spread over more than three million square kilometers – five times the area of France – there are marvels in all areas: culture, history, gastronomy, architecture, religion, nature… Cities are alive, fascinating, animated and one has the impression that they never sleep!
The rest of the land is shared between natural and wild parks, snow-capped mountain ranges, endless coastal landscapes and rocky plains and plateaus. Wherever you are in Indian territory, there is always something to explore, admire, experience… We therefore suggest that you discover 20 unmissable places to visit during your stay in India.
1. Mysore Palace
Built in the city of the same name, Mysore Palace is the second most visited in India. Dating from the 14th century, it is both the royal residence where the Wodeyar dynasty lives and the seat of the kingdom of Mysore. The building, made of granite, stone and marble, houses a dozen Hindu temples as well as many rooms with heterogeneous architecture of Indo-Muslim and neo-Gothic influences. If you’re wondering what to do in India, Mysore Palace is a great place to start.
A former French colony, Pondicherry , a coastal city in southeastern India, is now prosperous thanks to its port activities and its cotton and silk factories. Everywhere in the city, you will feel the mix between French and Tamil cultures: way of life, local customs, artistic scene, culinary traditions… Taste a pain au chocolat while admiring the colorful facades of a Hindu temple? Sharing a game of petanque with locals? Smell the smells of Indian spices while strolling through streets with French names? Only in Pondicherry you can do all this!
3. Chilika Lake
Separated from the Bay of Bengal by a huge sandy beach sixty kilometers long, Chilika Lake impresses as much with its beauty as with its grandeur. A true lakeside paradise with unspoilt tranquility, you can spot flamingos, kingfishers and Irrawaddy dolphins. Highly protected, it is one of the sites recognized by the Ramsar Convention: wetlands of international importance for the preservation of the natural habitat of birds.
4. The Golden Temple
Located in Amritsar, in northwestern India, the Golden Temple is the holiest of all Sikh shrines in the territory. It is a must if you want to visit India. The building is covered in fine gold and sits enthroned in the middle of the Nectar Basin: as sacred as it is majestic, the temple is a true symbol of openness to others, whatever their origins and beliefs. Remember to wash your feet and cover your head before entering.
5. Jim Corbett National Park
If you’re looking to get away from the urban bustle of Indian cities, head to Jim Corbett National Park , a few hours northeast of New Delhi. Renowned for its exceptional wildlife and its Tiger Project, it was built in 1936 and remains the oldest of the country’s national parks. You can meet many animal species there: tigers, Asian elephants, fallow deer, snakes, flying foxes, birds…
6. The beaches of Goa
Turquoise and crystalline waters, long stretches of golden sand lined with palm trees, colorful little bars and restaurants, sunsets over the sea, shows by jugglers and tam-tam players: this is what awaits you on the sublime beaches of Goa . Lively and authentic, they stretch along the entire length of the province, in the south-west of India. According to your desires, you can practice yoga or meditate, drink a cocktail and party, or simply relax and enjoy the sun.
7. The Taj Mahal
With its pristine white facades, Mughal architectural style and cross-shaped canals surrounded by verdant gardens, the Taj Mahal is one of the most enchanting places in all of India. This white marble mausoleum was built by Emperor Shah Jahan to honor the memory of his third wife. The most famous and most visited monument in the country, it is located in the heart of the city of Agra, in northern India. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. In a word: it is essential during your trip to Indian territory.
8. Dudhsagar Waterfall
Over 300 meters high, the Dudhsagar waterfall is one of the largest and most impressive in India. Located on the Mandovi River, in the heart of the Mollem National Park, it delimits the border between the provinces of Goa and Karnataka, in the south-west of the country. Split into 4 waterfalls, you can admire this magnificent waterfall after a short equally surprising walk in the neighboring Indian forest.
9. New Delhi
The capital of India, nestled in the north of the country , is full of historical, cultural and architectural treasures not to be missed under any circumstances. Its heritage is a unique blend between the pure tradition of the Indian Empire and modern international influences. To visit India in an authentic way, a stopover in New Delhi is ideal. See the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate , Lotus Temple, and Gandhi Memorial . Fascinating and eclectic, New Delhi is a city that will not leave you indifferent!
10. Ajanta Caves
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ajanta Caves form a set of 29 troglodyte Buddhist temples and monasteries. Carved into basalt cliffs, they once served as a refuge and place of prayer for monks. The interior is a true homage to Buddha: you can admire sculptures, frescoes and engravings representing him, some of which date from the year 200 BC.
11. Mehrangarh Fort
Perched one hundred and twenty-two meters above sea level, Mehrangarh Fort overlooks the city of Jodhpur, in northwest India. This fortress, whose construction dates back to 1459, is one of the most imposing in the country. Surrounded by ramparts, from which you will have a view as splendid as it is impregnable over Jodhpur, the fort houses several palaces as well as courtyards, gardens and galleries. You will also find a museum here, where costumes, decorative works of art, paintings, musical instruments and armor are exhibited.
12. The Ganges
What to do in India to get off the beaten track and overcrowded cities? The answer is simple: go and recharge your batteries on the banks of the Ganges . Considered the holiest of the seven sacred rivers of India, this river crosses the north of the country and extends for more than three thousand kilometers. Symbol of the ultimate truth among Hindus, you can admire the beauty and the particular biodiversity of the Ganges without ever getting tired of it.
13. Hampi Ruins
If you want to learn more about the Hindu empire and religion, head to the village of Hampi , in the heart of the Tungabhadra Valley. All around the city, you can admire the ruins of Vijayanagara, a set of remarkable monuments looted and abandoned in 1565: the Royal Lotus, the Queen’s bath and the temples of Virupaksha , Vittala and Achyutaraya. To complete your visit, climb the six hundred steps of Mount Anjaneya which will lead you to the Temple of Hanuman , a place of pilgrimage where the monkey god of the same name is said to have been born.
14. Ladakh region
Located in the far north of India, the Ladakh region is a land of contrasts, between high plateaus and snow-capped peaks. It is one of the most beautiful regions to visit in India. During your stay, do not miss the sumptuous Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar, the Hemis National Park , the Thiksey Monastery in the city of Leh and the breathtaking views of the Himalayas. Nicknamed Little Tibet, this part of India offers many mountain paths and trails, perfect for hiking and trekking.
15. Kerala Canals
Often called the country of God, the State of Kerala has a unique network of canals in the world: on the nine hundred kilometers that this territory occupies, countless lagoons, bridges, rivers, dykes and small lakes cross and intertwine to form backwaters. Navigate these canals and admire the coconut groves, herds of buffaloes, rice paddies and picturesque villages that line the banks.
16. The Thar Desert
What to do in India when you are passing through the Rajasthan region, on the Pakistani border? Stopping in the Thar Desert , of course! With more than eighty inhabitants per square kilometer, it is the most densely populated desert in the world. Sometimes called the Great Indian Desert, here you can spot antelopes, desert foxes and gazelles. Let your eyes get lost on the horizon and take the opportunity to visit the magnificent golden city of Jaisalmer , all to the west of the desert.
17. Tawang Monastery
Having once belonged to Tibet, the city of Tawang has preserved much of the heritage and traditions acquired until its annexation to India in 1914. Among them is the Buddhist monastery of Tawang , the largest in the whole country. . More than three hundred monks live there as a community and take care of this sacred place with its stunning architecture on a daily basis. If there was only one monastery to visit in India, it would undoubtedly be this one.
18. Bandipur National Park
This immense natural reserve, located in the southwest of India, borders the national parks of Mudumalai and Nagarhole. In the middle of sparse forests and green expanses, set off to meet the elephants, mongooses, tigers and other wild bulls that inhabit this protected place. Since 2013, Bandipur National Park has been listed as one of the Important Bird Areas in India.
With its famous tea, Tibetan medicine training institute and picturesque views of the surrounding high peaks, Darjeeling oozes India’s Buddhist authenticity and hospitality. Perched in the far north of the country, between Nepal and Bhutan, it is an ideal compromise between city spirit and natural landscapes.
20. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Isolated off the east coast of India, on the boundary between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, the Andaman Islands are a jewel of India’s natural heritage. An eclectic archipelago, you will find dense tropical forests and mangroves, crystal clear waters suitable for snorkeling and diving, lively and hospitable cities and endless white sand beaches. They are the ideal place if you want to visit India off the beaten track.