Image Credit: Amit Loiwal

Gangtok, Sikkim

If flying is more your style, then the nearest airport would be Bagdogra, if you prefer railways, then pit-stop at Siliguri. It’s all a road journey from there onwards, so not much of a choice. But Gangtok is a beautiful and clean hill station that forever has my heart for its welcoming people, gorgeous views of Mt Kanchenjunga, calming Buddhist monasteries and almost untouched natural beauty. Must dos here would be visiting the flower show and Tsomgo Lake. – Alifiya Sehrawala


I know it’s a well-known tourist attraction in Karnataka, far from Bengaluru. Vivanta by Taj at Madukarai, Coorg was our honeymoon destination. Yes, It’s a resort but I will say it is a hub combined with panoramic beauty and a perfect sojourn. At once we thought we were at middle of a forest with birds and animals. It may not take a spot in the must-see places in India, but I am sure after one visit, especially during monsoon season, our heart and mind will stay there and the place will always call us again and again to be there. – Ashwini Babu

Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh

There are two vacations that stand out for me in India. The first was a train trip to Goa during the monsoon. The whole journey along the Konkan coast was lush and verdant with waterfalls popping up. The second one was to Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh. The mountains were clear and the air was fresh. There were no crowds and there are excellent hiking trails. We had the added bonus of staying in a lovely hotel where the owner treated everyone as family. They even had a small library! There is a place close to Dalhousie called Khajiar, which is a mini Switzerland. It was one of the most beautiful and serene places I have been too. – Harshita Nanda

Munnar, Kerala

This hill station in the Western Ghats mountain range is surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century. Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for the endangered Nilgiri tahr, a mountain goat, is home to the Lakkam Waterfalls, hiking trails and 2,695m-tall Anamudi Peak. Points of interest worth visiting are Eravikulam national park, Munnar tea museum, Pothamedu view point, Echo point, Attukal waterfalls, Anamudi and Mattupetty dam. – Rashna Pardiwala Mehta


My recommendation for tourists would be to visit the Victoria Memorial.

Spring, i.e. now, is the best time to visit that part of the country as the summers are pretty humid and winters dry. Since it’s more about the English architecture, which blends into the strong cultural essence of Bengali, a backdrop of lush green is something that can’t be compromised on the visit.

The Victoria Memorial is a strategically located monument, equidistant from both the old part of the city and the new part, not far from the picturesque banks of the river Hoogly where the morning pujas are a great treat to the eyes, with the Howrah Bridge in sight, especially for the ones fond of their DSLRs.

The Victoria Memorial is spread across a huge multi-acre property and is a grand tourist destination. The monument is surrounded by beautiful man-made lakes and gardens blooming with marvellous flora. Migratory birds can also be seen flying around during this time of the year.

The Indian Museum, Chowringee Road and Park Street, which also are on every tourist’s list, are a walk’s distance from the memorial. – Muaviyah Shafi

Lakshadweep Islands

Image Credit: Ashok Ramakrishna

Out of some of the lesser-known places that I have visited in India are these islands, just off the southern coast of India. Being a border territory of India, it requires an entry permit to visit, which is issued from the Kochi office in Kerala on the mainland.

Agatti island has the sole airport in the Lakshadweep islands. Situated nearly 400km off the southern coast of India, this island is the entry point for air travellers; earlier travellers by ship used to dock directly at Kavaratti, which is the capital of Lakshadweep.

With white sandy beaches, blue lagoon waters and swaying coconut trees, these islands are definitely India’s coral paradise.

Fishing with a little bit of farming form the main occupation of the predominantly rural, Muslim inhabitants. Now tourists are realizing the beauty of these unexplored islands and are flocking there, giving rise to a new industry of hospitality. The people there are very simple and are gracious hosts.

The Agatti Beach Resort next to the airport is a great place to stay and enjoy a calm and tranquil experience.

Solar power plants have now been installed and cater to a significant part of the electricity there, slowly replacing the more polluting diesel generators.

For a holiday away from the bustle of city life, Lakshadweep is the destination to go to; the best time to visit is October to March. – Ashok Ramakrishna

Matheran, Maharashtra

Image Credit: Amit Loiwal

Of all the places I’ve seen in India so far, Matheran, a quaint hill station, takes the top spot. You travel from Neral (near Mumbai) to Matheran, on the impeccable toy train, which takes you there in three hours, travelling at a snail’s place due to safety reasons, and giving us a good chance to enjoy the scenic view.

The only mode of transport from the train station up to the hill station is by horseback, since private motor vehicles are not allowed in the town. One could hike from the station to the town, if one feels adventurous enough.

Besides the more than 20 look-out points, Matheran is a place that forgot to modernize itself into a concrete jungle of a hill station. There is lots of greenery all around, and, let’s not forget the fresh air, due to an abject lack of pollution.

I’m looking forward to my next visit there. – Amit Loiwal

Alleppy, Kerala

While you enjoy the view from the houseboat in the Kerala backwaters, your personal chef on the boat prepares a simple but delicious lunch consisting of a fish curry – the fish is fresh from the water itself. The backwaters are populated with small houses on the either side. Life is simple for these people. If they want to get to the market, they can only take a boat to get out of the place. They have a boat stop as we have a bus stop. The children were having a gala time bathing in the backwaters. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to breathe in the fresh air and see the simplicity of life around. – Christina Fransz

Munnar, Kerala

Image Credit: Rasmina Abdul Jaleel

One of the most popular hill stations, in Idukki district, this is a best place for the real nature lovers. India’s popular tea estates and factories are the main attraction. Mattuppetty dam, which is built between the hill ranges, is a place to enjoy the natural beauty; Kundala lake has a boating facility, while Echo point, where we can hear our echo back, is a fun-filled activity. Lots of water falls make the place beautiful. Our honeymoon trip was there in 2009, and this year we are planning to visit again because the famous Neelakurinji flower will bloom from July to October, a rare natural spectacle that happens once in twelve years. We are eagerly waiting for the blue sea of flowers in the hills. – Rasmina Abdul Jaleel

Shani Singnapur, Maharashtra

To explore true India one must visit the villages of India. Every village has a different story to tell, they have different cultures, food and their own regional crop, the people in villages not only love their family but they love their cattle and their farm. To explore these villages one must travel by road, with lot of dhabas and tea stalls alongside to indulge in some of the local food and tea. Where the cities in India are promoting digitalization, the villages are promoting Swatch Bharath by proper sanitation. One such village is Shani Singnapur in Maharashtra. This place has a unique significance that none of the houses in the village have doors – they only have frames because of the belief that there is no theft in the village and if there is any theft then a deity will punish them. – Nivedita

Hampi, Karnataka

A recent visit to Hampi left us spellbound. This 3rd century city became the Vijayanagara Empire capital in the 14th century and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Attacked and destroyed in the 1500s this city was re-discovered by the British in the 1800s. Our local guide informed us that even today only 40 per cent has been excavated. The sheer beauty, size and quality of architecture and scientific acumen is breathtaking.

The Virupaksha temple, the stepped water tank, the Lotus Mahal and the Musical Pillars are must-sees as are nearby places such as Patadakal, the Badami caves and Aihole. The grandeur of these structures has to be seen to believe it. You need at least four to five days to experience this vast and beautiful place entirely. – Bindu K Nair

Chandubi, Assam

Image Credit: Kirti Devnani

I had last visited India during the national day holidays in December. It was a trip to the northeast – a part of India that not many people explore. One such place in Assam is indeed off the beaten track – it takes a two-hour drive and a boat ride to reach the hidden gem known as Chandubi Lake. A boat ride in the misty silence amidst the hills, devoid of any artificial lights, the milky way visible to the naked eye, all these sights need to be experienced. Soaking myself in the timeless beauty of Chandubi feels like a utopian dream. – Kirti Devnani

Kodagu or Coorg, Karnataka

Known as the ‘Scotland of India’, in south western on the slopes of western Ghats is a must-see place in India. It is well known for its natural beauty, lush green forests, coffee plantations and it’s also the birthplace of River Kaveri. The roar of the Abbey falls, the wilderness of Pushpagiri Wild life sanctuary, the misty hills of Madikeri are ever enchanting. – Vineetha Sasikant


Nestled on the west coast of India is this small beach town. Previously known for its temples, this town – which is now popularly referred to as “the poor mans Goa” – is home not only to a small population of locals but also to a considerable number of non-Indians who have retired to the hippie-life in India.

Gokarna has six sandy beaches with pristine waters and rich green foliage flanking them. Kudle beach has two small-scale resorts and several other lodging options, with little huts being a favourite. Being a backpacker’s haven, Gokarna also houses a branch of Zostel, India’s largest chain of backpacker hostels.

One of the most popular things to do in Gokarna is the inter-beach trek. Starting at Kudle beach, this moderately difficult trek leads you to Om beach (named as it has a shape that resembles the spiritual icon Om), Half-Moon beach (a small crescent beach with giant black rocks on all sides), and finally to Paradise beach, which is inhabited by a group of foreigners. An endearing dog, whom I named Atlas, accompanied us on our trek to make sure we didn’t lose our way.

If your timing is right, you may even sight waters that twinkle with bio-luminescent plankton.

Several buses and trains lead travellers from Bangalore, Mangalore and Goa to Gokarna every day. You can also easily drive down to this little town, and revitalize with some sunrise yoga before you head out on the rest of your travels. – Sayana Sherif


Surrounded by blue sea, Goa is a small piece of land which is located on the west of India. Goa is known for its picturesque beaches and scenic beauty. A tranquil place called Keri Beach, Tiracol Fort and Marmagao Dabolim are my must-sees. – Shivanshi Khanna


Image Credit: Garima Razdan

The elephant conservation and care centre is located on the National Highway 2. Run by the NGO Wildlife SOS, it houses Asian elephants rescued from exploitative conditions. A one-day tour at the centre starts with the in-house guide showing you a documentary about the welfare of wild animals, elephants in particular. Next, they will take you around the centre and make you meet the quirkily named elephants, many suffering from physical ailments such as deafness and blindness as a result of their previous living conditions. One also gets the chance to feed the elephants. If you wish to gain an in-depth experience, you can also volunteer for a week or fortnight there. You will get an opportunity to assist the staff in walking the elephants, preparing food for them, their bathing and medical assistance.

A one-day tour involves a donation of around Dh85. The proceeds are utilised in the upkeep of the conservation centre. It is a refreshing experience with a noble outcome. – Garima Razdan

Lonavala to Khandala, Maharashtra

If you’re in India, do not miss this beautiful train ride in the mountains of Maharashtra. The train chugs slowly in the heights of the mountains. It is cool and green. Special engines are attached to the train to chug through the heights. It is a beautiful view from the window of the train. From the top of the mountains, the villages below look miniscule but beautifully set in the greenery. And if it is monsoon season, the view is ethereal. Tall waterfalls on both sides, lush greenery, train chugging through black tunnels and then coming out of them to reveal God’s beautiful creation – nature. I will never forget the beautiful train journey. – Priya Ram