India is the land of diversity. We have great diversity in wildlife and vegetation, from hot desert to cold deserts, the Indian Ocean to a Himalayan range of mountains or great biodiversity of western ghats, the list is endless. There is something for everyone’s interest. These most beautiful places in India are scattered all around India from North to South, and from East to West. It is difficult to compile a list of best places because there are plenty of them but still I tried to compile my list of 20 most beautiful places in India
1. ) Pangong Lake
It is situated at an altitude of 4,350 meters in Ladakh region of Jammu Kashmir. The drive to the Pangong is scenic. It is a saline water lake but still, it gets frozen in winter months and due to this there is no aquatic life in the lake. In summer months lake and mountains surrounding it create a magnificent landscape. The water of lake changes color during the day due to sun’s changing position.
How to reach: Nearest airport of Leh is 160 km, it’s a 5-6 hour drive through mountains.
Best time to Visit: Between June to September.
2.) Nubra Valley
It is 130 km from Leh but due to tough mountain terrain, it takes approx 6 hours to reach Nubra Valley situated at an altitude of 3,048 meters. The road passes through world’s highest motorable road on Khardung La pass at an altitude of 5,359 meters. The drive through the mountains and passes is scenic. Nubra valley is most fertile in Ladakh but at the same time, there are Hundar sand dunes. These sand dunes are highest in the world and home to double hump camels. The snow capped mountains and sand dunes create a beautiful landscape.
How to reach: Leh is the closest airport and from Leh, it’s 6 hours drive through world’s highest motorable road.
Best time to Visit: Between June to September.
3.) Hills near the Himalayas
The small foothill towns of Uttarakhand and Himachal are the best place to see the beauty of lower Himalayan range. In Uttarakhand Pangot, Almora, Bhimtal and in Himachal Palampur, Mashorba, Nahan and Shoja are very relaxed nontouristy places. These places are best to enjoy the natural beauty of peaceful surroundings of hills.
How to reach: All these places are between 5 to 8 hours drive from Delhi. There is no direct train connectivity and the closest airport is Dehradun & Shimla.
Best time to Visit: Between March to October though these places are beautiful throughout the year.
4.) Rishikesh – River Ganga
Rishikesh is very popular for spiritual seekers. This is one of those cities which is also popular for adventure sports and yoga lovers. The river Ganga is clean near Rishikesh and flow at its best. It is advisable to stay in some Ashram or resort somewhere outside the Rishikesh near mountains, jungle or closer to the river.
How to reach: Nearest airport of Dehradun is 45 km away. Nearest railhead of Haridwar is 25 km and connected with all major cities. It is very well connected via the bus service.
Best time to Visit: Throughout the year though in the monsoon months it can restrict the movement.
5.) Jaisalmer – Sand dunes
It is situated in the heart of Thar desert, also known as a golden city because of its yellow sandstone architect and monuments. Sand dunes of Jaisalmer known as Sam have situated 45 km from the town are beautiful golden color spread in few km area. Camel and jeep safaris are very popular on sand dunes. During sunrise and sunset, these dunes look most beautiful. In winter months the area gets a bit crowded due to the tourist crowd around sunset. It is worth visit Sam dunes to experience the desert. There is an RTDC hotel and some tented accommodation for night stay.
How to reach: Nearest airport of Jodhpur is 275 km. There is a train station in Jaisalmer and it well connected with all major cities. RSRTC with Rajasthan Tourism Dept runs bus service, which is very convenient.
Best time to Visit: November to February (But it is ok to visit in October and March because at that time less tourist)
6.) Little Rann of Kutch
It is part of Rann but still different from Great Rann of Kutch near Bhuj. It is only wildlife sanctuary with Asian Wild Ass and during winter months there are many migratory birds like Flamingos, Pelicans, and some other species migrate here near water bodies. The Barron ground has a high concentration of salt and due to water scarcity, there are cracks in it soil. This is the best place to watch migratory birds and wild asses. There are resorts in Dasada, which is at the edge of the sanctuary.
How to reach: Nearest airport of Ahmedabad is 90 km away. The nearest train station of Viramgam is 30 km. Bus connectivity is bad.
Best time to Visit: November to March.
7.) Salt Marsh of Kutch
It is also known as Great Rann of Kutch or White dessert. It is salt marsh and the ground here looks white due to a layer of salt on its surface, it develops due to very high concentration of salt. In monsoon months water floods the area and most of the solid land turn into the bog, which makes it risky to travel by foot or vehicle. On full moon nights of winters, the vast white grounds look silver and create a dramatic effect. Dorado and Hodka are two nearest villages with good resorts. Gujarat Tourism organizes a festival in months of December – January but at that time area gets crowded.
How to reach: The Nearest airport and train station of Bhuj is 85 km away. Bus connectivity is bad.
Best time to Visit: November to February
8.) Lonar crater
It is declared as national Geo-Heritage monument. The Lonar Crater was created by a meteor impact near ice age (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago). That impact created a lake, which is both saline and alkaline in nature. The upper rim of Lake is 1.8 km in diameter and depth is 137 meters. This lake has diverse ecosystem due to the minerals in its water. There are some small and big temples around the lake mostly on the upper edge of the rim. For an overnight stay, there is one MTDC guest house nearby.
How to reach: The Nearest airport and train station of Aurangabad is 140 km away. Bus connectivity is limited but manageable with some effort.
Best time to Visit: September to April
8.) The Western Ghats
It is a mountain range, which runs parallel to the western coast of India. In 2012 it was declared one of the eight hottest hotspots of biological diversity in the world. There are 39 national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and reserve forests in the western ghat area. It starts from the border of Gujarat/Maharashtra and ends at Kanyakumari (Approx 1600 Km) There are thousands of flowering and nonflowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6,000 insects species and 290 freshwater fish species as per the recorded data available.
How to reach: It is running parallel to the western coast of India and can be accessed easily from all coastal towns like Mumbai or from the south from Cochinas well as from central Indian cities.
Best time to Visit: Anytime of the year, while my favorite time is the end of monsoon to the beginning of winters i.e. September & October.
9.) Backwaters of Kerala
Backwaters are basically lakes and lagoons lying parallel to the Arabian sea. This is an intricate system of inlets, canals, rivers, and lakes. This interconnected labyrinth has formed a parallel National waterway of more than 200 km in Kerala. Vembanad is the largest lake in the area and it is spread in more than 2000 square km. The fresh water of the rivers meets the seawater in this region and creates a unique ecosystem of aquatic life. For staying and seeing the backwaters houseboats are best, these run in backwaters on slow speed and very popular to experience the life around waterways.
How to reach: Alleppey is the main port for backwater houseboat tours. The nearest airport of Kochi is 60 km. There is a train station 10 km in Allepy. It is also well connected by buses.
Best time to Visit: Anytime of the year but it’s most beautiful from October to March.
10.) Tea Gardens
The tea plants and gardens were originally grown on their own but after Britishers discovered these in middle of the 19th century these were grown and maintained by people. Tea plant grows on slopes in the cold and wet areas. The tea plants are grown in such a manner that these create beautiful landscapes. Most popular tea garden areas are in Darjeeling, Assam, Munnar and Ooty/Kannur. There are homestays and resorts in tea gardens and it is advisable to stay here to enjoy the natural beauty.
How to reach: Munnar is my favorite tea plantation and it is 160 km from Cochin airport. The nearest railway station of Ernakulam is 160 km. It is well connected by bus with most cities in Kerala and Tamilnadu.
Best time to Visit: October to March.
11.) Limestone Caves in Meghalaya
Mawsmai Caves of Meghalaya are amongst the longest limestone caves in the world. These caves are now explored with the help of Meghalaya Adventurers Association in Shillong, which organizes explorations. This project of caving is known as “Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Project”. There are approx 1580 caves in the area and out of these 980 caves are already explored, the longest cave measured cave is 30,957 meters.
How to reach: Nearest airport and railway station of Guwahati is 150 Kms. Shillong is 55 km and can be used as a base for staying.
Best time to Visit: Anytime of the year except for monsoon months.
12.) Majuli – River Island
Majuli is world’s largest river island on Bharmputra River in Assam. The island is spread over an area of 1,250 square km. It is bird watcher paradise especially in winter months from November to March. Majuli is well known for its mask and pottery making techniques as they still use the traditional methods. The Ali-ai-ligang festival, Paal Namm festival, and holi festivals are some of the most popular festivals held here in the month of Feb-March. The ride to the island by ferry has its own charm.
How to reach: Nearest airport and railway station of Jorhat is 20 Kms. From Jorhat take a taxi to Nimati Steamer Ghat from where ferry services ply, you have to take 2 ferries to reach Majuli.
Best time to Visit: After monsoon from November to April.
13.) Sundarbans Forest
The Sundarban is largest Mangrove forest located at the delta of Brahmaputra, Padma, and Meghna river basin and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name of the forest is driven from the Sundari trees (the mangrove species) that are found in Sundarbans in large number. The 30% of this forest is in India and 70% is in Bangladesh. It is a Tiger Reserve also and home for Royal Bengal Tiger. The Tiger in this area are accustomed to saline water and as per studies some of these tigers turn man-eater due to some adverse effect of this saline water. It is a good place for bird watchers and the tiger safari here is done on a boat cruise.There are a couple of guest houses in Sundarbans for night stay. There is some organization, who arranges packaged tours to the area.
How to reach: Nearest airport and railway station of Kolkata is 100 Km. From Kolkata take a taxi to Godhkhali Jetty from where ferry services ply, it takes 2 hours to reach Sundarbans.
Best time to Visit: After monsoon from November to April.
14.) Dudhsagar Waterfall
It is the second highest waterfall in India, the water falling from the top looks like a steam of Milk hence derived the name Dudhsagar (Means sea of milk). The waterfall looks best during and after the monsoon because at that time there is plenty of water to feed the flow. The trek to the base of the waterfall is done via railway trek and from the middle of the forest. There are 2-3 streams on the way and crossing these is another fun part of this trek. Apart from trekking, you can ride to the base of falls, in monsoon months by hiring a bike with driver and rest of the year by jeep.
How to reach: Nearest airport and railway station of Goa is 70 Kms. Take a car from Goa to Cullum and trek or ride to the base of fall. Earlier people use to walk along the railway trek and reach the bridge near waterfall but that is banned by the government now.
Best time to Visit: Monsoon and till November – December.
15.) Chitrakote Falls
This Fall is India’s widest waterfall and is popularly called as Niagara Falls of India. The boating facility available here and it’s one the best thing to do. Despite it’s potential this area is still not developed and due to this, it’s not very touristy or crowded. This area still a virgin that’s the best thing about this waterfall. There is a government guest in the area for night stay.
How to reach: Nearest airport of Raigarh is 280 Km. Travel by bus or train from Raipur to Jagdalpur. From Jagdalpur waterfall is 40 km and take a taxi to reach the falls.
Best time to Visit: From September to November-December to see the falls at it’s best.
16.) Tiger Reserves
There are 50 tiger reserves in India. These tiger reserves are located all over India under the protection of the government. The most popular and easily accessible tiger reserves are Corbett Tiger Reserve Uttarakhand, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve / Kanha Tiger Reserve / Panna Tiger Reserve / Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The total population of tigers in India is 3891. Wildlife safari is the only way to see the Tigers in their natural habitat. Other then tigers many other animals and birds can be spotted in the jungle areas. It’s a great way to explore wildlife in India.
How to reach: All the above mentioned Tiger reserves are located in 500-600 km radius of Delhi or Mumbai and can be easily accessed by trains or by road.
Best time to Visit: From 1st October to 20th June because these reserves remain closed from 1st July to 30th September.
17.) Andaman Islands Aquatic Life
The Andaman Islands are located in the Bay of Bengal at a distance of 1367 km from the mainland India. The Havelock Island is best to explore the aquatic life. It is 100 km from Port Blair and easily reached by AC ferries in 2-3 hours. The temperature of sea around Havelock Island is suitable for corals, different varieties of colorful fishes and other marine life. This Island is very good for doing scuba diving, snorkeling, sea walk, and also to relax on clean white sand beaches. In some parts of Havelock, one can go for short day treks. Radha Nagar Beach is best to relax and watch a beautiful sunset.
How to Reach: There are direct flights from Chennai and Kolkatta to Port Blair (Capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands). Ferry from Port Bair to Havelock.
Best time to visit: From September to March. In Monsoon sea becomes choppy so water activities stop.
18.) Olive Ridley Turtles in Orissa
Every year from mid to end February Olive Ridley turtles come to Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district near the mouth of rivers Rushikulya to lay the eggs on the beach. The egg laying process lasts for 5-7 days during time turtles dug a flask shape pit and lay eggs. The eggs hatch in these pits for approx 50-60 days. The hatching takes place during the night or predawn to avoid predatory animals. To protect eggs and baby turtles from predators some organizations are work during hatching. After hatching these baby turtles crawl towards the sea in big groups and it is a spectacular sight. In the year 2016 approx 5-6 lakh (around half a million) eggs hatched.
How to reach: Nearest airport of Bhubaneswar is 130 Km. Nearest Railway station is Bhadrak but train connectivity is limited another major railway station of Cuttack is 100 Km. Bus connectivity is not very good. To reach Gahirmatha beach take a taxi or collaborate with the organizations working on turtle project.
Best time to visit: Sometime around the end, April depending upon the egg-laying date.
19.) Living Root Bridge
These bridges are made of living roots of trees. It takes 10 to 15 years to make a living root bridge and these are supposed to last for few hundred years. These bridges are handmade with roots of rubber trees across the streams, stones and sticks are added to stabilize the bridge. Most of the bridges are in the state of Meghalaya near Cheerapunjee, some of these root bridges are double decker. Though these are manmade still a good example of nature.
How to reach: Nearest airport and railway station of Guwahati is 150 Km. It is advisable to stay in Shillong, which is 60 km or stay in Cheerapunjee. These bridges are in forest areas and one has to trek for approx 2 hours from base.
Best time to visit: Throughout the year though it can be little difficult to trek in the monsoon though it is lush green and beautiful at this time of the year.
It is also known as the Ghost town of India after the deadly cyclone of 1964. The whole town including a train with 105 people washed away in this cyclone. After that there was no new construction done, only few fisherman live in huts. Otherwise, Dhanushkodi is a very quite place with beautiful white sand beaches and no tourist crowd. The deep and rough waters of Indian Ocean meets with the shallow and calm waters of Bay of Bengal near the tip of Dhanushkodi. The Adam’s Bridge (Submerged in the sea) is a chain of 48 km long limestone shoals, it linked Rameswaram with Mannar in Sri Lanka’s northwest though this bridge is destructed due to natural calamities. There is no mobile network in the area and it is not advisable to stay there after sunset.
How to reach: Nearest airport of Madurai is 183 km. The nearest railway station of Rameshwaram is 20 Km. Stay in Rameshwaram and hire a 4×4 jeep to reach Dhanushkodi. Though canter service is also available from Rameshwaram.
Best time to visit: All around the year though it can be little difficult during monsoon months as beach becomes muddy for driving a 4×4 vehicle.
This was my list of 20 Most beautiful places in India. If you think of more places, please add in comments 🙂