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21 life changing places in India

In such a vast country that feels more like a continent as it stretches from the lush tropics of Kerala to the frozen peaks of the Himalayas, how do you decide where to go and what to see? In this country that is sure to change the way you see the world, these are the best places to visit in India for a memorable vacation.

Andaman Islands (Hotel Rates & Photos)

The "Maldives of India," as the Andamans are sometimes called, are one of the most breathtakingly remote locations in India. They are legendary for their idyllic beaches and world-class diving in opaque emerald green waters surrounded by lush jungle and mangrove forest. If you are looking for a tropical paradise this is it. And for divers or snorkelers, there are few better ones places, as this rich underwater world has everything from colorful fish and sunken ships to steep, undulating hills of deep black volcanic lava. On land, Radha Nagar Beach has been named one of the best beaches in the world, a perfect place to lose yourself and forget the outside world while enjoying views of exotic flora and fauna during one of India's best hikes, Mount Harriet to Madhuban Fauna, is a short ferry ride from Chatham Harbor in Port Blair. Spend just a few days on these islands and you will forget what stress means.

Amristar (Hotel Rates & Photos)

Amritsar is the spiritual capital of the Sikhs and earned its name, which means "sacred nectar pool", from the waters around the famous Golden Temple, which was founded in 1577 by Guru Ram Das. The exquisite temple is the main attraction of Amritsar. It attracts pilgrims from all over the world and competes with the number of visitors the Taj Mahal receives. Make sure you see it at night when it's beautifully lit. And while you're here, there are a number of other attractions to see like the Central Sikh Museum, which shows the gruesome history of the Sikhs, painted by the Mughals, the British and Operation Blustar, with paintings of prominent leaders, warriors and Sikh Gurus.

Jaipur (Hotel Rates & Photos)

If you love palaces and want to get a glimpse of the rulers of a bygone era, Jaipur is a must. When you look at the magnificent stucco buildings you will understand why they are often referred to as the "Pink City". The old town is famous for its splendid palaces, painted in pink, representing hospitality to give the prince a friendly welcome. Spend your days exploring the fortresses of Hawa Mahal, Amber and Jaigarh and in one of the bazaars for unique ones Look for souvenirs and gifts like camel leather slippers. The City Palace, built between 1729 and 1732, is well worth a visit with its complexes such as Mubarak Mahal and Chandra Mahal. It has been converted into a museum that houses exclusive handcrafted items and products that represent the kingdom's heritage.

Agra and the Taj Mahal (Hotel Rates & Photos)

India's landmark, the Taj Mahal, is probably what most people think of first when they think of this country. Located in Agra, this is India's greatest historical attraction and something really not to be missed. The Taj Mahal is famous for its spectacular beauty as well as a symbol of lasting love and perhaps most of all, being famous. Rudyard Kipling called it the "embodiment of all pure things" while its creator, Emperor Shah Jahan, said it "made the sun and moon shed tears from their eyes". For many, taking a photo of it is a pilgrimage. Sublime symmetry carved in stone and proportions elegantly softened by centuries of monumental building activity by the Mughal rulers. While it gets very crowded, arriving shortly after sunrise is your best bet to avoid hordes of other tourists.

Delhi (hotel prices & photos)

Most travelers to India end up in Delhi, the capital of India. While it is usually a major culture shock, it is home to many fascinating mosques, forts, and monuments that date back to when Mughal rule occupied the city. Old Delhi's crumbling old town is fascinating, if chaotic. The 17thth- The Red Fort of the Century is a collection of domes and towers, while the Jantar Mantar contains larger-than-life sundials and astronomical instruments that are still used to predict the weather. India Gate, India's national monument honoring soldiers who perished in World War I and the Third Afghan War, is also a popular sight.

Varanasi (hotel rates & photos)

Another top spiritual destination in the country, Varanasi is a city like no other. Called the Land of Temples and the City of Lord Shiva, this mystical holy city reveals its rituals along the many riverside ghats used for everything to cremate the corpses of the dead for bathing. The sacred waters of the Ganga River have preserved the remains of innumerable Hindus, and the ghats that sit on its banks are both chaotic and spiritual. This attractive destination has a vibrant mix of contemporary cafes and a variety of shops selling everything from fine silks to rudraksha pearls. There are hundreds of temples in Varanasi, all laden with history and religious significance, some of which are 1,000 years old.

Ladakh (hotel prices & photos)

In this "land of high passes", a mountainous region in northern India, you will find dramatic snow-capped peaks and a harsh landscape in the colors of orange, red, brown and gray, which contrast wonderfully with the clear blue sky and the boilers in crystal blue water. This is your chance to break away from the chaos of life and high tech gadgets surrounded by peace and serenity. All of the water in the area, which is almost 300 meters above sea level in the Himalayas, is channeled by glacier-fed mountain streams, while whitewashed monasteries crown the crags with a breathtaking 360-degree view of the valleys and peaks. Since few tourists make it here, you have miles and kilometers of this barren but eye-catching land practically to yourself. Make sure you have your camera with you wherever you point it. Another breathtaking view awaits you.

Jaisalmer (hotel rates & photos)

Jaisalmer is an exotic city deep in the famous Thar Desert. The romantic desert fortress, sometimes referred to as "The Golden City", has become increasingly popular for its position on the camel trade routes. It is now best known for its 12th birthdayth- 19th century fortress, one of the largest fortresses in the world. It is made of golden yellow mixed sandstone, which gives it a magical look. Also famous are the ornate havelis or villas, especially Patwon-Ki-Haveli, a massive five-story building with lavishly decorated suites. The surrounding Desert National Park offers the opportunity to spot chinkaras, desert foxes and black buck between the rolling dunes and rugged cliffs.

Meghalaya (Hotel Rates & Photos)

Meghalaya is often referred to as the "Scotland of the East" and is located in northeast India. It is known for its magnificent waterfalls and sparkling lakes, which makes it particularly popular with nature lovers. The hiking opportunities are almost unlimited. Few tourists visit places like Laitlum Canyon. You can even explore caves - the Mawsmai Caves feature ancient rock formations that go back millions of years. You will hike through the sacred forest of the small village of Mawphlang and in Meghalaya you will see something you have probably never seen before: life root bridges. They look like they were straight out of a fantasy movie and you have to see them to believe them. Some of the roots are over 100 feet long and strong enough to support the weight of up to 50 people at a time.

Madurai (Hotel Rates & Photos)

Madurai is a destination with a glorious past, with numerous grand temples showcasing the architectural brilliance of the artisans, including the most impressive Meenakshi Temple. If you only see one temple in South India this should be the case. This enormous temple is dedicated to Shiva and named after the goddess Parvati. He was mentioned in songs as early as the 7th centuryth Century. In the Samanar Hills, just 6 miles from the temple, you can see incredible Jain carvings, while the mountaintop offers a beautiful view of Madurai. The city itself is over 4,000 years old and has remained an important center for Tamil learning and culture.

Udaipur (hotel prices & photos)

The "Venice of the East", Udaipur, is often referred to as the most romantic city in India as it offers famous palaces and lakes against the backdrop of the picturesque hills of Aravail. Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir are islands in Fateh Sagar Lake that house the Nehru Garden and the Udaipur Solar Observatory. Some of the magnificent, famous palaces are the magical Lake Palace, converted into a luxurious five-star hotel, and the huge City Palace on the east bank of Pichola with spectacular paintings and epic courtyards. Taking a boat trip on Lake Pichola gives you a whole new perspective of the city, especially the City Palace Complex.

Kerala Backwaters (Hotel Rates & Photos)

Kerala, a coastal state in the deep south, is divided between densely forested mountains and a lush, humid coastal plain with rice fields, rivers, canals and lagoons.The beautiful tropical landscape, fed by the highest rainfall on the Indian peninsula, has enchanted visitors since the ancient Greeks sailed here in search of spices. A houseboat trip in the Kerala backwaters has become a must for any trip to India. She lets herself be carried away by the diverse wildlife, green landscapes, houses and villages that line the water on a journey that feels as if she is leading through a completely different world. With the refreshingly cold beer and authentic Indian food on board, this is sure to be one of the highlights of your vacation.

Goa (hotel prices & photos)

Goa is India's most popular beach destination and offers an idyllic place to relax with some of the best beaches in the country, with pristine white sand, coconut groves and the sparkling blue expanse of the Arabian Sea. While the central regions tend to be more crowded, on your way further north or south you will find incredibly serene gems like Agonda and Palolem in the south and Ashwem and Mandrem in the north. The region also offers an eclectic mix of nature, culture, history and adventure activities. In Old Goa, the beautiful Basilica of Bom Jesus is a fine example of Baroque architecture and how the state was conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th centuryth In the 19th century, and remaining a colony for more than 450 years, it resulted in a unique culture found nowhere else in India. You'll see the ruins of many Portuguese forts on the rugged coastline, including the impressive Cabo de Rama.

Munnar (hotel prices & photos)

Munmar is home to sprawling tea plantations that surround serene, lush hillsides and attract adventure travelers who come to paraglide and climb the highest peak in South India, Anaimudi. It's also full of fascinating wildlife, including the critically endangered Nilgiri Tahr or ibex, the reddish mongoose, and around 120 species of birds. Check out the Tea Museum, the first of its kind in India, which shows the growth of over a century old tea plantations in the region and offers a detailed look at how arduous tea preparation really is. Marayoor is home to a natural sandalwood forest that is part of an ancient Stone Age culture dating back to 10,000 BC. Should be. Stone age colors, dolmens and rock carvings can be found here.

Kochi (hotel prices & photos)

Kochi consists of several small villages along the southwest coast. It is known for its beautiful lakes, lagoons and green spaces and is often referred to as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Here you can sample fresh fish from seafront vendors, take a boat trip around the islands, and take a stroll on the beach at sunset. See traditional dance in one of the arts centers and see European influences in the 16th centurythPortuguese built fortresses and churches from the 19th century. Also note the Dutch country houses and the traces of early Chinese traders that can be seen in the unusual fishing nets that are scattered along the coast. In Mattancherry you will find the 16th-Century Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace.

Srinigar (Hotel Rates & Photos)

Srinigar is located in the Kashmir Valley and is surrounded by water. Dominated by Dal Lake and its winding waterways, it is home to the Jhelum River and the tree-lined Nagin Lake. The great Mughal emperors recognized this as "paradise on earth" and the people developed a lively, colorful lifestyle in the unique landscape. You can immerse yourself in the local culture by renting one of the wooden boats known as shikaras for a day or sunset cruise. Stroll ashore the terraced slopes of the 400-year-old Mughal Gardens and shop for local handicrafts, including beautifully embroidered scarves and hand-woven silks. As you stroll the narrow streets, see wooden houses with finely carved balconies next to ancient temples and medieval mosques, while music from sidewalk cafes and the smell of fresh bread from a small bakery fills the air.

Darjeeling (hotel rates & photos)

Perched at over 200 feet above sea level, Darjeeling enjoys a breathtaking backdrop of the mighty snow-capped Himalayan peaks while being surrounded by green tea plantations that provide a fabulous respite from the country's stifling heat during the summer months. The main attractions include several Buddhist monasteries, colorful markets, faded relics from the Raj, the lush tea plantations, and amazing hiking opportunities. The most famous attraction is the "Toy Train," the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which travels more than 8,000 feet uphill on a narrow gauge before reaching the city. It was built at the end of the 19th century and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Singalila National Park you can not only discover a paradise for hikers, but also rare and endangered species such as tiger, red panda, black bear, clouded leopard, wild boar, pangolin, yellow-throated martin and barking deer.

Mumbai (hotel prices & photos)

Mumbai is roughly the opposite of Darjeeling. It's often crowded and chaotic, but many find the busy streets more exciting than stressful. This jewel in the West Indies is a fascinating city full of contrasts, a colorful atmosphere and impressive colonial buildings. It is famous for its street foods and has many and varied options, all of which are spicy and tasty. Most of the products are based on rice, vegetables, fish, coconut, curries and homemade sweets. Shoppers will have an unforgettable adventure in the bazaars, with charming stalls covered with beautiful embroidery and colorful silks. If it feels too hectic, nibble on a paper cone of bhelpuri as you stroll the sands of Chowpatty Beach, and enjoy a short walk to Mani Bhavan, where Mahatma Gandhi once lived.

Hyderabad (hotel rates & photos)

The capital, Andhra Pradesh, is one of the fastest developing cities in India and is considered the custodian of the country's unique culture and a living example of the images of the opulent days of its ancient rulers. An old granite fortress watches over Hyderabad with its many mosques and bazaars, while the site of the former city center is home to the most famous building, the 16th century Charminar with a quartet of 160-foot minarets. One of the many highlights is the Hyderabadi food, a mix of Persian and Mughlai cuisine known for its rich, aromatic character resulting from the generous use of exotic spices, fresh fruits and ghee. Hyderabad is also a popular shopping destination. Antiques, jewelry, clothing, rare semi-precious stones, natural pearls and handicrafts are offered here.

Shimla (hotel prices & photos)

Shimla is the most famous and largest of the British hill stations. It lies at the foot of the Himalayas on a crescent-shaped ridge at an altitude of nearly 700 feet. With its resort-like atmosphere and cool climate, it became the summer capital of British India in the mid-19th centuryth-Century. To get to the city center you have to walk up wobbly wooden stairs as this is car free. Here you can walk without the constant honking of trucks, motorcycles and rickshaws - with no roads reaching the main square, all goods are transported by horse or human. Wildlife is abundant in and around the city center, with monkeys roaming free and watching shoppers from above, while yaks are often used to carry items. Shimla's famous main street, The Mall, is lined with magnificent houses, while Christ Church, with its Victorian-Gothic tower, is the city's most famous landmark.

Bangalore (hotel prices & photos)

Bangalore, or Bengaluru as it is officially known, is known as both the "Garden City" and the "Silicon Valley of India" as it has the highest concentration of IT companies in India. This techies paradise offers much more than just that Computer technology. However, it can't just be godsend for weary travelers as it is one of the most advanced cities in India. There is also an emerging dining, drinking and shopping scene, many gardens, museums, parks, palaces and temples. As a large student city, you will meet a lot of hip locals drinking craft beer and talking in English. The city is also a major center for Indian classical music and dance, as well as an exciting night life.