A land of outstanding cultural and historical treasures, northern India offers palaces and religious temples with an extraordinary range of architectural wonders. In terms of landscapes, you will not be disappointed between the sandy deserts in the west and the mountains in the north. Here is a brief overview of the unforgettable and best places to visit in North India.
If you’re visiting India for the first time, read this post to know how to survive in India.
– India is a great country but it can be overwhelming due to a number of scams. To make sure you protect your valuables, purchase travel insurance before you go and Worldomads is the one I highly recommend.
Places to visit in North India
Welcome to the capital! You’ll probably land here if you want to visit northern India. This huge city (more than 20 million inhabitants) is a bubbling megalopolis where modernity and ancestral culture coexist in an extremely rich heritage. As in all the capitals of the world, it is the ideal place to shop and eat in the best restaurants! Everything is available and it is impossible to get bored there.
A quick clarification, the city is divided into two distinct parts: Old Delhi and New Delhi. While New Delhi is the imperial city composed of big large streets, beautiful sidewalks and official buildings, Old Delhi is the historical city labyrinthic, noisy and animated, many of the roads are not indicated so take your GPS with you otherwise you will get lost!
Generally speaking, the city can be hard on the nerves, especially for first-time visitors, so don’t hesitate to escape from time to time to the magnificent gardens.
While in Delhi, do not miss to visit the Akshardham Temple, Humayun Fall, Jama Masjid Mosque, and Red Fort as they’re some of the best tourist places in North India
Pink, blue, white and gold. The colours of Rajasthan.
A true pearl of India, this area is home to some of the most beautiful cities in the country. Jaipur the pink city, Jodhpur the blue, Udaipur the white and Jaisalmer the golden city.
Gateway to Rajasthan, Jaipur is known as the pink city because of the color of its buildings (which in reality is more like orange). It is an essential stop on a trip to Rajhastan, the city is home to many curiosities, particularly in the center called the “Old town”. A dusty and authentic atmosphere shines through its typical narrow streets filled with traditional and artisanal shops.
Obviously, the Palace of the Winds is the highlight of a visit to Jaipur. This 18th-century palace is an architectural wonder that will carry you to a whole new world. But don’t hesitate also to move away from the city to visit the sights around it. While in Jaipur, don’t miss to visit the Wind Temple, Amber Fortress, Monkey Temple, and Jantar Mantar Observatory.
Jodhpur is also referred to as the blue city in reference to the color of its dwellings. The houses are painted in this manner because blue is the color of the Brahman caste, but according to the inhabitants, it is also good protection against the heat! Beyond the color, the city hosts the Mehrangarh fort, often considered as the most impressive fort in India which also offers breathtaking views of the city.
Jodhpur is also called the “sun city” because of its very high sunshine rate. It can be very hot so be prepared! If you are looking for luxury, Ghanta Ghar was voted the best hotel in the world in 2016.
Some of the places not to miss in Jodhpur include; The temple of the motorcycle god, the colorful streets of the city, the spice market, and Ghanta Ghar.
After the blue and pink cities, here comes the white! More specifically, “the little White Venice” is what Udaipur is called. A rare quality for a large Indian city, it is renowned for its relative quietness (some streets are car-free). Udaipur is a breath in the tumultuous landscape of Rajasthan. The city is known for its huge white floating palace, a place where a James bond movie was shot and the largest palace in Rajasthan. A wonderful romantic atmosphere emerges, especially during the magnificent sunset over the lake.
Some of the cool activities not to miss in Udaipur include but not limited to; a boat trip on the lake, a visit to the Ranakpur temple, the traditional puppet show, the “Great Wall of India” in Kumbhalgarh. All these amazing experiences make Udaipur one of the best tourist places in North India.
Standing in the middle of the Thar desert, the city appears like a mirage in the middle of the emptiness. Very different from the other cities of Rajasthan, the city of gold (a nickname given due to its strong ochre dominant) is a cosmopolitan city where people of very different origins and religions can be found. Close to Pakistan, hearing the locals speak in Uyghur is not uncommon. As everywhere in Rajasthan, the city has a magnificent fort in its heart.
But if you come here, it’s mainly for an extraordinary camel back expedition in the Thar desert! Some of the other best things to do in Jaisalmer include taking a walk in the city, visiting the citadel, and the Havelis- an expedition of many in the desert
The Far north
Heading to the far north of India, you will not fail to notice that everything here is very different from Rajasthan with some of the highest mountains in the world as well as its different tribes.
A small town surrounded by magnificent mountains perched on the first hills, it is the ideal stopover between Delhi and the High Mountains. The vast majority of tourists here are Indians who come to admire the snow for the first time in their lives. The ambiance is calm and quiet despite the fact that it is the meeting point for backpackers from all over the world during the high season.
The city was a former cannabis hub, but the authorities made a major effort to control the use. The village is split into half with the old Manali – a traditional village and the new Manali where you can find hotels and guesthouses.
Manali has a ton of activities to do from visiting the hot springs, taking a walk in the old Manali, to participating in mountain activities (like mountain biking, hike, and canyoning). All these activities make Manali one of the best places in North India that every tourist should visit.
Dharamsala (Mcleod Ganj)
Located on the foothills of the Himalayas, it is the official residence of the dalaï lama and the seat of the Tibetan government, a proud and fighting community. Dharamsala provides an opportunity to learn more about the Tibetan culture, its indigenous people, the conflicts and the Dalai Lama himself. Tourism is booming and contributes to the survival of local communities.
The sight from certain streets onto the surrounding mountains is breathtaking. Do not hesitate to go for a walk around the city, the dal lake, and not far away, is a sacred place for Hindus. Buddhism is also very present in the city and the place is ideal for meditation.
While in Dharamsala, you can take part in yoga classes, Dalai Lama teaching, hiking the Triund Hill hike and visiting Lake Dal. So if you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in North India, then Dharamsala is the place to be.
Leh and the Ladakh region
Called the little Tibet, you are surrounded here by the highest mountain range in the world trapped between the Karakorum and the Himalayas. Considered by many hikers as one of the most beautiful regions in the world, it offers you not only a spectacular panorama but also an opportunity to discover an ancestral culture.
Here you are in high mountains, the average altitude is 5200 meters and the climate is semi-desert. The surroundings are dotted with Buddhist temples and monasteries and it is here that you will find the highest road in the world! Ley is the ideal place to explore the region.
Some of the things not to miss in Leh and the Ladakh region are the Khardung La pass, Lamayuru Monastery, Pangong Tso and also embarking on an epic Leh Ladakh road trip for an ultimate adventure. For hikers, this place offers many hiking trails to satisfy your wanderlust making it one of the major tourist spots in North India for trekkers.
Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
After the Rajasthan’s forts and the northern mountains, step into a world where religion is the focus of all activities and admire the most incredible and magnificent Hindu temples!
Maybe the holiest city in the whole of India, Varanasi is located on the banks of the river Ganges. This city is often considered to be the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is a magical but overwhelming city, where life and death, tourism and tradition are intertwined. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites of the Hindu religion with hundreds of ghats, stairs that go straight into the Ganges to wash and purify your body.
But some people also come to Varanasi to die – this place is so holy that believers think that dying at Varanasi allows direct access to paradise. Here, death is not hidden, it is everywhere! Day and night the bodies are burned on the Ganges before everyone’s eyes. It is probably one of the best places to learn more about Hinduism and its beliefs! As for food, you will find a wide variety of yogurt drinks rarely seen in other places.
While in Varanasi, do not miss the religious ceremonies, admiring the Indians doing their ablutions along the ghats, taking a boat trip on the Ganges, and tasting delicious lassis. So if you’re looking for places in North India to learn more and Hinduism, Varanasi is the best place for that.
The city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh is undeniably one of the best places to visit in North India and a must-visit for anyone traveling to India. It harbors the emblematic Taj Mahal, the Mughal mausoleum (of which the city is the former capital), – the ultimate symbol of elegance and unconditional love. New wonders of the world, get up at dawn to make the most of this joyful place and to avoid the crowd of the 15,000 daily visitors.
You will also have the opportunity to see the striking contrast between the richness of the palace’s scenery and the poor dirty streets that surround it. But beware, Agra is not only Tajmahal! The Fort of Agra, completely red, is often ignored by travelers but yet one of the most beautiful places in India – a soothing and calm atmosphere emerges from its vaults and in addition, it offers you breathtaking views over the taj mahal. The city is also the ideal place to buy marble souvenirs. Some of the amazing places to visit in Agra include; The Taj Mahal, the fort, the mini taj, and the Mehtab Bagh garden.
Watch your eyes! This small village, which does not look like much, hides incredible temples that have been superbly preserved and carved with impressive finesse – on which can be seen “maithuna”, love scenes between two or more (up to 9!) people as well as nymphs with curvaceous shapes. We understand why India is the country of the kama sutra.
The engravings are so detailed that you will surprise yourself as you approach to take a closer look at the scenes, which are sometimes very explicit! The impressive reliefs create fantastic shadow plays at sunrise and sunset. The city was one of the most important religious centers 1000 years ago but there are now only about 20 temples remaining.
While in Khajurâhoho, don’t miss the “erotic” temples, the dance festival, and taking a walk in the countryside of the city.
A favorite of mine! This hidden little town ( literal translation of Orchha) in Madhya Pradesh has everything to please: low traffic, magnificent temples, and superb wild areas ideal for strolling. The atmosphere is relaxed, not many tourists and therefore not many reelers.
The two main temples with Mughal influence in the city center contain a real labyrinth of corridors and stairs. The city borders the Betwa River considered one of the cleanest in India – an unbelievable sight in the country where the water is almost transparent! On the other side is a very forested nature park on a 40 km² island. Some of the best things to do in Orchha are to get lost in the huge temples and enjoying the city with the calmness it provides.
There you have it, folks – these are the best places to visit in North India. Have you been to any? Let me know your experiences in the comment section. And if you’ve not yet been to India yet, I hope this post has inspired you to head to this amazing destination.
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