Updated: Jan 3, 2020
Whatever you explore today it’s going to last a lifetime with you. Personally I feel, if you are fond of India you should have a separate bucket list for the country. Beauty and diversity never ends here. As wanderlusters used to say ‘I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list’ I resonate with that not only about world generally, but about India too. Choice of destinations seem to be infinite. I’ll share with you my indian customized updated list of best spots to visit.
Let’s start with a sandy city in which a splendid and the only one fort where people live up to this day is located. Jaisalmer in the state of Rajasthan is situated at the Thar desert. In every corner of the city you'll find offers to book a desert safari. Seeing sunset in the desert and waking up to the rising sun there was one of the most beautiful moments of my journey. Walking the streets in the fort you have a great chance to observe everyday life, it’s an awesome opportunity for photographers to caption unique portraits of rajasthani people. Shoppers will be also glad with visiting the fort of Jaisalmer. Lots of handicrafts, jewelry, textiles and souvenirs to buy. Literally, you don’t know where to look, because with every step there is something eye-catching. There is also a complex of jain temples within the fort. Great time to visit Jaisalmer is when Desert Festival takes place. In 2019 it is going to be between 17th and 19th February. The vibrant celebrations make the desert city alive with colours, traditional rajasthani outfits and happiness. Highlights of the festival are competitions like camel races, folk dances, turban tying and the longest moustache contest.
A bit off the beaten track is second destination chose by me. Orchha is a small historic town located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The easiest way to reach there is from Jhansi. Peacefully situated town near the river is a home for an epic mughal castle Jahangir Mahal and plenty of charming hindu temples. Ram Raja temple is the only place where Lord Ram is worshipped as a god and as a king at the same time. Start exploring with the castle, because the ticket is valid for other sights like Lakshmi Temple or cenotaphs but only same day and costs around 100 INR for foreigners. The town surrounded with nature seems to be frozen in time, I got goosebumps sightseeing there.
Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
One of the most spiritual place I have ever visited is Amritsar in the state of Panjab. The aura in the sacred city is indescribable. The most prominent place is the holiest gurdwara (sikh temple), Sri Harmandir Sahib known as Golden Temple. There you can experience incomparable peace, listen to continuous prayers and chanting. In Sikh temple you can stay for a night, there is even a separate room for foreigners. It’s usually fully occupied, so my piece of advice is to have other option for staying just in case. In every gurdwara there is a possibility to enjoy a free meal. Basically, one of the most important concept of sikhism is to do seva means to serve humanity. Streets around are filled with mouth-watering street food like kulcha (amritsari special bread baked in tandoor oven), kulfi (indian ice cream), different rabris (dessert made of condensed milk with nuts and spices like cardamon) or lassi (salty or fruity yogurt). In the center near gurdwara you won’t get anything non-vegetarian nor alcohol or cigarettes, because it’s a holy place. For all of that you need to take a rickshaw, Panjabis make delicious dishes out of meat too, so make sure you will try that. Apart from tasty food and spirituality, there are many places to visit like The Partition Museum which tells about the most difficult moments for Panjab. When Pakistan was formed out of Panjab in 1947 perhaps the largest migration happened in human history, up to 20 millions people were affected. The museum runs Tuesday to Sunday from 10am till 6pm, the ticket for a foreigner costs 250 INR. Another must-visit is Wagah Border, being there it’s an unforgettable experience. On the border line with Pakistan huge patriotic party is going on everyday. In summer ceremony starts at 5:15pm and wintertime 4:15pm, it’s better to come around 1 hour before the show to grab something to eat, go through security without any rush and to take best spot. Entry is free of charge.
Golden Temple, Amritsar, Panjab
About 30km from Aurangabad in Maharashtra state there is a gem of ancient rock architecture. Pay 500 INR for the ticket and be highly impressed for a lifetime. Ellora is a place where 100 caves were shaped into buddhist monasteries, hindu and jain temples. Nowadays 34 of them are open for visitors, the oldest one dates to 6th century of current era. The most spectacular one is a sixteenth cave, named Kailasa temple. When I entered there it swept me off my feet. It’s a vast and marvelous place that leaves you speechless. Tip for those who are traveling in south or central India only: if you don’t have a chance to see Taj Mahal in Agra, you can see a small version of it in Aurangabad for 300 INR (foreigners).
As I am fond of peaceful places, this ranking couldn’t be completed without small village in Himachal Pradesh called Bir, where tibetan buddhist prayer flags wave out all the sorrows. Perfect destination for mountain lovers and also budget friendly. It’s well known as the best spot for paragliding in India and became famous worldwide after hosting the first ever world cup in paragliding. Flying above the hills costs 2000-2500 INR and includes a car ride to take you up to the mountain peak. In Bir you can enjoy slow walks with amazing views accompanied by buddhist chants. Pay a visit to one of the monasteries to calm your inner self and make sure you try thukpa (tibetan noodle soup) and momos (dumplings). To this day I go back in memories of that thukpa, if you are a foodie you’ll get my point.
Bir, Himachal Pradesh