Dharamsala has the monastery of the Dalai Lama and is home to the largest Tibetan temple in India. The upper part of Dharamsala, known as Mcleodganj is the one more famous with travellers. Bir is located southeast of Dharamsala and Biling is on the way to Thamsar Pass. It’s a trek of 14kms which can be done on foot from Bir to Biling. Biling is also a paragliding destination with some of the best services in the world. Kaereri lake, which is a high altitude fresh water lake, is in the northwest of Dharamsala and a trek can be made out of going there.
Access – Easiest to reach by a flight to Dharamshala, taking a bus or train is a better option to get a feel of your trip. The hotels are cheap with the best time of visit being March to October. It’s ideal even for a weekend getaway.
Stay – There are lots of budget and luxury hotels and cottages to choose from. Spend two days here and combine it with a trip to Dalhousie or McLeodganj for another two days to make it a longer one.
Mountains monasteries, magnificent landscapes and a parched soul longing to quench its thirst welcome you here You can either make a long road-trip of these two places while passing Manali, Rothang Pass and Leh, or choose to visit them later.
Access – This is strictly a road trip. Some of the highest motor-able roads in the world await you here. Best time to visit from May to October.
Stay – Stay with locals , the people are warm and friendly who will let you stay with them as well as monasteries where you can spend the nights. Give yourself a week or ten days for this crazy road trip of a lifetime!
This is one place which never gets too old to get back too.Its a popular weekend destination for urbanites around,most travel here for rafting. The place is filled with Ashrams offering Yoga and meditation If you feel spiritual after visiting one, Haridwar is just one hour away from Rishikesh. Haridwar is also one of the stops of the “Chaar Dham Yatra” and plays host to the maha Kumbh Mela.
Access – Going by bus and train are popular options but if you want to fly there, the Jolly Grant airport at Dehradun is the nearest to Rishikesh.
Stay – There are various camps and hotels to stay in at Rishikesh while in Haridwar there is the Swami Dayananda Ashram to stay at. A three day trip is ideal, to break the monotony of life and it can be done even over a long weekend.
The most isolated of all the Himalayan valleys, Zanskar is to be explored by those who want to experience untouched, pristine beauty in India. The frozen waterfalls and the Chadar trek along with the frozen Zanskar River is a must-do while visiting here. Buddhist monasteries are also worth the visit here. The best time to visit is April to August.
Access – This is a destination which you must cover on a road trip to Leh-Ladakh. A bus or on a motorbike is the best way to get here.
Stay – Pitch tents in the valley or stay i at Leh. Ideally, three days or more are required to visit here. Preferably, take a whole tour of the popular places of the Himalayan region in a two-week expedition if you’re feeling adventurous.
Regarded as one of the holiest cities for Hindus, it is known for more than just the Benarasi silk. Replete with ghats and temples, it is hard to imagine that a lot of them were destroyed in the middle ages. The most intimate rituals of death take place in the open so it is not a destination for the faint hearted.
Access– The best time to visit is October to March. You can fly here with the Lal Bahadur Shastri airport being 24kms away from the town, or take a bus or car directly.
Stay – Spending three days here is sufficient to explore the city and what it has to offer. Most of the budget hotels are located at the banks of the Ganges River. One can also stay at one of the many backpacker’s hostels.
Spiritual, historical or just a curious Buddhist, a trip to Bodh Gaya is a must. Essential to Buddhism and the place where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment, Bodh Gaya attracts a lot of seekers who come here for meditation and study.
Access -The best time to visit is November to March while high season is December to January when his holiness Dalai Lama visits. Well connected by air, rail and road, with Gaya being the closest point of access of all three from where you can take a bus to the monasteries.
Stay – The Bihar State Government runs 3 hotels, along with private hotels and bungalows available as accommodation. Try spending four days here , theres a lot to be uncovered.
Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples have exquisitely carved, erotic sculptures. They’re a part of the tantric mysticism which regarded sex as an important part of the rituals. Carefully preserved even after all these years, these temples are a must visit.
Access – October to February is the best time to visit with the temperature dipping to 4 degrees almost, with quite some activities to be done. Monsoon has its own charm when the lush green landscape makes the temples stand out even more. There are trains that go directly to the Khajuraho station as well as a new airport that connects it to the major cities of India.
Stay – There are budget hotels and hostels as well as five star hotels so it’s really your pick! 3 days is more than enough here. Brass sculptures available here are something worth picking up.
Majuli is the world’s largest river island, located in the Brahmaputra in Assam. Given the abundance of rainfall and water, much of this island is submerged during monsoon. With over 100 species of birds, this place is ideal for bird-watching and for neo-vaishnavite culture and tradition. The local art and culture is quite a spectacle here and can be seen in the Satras.
Access – From Guwahati, Jorhat is a 7 hour bus ride away. There are also ferry rides to Majuli everyday, twice.
Stay – There are no hotels here but there are guesthouses and guest rooms where tourists can stay. An ideal visit would be of two days to just unwind in the scenic beauty of the place. Best time to visit is post November, once the monsoon is through.
The ‘Abode of Clouds’ as it literally translates to, Meghalaya is one of the Seven-Sisters you can’t miss. As the name suggests, it has two of the wettest places on Earth, Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram where most of the rain falls between June and September. The water has carved out some of the longest caves of Asia. One of the main attractions in Cherapunjee is the Living Root Bridge.
Access – Guwahati is well connected by trains and air but for the rest of the state, the road network is to be relied on.
Stay – In Shillong, most hotels and accommodations are in the Police Bazaar area. Given the shortage of water in the state the rest of the places are harder to stay in but can be still visited. Five days here are ideal though you will really have to plan if you want to visit Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram, given the rains there.
UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Karnataka, this place is a must visit especially if you love some art and history. There are more than 500 monuments to see here, strewn across the gorgeous backdrop of hills, so make sure you devote enough time to this trip! The political, royal centre of the Vijayanagara empire, temples and even the quarters of Muslim officers in the royal army are all here in a harmonious setting, located just a few miles from each other. The river Tungabhadra also adds to the beauty of Hampi, with coracle boats and stone-hills.
Getting There – The closest town to Hampi is Hospet and you can take a train here and then a short bus ride. If you want to fly down, Hubli is the closest airport located about 160 kms from here.
Where and How Long to Stay – Winter is the best time to visit Hampi with the temperature not dropping below 12 degrees. There are a lot of nice guest houses to stay at here and also some hotels if you want a luxurious trip. There are also heritage resorts with Ayurvedic massages to offer. An ideal trip should be of 2-3 days to really see what Hampi has to offer.
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