India is huge! Covering around 3214kms from North to South, and 2933kms from East to West, India is certainly not a place to explore, in entirety, in just a few weeks; let alone few days. With plethora of culture to explore and lifestyles changing at every 100kms, it becomes really challenging to make the most of a short trip to India.
So, to ease things out a little for our travelers, I have listed out some of the best options to travel in India on a short tour.
Note: While, there are around 24 international airports currently operating in India, to make the travel guide simpler, I have taken into consideration 4 major airports as the gateway ports.
If You’re Arriving In Delhi (North)
So, you have planned to begin your journey in India from the capital city; great! Geographically, Delhi’s location is such that one can easily plan a very effective and useful 5 – 7 days trip in India, covering several popular and recommended places in India. In fact, with so many historical places to visit and an opportunity to witness the fast-paced life of India, a good 2 days of your trip will be consumed by the capital city itself.
Places you can visit in this condition;
It’s almost imperative to visit the iconic world heritage site of Taj Mahal. But, Agra, certainly has a lot more to offer along with this architectural brilliance.
This princely city in the state of Rajasthan is one place you’d certainly want to give a visit if in Delhi. Experience the rich colors of Indian culture and explore the royal history of this country.
To define in the simplest possible way, Varanasi is the India of your imagination. The ‘Spiritual Capital of India’ is one of world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.
Another holy city to visit near Delhi, which however, is more popular for its adventure activities; especially river rafting and bungee jump. In fact, Rishikesh has the highest bungee jumping spot in India.
Looking for a place to unwind and relax amidst lush green mountains then this is a must visit place for you. You can also experience the hippie life of India in here as well.
If You’re Arriving In Kolkata (East)
Kolkata is one of the most influential cities in India. Formerly known as Calcutta, this prolific city in the eastern state of West Bengal has served as the capital of India under the British colonial rule till early 20th century. The city of Kolkata will intrigue you with its fast-paced yet laid back lifestyle, entice you with the overtly warm-welcoming people, and will test you with its loudness.
While, it is highly likely that you end up spending half of your travel days in India in this one city itself, here’s all you can go if you are beginning your journey in India from Kolkata;
Explore the magnificent tree gardens and enjoy the fun of riding in toy trains.
This beautiful northeastern city is a gateway to some of the most surreal places to visit in India; including the 7 sisters waterfalls in Cherrapunji and the living root bridge in Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnong.
- Sunderbans National Park
As the name says all, this place is a must visit in India for those who crave for some exciting jungle safaris. This huge coastal mangrove forest is one of the largest reserves of Bengal Tigers.
As a place on the map, Konark may seem to be a small town, but it holds a very huge place in the history of Indian architectures. The Sun Temple of Konark is one of the most popular tourist attraction in India and is a must visit.
- Chitrakoot Falls
Did you know that India has its own version of Niagra Falls!? Yes, indeed. Travel to the remote district of Bastar in the heavily forested state of Chattisgarh to witness India’s widest waterfalls.
If You’re Arriving In Mumbai (West)
The financial capital of India, the lifeline of the country, the entertainment hub of the nation; Mumbai can be defined in several different ways. This is the largest city in India and is one of the liveliest cities in the country. Located along the coastal lines of the Arabian Sea, Mumbai will fascinate you to the core with its enthralling ad glittering lifestyle. Similar to Delhi and Kolkata, Mumbai too is highly likely to take up the maximum of your travel days in India; but that’s because you simply can’t have enough of this place.
Yet, in the spare time, here’s where you can cover up for a fulfilling trip to India;
I am counting on my strong instincts that many of you may have heard about this place; and quite likely, were waiting for this name to pop up in the list. So, this place certainly needs no introduction.
While Pune itself is another metropolitan located very close to Mumbai, it is a center point to visit several blissful places; such as Lonavala, Matheran, Khandala, and more.
When exploring the western belt of India, one need to make space for this masterpiece of nature’s art work. Visit the Great Rann of Kutch to witness the endless space of white salt desert.
If you would like a sneak peek into the early life of people in India, the Ajanta and Ellora caves is the place that will fulfill your wish. A string of 29 rock cut Buddhist caves showcasing ancient Indian art dating back to 2nd century BCE.
Shiridi is a small town located near Pune and is a former home to one of India’s most revered spiritual leader Sai Baba. It is, today, one of the most popular pilgrimage site and millions of people visit the shrine throughout the year.
If You’re Arriving In Bangalore (South)
If India has achieved a reputation for its tech genius (hey! Who’s the current ceo of Google and Microsoft!?) then Bangalore, now known as Bengaluru, is the nucleus behind it. The largest metropolitan in the southern state of Karnataka, Bangalore will offer you a glimpse of a different India altogether. The series of massive tech buildings may overshadow the ancient history of this city, but if you dig deeper into this place, you’ll get to know the origin of Indian civilization.
Below are some of the best places you can cover on your trip to India if you are beginning your journey from south;
Often overlooked in the shadows of neighboring southern cousins; such as Kochi and Puducherry, Mysore is a class apart when it comes to showcasing the royal heritage and history of India. You certainly need to give this place a visit.
A major port city in the state of Kerala, a visit to this place will tell you as why it often overshadows its close neighbors that deserves equal attention but doesn’t. And, the trip doesn’t simply ends here, you need to encircle the backwaters of Alleppey, the lush green tea garden of Munnar, and the enigmatic fishnets of Fort Kochi.
One might argue that covering a single major metropolitan during a short trip is enough, but, with Chennai, you can’t miss out on this. The capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai reflects a true glimpse and feel of South Indian lifestyle.
One of the 7 Union Territories in India, Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry) might make you forget that you are traveling in India. It’s lifestyle still reflects the glimpse of French settlement through its tree-lined streets, chic boutiques, gorgeous promenade, etc.
For all the food lovers who’ve been criticizing me for not mentioning anything about food of India in this article so far, here’s a treat for you. You’re in for an enormous palate trip when visiting this city in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
So, there you have it. Choose your best itinerary and make the most of your short trip to India. All these places, as per the starting points, can be easily covered under 7 days with proper time provided to each. Alternately, you can also create a custom itinerary and choose a place each from each region and explore all four zones of India. The choice is completely yours. But, one thing’s for sure, covering all the places during a single short tour to India is definitely not possible.
If you have any queries regarding any of these places or have any suggestions, please mention that in the comment box below and I’ll be more than happy to help. Have a great journey!