India draws tourists from around the world, but the mad dish of visitors usually flock to the same locations. Connecting Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, the Golden Triangle lands on most itineraries. While the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and other iconic locations are must-see sights of India, there’s much more to discover in this diverse country.
With a little extra research, you’ll find a boatload of offbeat destinations the typical tourist tends to overlook. From ancient temples and Himalayan monasteries to lakeside retreats, India is full of hidden discoveries. If you’re itching to ditch the crowds, check out these 10 highly underrated Indian attractions you should visit.
Situated in the high Himalayan deserts, Spiti Valley beckons the intrepid spirit in adventurous travellers. Snow-capped peaks dominate the horizon as crystal-clear rivers snake through the valley. Perched on the hillsides, the Key and Tabo Tibetan Buddhist monasteries serve as sacred cultural centres in the region.
At an elevation of 3,980 m, the treacherous Rohtang Pass is a journey for the ages filled with mammoth peaks, gigantic glaciers, and pristine rivers. While foreigners will need an Inner Line Permit to travel through Spiti, it’s worth the life-changing tour across this sacred region.
Wander the rolling green hills of Coorg, and you’ll swear you have transported across continents to Tuscany. With fertile fields, coffee plantations, and gentle cascades, Coorg is a heavenly hill station. Apart from its misty landscapes, Coorg hosts the warrior culture of the Kodava people. Capped by the Western Ghats mountain range, Madikeri helps you springboard to gorgeous sights across the region. The tumbling Abbey Falls forms a fairytale postcard, while the Golden Temple houses a strategic Nyingma learning institute.
The ancient village of Osian is an oasis inside the Thar Desert of western India. Once an important trading and religious centre of the Mewar Kingdom, the town holds beautiful temples from the 8th to 12th centuries. The Surya Temple is a work of master craftsmanship that honours the Sun God, while the Harihara Temples boast intricate carvings dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. While you’re in the desert, check into booking an unforgettable camel or jeep safari.
Shrouded by forest-clad hills, the Ziro Valley beckons travellers with gorgeous scenery and unmatched hospitality. Fertile hills and rice fields dot the valley floor, while photogenic hiking trails traverse through rolling fields. The Talley Wildlife Sanctuary entices nature lovers with images of many of India’s endangered species. With the formation of the annual Ziro Music Festival, world-renowned artists have created a buzz in the valley. But the most endearing experiences include moments getting to know the Apatani tribe and learning about their fascinating traditions.
Pretend you’re on a luxury Maldives getaway by obtaining the permit to visit the Lakshadweep Islands. At only 305 acres, Bangaram feels like a secluded paradise enticing sun-worshippers with translucent waters, white sands, and shady palm trees. The small island chain is accessible exclusively by ferry and is the perfect Indian destination to unplug from society. Lounge on the silky-smooth shores, go on a scuba diving excursion or embark on an epic fishing trip.
The Lonar Crater formed following a violent meteorite impact thousands of years ago. With its high amounts of salts and microbes, the lake changes colours periodically throughout the year. When you arrive at the crater, you could witness piercing shades of aqua blue, green, or bright pink. Various Hindu temples surround the crater rim, and jungle treks house diverse wildlife.
Bodh Gaya holds an intimate relationship with the Buddhist faith and remains a sacred pilgrimage site. The holy city rests on the Falgu River, and the ancient Mahabodhi Temple sits on the spot where the Buddha reached enlightenment beneath a Bodhi Tree. Wander the placid streets to find a myriad of temples and monasteries and embrace the peaceful spirit of Buddhist pilgrims. Buddhists from all pockets of the globe flock here to experience the serenity felt by Lord Buddha himself.
Far from Goa’s pulsating nightclubs and sandy beaches, this bird sanctuary on Chorao Island entices nature lovers. The pathway and viewing platforms let you wander around fertile mangroves to witness yearly bird migrations. Avoid the intense heat by taking an early morning boat ride and search for wildlife on this quieter side of Goa.
Just 19 km from Darjeeling, Lepchajagat delves into the verdant forests that sit on the Himalayan foothills. Enter the serene world of pine trees and rhododendrons to feel the calming effect of Mother Nature. With the peaceful sounds of chirping birds and the imposing Kangchenjunga peaks on the horizon, Lepchajagat piques all your senses. Wake up early and head to nearby Ghum Rock to witness one of the best sunrise spots in India.
Loktak Lake is a slice of idyllic nature with one of the world’s most unique ecosystems. Just 53 km from Imphal, the freshwater lake supports fertile, green phumdis that resemble floating islands. Verdant hills surround the patches of vegetation, and the natural habitat supports over 700 plant and animal species.
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