The iconic Taj Mahal, incredible Amber Fort in Jaipur, and the holy River Ganges in Varanasi. These places easily find their way to the top of every traveller’s wish list. However, there’s so much more to see and do in India. In this week’s photo showcase, we have highlighted ten incredible off the beaten track experiences and hidden gems in India that are just waiting to be explored and discovered. From the tribal communities of Orissa to serene Dal Lake in Kashmir and the snow-capped peaks of Ladakh, where are you heading?.
Start planning your off the beaten track adventure to India now and discover these gems for yourself.
1. Meet the tribes of Orissa
Located on the north eastern coast of India, strewn with meadows, forest and terraced valleys; Orissa is home to a number of colourful tribes. Meet the members of these communities and discover the diversity of race, language and culture that each tribe possesses. Learn about their fascinating customs and browse their wares at tribal markets selling local handicrafts.
2. Cruise Dal Lake in Kashmir
Located at the foot of the Himalayas in the northwestern part of India, Kashmir has only recently reopened to tourism. And now the region is just waiting to be explored. Here travellers can live aboard a houseboat on serene Dal Lake. Discover the beautiful terraced Mughal Gardens that line its shores, barter at floating markets, and learn about the unique way of life that still prevails here.
3. Go tiger tracking in Ranthambore
There are few places left in the wild where you can still catch a glimpse of the endangered Bengal tiger. But Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is one of the best. Venture down dirt trails onboard a safari canter, keeping an eye out for a flash of stripes through the jungle. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for leopards, sloth bears, and other species which live in the park. Because Ranthambore is a protected area, tiger numbers have been on the rise; so you’ll never have a better chance to spot one of these iconic big cats.
4. Explore the tea estate of Darjeeling
Sitting against the backdrop of snow-capped Himalayan peaks and surrounded by verdant tea plantations; the scenic hill-station of Darjeeling in West Bengal offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Discover the region’s acclaimed tea estates; Darjeeling produces some of the world’s finest chai. And its picturesque landscape is dotted with beautiful Buddhist monasteries.
5. Explore the snow-capped peaks of Ladakh
Bordering the Tibetan border in the far northeastern reaches of India, Ladakh is a fascinating place to explore. Much of the area has remained untouched for centuries. And traditions of Tibetan culture are still practiced. Spend your days hiking through otherworldly landscapes, splashed with ancient palaces, mountain-top monasteries and Tibetan gompas. And keep your eyes peeled for the elusive snow leopard that inhabits the region.
6. Wander the sandstone town of Jaisalmer
Set deep within the Thar Desert, the medieval walled sandstone town of Jaisalmer is as exotic and beautiful as it is remote. The old fort city rises up like a giant sandcastle. And its ancient streets preserve a traditional way of life. Explore this ancient maze, taking in temples and palaces. Or, opt for a camel safari into the desert. Because there is plenty of it!
7. Uncover the delights of Kerala’s backwaters
The Kerala backwaters are made up of a series of connected waterways, lakes, and estuaries along the southwest coast of India. Spending a night or two aboard a traditional houseboat, travellers can cruise these scenic backwaters. You’ll glide past local villages and observe the scenes of everyday rural life on its shores. In addition, you’ll spot colourful birdlife, towering palm trees and some of India’s most beautiful scenery.
8. Unwind on the Lakshadweep Islands
Set off the coast of Kerala in southwestern India, the Lakshadweep Islands are a wonderful hidden gem, akin to the beauty and tranquility of the Maldives. Similarly to the Maldives, these sparsely populated, idyllic tropical islands offer crystal clear waters, powder-white sands and pristine coral reefs. But there is a lot more green! While away the days sunbathing on the beach or opt for a number of water activities, from snorkelling to canoeing.
9. Journey to colonial Shimla
Shimla is the largest and most famous of the British hill stations, and the former summer capital of the Raj. But it remains relatively off the beaten track. This is partly because it is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, along a crescent-shaped ridge. You’ll probably arrive in Shimla by toy train, where you can explore its main street. The street is lined with stately English houses, retaining much of the British flavour that once prevailed here.
10. See the changing of the guard in Wagah
Located in northwest India in the State of Punjab, Amritsar is the holy centre of the Sikh religion. While the iconic Golden Temple is by far Amritsar’s star attraction, a drive to the Wagah border crossing – connecting India and Pakistan, offers a truly unique experience. Here travelers can witness the famous sunset ritual of the changing of the guard.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track in India, why not check out our group tours?