Planning where to go in India is a challenging task with the country's incredible diversity throwing up a long list of name. Selecting which place to visit in India in summer is no child's play. From the pristine beaches and tropical islands, hill stations to the mighty Himalayas or even Kerala Backwaters, there is no dearth of option when it comes to planning summer holiday in India.
This list of some popular and some off the beaten path tourist places in India is our endeavor to help you plan an unforgettable summer vacation in India whether its a family break, a get together of friends, escape from your corporate existence or a romantic getaway.
So here it goes...the best of the best!
Ladakh: The Land of Lama
Fondly referred to as the "Little Tibet", Ladakh is no more the India's best kept secret when it comes to tourism. This high altitude cold desert in India is a once in a lifetime experience. Remember the ad of Mastercard…there are some things that money can’t buy?
And that is why we have also featured Ladakh in our list of top 10 places to visit in India.
|Chang La enroute Pangong Tso - Sceneries like this make motorcycle trip to Ladakh a highly sought after proposition|
Ladakh’s arid terrain undergoes drastic weather changes owing to its elevation. Temperature varies in extremes both during summers and winters. That’s the allure of Ladakh. Summer is the best time to visit this magical land of Lamas and that is why it is the top tourist place in India to visit during summer.
Every summer motorcyclists from India and world gather in and around Delhi, Srinagar or Manali to embark on adventurous trip to Ladakh by road. Manali - Leh Highway is the favorite among the thrill seekers.
There are a score of high mountain passes including the tough Baralacha La and the second highest Taglang La along with the vast mesmerizing Morey Plains and the thrilling Gata Loops which is why motorcyclists - and even the four wheeler riders prefer Leh - Manali Highway for a road trip.
Do check out this travel journal on motorcycle trip to Ladakh.
What are the attractions you ask? Well the entire landscape of Ladakh is a sight to behold, the burnished mountainous terrain, sparse vegetation, snow capped mountains, the emerald Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar and Hunder - also referred to as the desert in the sky - along with the magnificent monasteries in the sky are what makes Ladakh so special.
|Pangong Tso is one of the most prominent tourist places in Ladakh. Photo courtesy Ladakh by Road|
And if you are a woman traveling alone in India considering the safety issue, rest assured that Ladakh is the safest place on the planet when its come to the safety and security of women. If you are planning to visit any other tourist place in India, do check out our post regarding Is India safe for women traveling alone.
Where is the luxury you ask?
Well there won’t be a Leela Goa or Taj Lake Palace like luxury in Ladakh but the Grand Dragon in Leh offers a lavish stay. If you are heading to Pangong Tso or Nubra Valley, there are many luxury tents and deluxe accommodations with running hot water faciltity.
Don’t expect eclectic cuisines as you will be served basic Ladakhi cuisines if you are venturing out of Leh but then the sight of the emerald water of Pangong Lake bound by mountains and the desert safari in the double humped Bactrian camel at Hunder are once in a lifetime experience…and they more than suffice for a luxury suite or wholesome meal.
The best time to visit Ladakh - especially if you are looking forward to motorcycle trip to Ladakh - is June and September. However Ladakh also happens to be the one of the top places to India to visit during monsoon as it seldom rains here.
Luxe Recommendation: Hire a Royal Enfield either from Delhi or Manali and embark on an unforgettable motorcycle trip to Ladakh via Leh Manali Highway. Have at least 15 days up your sleeve. Enjoy an awe inspiring ride along the vast stretches of arid landscape, high mountain passes, vasr stretches of plain and sporadic signs of human settlements as you drive from Rohtang Pass towards Leh, the administrative center of Ladakh. For family and couples here's this ultimate Ladakh Holiday Package.
Due to some restrictions and harsh climate, do refer to the travel essentials if you are planning a trip to Ladakh. Check out this Ladakh trip planner.
Coorg (Kodagu): Tourist Places in India to travel in summer
|Lush Environs make Coorg one of the popular hill stations in India where one could find respite from the scorching heat|
Fondly referred to as the 'Scotland of India' and sometimes as 'Kashmir of the South' due to its verdant beauty and salubrious weather conditions, Coorg has a special place among all hill stations in India.
Nestled at the altitude in the range of 3500 ft above sea level, the mountainous Kodagu (or Coorg) region is home to the Kodava people and Tibetan refugees. The natural majesty and lush environs of this hill station make it an ideal place for trekking, bird-watching and rejuvenation.
If you are traveling here in April-May, then driving along the winding roads over hills offers spectacular vista as you drive past spice and coffee plantations recently bloomed into fragrant white blossoms.
Located as it is in the Western Ghats, Coorg also offers trekking opportunities which vary from easy to moderate. While trekking in Coorg, you may hire local guides who arrange for food and lodging.
Other activity to let you indulge is golf with 3 golf courses which are located in Polibetta, Mercara and Coorg Golf Link in Bittangala.
Best Time: Except for Monsoon (June to September), Coorg is best visited throughout the year. Maximum temperature seldom go beyond 30 degrees even during peak summer season.
Plan your trip with Indian Holiday's Coorg Tour Packages
|Havelock Island, the Andamans is known for its swimming elephants|
Renowned as one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in India, Andaman group of Island consists of 52 islands out of which 36 are inhabited. Apart from the relaxed tropical ambiance, amazing diversity of corals and marine life what draws the tourist to Andaman is existence of the remnants of Stone Age culture and the colonial inheritance.
Not long ago before India got independence, the freedom fighters were kept here in isolation in the Cellular Jail, now a museum and the place was notoriously referred to as “Kaala Pani” literally meaning black waters.
Today this deep green tropical paradise is frequented by tourists from around the globe for this archipelago’s rich and diverse wildlife, snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities and other water sports.
The Andaman Islands are connected by ferries and flights from Chennai, Vizag and Kolkata.
Best time to visit: From January till April and from late May till October
Climate Info: Varies from 24°C to 35°C with Humidity above 70%
Things to do in Andaman
Well there are plenty of activities that you could undertake during your summer holiday in Andamans. For the starters there are Museums some remnants of British Raj and other more modern one. A light and Sound show, recounting the history of the infamous ‘Kaala Paani’ in the evening is a must thing to do in Port Blair which is the capital of Andaman Islands.
Another not to miss activity in the Andamans is visit to Havelock and head to Radha Nagar Beach, one of the rare unspoiled and best beaches in India. Also voted “the best beach in Asia” by Time magazine Havelock Island is where the action is. Most of the snorkeling, diving, Kayaking and scuba diving opportunities are available only in Havelock Island.
Where’s the luxury you ask?
With rising popularity as one of the most romantic islands in the world, quite a few luxury resorts have come up to cater to the discerning travelers. There is no dearth of hotels in Port Blair and even Havelock has got one of the best and ecological beach resorts in India.
If it is the romance that you seek, or tranquility that is your calling or if it’s just relax & rejuvenation or adrenaline pumping activities like scuba diving, snorkeling and Kayaking, there’s something for everyone at the Andaman Islands.
|Rich marine life makes scuba diving an enthralling activity at Havelock, photo courtesy Barefoot at Havelock|
The only hassle you might find is the odd buzz of the wildlife during night and no network connection for your mobile/Wi-Fi. But then the whole point of escape to one of the most romantic places in the world is just that…to remain undiscovered by the vagaries of modern life and masses. Isn’t it? Be sure to check out this Andaman Holiday Package. And yes! don't forget to meet the swimming elephant Rajan during your stay.
Bhutan: The Land of Thunder Dragon
|Bhutan, the last Shangri La is the sole surviving Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom. Image courtesy news.jobbook.com|
Wedged between India and China, Bhutan is remote and pristine destination where the ancient Buddhist tradition is still preserved. Held separate by the formidable mountains, this Himalayan Kingdom also referred to as the ‘last Shangri La’ is perhaps the only country where developed is measured not by GDP but Gross Domestic Happiness.
|Tourism in Bhutan is unique and the Bhutanese pride themselves on a sustainable, ecofriendly approach.Image courtesy Goista|
Tourism in Bhutan is strictly regulated with government’s emphasis on “High Value, Low Impact Tourism.” There’s a hefty daily package for tourist (except from India, Bangladesh and Maldives) and the tourist visas must be initialized by a government authorized tour operator in Bhutan.
Things to do in Bhutan
|Taktsang Palphug Monastery in Paro, also known as the Tiger's Nest is a prominent prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex. Image courtesy Independent.co.uk|
Must visit places for a complete cultural experience of Bhutan are Punakha, Thimpu, Dochu La Pass, Gangtey, Wangdi Phodrang, Trongsa and spectacular Dzongs &monasteries.
Combining the sanskrit word for peace (Aman) with the Dzongkha word for circumambulation (Kora), Amankora is was the first foreign brand allowed to build hotels in Bhutan. The group has chains of luxury lodges across this Himalayan kingdom. For the ultimate spiritual and fine travel experience, go for the all-inclusive Amankora Journey that could be tailor-made.
|A view of Rishikesh with river Ganges in the evening|
It burst into limelight after the Beatles arrived at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in their quest for nirvana and bliss in the late ’60s; Rishikesh has been a lure for seekers of spirituality with its numerous yoga centers, ashrams and temples.
Rishikesh is often referred to as the World Capital of Yoga owing to its global renowned among seekers of peace and contemplation. It is believed that meditation and a dip in the holy water of river Ganges in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of salvation.
Notwithstanding its acclaim as a place for tranquility and meditation, Rishikesh has emerged as one of the popular adventure tour destinations in India. There are numerous adventure activities like white water rafting, bungee jumping and mountain hiking to offer the adrenaline rush to the visitors.
Rafting from Shivpuri to Rishikesh is quite popular among the thrill seekers. Camping options are also available and it is very much possible to undertake this adventure from Delhi even during short weekend breaks.
However, the fact that Rishikesh is considered a holy city by Hindus, it is vegetarian by law and even alcohol are not sold. But there are numerous joints offering Ayurvedic cuisines & teas and vegetarian delicacies. Visitors could also try the German Bakery (near Laxman Jhula) or the Chotiwaala Restaurant (near the Ram Jhula) for gourmet cuisines and snacks.
Where’s the Luxe you ask
Not far away from the bustle of this yoga town is Narendranagar, home to India’s first destination Spa. Ananda in Himalayas, with its Victorian Balustrades and Mughal archways is a fine specimen of Indo-Islamic Architecture.
Nestled at an altitude of 3,300 feet 180 kilometers away from Delhi, this sprawling 100 acres spa is a veritable oasis, an escape from the heat, dust and din of the bustling megalopolis. The awe inspiring views of the undulating Himalaya, the ancient town of Rishikesh and the meandering Ganges only heighten the delight of luxurious stay in this once Viceregal Palace and abode of the Maharaja of Narendranagar.
|A mesmerizing view of Rishikesh town and holy Ganges from the Himalayan View suite of Ananda in the Himalayas|
Try out one of the therapeutic massages or spa session at this sprawling resort or just take a break from the teeming city life and enjoy bliss in natural surroundings with some yoga session at Ananda in the Himalayas.
Care for rejuvenation, meditation and a little hedonism? Plan your luxury holiday at Ananda in the Himalayas.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
|Lake near Tawang|
One of the least populated towns in Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is one of the most sought –after destinations in summer in India ideally visited in May and June before the arrival of Monsoon or after late September and in October.
It is located in the westernmost district of Arunachal Pradesh and shares its borders with Assam. It is a perfect retreat from the hustle-bustle and the scorching heat of summer. The need for weather change is one of the most motivating reasons to plan a trip to Tawang.
The reason behind Tawang’s popularity as a summer retreat is its positioning at the altitude of about 10,000 feet above sea level which accounts for its pleasant weather. This region is quite famous for the imposing 14th century Tawang Monastery. It was built at the will of 5th Dalai Lama ‘Merag Lama Lodre Gyamtso’ and belongs to Mahayana sect of Buddhism.
Another major attraction of Tawang is the Tipi Orchid Sanctuary which houses thousands of varieties of orchids. Sela Top Pass, which remains covered with snow throughout the year, is the major route to get to Tawang.
Tourist places in Tawang: Hot water springs - Pankang Teng Tso Lake - Sangeshar Lake - Sela Pass - Tawang Galden Namgyal Lhatse
Fairs & festivals: The most celebrated festival of Tawang is ‘The Losar’, the famous Tibetan Buddhist festival, which took place in the months of February/March.
Travel Tips: Tawang is a restricted area. Foreign nationals need inner line permits to visit this hill station and permits are available from major cities such as Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata.
Souvenir/Shopping: One can purchase local and traditional handicrafts for taking back home as souvenir.
Best time to visit Tawang is from April till October. Be prepared for incessant rains if you are traveling here after the arrival of monsoon in India.
If you are planning to visit North East here's a few packages with Gangtok and Darjeeling as base to help you plan your vacation in this pristine region.
Ooty: Tourist Places in India to travel in summer
|Ooty is known for its Botanical Garden|
Established as a retreat from the scorching heat of summer by British in then Madras, Ooty is still pervaded by a distinct colonial charm.
The ride to this tiny hamlet of Raj era countryside in India is on a toy train (The Nilgiris Mountain Railways) which recreates the romance of bygone century, the scenery is stunning and its best if you have managed to get seat on the left-hand side.
After that, it’s a visual delight, with pretty cottages, bijou fenced flower gardens, lush surroundings, thatched-roof churches and terraced botanical gardens.
The charming little hill station Ooty is best for languid stupor. Although the urbanization and popularity of this place has taken its toll, you just need to venture a few kilometers out to find yourself amidst the peace of hills, an almost Shakespearean pastoral refuge.
Activities here include visiting various sunset points, botanical gardens, tea plantations, lakes and various waterfalls. Doddabetta Peak, Tiger Hill and Ooty Lake are most popular attractions here.
Best time: Ooty is a welcome relief from October till June which makes it one of the most evergreen hill stations in India which could be visited throughout the year.
Luxe Recommendation: Try the tastefully pre-packaged tour to South India to discover, culture, heritage and royalty along with visit to Ooty to reclaim yourself.
Here's a recommended tour package: South India with Ooty
Shimla: Tourist Places in India to travel in summer
|Wildflowers Hall is a scenic retreat located in the lush valley of Himalaya overlooking jagged Himalayan peaks|
Things changed dramatically for Shimla when the Scottish civil servant Charles Kennedy built his summer home in Shimla in 1822. When the British arrived here there was nothing but wilderness and climate and surroundings which reminded them of their home, Shimla was soon developed into the official summer capital of the Raj in 1864. It is now one of the top tourist places to visit in Himachal Pradesh.
Every summer till the last years of Raj, the entire East India Company and the government took refuge from sweltering heat of Delhi in cool and lush environs of Shimla. Construction of the Kalka–Shimla narrow gauge (now toy train) in 1903 cemented Shimla’s status as one of the leading hill stations of India.
Best Time: Shimla is best visited from October to June. In the summer, one could see rolling cotton wool peaks and during winter, you could frolic in snow and enjoy an array of snow sport and adventure activity. Shimla also happens to be one of the most popular places for honeymoon in India.
Luxe Recommendation: Stay at Wildflowers Hall in Shimla and indulge in Ayurvedic massages and spa therapies even as this premium Oberoi property offer impeccable service and spectacular views of the lush valleys and jagged mountain peaks.
Mahabaleshwar: Tourist Places in India to travel in summer
|Mahabaleshwar in Western Ghats is an ideal retreat away from punishing weather of Mumbai|
Mahabaleshwar is perched atop a height of 1372 meters above sea level in Satara district, around 115 kilometers southwest of Pune. 25 in numbers, the ‘Points’ in Mahabaleshwar will give you breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys from different angle.
In old days, Mahabaleshwar was known as Malcolm Peth and was under the influence of the foreign hands in the development of this hilly resort. Apart from that its princely past is reflected in the colonial mansions and palatial buildings that remind the visitor about the richness of artistic caliber of the bygone generation.
Known as Malcolm Peth in past, this hill station in Maharashtra will remind you of its glorious past with its colonial buildings, resplendent mansions. As the base of five lovely rivers, the scenic beauty of Mahabaleshwar presents awesome vistas, which enthralls the tourists.
It is picturesque hill resort nestled in the lap of sky-scrapping mountain ranges of the Western Ghats. It offers a mesmerizing view of the soaring peaks, lush valleys, sparkling rivers and verdant forests.
Mahabaleshwar offers a rejuvenating ambiance where you can savor charming views of nature at its blooming best. There are many things to do in Mahabaleshwar such as boating, horse riding, trekking and sunrise & sunset watching. Other than this, one can roam around the bazaars for shopping.
Best time: Mahabaleshwar is open for tourists throughout the year. However, April to June is considered the best time to visit this scenic hill town during summer. Many also prefer to visit this tourist destination in July to soak in the natural beauty upon the monsoon's arrival. If your passion is to enjoy the sizzles of nature in relaxed surroundings, Mahabaleshwar is where you should head to.
Darjeeling: Tourist Places in India to travel in summer
|Darjeeling is a scenic Hill station famous for its tea gardens and majestic view of Kanchendzonga|
Nestled on the precipice of a mountain ridge and bounded by verdant plantations of globally renowned teas, Darjeeling is so not West Bengal.
With jagged peaks of magnificent Himalayas offering spectacular panorama - you could even see the peak of Mount Kanchendzonga - Darjeeling is the place to be to savor unruffled luxury and to rejuvenate your senses.
You could also take Darjeeling Mountain Rail (one of the popular "Toy Trains of India") to explore and soak in the magnificent surroundings of this scenic hill station in India. June is ideal month to plan your trip to avoid summer's scorching heat.
As with most other hill stations in India which were the playgrounds of erstwhile British rulers during Raj, you could find colonial mansions and churches as well as recent structures such as Buddhist and Hindu temples and botanical gardens.
The steep narrow streets are crowded with colorful souvenir and handicraft shops and a good steaming brew and excellent Indian and Tibetan fare are never far away. You could also choose from exciting trekking trails which trace ancient trade routes not to mention the breathtaking sights.
Best Time: Most tourists visit after the monsoon (October and November) and during spring (mid-March to the end of May) when skies are dry, panoramas are clear and temperatures are pleasant.
Luxe Recommendation: Glenburn Tea Estate is a awe inspiring refuge in calm and unruffled luxury amidst the rapidly urbanizing Darjeeling Town. This estate is a 150 year old plantation house with its old world charm and offers awesome panorama of Mount Kanchendzonga.
Contributed by Nikhil Chandra