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Places Not to Miss When Visiting India

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5 Places Not to Miss When Visiting India

Christabel Lobo

 

The charms of India have long been enticing travelers to come and explore its lands for centuries. There's something to be said about the never-ending chaos through the Indian streets coupled with its vibrancy for life and seamless juxtaposition of old and new.

 

From thousand-year-old temples and unique rock formations to the fragrant spice plantations and lush hill stations, India has something to offer even the most discerning traveler. While cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Agra are at the top of every traveler's bucket lists - there's a lot more to this rich country than meets the eye. Some even provide the opportunity to escape the maddening crowds.

 

Here are five underrated Indian cities around the country you should consider adding to your itinerary.

 

Mysore, Karnataka
Often referred to as the cultural capital of the state of Karnataka, Mysore serves as a quiet respite from the frenzied pace you'll encounter when traveling to major Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, or Bengaluru. Spend a day visiting any of the five palaces that lie within the city limits—the most popular being Mysore Palace, the 14th-century wonder of Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture.

 

For the active travelers, a sunrise hike to Chamundi Hills offers panoramic views of the city below, along with an opportunity to visit Chamundeshwari Temple, a 12th-century Hindu temple dedicated to its namesake goddess. And, that's not all—the neighborhood of Gokulam is known as a haven for yoga travelers and is also the place where the Mysore-style yoga class originated.

 

 

Jodhpur, Rajasthan
While most visiting Rajasthan tend to stick to Jaipur and Udaipur, a lesser visited, but equally, exciting city to consider is Jodhpur. Located in northeastern Rajasthan at the edge of the Thar Desert, the city of Jodhpur also goes by two important nicknames: Sun City due to the annual amount of sunshine it receives, and the Blue City because of the bright indigo exteriors of buildings located in the northern part of the old town. Originally painted blue to indicate members of the Brahmin caste, the color is no longer used to represent caste, and instead simply to keep the buildings cool from the harsh sunlight.

 

The city's prime attraction is the 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort—the largest in Rajasthan—set atop a steep hill overlooking the town below. Once a former palace, the imposing structure now serves as a museum with a sizable collection of royal palanquins. Other sights include Umaid Bhavan Palace, where the Maharaja of Jodhpur currently resides; Jaswant Thada, an opulent cenotaph for the royal Marwar family; Toorji Ka Jhalra, a recently restored and functional step well built in the 18th century by the reigning queen, Maharaja Abhay Singh's Consort; and Ghanta Ghar clock tower along with its bustling bazaar located in the old part of the city.

 

 

Thekkady, Kerala

If you're looking for a quintessential Kerala hill station experience minus the year-round crowds, skip the favorite destination of Munnar, and head to Thekkady instead. Situated 3,000 feet above sea level, this chill mountain town in the southern Indian state of Kerala offers everything from rich coffee and tea plantations to wildlife encounters and breathtaking vistas. It's also home to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, which, depending on the season, is one of India's best wildlife encounters for spotting elephants, lions, tigers, wild boar, oxen, deer, macaques, and numerous species of birds.

 

Don't forget to stock up on spices—Thekkady offers some of the freshest for sale in all of
India—cardamom, cloves, vanilla, cocoa, and coffee are all grown in abundance here.

 

 

Shaheed Dweep (Neil Island), Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Located in the Andaman Sea, off the eastern coast are the Andaman and Nicobar islands, one of India's union territories. The Indian archipelago consists of 572 islands, of which only 38 are inhabited. To go off-the-beaten-path, once you touch down in Port Blair—which has the archipelago's only airport—head for the ferry departing to Shaheed Dweep island, known for its white sand beaches and diverse marine life.

 

Spend the day snorkeling away at Ramnagar beach before making your way to Lakshmanpur Beach for a vibrant sunset—the widest part of the island is only 3 miles, and can easily be explored on foot or by bike. At low tide, be sure you make your way to Howrah Bridge, an impressive natural rock formation at the end of Lakshmanpur Beach.

 

 

Almora, Uttarakhand
Originally founded during the Chand dynasty in 1563 A.D., is the town of Almora, a quaint hill station perched atop a horse-saddle shaped ridge and surrounded by thick, green forests as far as the eye can see. On a clear day, it's possible to see the snow-capped Himalayan Mountain range in the distance.

 

The beauty of the town and its surroundings has long inspired creatives and artists from around the world—Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, called Almora home in 1937, as did author Gertrude Emerson, her husband and agricultural scientist, Bosi Sen. Swami Vivekananda made several visits to Almora in the 1890s before heading to Kasar Devi temple to meditate. In the 60s and 70s, at the height of the Hippie trail, members of the counterculture movement like Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Cat Stevens, and writer D. H. Lawrence, all flocked to the area.

 

Whether it’s the allure of the ancient dynasties or the fragrant fields of coffee and spices,
indulge in the rich culture of India on your next travel experience.

 

 

 

Christabel Lobo is a third culture woman born and raised in Dubai, UAE. Apart from primarily spending her time solo-traveling and eating her way around the world (and blogging about it at Where’s Bel!), she is a RYT-200 hatha yoga teacher, and has a digital design studio creating logos, minimalistic websites and social media management for fellow bloggers and small businesses.

 

All content provided in this blog is supplied by Christabel Lobo and is for informational purposes only. Barclays takes no position as to the views, and makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by
following any link within this blog.

Image Credit: iStock 

 

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