#YearInReview: Best Tourist Destinations of India
The year 2016 saw steady interest in travel and tourism within India, driven largely by domestic tourists. International tourists, too, continued to arrive in greater numbers taking advantage of a weaker rupee.
Here is our list of some of the interesting and popular tourist sites, by category, in India for 2016.
2016 showed India’s increasing interest in adventure-related tourism, with people wanting to experience different kinds of adventure sports. Trekking has traditionally been popular, but sports like paragliding, parasailing, river rafting, rock climbing, rappelling and skiing, are also witnessing greater participation. So much so that tourist sites are now evolving around these themes and promoting themselves around adventure sports.
While Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have always been popular with trekkers, several other places have emerged in 2016 as trekking destinations, and they are:
- Zanskar Frozen River Trail in Ladakh
- Markha Valley Trail in Ladakh
- Dzongri-Goecha La Trail in Sikkim
- Itanagar – Ziro – Daporijo – Along – Pasighat Trail in Arunachal Pradesh
- Kuari Pass Trail – Uttarakhand.
Parasailing and Paragliding:
- Kanifnath: located 20 km from Pune on Saswad Road
- Purandar: located 45 km South-East of Pune
- Pithoragarh: located in Uttarakhand and has several popular locations for all adventure activities, including Parasailing and Paragliding
- Mussoorie: located 34 km from Dehradun in Uttarakhand is another popular destination for parasailing and paragliding.
- Rishikesh: Ganges near Haridwar in Uttarakhand
- Siang River: in Arunachal Pradesh
- Brahmaputra – Tsangpo river stretch in Assam – Arunachal Pradesh
- Kameng (Seppa-Bhalukpung): in Arunachal Pradesh
- Subansiri (Taliha-North Daporijo): in Arunachal Pradesh
- Dibang (Anini—Assam Border): in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Gulmarg: in J&K
- Auli: in Uttarakhand
- Kufri: in Himachal Pradesh
- Solang Nala: in Himachal Pradesh
- Dayara Bugyal: in Uttarakhand.
The Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur continues to remain most popular with domestic and international tourists seeking a glimpse of India’s heritage. Some popular sites are:
- Delhi: for its Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid, and Lutyen’s architecture
- Agra: for the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, and Handicrafts
- Jodhpur (Rajasthan): for its palaces
- Udaipur (Rajasthan): for its lakes and palaces
- Jaipur (Rajasthan): for its palaces, textiles, gems and jewelry, handicrafts
- Khajuraho (MP): remains popular for its caves and sculpture
- Ajanta and Ellora Caves (Maharashtra): for its caves and sculpture
- Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu): for its Chola temples; Brihadisvara temple, Temple of Gangaikonda Choleswarar, Temple of Airavateswara Temple
- Bodh Gaya (Bihar): for its Mahabodi Temple
- Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu): for its Panch Rathsa, Arjuna Rath and Mahisamardini Mandapam
- Hampi (Karnataka): for its ancient monuments and temples
- Rani ki Vav Patan (Gujarat): for its intricate step well
- Konark (Odisha): for its Sun Temple.
India has an ancient and deep spiritual culture which has expressed itself through major sites and pilgrimage centres that remain popular with believers and non-believers. Some of the popular religious sites are:
- Delhi: Jama Masjid, Nizamuddin Dargah, Lotus Temple, Birla Temple, Swaminarayan Temple, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Cathedral Church of the Redemption
- Varanasi (UP): Kashi Vishwanath temple, Ganga Ghat, Sarnath temple (13 km from Varanasi) and other temples
- Rishikesh (Uttarakhand): Temples and Ashrams
- Haridwar (Uttarakhand): Temples and Ashrams
- Katra (J&K): Temple of Vaishno Devi
- Amritsar (Punjab): Golden Temple
- Ajmer (Rajasthan): Dargah of Saint Chishti
- Bodh Gaya (Bihar): Mahabodhi Temple
- Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh): Sri Venkateshwara Temple (Lord Tirupati Balaji)
- Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu): Ramananthswamy Temple
- Chamoli District (Uttarakhand): Badrinath Temple
- Rudraprayag District (Uttarakhand): Kedarnath Temple
- Nilachal Hill – Guwahati (Assam): Kamakhya Temple
- Vrindavan (UP): Krishna Temple, ISCON and other temples
- Dharamsala: abode of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Monasteries
- Ganpatipule (Maharashtra): Ganapati Temple
- Amarnath (J&K): Shiva Temple
- Puri (Odisha): Lord Jagannath Temple
- Madurai (Tamil Nadu): Meenakshi Amman Temple
- Goa: Church of St Francis of Assisi, Ruins of Church of St Augustine, Basilica of Bom Jesus.
#Royalty & Leisure
India has a lot to offer for leisure holiday seekers in all budget ranges. In the premium category are:
- Udaipur: The lakes of Udaipur offer some of the best holidays and premium hotels to offer a royal experience
- Jaipur: Great tourist places like the Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, Johari Bazar, Chokhi Dani
- Jodhpur: Royalty at its best with one of the most premium heritage hotels on offer
- Agra: Several world-class hotels make your experience in discovering Agra and its heritage unique and royal. Watching the Taj Mahal on a full moon night is an experience of a lifetime.
Discover India by Rail. Experience India in a unique way – on Rail! Indian Railways offers some of the most exotic and royal travel experiences one can get while discovering India.
Palace on Wheels: covering Delhi, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Agra, New Delhi.
The Maharajas Express: offers 5 destination choices:
- Mumbai, Ajanta, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambhore, Agra, Delhi
- Delhi, Agra, Ranthambhore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Balasinor, Mumbai
- Delhi, Jaipur, Ranthambhore, Agra, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Lucknow, Delhi
- Delhi, Agra, Ranthambhore, Jaipur, Delhi.
Royal Rajasthan on Wheels: covers Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Agra, Delhi.
Golden Chariot: offers two destination options;
- Bangalore, Kabini, Srirangapatnam, Mysore, Shravanabelagola, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Goa
- Bangalore, Chennai, Puducherry, Thanjavur, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram, Allepey, Kochi, Bangalore.
The Deccan Odyssey: offers 10 destination options:
- New Delhi, Sawai Madhopur, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Vadodara, Mumbai
- New Delhi, Agra, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur
- Mumbai, Vadodara, Bhavnagar, Sasan Gir, Little Rann of Kutch, Modhera, Ahmedabad, Delhi
- Mumbai, Nashik, Shirdi
- New Delhi, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Agra, Sanchi, Aurangabad, Mumbai
- Mumbai, Ajanta Caves, Sanchi, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Agra, New Delhi
- Aurangabad, Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Ajanta Caves, Nashik, Kolhapur, Goa, Mumbai
- Mumbai, Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, Hampi, Bijapur, Hyderabad, Mumbai
- Mumbai, Ajanta caves, Nagzira, Tadoba, Aurangabad
- Mumbai, Shirdi.
Traditional fairs and Melas in India have been popular for centuries but in recent times with the government promoting these fairs, tourism has got a renewed boost.
- Pushkar Fair (Ajmer): This five day camel and livestock fair has become very popular and now has cultural events as part of this fair.
- Desert Festival (Jaisalmer): This festival held for three days prior to the full moon is now a much sought after event with bookings at a premium. The dessert experience is best experienced through living in tents that dot the fair along with camel rides in the dessert.
- Kumbh Melas: Kumbh Melas are religious gatherings that take place every few years in different locations and are excellent places to visit and experience Indian spirituality and rituals. 2016 saw the Kumbh Mela held at Nashik and was attended by lakhs of people including monks from all parts of India.
- Surajkund Crafts Mela (NCR): This is a popular handicrafts fair where craftsmen from all parts of India gather to display their crafts and culture.
While 2016 was a good year for tourism and travel in India, 2017 is expected to be an even better year as the Indian rupee has further weakened and is expected to make international travel into India much cheaper than in 2016.