From spiritual relaxation to adrenaline-racing adventures, North India is a region that’s as diverse as it is beautiful. But it’s so large and picturesque that it can be hard to know where to begin. Many will stop at the capital city, Delhi, and Agra to see the Taj Mahal but there are plenty of other stop-worthy destinations here. To help, here are the best places to visit in North India.
Dating to the 7th century BCE, Varanasi has been an important site for Hindu pilgrims and spiritual seekers for millennia. People come here to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and attain inner peace, as well as bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges – part of an ancient ritual to purify soul, body and mind. You’ll see 87 ghats (flights of steps leading to the river) and more than 2,000 temples, mostly dedicated to Hindu god Shiva. Do not leave without attending the Ganga aarti (prayer ritual held every evening) and enjoying a boat ride along the Ganges.
Amritsar is a treasure in terms of history, culture and gastronomy. The city impresses thoroughly with the breathtakingly beautiful Golden Temple, which is the sacred seat of Sikhism; the Wagah border, a crossing lying on the grand trunk road between India and Pakistan; and the Jallianwala Bagh, a massacre memorial and garden.
It’s more than just a Led Zeppelin song. Kashmir is a place so spectacular it’ll leave you mesmerised. Get a true taste of the area by riding a shikara (a flat-bottomed boat signature to the area) on the Dal lake. Then, kayak on the glistening waters of the Lidder river, trek the rolling hills or just enjoy a pony ride. Either way, there’s plenty to fall in love with in Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Srinagar.
Ideal for those seeking respite from bustling city life, Parvati Valley beckons nature-lovers and keen adventurers. Here, you can discover the picture-perfect villages of Kasol, Malana and Tosh – complete with unspoilt natural beauty, hippie vibes, and outdoor activities such as trekking and riverside camping.
At an altitude of 2,050m (6,725ft) in the Himalayas is Manali. It’s a top ski retreat in winter and, come summer, becomes one of the best spots for adventure enthusiasts. Indulge in paragliding, zorbing and yak riding in Solang Valley. Adventurous outings not your thing? Manali also has ancient temples, Tibetan monasteries, wildlife sanctuaries, and art and cultural centres.
With the Himalayas to the south and the Karakoram mountains to the north, Leh is a favourite retreat for trekkers and biking enthusiasts, overlooking a panoramic vista of snow-clad mountains and icy glaciers. Those seeking peace can stay at the monasteries and partake in the spiritual retreats.