The Most Unusual Places to Visit in India

Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad is one of India's lesser-known yet unique attractions
Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad is one of India's lesser-known yet unique attractions | © Dinodia Photos / Alamy
Photo of Poonam Binayak
India Writer28 July 2021

You’ve photographed the Taj Mahal in Agra, gawped at the Red Fort in Delhi, and chilled on the beaches of Goa. Now you want to explore some of the more unique things to do in India. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of quirky attractions here. So if you’re looking to see a different side of the country, here are some of the most unusual places in India to visit.

Roopkund, Uttarakhand

Natural Feature
Map View
A panoramic shot of Mt. Trishul as seen from Junnar gali near Roopkund lake.
© Sourabh Gavade / Alamy Stock Photo
Roopkund is a glacial lake that sits 5,029m (16,500ft) above sea level in the Indian Himalayas, circled by snowy mountains and rocky glaciers. Cool, but the real attraction here is what lies beneath the surface – around 600 to 800 human skeletons. Legend has it these are the remains of a Kannauj king and his entourage who perished in the 9th century. Now, when the lake melts, you can see their bones. To get there, trek from the Lohajang Pass, through several villages, glacial valleys and mountain passes – it’s one of the most challenging treks in India.

Karni Mata Temple, Rajasthan

Hindu Temple
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India, Rajasthan, Deshnok, Karni Mata Temple (Rat Temple)
© Michele Falzone / Alamy Stock Photo
Karni Mata Temple is home to more than 20,000 rats, called kabbas, said to be the manifestation of goddess Karni Mata. They roam freely in the temple, and can be spotted drinking milk from a huge bowl. Every day, hundreds of devotees visit to worship and feed the rats. It is believed that if you see white mice, which don’t often show up, you’ll receive blessings and good luck. Killing or hurting the animals is considered a sin, and if you happen to step on one you can purchase a silver or gold rat statue and offer it to the temple to atone for the sin committed.

Loktak Lake, Manipur

Map View
Two fishermen are sailing through the beautiful Loktak Lake manipur india.
© ARINDAM CHOWDHURY / Alamy Stock Photo
Come to Loktak Lake in the Bishnupur district of Manipur and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s covered in tiny islands. But these masses are actually floating phumdis, a cluster of organic matter, vegetation and soil, only found on this body of water. They provide a habitat for the local wildlife, which includes sangai Manipuri deer, jungle cat and several snakes.

Bara Imambara, Lucknow

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A view of terrace, Bara Imambara, Lucknow, Utter Pradesh, India
© ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo
The 18th-century Bara Imambara is an unusual complex blending European and Arabic architectural styles. It also has a central arched hall, which is three stories high and 50m (164ft) long, the roof staying in place seemingly without any beams or pillars to support it – a gravity-defying phenomenon that has attracted tourists from across the world. Besides this, there is also a maze in the main hall, a mosque and verdant gardens.

Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Map View
© Saurabh Chatterjee / Alamy Stock Photo
Rameshwaram is considered one of the most sacred places in India – it’s said that Lord Rama’s Vanara Sena constructed a floating stone bridge here across to Sri Lanka. The stones used in the construction had the name of Lord Rama inscribed on them and floated on water. You can can still see those floating stones if you visit Rameshwaram today.

Magnetic Hill, Ladakh

Natural Feature
Map View
Signboard of Magnetic Hill ; Magnet Hill , Cyclops hill , Leh ; Ladakh ; Jammu and Kashmir ; India , Asia
© Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
The Magnetic Hill in Ladakh appears to have magical properties that can pull a car uphill, even when the engine is off. However – spoiler alert – there’s nothing supernatural going on here. Instead, though the road looks like it’s on an incline, it is in fact going downhill. Just an optical illusion, but one of the most surreal experiences in India.

Shri Veerabhadra Temple Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh

Hindu Temple, Architectural Landmark
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Veerabhadra Temple(16th century), Lepakshi ,Andhra Pradesh.
© Muthuraman Vaithinathan / Alamy Stock Photo
There are 70 pillars at this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva – but one stands out. Known as the hanging pillar, this column appears to be suspended in the air. If you do come to Shri Veerabhadra Temple Lepakshi, pass a thin article underneath it to bring some good luck to your life.

Chandipur Beach, Odisha

Natural Feature
Map View
Beautiful scene of sea beach with tree and flying bird on the foreground at Chandipur, Orissa, India.
© Tapas Biswas / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’re looking for a completely different beach experience in India, Chandipur is your answer. This stretch of sand is often known as the Hide and Seek Beach – and for good reason. Stay for a day and you’ll witness the water retreat some 3mi (5km) at low-tide, only to return at high-tide.

Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad

Architectural Landmark
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Bibi Ka Maqbara Tomb, also known as Mini Taj Mahal. Aurangabad, India
© Leonid Andronov / Alamy Stock Photo
Did you know there is a replica of the Taj Mahal in India? In Aurangabad, Bibi Ka Maqbara was commissioned in the 17th century by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in memory of his wife. Often referred to as the Taj of the Deccan, it resembles the original Taj Mahal and is surrounded by lush gardens and fountains. Though the size is smaller than the original, it’s beautiful in its own right.

Hazrat Qamar Ali Darvesh Shrine, Shivapur

Map View
14th Feb 2021, Shivapur, Maharashtra, India. Devotees come to pray at Hazrat Qamar Ali Darvesh Dargah or Mosque in Shivapur, a small village 20 kms aw
© ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo
Legend has it, there was a gym on this spot around 800 years ago. Qamar Ali, a Sufi saint, was insulted by the strongmen in the gym and so he declared that two rocks being used as weights could not be lifted unless 11 fingertips were touching the rock and the men chanted Qamar Ali’s name. Visit the Hazrat Qamar Ali Darvesh Shrine today to watch men lifting the stone using that method.

Great Banyan Tree, Kolkata

Botanical Garden
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The Great Banyan is a banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) located in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah, near Kolkata, , West Be
© Rudra Narayan Mitra / Alamy Stock Photo

The Great Banyan Tree in the Archarya Jagdish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden is the oldest tree in India and the widest in the world. From a distance, it looks like a dense green forest. The gigantic tree is said to be more than 250-years-old with approximately 3,300 aerial roots expanding far and wide. To see the tree up-close, take the road constructed around it.

New Lucky Restaurant, Ahmedabad

Restaurant, Indian, Fast Food, Tea , $$$
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Customers eat next to Muslim tombs at the "Lucky Hotel" restaurant in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad June 16, 2007. Serving Indian cuisine to over 300 customers daily, the "Lucky Hotel" has 22 tombs nestled between wooden tables and chairs. REUTERS/
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
This is the only restaurant in India where you can dine alongside the dead. New Lucky Restaurant in Ahmedabad sits on an old Muslim cemetery with coffins lying between the tables. No one knows who the coffins belong to, but staff clean the graves and place fresh flowers on them every morning.

Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya

Bridge, Natural Feature
Map View
The double decker living root bridges of Nongriat in Meghalaya, India
© Nitish Waila / Alamy Stock Photo
You’ll find bridges made of rubber tree roots in Meghalaya. It takes around 15 years to grow one of these living bridges, and it’s said they can last for several hundreds of years. They’re cultivated by members of the Khasi and Jaintia tribes and cross streams in the woods of Meghalaya.
These recommendations were updated on July 28, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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