By Neetha Kurup:
India has long been one of the most sought after destination for tourists from around the world. Be it the quiet retreat in a hill station in Mussouri or Ootty, or an adventurous trek through the hills of the north, India offers the average traveler what he wishes to do or see.
The major contributing factor for the variety of interesting tourist spots is indeed the multitude of cultures present in the country. Besides the vast amount of activities to do in India, one can just sit back and enjoy the art forms-from Kathakali of southern state of Kerala to the Rajasthani folk dance of the north.
Tucked away in the mountain regions of the Himalayas, Sikkim offers you the chance to get away from bustling cities and relax in sleepy hamlets and hilltop monasteries. Called the Switzerland of the East, Sikkim offers unimaginable beauty. Places to visit in Sikkim include:
The southern state leads when it comes to being the most popular tourist destinations not just in India but also the world. Art forms such as Mohiniyattam and Kathakali should be on your ‘must-watch’ list.
Perhaps best known for its backwaters, Kerala is commonly known as God’s Own Country-and for good reason. The sprawling greenery, the extensive wildlife and the magnificent beaches make Kerala one of the most ideal vacation spots.
The ancient practice of Ayurveda also make Kerala very popular among western tourists. Ayurveda is good for curing ailments that would otherwise require extensive medical attention or maybe just for sound relaxation.
Blessed with golden beaches, exotic landscapes, and the incredible presence of a unique culture, Goa is an exquisitely place. A beach-lover’s paradise, Goa is the place to go to re-freshen your mind, body and soul.
Because of the presence of the Portuguese colonials, the Goan scene is a healthy mix of both Indian and Portuguese cultures. The Portuguese influence is especially visible in the architectural landscape of Goa.
Being a coastal region, seafood constitutes a major part of the Goan cuisine. Here you will find so many different varieties of fish curries and its derivatives.
For the nature lovers, there is the renowned Salim Ali bird sanctuary to visit.
Known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’, Shimla was earlier part of the Nepali kingdom. It was only when the British discovered it and made it their summer capital that Shimla began to gain popularity as a tourist spot.
Located at an average height of around 2000 metres, Shimla experiences pleasant summers and cold, white winters. The capital of Himachal Pradesh-Shimla is best to visit between the months of October-November and March-May.
Shimla is famous for its Victorian Gothic architecture and Tudor revival architecture dating back to the colonial era. Places such as the Viceregel Lodge, Auckland House, Gorton Castle are reminders of the British rule.
The city is named after Shyamala-an avatar of the Goddess Kali.
The Botanical Gardens and the Scandal Point are two must-visit places in Shimla.
Cradled in the midst of forests, Kodaikkanal-in the Palari Hills in Tamil Nadu-fills you with an intoxicating atmosphere and offers you a breathtaking scenery. Being in Kodaikkanal gives one the impression of stepping back into the colonial times. Founded by American missionaries in 1845, the relics and artifacts used by the people who used to populate this place can now be found in the Shenbaganur Museum.
Being at a higher elevation, Kodaikkanal offers much cooler temperatures throughout the year than the other cities of Tamil Nadu.
‘Kodaikkanal’, when literally translated would mean “a place to see in the summer”. Other variations also mean “Gift of the Forest” and “Forest of the Summer”.
Places to see in Kodaikkanal are The Kodai Club, Coaker’s Walk-which offers a brilliant view of the hills and plains.
And it is not just the places and cultures that India is known for. She is also quite the shoppers’ paradise. Handcrafts, antiques, paintings, traditional garments and so forth are readily available throughout India. The bazaars of the country offer every individual some souvenir they can take home.
So if you want to go around and explore, if you want to shop till you drop or even if you just want to put your feet up and relax, India’s an ideal destination all year round.