Mark Twain once famously said that, “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” How’s that for a travel recommendation?
India is indeed one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world to visit and a top travel destination, but it’s also a land that inspires spiritual awakenings and enlightenment. Ready to plan a trip? Here are a few destinations to keep in mind when creating your itinerary:
Often referred to as the City of Temples, Varanasi is considered the spiritual capital of India. It’s also ripe with history, as its settlement dates all the way back to the 11th century B.C. Interestingly, many people of the Hindu faith believe that if you happen to die in Varanasi, you can escape the cycle of reincarnation and achieve nirvana.
At first glance, the Golden Temple (formally known as Sri Harmandir Sahib) looks like a royal palace, but its roots are far more humble. The temple is the most sacred shrine to those who practice Sikhism and welcomes steady numbers of Sikh pilgrims each year.
When you hear the word Darjeeling, you likely first think of tea… and you’re not off base! Darjeeling is home to sprawling tea plantations on its lush green slopes. This area is also well known as a prime spot to take in a majestic sunrise (with a cup of hot tea, of course).
Take a step back in time by entering the weathered ruins of Hampi. Here, you’ll find the remnants of ancient Dravidian temples that once belonged to the Kingdom of Vijayanagar, which was demolished by pillagers in 1565.
Calling all you nature lovers. If the idea of strolling through scenic meadows blooming with wildflowers sounds like your idea of heaven, then India’s Valley of Flowers National Park is a must-see travel destination. In fact, its breathtaking views have drawn visitors since ancient times.
Another spiritually rich locale, Haridwar is considered one of the seven holiest places on Earth to the Hindus, and it’s a site of constant pilgrimages for those who wish to bathe in the flowing holy waters of the Ganges River. This water has even been called “the water of immortality.”
It makes sense that Bodh Gaya is a sacred site for Buddhists considering that this is the exact location in which Gautama Buddha is said to have gained Enlightenment beneath a Bodhi tree. The city is also home to the picturesque Mahabodhi Temple.
Kerala is perhaps best known for its serene streams of backwaters, floating houseboats and tropical terrain. This gorgeous locale is home to robust tea and spice production, as well.
Welcome to the “Yoga Capital of the World.” Rishikesh is certainly a major hub of yoga and meditation, but it’s also commonly referred to as the Gateway to the Himalayas. Its Lakshman Jhula suspension bridge (pictured here) is reason enough for a visit if you’re not exactly yoga inclined.
The town of Cherrapunji may be known as one of the wettest places on earth, but don’t let that dissuade you from visiting its lush terrain. While its flowing waterfalls are a sight to behold, its living root bridges are the main draw.
Which of these locales have you personally traveled to, and which are on your list of places to see? Share your favorite Indian destinations with us in the comments section below!
Happy (and enlightening) travels!
The Chan Luu Team
Images courtesy of Pinterest.