Traveling in India offers a unique opportunity to understand intimately a country with ancient traditions and a rich culture.
Brimming with a little more than a billion people, traveling the country grants us the fortuity of witnessing the beautiful cities that are still unblemished in their beauty.
Here’s a ride through India’s ten most beautiful but lesser known cities.
1. Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Photo by Dhrubazaanphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0
One of the least populous city in the country, Tawang is a stunning sight. Situated at an elevation of about 2700 meters, it was here in the Tawang Monastery in 1959 that Dalai Lama took shelter after escaping the Chinese army in Tibet. This monastery was founded in the 17th century and is the second largest monastery in Asia. The city is filled with breathtaking sites like the Sela Pass, which is the most visited place in the state, Taktsang Gompa, which offers an unbelievable view, Gorichen Peak, which is a joy for the trekkers, Shonga-the Lake and spectacular waterfalls like Nuranang and Bap Teng Kang. Tawang, on the whole, is an unrivaled beauty.
2. Chikkamagalur, Karnataka
Photo by Sherwin1995, CC BY-SA 3.0
Filled with coffee estates throughout, Chikkamagalur is a “Town of the Younger Daughter”. It offers a pleasant climate and is located in the foothills of the highest peak of Karnataka, Mullayanagiri, the place puts a person at ease. Situated at an altitude of 1090 meters above the sea level, some of the main attractions are the Kudremukh National Park, Baba Budan Giri mountain range, Mullayangiri mountain range, Kalhatti falls, Hebbe falls, Kadambi Falls, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Kudremukh Trekking, and Chikmagalur Golf Club.
3. Leh, Jammu & Kashmir
Photo by Silver Blue, CC-BY 2.0
Easily one of the most breathtaking cities in India, Leh in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, rests at an elevation of 3524 meters above the sea level. This capital city of Ladakh draws tourists from all over the world. From wonderful monasteries in Shey, Lamayuru, Alchi, Thikse and Hemis to lovely lakes of Pangong, Tsomoriri, in Leh, nature reveals its glory to you. Also providing a great number of adventure activities like trekking, rafting, and mountaineering, a trip to this heavenly city will be a fulfilling one.
4. Kumarakom, Kerala
Photo by Sulfis, CC BY-SA 3.0
A small paradise in one of the greenest states in the country, Kumarakom in Kerala is an unparalleled beauty. Located in the enchanting backwaters of Kerala, Kumarakom is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Vembanad Lake here is the largest freshwater lake in India. Famous for the houseboats, the place is more than pleasing to the eyes when these boats dazzle with lights at night.
5. Havelock Island, Andaman And Nicobar Islands
Photo by Sankara Subramanian, CC-BY 2.0
Turquoise blue waters, white sandy shores, deep green forests, rich and rare coral reefs make Havelock a delight for tourists. It is rather well known for its dazzling beaches like Radhanagar, Vijaynagar, Elephant, Kalapathar. Water sports are a plenty here like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and underwater sea walking.
6. Cherrapunji, Meghalaya
Photo by Ashwin Kumar, CC BY-SA 2.0
World’s wettest place is located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. It is a land of valleys, cloud and rain set at an elevation of 1484 meters. No matter when you go, Cherrapunji always welcomes you with the monsoon. The dense vegetation provides a soothing and a remarkable sight to the eyes. It is situated close to Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya and was historically known as Sohra or the “Land of Oranges”. It receives an astounding 120000 mm of rainfall every year. The serene sight of the city will undoubtedly make your day.
7. Yercaud, Tamil Nadu
Photo by Mandayamr, public domain
1500 meters above the sea level, Yercaud is a hidden gem of south India. Located in the Shevaroys hill range, the peaks here will mesmerize you. Surrounding you from all sides, this is a land of seven forests where a few popular places to visit are the Yercaud Lake, Silk Farm, Pagoda Point, Killiyur Falls, Bear’s cave, the coffee estates and Karadiyur Viewpoint. A truly captivating place.
8. Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
Photo by Jpatokal at wts wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 4.0
Located in Kangra Valley, Dharamsala is an ideal place for sightseeing. It has temples, monasteries, museums and lakes and is most famous for the residence of Dalai Lama at McLeodGanj, located 1800 meters above the sea level. The popular attractions include Kunal Pathri (rock temple), Dal Lake, St. John’s Church, War Memorial, Kangra Art Museum, Kotwali Bazaar, Chinmaya Tapovan (ashram complex) and Bhagsunath (temple). Dharamsala is also noted for the adventure activities it provides like trekking and rock climbing. The city still preserves the aura of the colonial era.
9. Kalimpong, West Bengal
Photo by Anuj Kumar Pradhan, CC BY-SA 2.0
Lying at an elevation of 1247 meters, Kalimpong is a small but a lovely hill station. Bursting with flora and fauna, it’s for those who seek tranquility. Attractions here are the gracious peaks of Kanchenjunga, temples, monasteries and the ecological parks. Kalimpong is also credited for export of Orchids throughout the world.
10. Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh
Photo by John Hill, CC BY-SA 3.0
Locally known as the ‘Land of the Gods’, Himalayas display their splendor to this tiny place. It is located 150 km from Shimla, at an altitude of 2670 meters. Famous for temples, monasteries and wildlife sanctuaries like Rakchham-Chhitkul Sanctuary, Lipa-Asrang Sanctuary and Rupi-Bhaba Sanctuary. Owing to less popularity, the city is unscathed by troubles that come with tourism and hence is untarnished magnificence. The city is famous for its apple orchards, pine trees and the deodars, warranting a visit.
India is the land of fine hidden cities and towns and this list represents just a few of these jewels. There are several other cities in the country which are just as charming as the above ones like Almora (Uttarakhand), Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) and Nainital (Uttarakhand) to name a few.
Rohit Agarwal is an architect by profession. He likes to travel throughout the world and shares his experiences through his blog at Transindiatravels.com. His journeys enlighten different cultures he encounters along with great architecture, delightful cuisine and the most eccentric places on the planet.