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Top 10: Most popular travel destinations in India

Last updated on: December 21, 2012 17:24 IST

Top 10: Most popular travel destinations in India

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According to the latest Hotel Price Index report by Hotels.com, Indian metros dominated the top 10 favourite Indian destinations list amongst international travellers.

Hotels.com recently released their Hotel Price Index report that listed out destinations in India that were most popular with overseas travellers. Read on to find out if your city made it to the list! We start with number ten:

10. Kochi

The financial capital of God's own Country, Kochi's cosmopolitan culture has drawn people from across the country to make it their home.

As in most parts of India the tourist season in Kochi begins from August and extends all the way to February. It is also the time when the city celebrates numerous festivals, starting with Onam and ending with the famous Cochin Carnival and its Christmas celebrations.

The city's colonial past has left an indelible mark on Kochi's architecture and culture even as it blends in almost seamlessly with its native Indian roots.

Santacruz Basilica, St. Francis Church, VOC Gate, Dutch Palace, as well as Jew Street and Paradesi Synagogue stand alongside numerous temples including the only one in India devoted to the Hindu deity Vamana.


Image: The Chinese fishing nets of Kochi
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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One of the largest cities of India, Kolkata is what many would describe as an 'in your face' city that can shock an unsuspecting visitor.

Known for the longest time to be the cultural capital of the country and the centre of the Bengal Renaissance, Kolkata has for the longest time been the primary commercial hub of eastern India as well as a gateway to the often neglected North East.

Today, it is evolving into an infotech city with a number of private sector companies setting up their offices in the city. Kolkata is also the only city in India that continues to operate tram services, an experience otherwise alien largely to the rest of the country.

But perhaps the best description about the bustling city and its people comes from author and journalist Tahir Shah: "Calcutta's the only city I know where you are actively encouraged to stop strangers at random for a quick chat."


Image: The Vidyasagar Setu over the River Hooghly, Kolkata
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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8. Hyderabad

In the '90s, the city of Hyderabad blazed its way into international limelight thanks to its then chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and his efforts to make it the IT capital of India.

Since the famed visits of Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, the capital of Andhra Pradesh has transformed itself from being an ancient city to a city of the future with practically every major IT company setting up base there.

It is thus easy to miss the old four centuries old city behind the glittering metropolis with its shopping malls and office buildings with glass facades. So do make an effort and visit the part of the city that exudes history -- from the famed Charminar and Mecca Masjid to the Falaknuma Palace Golconda Fort and the Qutb Shahi Tombs.


Image: The Charminar, Hyderbad
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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7. Agra

About 200 km from the country's capital, the city of Agra has a number of buildings and tombs that hark back to the glory days of the Mughal era.

There is however very little to see or do in Agra besides the almost mandatory visit to the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort and the 16th century city of Fatehpur Sikri that stands nearby. Visit Agra for no trip to India can ever be complete without visiting the Taj Mahal.


Image: The Taj Mahal, Agra
Photographs: Ankit Mehra/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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6. Jaipur

What do you say about the charming pink city of Jaipur? For one, it isn't pink, well not technically; if you really must argue it is the colour of sandstone.

The largest city in Rajasthan and India's first planned city, Jaipur is part of the tourist Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and has several attractions including the City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Birla Temple among others. On its outskirts stands the majestic Amber Fort that offers panoramic views of the city of Jaipur.

Each year, the city hosts the famous Jaipur Literature Festival that is attended by some of the best names in the publishing business.

Visit Jaipur, if only to experience warm Indian hospitality and the lip smacking Rajasthani cuisine.


Image: The Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
Photographs: Kuwar/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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5. Goa

We can tell you that Goa is a charming little state on India's west coast or that it was a former Portuguese colony or even that it attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year of which about 400,000 are foreign tourists. But there is really nothing that can really describe this lovely piece of paradise on earth.

Even as Goa retains its Hindu culture and cuisines, the beach state was perhaps one of the first to see western influences thanks to the hippies who started visiting it since the 1960s.

In many ways, Goa gives travellers the kind of freedom that no other state in the country can. Hire a bike or a car and experience the colonial charm of Old Goa or laze around its many beaches or ambling rivers or simply go temple-hopping. The Goa experience is perhaps the most unique one India has to offer.


Image: Sunset along the banks of Chapora river, Goa
Photographs: Dominik Hundhammer/Wikimedia Creative Commons
Tags: India

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4. Chennai

One of the four original metropolises of independent India, Chennai (or Madras) was for the longest time the gateway to the south of India. In many ways, the city has managed to hold on to its traditional roots even as it embraces the future.

Besides boasting of a host of beautifully carved temples as well as the world's second longest beach in a municipality (Marina Beach), Chennai is best visited between November and February.


Image: A young visitor at Marina Beach, Chennai
Photographs: Babu Babu/Reuters

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3. Bengaluru

Once known as the 'Garden City of India' and a Pensioners' Paradise, Bengaluru is somewhat sadly neither any more. As the city embraces its new role as India's IT capital, green spaces are diminishing and more and more young people are making it their home.

Even so, the city of Bengaluru has much to offer to the young and restless -- from cycling and running clubs to pubs and eateries as well as go-karting arenas and Ultimate Frisbee games held almost every other day.

The newly-opened metro has been a matter of pride for locals even as only a part of it is complete.

There are of course the regular touristy things that Bengaluru has to offer too including numerous temples and churches and palaces including one that belonged to the famed ruler Tipu Sultan.


Image: Vidhan Soudha, Bengaluru
Photographs: Mellisa Anthony Jones/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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2. Mumbai

The city that is always on its feet and always on the move, Mumbai is a city that cannot be visited but rather be experienced.

Sure, you have the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Gateway of India and one of the few national parks in India that lie within city limits but the spirit of Mumbai truly lives in its local trains, BEST buses and auto rickshaws in which most Mumbaikars seem to spend their lives.

The British actor Julian Sands sums it up quite nicely when he says, "The thing about Mumbai is you go five yards and all of human existence is revealed. It's an incredible cavalcade of life."

Visit the city of Mumbai not as a tourist but as a traveller and you'll see why we love it so very much.


Image: A panaromic view of south Mumbai
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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1. New Delhi

The capital of India may not be the safest city in the country; it does however boast of what is arguably the best transportation in the form of Delhi Metro.

Visit the Red Fort, India Gate and take a walk down Rajpath that leads to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India. It is hard not to be impressed by and be proud of the regal and imposing buildings that have borne witness to the struggle and the birth of a nation.


Image: India Gate, New Delhi
Photographs: Akif.25/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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