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TOP 10: The best holiday destinations in India

July 09, 2013 09:17 IST

TOP 10: The best holiday destinations in India

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TripAdvisor users list out their most preferred holiday destinations in India.

The world's largest travel website, TripAdvisor, has announced its Travellers’ Choice Attractions awards that are based on the quality and quantity of traveller reviews of attractions, featured its site in various categories. Today, we bring you the top ten holiday destinations in India. We begin with:

10. Kochi (Cochin)

Look for spicy dishes flavoured with tamarind and coconut in Kochi, and don’t be surprised if your dinner is served up on a banana leaf. The region is a major banana-growing area, and traditional Kochi cuisine employs the fruit in many dishes, both sweet and savoury. Coconut water provides a refreshing and sweet contrast to the piquant food.


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

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9. Gurgaon

Located near the National Capital Region of Delhi, this upcoming district houses numerous multinational companies and as a result, has plenty of tourist-friendly malls, hotels and restaurants. The area's top attraction is the Sheetla Mata temple, a popular pilgrimage site named for the Indian goddess who could dispel small pox; a festival is held there in March and July. For a more rural setting, visit nearby Sohna, which is surrounded by ancient ruins and known for its hot springs. Don't also miss out on Kingdom of Dreams, India's first live entertainment, theatre and leisure destination.


Image: Kingdom of Dreams is Gurgaon's latest tourist destination.
Photographs: kingdomofdreams.in

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8. Udaipur

Udaipur, known as the Venice of the East, boasts several sparkling lakes against a backdrop of the Aravail hills. Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir, islands in Fateh Sagar Lake, are the site of Udaipur Solar Observatory and Nehru Garden. Famous palaces include the magical Lake Palace, now a luxurious five-star hotel, and the massive City Palace on Pichola’s east bank, featuring epic courtyards and stunning paintings.


Image: Udaipur City Palace
Photographs: Christopher Walker/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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7. Bengaluru

Known as both the "Garden City" and "The Silicon Valley of India," Bangalore (officially "Bengaluru") is a techie’s paradise, boasting the highest concentration of IT companies in the country. When you’re done geeking out, there are plenty of gardens, museums, natural features, palaces and temples to fill your dance card. Visit Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park and the Ulsoor Lake of Bangalore, well known for its beautiful locales and boating facilities. Bangalore is also a major centre of Indian classical music and dance, and of vivid, cutting-edge nightlife.


Image: Vidhan Soudha, Bengaluru's best-known landmark
Photographs: Mellisa Anthony Jones/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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6. Varanasi

The north Indian city of Varanasi, or Benares, is regarded as sacred by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Situated in the fertile Ganga valley and on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus, who come to bathe in the holy river. Known as the City of Temples and a beacon of culture, Varanasi has produced many renowned writers. It’s also a centre of silk weaving, so practise haggling at the chaotic bazaar for some beautiful souvenirs. Rickshaws are the best way to get about.


Image: Hindu devotee stands in the waters of river Ganges to offer prayers to Sun god at dawn in Varanasi.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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5. Agra

Where better to go for a romantic holiday than to the great testament of love, the Taj Mahal? Built by the grieving Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal’s unrivaled beauty explains why it’s regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world. A visit to India wouldn’t be complete without it. Other must-experience destinations in Agra are two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the sandstone Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.


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

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4. Mumbai

Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India, is famous for its chaotic streets. For bargains and people-watching, outdoor bazaars top the list of attractions. Popular waterfront destinations are Marine Drive, where visitors go to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea, and the carnival-like Juhu Beach. More sightseeing options are the Gandhi Museum, in the leader's former home, and the cave temples of Elephanta Island. For tranquillity, Mumbai has many religious sites, lakes and parks.


Image: Mumbai
Photographs: Aam422/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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3. Goa

East meets West in this sun-soaked state, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. To the north, the tourist-centric scene is prevalent, with an international flair that is now skewing more hip than hippie. Travel south for stretches of unspoiled sand and an escape from large resorts. Temples, mosques and wildlife sanctuaries provide diversions from the beach. 


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

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2. Jaipur

If you take one look at the glorious stucco buildings that line Jaipur's wide streets, you'll understand why this is nicknamed "The Pink City." Spend your days exploring City Palace, Hawa Mahal, and Amber and Jaigarh forts. And if you're looking for a unique souvenir, head to one of the bazaars, where you can pick up a pair of camel-leather slippers.


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

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1. New Delhi

Laid out by British architect Edwin Lutyens, the Indian capital is a striking modern metropolis. A gracious contrast to Old Delhi's winding streets, the grand avenues and stately buildings of New Delhi are rich with history and culture, from Gandhi's Delhi home (and the site of his assassination) to the tomb of Humayun, a complex of Mughal buildings reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. Chaotic traffic is best left to the locals. Negotiate a good price for taxis or travel on the new Delhi Metro.


Image: Vijay Chowk at Rajpath, New Delhi
Photographs: Kartikeya Kaul

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