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40 Best Places to Visit in India Before You Die

In this article, we shall discuss the 40 best places to visit in India before you die. To skip our detailed analysis of the tourism industry in India in 2024, go directly and see 10 Best Places to Visit in India Before You Die.

According to figures by the  World Travel & Tourism Council, India is currently the tenth largest country in the world in terms of the travel and tourism industry's total contribution to the country's GDP, which currently stands north of $191.3 billion as of 2023. Moreover, the country's tourism sector is a critical source of foreign exchange, with India offering more than 40 UNESCO world heritage sites, 10 bio-geographic zones, 105 national parks, and 560 wildlife sanctuaries, many of which rank amongst some of the best places to visit in India before you die. India's travel agency business is severely dominated by MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises), with more than 300,000 travel agent businesses facilitating seamless travel to some of the best places to visit in India, thereby representing the largest volumes of business in booking at about more than 52% of the travel market. These are heavily segmented across multiple diverse categories of service providers, like travel packages, cab, and bus booking companies. This segment is expected to reach more than $65 billion by 2027. The country's international tourist arrivals are expected to reach more than 30.5 million by 2028. These are increasingly optimistic figures, especially considering the fact that India was one of the hardest hit countries during the COVID-19 pandemic as virtually all public movement in the country was restricted.

Zooming In On India's Economic Boom

Our article on the 35 Most Visited Countries in the World in 2024 projects India to be one of the fastest growing tourist destinations for leisure-travel spending by 2026, causing stocks like Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), Airbnb Inc. (NASDAQ:ABNB), and MakeMyTrip Ltd. (NASDAQ:MMYT) to divert greater investments in India's bustling tourism market. According to a report by McKinsey, India's economic boom and staggering population growth lands it amongst an elite group of countries which are expected to deliver record international travel in the coming years, with the number of total trips skyrocketing from 13 million in 2022 to more than 80 million in 2040. This is supplemented by the fact that India is now the fifth largest economy in the world and its population, predominantly below the age of 25, has overtaken China to become the largest in the world with over 1.4 billion people.

Investing in the Indian Market Potential

Our article on the 10 Best India ETFs sheds light upon the optimism surrounding India's economic boom which peaked investor interest in many India-focused ETFs like iShares MSCI India Small-Cap ETF (BATS:SMIN), which tracks the investment results of the MSCI India Small Cap Index. The index comprises relatively small Indian companies in terms of market cap, thereby providing targeted access to the small cap segment of the Indian stock market. Over the past five years, the ETF is up 93.01% as of April 20.  Introduced on February 8 2012, iShares MSCI India Small-Cap ETF (BATS:SMIN) holds net assets worth more than $858 million and a price-to-earnings ratio of 28.2% as of April 20. Furthermore, as of April 20, it features a portfolio of 486 holdings with the most prominent ones being Voltas Ltd. (NSE:VOLTAS), Max Financial Services Ltd. (NSE:MSFL), and BSE Ltd. (NSE:BSE). Another ETF attracting positive investor interest is WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (NYSE:EPI), which aims to provide investors with exposure to the broad Indian all cap equity of profitable enterprises with a value centric approach. With an expense ratio of 0.85%, the ETF's total assets are valued at $2.91 million as of April 20. Over the past year, the ETF is up 36.9% as of April 20. Some of the most prominent components in the ETF are Reliance Industries Ltd. (NSE:RELIANCE), ICICI Bank Ltd. (

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NYSE:IBN), and Coal India Ltd. (NSE:COALINDIA). As a result of these economic tailwinds, prominent travel stocks like Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), Airbnb Inc. (NASDAQ:ABNB), and MakeMyTrip Ltd. (NASDAQ:MMYT) are hoping to capitalize on India's economic growth wave and its expanding middle class.

India's impressive economic gains have also resulted in infrastructural advancement, with enhanced air and road connectivity facilitating global demand for tourism to the best places to visit in India whilst driving sector-wide growth as well. For instance, one primary beneficiary of this advancement is the airline travel market in India, which was valued at $20 billion in 2020 and is projected to double in size by 2027 owing to advancements in airport infrastructure and increased access to passports. Massive demand for travel to the best places to visit in India before you die has led to major Indian airline carriers to place lucrative orders for more than 1100 jets and planes over the last couple of months. For instance, in June 2023, Indigo placed the largest commercial aircraft order in history for more than 500 Airbus A320 aircraft carriers which are to be delivered by 2030 to 2035. This development came in addition to Air India's massive deal to acquire more than 450 planes from Airbus and Boeing in the same month. According to Booking Holdings' (NASDAQ:BKNG) report 'How India Travels 2023', Indians are becoming increasingly inclined to shift away from conventional hotel settings to accommodations like apartments, villas, homestays, and other unique alternatives, leading to enormous upsides for companies like Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) and Airbnb Inc. (NASDAQ:ABNB).

Eco-tourism in India: An Overview

According to a report by KPMG, tailwinds from India's rampant tourism growth are expected to rub off on the country's growing services industry thereby facilitating long-term development. However, the report predicts that despite such an optimistic outlook, major companies operating within India's bustling tourism industry like Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), Airbnb Inc. (NASDAQ:ABNB), and MakeMyTrip Ltd. (NASDAQ:MMYT) are under increasing pressure to adopt more climate-friendly alternatives owing to mounting concerns about climate change and the overall need for India to disassociate its impressive economic surge from greenhouse gas emissions. This is owing to the fact that despite having a relatively low per capita consumption rate when compared to some of the larger economies in the G20, India is projected to have one of the largest carbon footprints in the world in the next decade.

With an increase in travel and tourism in the country to some of the best places to visit in India before you die, India's per capita emissions are on the rise. As per the KPMG report, the industry is well-positioned to to generate revenues upwards of $59 billion by 2028. Moreover, India's sustainable tourism market was valued at more than $26.01 million in 2023 and is expected to reach $151.9 million by 2032 at a staggering CAGR of 19.3%. This meteoric rise sheds light upon the increasing pressure on the country's tourism industry to adopt responsible climate practices, with hotels and resorts resorting to solar, wind and geothermal energy sources in a bid to contain their carbon footprint. Eco-tourism is a critical segment of the global tourism industry and is expected to amount to more than $4.55 billion by 2027. For the fiscal year 2025, the government decided to allocate more than $29.3 million to develop sustainable tourism infrastructure, and promote adventure and religious tourism to some of the best places to visit in India before you die. According to India's G20 Sherpa and former CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant:

"We add a huge [carbon] footprint as we travel. India will attract 40-45 million tourists in the coming years and we should focus on enhancing the value per tourist rather than [the raw numbers]. By doing this we will be able to attract more companies and greater investment from around the world."

Best Places to Visit in India Before You Die
Best Places to Visit in India Before You Die

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

Our Methodology

In order to determine the 40 best places to visit in India before you die, we decided to undertake a consensus-based approach using a diverse variety of credible sources, including but not limited to travel blogs, news reports, and Reddit threads (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). We then shortlisted more than 70 places which appeared most frequently during our research. Since determining the quality of a travel destination is an incredibly multifaceted and complex phenomenon, we established a three-pronged criteria based on some of the most oft-cited priorities for tourists when picking a travel destination; the criteria is premised on each place's cultural or historical significance (25 points), natural or architectural beauty (20 points), and popularity amongst tourists (15 points). We then proceeded to award each place a cumulative score according to the aforementioned criteria and selected 40 places which scored the highest points. Subsequently, we ranked each entry based on the total points scored, from lowest to highest. Where there was a tie, we broke it based on the cultural significance and natural or architectural beauty of the place.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or a professional looking for the best stocks to buy you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

You can read more on travel destinations in Asia in our article 20 Most Underrated Travel Destinations in Asia.

Best Places to Visit in India Before You Die

40. Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 21

The best time to visit Mathura is between November and March. Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi, Prem Mandir Vrindavan, and Government Museum are some of its most famous spots, making Mathura one of the best places to visit in India before you die. 

39. Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 22

Packed with rice fields and tall mountains, Ziro is one of the best places to visit in India. It is popular mainly for its festival, the Ziro festival.

38. Mahabalipuram

Insider Monkey's Score: 24

Mahabalipuram is home to various age-old temples and monuments including the Shore Temple and Alamparai Fort.

37. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 25

One of the most popular holiday destinations in India, Shimla is packed with beautiful pine forests and valleys. Kufri, Mall Road, Chadwick Falls, and Jakhu Temple are some of its most-visited spots.

36. Alleppey, Kerala

Insider Monkey's Score: 27

Known as the “Venice of the East”, Alleppey is the oldest planned city in Karnataka. It is famous primarily because of its beaches, lagoons, canals, and strong heritage.

35. Kolkata

Insider Monkey's Score: 27

Kolkata is most popularly known for its biggest festival, Durga Puja, which showcases the culture and traditions of Bengal, making it one of the best places to visit in India before you die.

34. Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 27

Jabalpur offers various natural wonders and historical heritage to its visitors. Its picturesque location makes it one of the must-visit destinations in India.

33. Prashar Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 28

One of the most popular trekking spots in Himachal Pradesh, Prashar Lake, is an extremely scenic lake in India. It is one of the best places to visit in India before you die. 

32. Mumbai 

Insider Monkey's Score: 29

Mumbai is one of the best places to visit in India, precisely because of its vibrant nightlife and energetic people. It is known as the city that never sleeps. When in Mumbai, you can check out some of the city's best eateries based on our article 10 Best Restaurants in Mumbai for Tourists.

31. Darjeeling, West Bengal

Insider Monkey's Score: 30

One of the most visited tourist destinations in India, Darjeeling is popularly known for its wide varieties of tea. The best time to visit Darjeeling is between September and December.

30. Orissa 

Insider Monkey's Score: 32

Orissa is home to various old Hindu temples and is a popular spot for religious travel. One of the most famous temples in the Konark Temple, which narrates the story of the origin of sexuality, and is one of the best places to visit in India before you die. 

29. New Delhi 

Insider Monkey's Score: 32

The capital of India, New Delhi, is a must-visit destination when visiting India. The city is filled with intricate medieval architecture and historical sites like the famous Qutub Minar and the Red Fort.

28. Lake Pichola, Udaipur

Insider Monkey's Score: 33

The oldest and one of the largest lakes in Udaipur, Lake Pichola is an extremely serene and beautiful lake. Many ghats, temples, and palaces surround the lake.

27. Wayanad, Kerala

Insider Monkey's Score: 34

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kuruva Island, and Edakkal caves are some of the most popular spots to visit in Wayanad. Known as the “Nature’s Abode”, Wayanad is one of the best places to visit in India before you die.

26. Coorg

Insider Monkey's Score: 36

One of the safest places to visit in India, Coorg is an extremely beautiful hill station. The best time to visit the destination is between October and May.

25. Auli, Uttarakhand

Insider Monkey's Score: 37

Home to mountains and dense forests, Auli is a must-visit destination in India. It also allows its visitors to engage in activities like skiing during winters.

24. Emerald Lake, Ooty

Insider Monkey's Score: 38

The best time to visit the Emerald Lake in Ooty is between October and May. The picturesque lake is located between the green hills.

23. Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

Insider Monkey's Score: 40

Elphinstone Point, Venna Lake, Pratapgad Fort, and Mapro Garden are some of the most-visited spots in Mahabaleshwar. It is mainly famous for its strawberries.

22. Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 42

Known as “Mini Switzerland”, Khajjiar is a hill station located in Himachal Pradesh. It is home to many lakes, forests, and snow-capped mountains.

21. Roopkund Lake

Insider Monkey's Score: 42

5,029 meters above sea level, the Roopkund Trek on the Himalayan ranges is one of the most adventurous activities India has to offer. During the trek, one can see many ranges, waterfalls, and glaciers.

20. Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Insider Monkey's Score: 43

Ajanta and Ellora Caves are a blend of Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu monuments. There are 29 Ajanta caves and 34 Ellora Caves.

19. Bir, Himachal Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 43

The paragliding capital of India, Bir, is one of the most popular tourist destinations. It consists of around 10 paragliding spots.

18. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Insider Monkey's Score: 43

Jaisalmer is home to many sand dunes. It offers various activities like dune bashing, camel safari, and desert camping to its visitors, and has lately emerged as a tourist favorite.

17. Dal Lake, Srinagar

Insider Monkey's Score: 45

Dal Lake in Srinagar is one of the most beautiful lakes in India. It is also known as the “Lake of Flowers'' or “Srinagar’s Jewel”.

16. Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunji

Insider Monkey's Score: 46

Located in Cherrapunji, Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest waterfall in India with a height of 340 meters. The destination receives rain almost throughout the year, and is one of the best places to visit in India before you die.

15. Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 48

One of the most popular holiday destinations in India, Manali is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The best time to visit Manali is between October to February owing to the cold climate.

14. Lakshadweep

Insider Monkey's Score: 48

Lakshadweep consists of approximately 36 islands, out of which only few are populated. The islands are home to pristine beaches and offer various water activities to its visitors, making it one of the best places to visit in India before you die. 

13. Mysore, Karnataka 

Insider Monkey's Score: 49

Known as the City of Palaces, Mysore is famous for its royal heritage and history. It is the third most populated city in the state of Karnataka.

12. Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Insider Monkey's Score: 51

Home to one of most beautiful architectural marvels in the world in the Taj Mahal, Agra is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Agra is a civilizational hub of India, and is home to a variety of intricate Mughal architecture.

11. Hampi, Karnataka 

Insider Monkey's Score: 52

A heritage site, Hampi  is known for its monastery and old architecture. Virupaksha Temple, Vijaya Vittala Temple, Matanga Hill, and Hazara Rama Temple are some of the most visited places in Hampi. Hampi is number 11 on our list of the 40 best places to visit in India before you die. 

 

Click here to continue reading and see 10 Best Places to Visit in India Before You Die

 

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Disclosure: None. 40 Best Places to Visit in India Before You Die is originally published on Insider Monkey.