It’s always interesting to find out which attractions, sights and experiences are drawing the most foreign travelers to a destination. But it’s even more interesting to discover the places locals are visiting most frequently in their country. The word on the streets is India is enjoying a boom in home-grown heritage tourism. So where are Indian people heading for on their holidays? Here is a handful of destinations that are currently at the top of the list for Indian staycations. Thanks to India Today for the insight.
Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya at Nalanda, in Bihar
UNESCO declared this beautiful place a World Heritage site in 2016, and no wonder. This is the magical site of a huge Buddhist monastery dating back to the 7th century BC. It was once home to ten thousand or more monks, who studied there having come from far and wide: China, Korea, Tibet and Central Asia as well as within India itself. The legendary monastery library was pulled down by invaders from Turkey in the year 1193, but the site is still stuffed with wonderful ruins and also offers an excellent museum of archaeology with its fabulous collection of elaborate Pala and Mauryan statuary.
Neermahal at Melaghar, inTripura
In 1949, Tripura became part of the Republic of India. Before that, it was an independent princely state. The palace of the old kingdom of Tripura was built by King Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarman in 1938. You’ll find it set like a jewel in the centre of Rudrasagar lake in Melaghar.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see the astonishingly lovely Lake Palace of Udaipur, it’s similar to that, with its beautiful, mellow red and white colour scheme, a relatively small and neat 24 room summer palace rich in both Hindu and Muslim architecture. One of its biggest attractions is that it is falling apart right now, having been neglected for many years. As a result, it is packed with authentic charm. There are plans for an extensive renovation, so experience it in its original state while you can.
Kamakura Temple at Guwahati, in Assam
The Taj Mahal is awe inspiring. The Golden Temple is extraordinary. The Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati is stunning, dedicated to the Hindu deity of the same name, but it’s much less well known outside India. It’s not only one of the oldest Shakti Pithas-shrines in the country, dating back to the 700s or earlier. It’s alive and kicking. It still attracts many thousands of worshippers during the yearly four-day Ambubachi Mela, and even more during the annual Durga Puja, an event celebrating the goddess Durga. Devotees still visit each morning to sacrifice goats and the place also attracts thousands of tantra worshippers. The temple has been renovated time after time during the 1000 years it has been in existence. The result is a charming and fascinating hybrid of architectural styles.
Takht Shri Harminder Sahib Ji at Patna, in Bihar
A ‘gurdwara’ is a place where Sikhs come together to worship The Takht Shri Harminder Sahib Ji Gurdwara in Patna is the place where Guru Gobind Singh, the religion’s 10th guru, was born, a masterpiece of pure white, gloriously complex and dramatic Sikh architecture built by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 1700s. Like many of the nation’s most beautiful attractions, this one has recently been renovated back to its former glory in response to India’s tourism boom. Now it is encrusted with gold and precious gems as part of an incredibly costly re-fit to honour the 350th anniversary of the guru’s birth.
Kohima, in Nagaland
Nagaland is a mountainous state in northeastern India, bordered by Myanmar. And it’s one of the nation’s most remarkable destinations. It offers the hottest chilli in the world, an attraction in itself, but it’s the Hornbill Festival that’s the biggest draw for Indian tourists, a winter event running for an entire week where the many local tribes, all different, showcase their unique handicrafts, music, dance and food. You can even take a guided trek through the beautiful Dzukuo Valley, renowned for its natural beauty, breathtaking displays of wild flowers and utterly spectacular views.
Safety precautions to take when visiting India
There is always a hint of adventure in avoiding the usual tourist attractions in India and exploring deeper to find hidden gems that most western tourists never see. But there are a few sensible travel safety precautions to take. It makes sense to ask your hotel to book you a cab to bus and rail stations, particularly important at night. Make sure your hotel room or apartment room has a good lock on the inside. Don’t carry valuables around with you. And stay off the streets after dark.
There are some special tips for women travelers in India. There have been some rapes and attacks on Western women, it’s common for Indian women to be sexually harassed, and so-called ‘Eve teasing’ is regarded as a growing problem in some regions. Don’t wear revealing clothes like strappy tops and things you can see through. Even shorts and cut-off trousers are best avoided. The ideal clothing? A long tunic over loose trousers, very much like Indian women wear and widely, cheaply available once you’re in India.
It’s wise not to be too friendly with local men since it’s unusual for Indian women to talk to strange men unless they’re accompanied by their husband. If Indian men stare at you, don’t meet their eye. It will be seen a provocative. Look down and away to show them you’re not interested. Don’t accept alcohol from strangers, and don’t explore the countryside on your own. Remember to carry your phone with you and pre-programme in a speed dial number to use if you need help.
You will need an array of travel vaccinations for India, so make sure you leave enough time to have them all since some require two or more visits. Contact us to book your appointment.