10 Best Backpacking Trips In India
India has some of the most exciting places for backpacking trips for both locals as well as international tourists. Of course, while ‘travelling around the world’ may feature in everyone’s bucket list, the backpacking mode of travel is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea ! While on a backpacking trip, one needs to be able to rough it out a bit, be a little spontaneous and daring, live off limited items and clothing and adapt themselves to the culture, cuisine and sensibility of the place, in order to thoroughly enjoy the destination and hospitality of the locals. This is definitely not luxurious travel, but is sure a fun and exciting way to explore places.
These are some great places for a backpacking trip in India.
Goa, is perhaps, one of the most sought out places for backpacking trips in this country. With a multitude of beaches along its 130 km coastline, interesting historical monuments and buildings, beautiful churches and temples, spice plantations, wildlife sanctuaries, the famous and magnificent Dudhsagar Falls and several other attractions, Goa has lots to offer. Also famous for its adventure and beach sports, one can enjoy parasailing, Jet-skiing, banana boat rides, water-scooter rides and plenty more on the beaches. Goa also has a very active and happening night-life, ideal for backpackers who have no other responsibilities and can indulge in some merriment. The availability of shacks on most of the beaches, very reasonable hostels or guesthouses and umpteen choices of sumptuous food and ‘value for money’ restaurants makes it easy for backpackers to enjoy their time here.
This beautiful city tucked away in the foothills of the Himalayas, is another fun destination to explore and enjoy for a backpacker. Well known as the gateway to the Garhwal region and the Himalayas, this destination is more famous as the pilgrimage town where one would find plenty of Hindu saints and sages, in search of higher knowledge and spirituality. Thus it is regarded as one of the holiest places for Hindus. With its beautiful mountainous landscape and rivers flowing through, this location is an ideal place for meditation and thus one will find numerous yoga centres across this city. It is also titled the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. Rishikesh is also famous for its various water sport activities, especially white water rafting.
At one time, India’s richest city, Hampi is a place seeped in history, replete with beautiful architecture and a lot of mystery. A great city to explore and enjoy sight-seeing, this city of ruins, near the banks of the Tungabhadra river, is famous for it’s several beautiful temples, shrines, forts, pillared halls, mandaps, sacred complexes and more. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located on very uneven and hilly terrain which is formed mostly by granite boulders. Backpackers who are looking for a relaxed and less hectic pace of activity find this location ideal. Hampi is also one of the cities where the Hot Air Balloon Festival is held towards the end of December. Though there may not be many hostels suited to backpackers in this city, one could still find many reasonable and budget-friendly guesthouses.
Jaipur, also known as the ‘Pink City’ is a very popular tourist destination and regarded as a gateway to other interesting and popular cities like Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalamer, Mount Abu etc in the state of Rajasthan. Jaipur is also a part of the famous Golden Triangle, most often sought out by tourists in the west, along with Delhi and Agra. This predominantly pink-coloured city has so much of history which is evident and represented by remains of the various forts, palaces and temples. The famous World Heritage Sites of Jantar Mantar and Amer Fort are in Jaipur. It is also a major centre for arts and crafts and the markets are a riot of colour and beautiful items. Jaipur also has several hostel and guesthouse options for backpackers, making it very convenient and reasonable.
This tiny little beach town is located in Karnataka. It’s beautiful beaches and serene waters provide an idyllic set up for backpackers who can lead a hippie lifestyle and soak themselves in the tranquility of the laid back town. The little flea markets at sunset only add to the fun. Also famous as one of the seven Hindu pilgrimage centres, this town is full of temples, the most popular being the temple of Lord Shiva, also known as Mahabaleshwara. With just two main streets and brick houses, backpackers can just wander around and enjoy a relaxed life, far from the hustle and bustle of cities.
Another lazy little beach town in Kerala, the Varkala beach is situated just 50 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The black sand along this beach is its unique feature and one can enjoy beautiful views of the sunrise and sunset along this coastline along with swimming and sunbathing. Bordered with cliffs, coconut palms and beach shacks, backpackers enjoy this cozy and secluded setting. One can also enjoy some paragliding along this beachfront, owing to the cliffs adjacent to the beach. Home to the famous 2000 year old Janaradana Swami Temple, one can visit a couple of other famous shrines here and the Kaduvayil Juma Masjid. Of course, one should not forget to enjoy an Ayurvedic Massage/ treatment while here, as that is what Kerala is most famous for.
Zanskar Valley, Jammu And Kashmir
Though intimidating, this spectacular landscape of the Zanskar Valley is well worth the tough road travel from Kargil located in the eastern half of Jammu and Kashmir, the Zanskar Range with an average height of about 19,700 ft, is a mountain range that separates Zanskar from Ladakh. This high altitude, semi-desert region, located in the northern part of the Great Himalayan Range is home to beautiful Buddhist monasteries and small villages, which are a picture of tranquility and spirituality. In recent times, tourists have taken to river rafting and trekking activities in this region.
This scenic hill station in Kerala, which is a part of the western ghats mountain range, has a spellbinding landscape of hills, rivers, sprawling tea and coffee estates, spice plantations and plenty of flora and fauna. So spectacular is its scenic beauty, that Munnar is also known as the ‘Kashmir of South India’. The rejuvenating and pleasant climate here, makes it a year-round destination where people can enjoy scenic treks, spectacular waterfalls, various sanctuaries which protect several species that are threatened and that are native to the destination like the Eravikulam National Park, the Kurunjimala Sanctuary, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary etc. amongst others, the scenic Anamudi Peak and the Mattupetty Dam. One can also have fun with adventure sports like paragliding, mountain biking, boating etc.
Dharamsala is another famous destination for backpackers. Situated in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh, amidst the Dhauladhar Mountain Range, one can find a large population of Tibetan refugees here, along with the most revered and renowned Dalai Lama. The people of this town are very simple and humble and add to the charm and serenity of the place. Dharamsala is not just a destination of visual delight and beautiful landscape but also a very famous place of worship and pilgrimage. The various sacred monasteries are a huge draw for the faithful, apart from hordes of tourists. Other attractions which can be explored by a backpacker are the Kangra Fort and Museum, the rock-cut temples of Masrur and an enjoyable boat ride on the Dal Lake.
An all-time favourite tourist destination, Darjeeling is a city in West Bengal and located in the Lesser Himalayas. Famed for its wondrous natural beauty, this place abounds in beautiful flora. Abundant with evergreen forests of sal and oak, backpackers will also see several rare species of orchids in these forests. Fauna includes small mammals like mongoose, badger etc along with various species of duck, teals, plovers and gulls. Owing to its wonderful temperate climate, Darjeeling was developed as a hill station for the British, during their reign and subsequently tea plantations were also established in the region. Today Darjeeling Tea is renowned worldwide. Another interesting and enjoyable feature is the quaint Toy Train that is still operated in the hills of Darjeeling and is most popular amongst tourists.
Picture Credits : Goa – Backpack And Travel – WordPress.com, Rishikesh – Tripadvisor, Hampi – Third Eye Explorers, Jaipur – India Tour Car Driver, Gokarna – Alienadv, Varkala – Budget Wayfarers, Zanskar Valley – Jestpic.com, Munnar – Blogadda, Dharamsala – Rookie Travel Diaries – WordPress.com, Darjeeling – darjeelingonline.in