9 Amazing animal experiences from around the world!

9 Amazing animal experiences from around the world!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. In this post I share some of the most memorable – and unusual – animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe. What has been your most exciting wildlife experience on your travels?

All the encounters in these posts were with wild animals, apart from the horses which were domesticated and well cared-for.

Indri in Madagascar

A trip to the island of Madagascar, lying off the coast of southeast Africa, can only mean one thing: lemurs. And the largest of these is the indri (see cover photo above).

Tree-dwelling primates, the indri live in large family groups in the treetops, jumping sideways from tree to tree on their hind legs. They are territorial, and one family will rule a specific area of the forest, where their haunting cries can be heard for miles around. A good tracker will know the local families and be able to help you find the nearest group, although it will still mean a scramble across the hillsides which is all part of the fun! Dense forest is prime indri habitat, and standing on the forest floor looking up at these creatures in the trees above you is an unforgettable experience.

Top tip: use your phone to record a short snatch of the indri’s cries. Play it back and hear them answer you!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Spinner dolphins in the Maldives

One of the highlights of cruising the Maldives is the sight of spinner dolphins, which launch themselves out of the water and pirouette gracefully before belly-flopping back in. Look out for them as you sail between islands, and then sit out on deck and admire their athleticism!

Top tip: Between bobbing boats and energetic dolphins, it’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of a spinner dolphin, so don’t try. You might manage a short video, but otherwise just sit back and enjoy the spectacle!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Monkeys in India

If you’re a fan of monkeys, you really can’t miss them in the subcontinent. Big or small, there is a huge mixture of monkey species in India, and they are everywhere. And sometimes that can present a challenge!

Indian monkeys seem to be divided into the cute and the not-so-cute. Encounter a monkey in the countryside, and chances are he will be swinging from the trees, curious of you but content to just show off for the camera. Encounter a monkey in the city, and you’d better not put that camera down anywhere or the monkey will walk off with it! But either way, their antics are incredibly photogenic.

Top tip: Don’t get too close. Once the monkey starts to feel threatened, teeth will be bared and claws will be out. A monkey scratch will land you at the nearest clinic for a rabies jab, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. But monkeys will normally leave you alone if you give them a bit of space. And don’t wave food around…

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Komodo dragons in Indonesia

Now, I’ll be honest: komodo dragons aren’t the most dynamic of creatures. At least, not unless they are attacking, which is not a situation you want to find yourself in (and yes, the komodo dragon diet has been known to include humans). But their sheer size, toxicity and ferocity make them fascinating to see.

A trip to Komodo Island or its neighbour, Rinca, gives you the opportunity to view these creatures up close. A variety of trails of various lengths give you the chance to see them in their natural habitat, however many factors such as the time of day or year can make them hard to spot. But one place they can always be relied on to visit is the ranger station, where the wild komodos wait around for scraps of food. It may not be the wild sighting you were hoping for, but you are unlikely to leave without seeing them!

Top tip: Take a camera with a long lens. You can’t approach the komodos too closely: it’s incredibly dangerous, and your ranger guide won’t allow it anyway. To get a decent shot you will need to zoom!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Wild asses in Gujarat, India

The western Indian state of Gujarat is renowned for its wildlife, which includes the rare Asiatic lion. But one of its most striking inhabitants is much more peace-loving: the wild ass.

Living on the arid Little Rann of Kutch in the centre of the state, the asses – which look somewhere between a horse and a donkey – are under threat due to illegal salt-panning in this desert region. Protected by the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary (which is not just the largest wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, but the whole of India), the asses live in herds on the plains, and make a striking silhouette against the blue desert sky.

Top tip: To visit the wild asses, you will need to take a jeep safari into the sanctuary. Crossing the plains by open-top vehicle is part of the fun! You won’t be able to get too close to the animals, so this is another one where a zoom lens is an advantage.

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Coatí at Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

A trip to Iguazu Falls, on the Brazil/Argentina border, summons up visions of thundering waterfalls and mists rising into the sub-tropical air. But the flora and fauna are also lush and mysterious here. Butterflies are everywhere, and toucans can be spotted in the trees; guinea pigs are also a common sighting. But you can’t miss the coatís.

The coati (or coatimundi) is a type of raccoon, and these cute creatures have overtaken the area around the falls, foraging through rubbish bins for food. Always check before you throw your trash in the can – there might be a sleeping coatí inside!

Top tip: Don’t feed them. Just don’t. And watch your bag, especially if there is food inside. But they are still incredibly cute!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Icelandic horses in Iceland

Iceland is not particularly known for its animals, but its horses are special. Squatter and sturdier than their southern counterparts, there are two unique Icelandic horse gaits which experienced riders will enjoy trying out!

Horses can be found all over the island, and Icelandic horse treks are a popular activity for visitors. But you don’t have to be a rider to get up close; if you are lucky enough to see a horse close to the road, stop and feed it grass from the palm of your hand. Or better still, book a horse ride to explore this beautiful country the way it has been travelled for centuries.

Top tip: Keep foreign germs away from Icelandic horses. The breed is hardy, but the horses have had very little exposure to disease; as a result, it is not possible to import any other breed of horse into Iceland, and nor is it permitted to bring an Icelandic horse back once it has left the country.

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Proboscis monkeys in Borneo

OK, so I’ve already mentioned monkeys, but the proboscis monkeys of Borneo are something special. Found nowhere else but on this vast island, the proboscis monkeys tend to get overshadowed by their more famous cousin, the orangutan, but they shouldn’t be missed if you are visiting the area.

Proboscis monkeys are comical-looking creatures. The name comes from their abnormally large nose, which makes them look slightly like old men as they lounge about, whiling away the hours until it’s time to eat again. Red-faced and curious, one of the best places to see them is at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary near Sandakan in the far north of the island. The monkeys are subject to the same threats from deforestation as the orangutans, and the sanctuary helps support the local primate community by providing food, although the monkeys live wild. They are incredible sociable and will come to with a few feet of visitors – don’t touch them though!

Top tip: Combine a visit to the Labuk Bay sanctuary with your trip to see the orangutans at Sepilok Nature Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Another great place to see proboscis monkeys is Bandar Seri Bagawan in tiny Brunei, where you can take a morning or afternoon boat trip to check out the local population.

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Tree climbing lions in Kenya

Have you ever seen a lion up a tree? Unless you’ve been to specific areas around the Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania borders, chances are you haven’t. But in this part of Africa, lions have adapted to climbing trees – and seem remarkably comfortable.

If you are in Kenya, head to Lake Nakuru National Park, which is the only park in the country where these lions can be found. But keep your fingers crossed: actually seeing the lions in a tree is still a relatively rare event. I got incredibly lucky when I visited, and sat for a good half-hour watching a lion climb a tree and settle down amongst its branches for a snooze. It was one of the most special wildlife experiences I have ever had.

Top tip: If a lion is spotted, chances are yours won’t be the only vehicle to make a beeline for it. If you can, try to hang around until after most of the vehicles have left. The lions will feel much less threatened, and much more inclined to pose for the cameras. And you will get better shots as well as a magical experience!

Have you had amazing wildlife experiences on your travels? Let me know in the comments!


Enjoyed reading about these amazing animal experiences? Pin this post for later!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!

Gandhi’s home state: The 12 top Gujarat highlights

Gandhi’s home state: The 12 top Gujarat highlights

Not many visitors make it to Gujarat, the most westerly state of India, perched on the western point of the diamond that roughly represents the shape of the country. A “dry” state (alcohol is banned, although foreigners can buy it for consumption behind closed doors if they first obtain a permit), Gujarat is low on foreign faces but loaded with history and culture.

The state has a language all its own – Gujarati – and is an intoxicating mixture of buzzing cities, quiet villages and some of the best wildlife in the country. If you’ve never considered it as a destination, then this post is for you – check out these Gujarat highlights and start planning your own visit to this fascinating part of India!

There are a huge number of places to see in Gujarat, and these are just the highlights. To get the best out of the state, the ideal Gujarat itinerary would take you in a large loop – allow a minimum of 2 weeks.

Ahmedabad
Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram
Vadodara and Champaner-Pavagadh
Rani Ki Vav stepwell and Sun Temple, Patna
Little Rann of Kutch
Great Rann of Kutch
Bhuj
Tribal villages of Kutch
Jamnagar Marine Park
Dwarka
Gir National Park
Shatrunjaya


The busy streets of Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad

Any Gujarat tour itinerary would be incomplete without a visit to it’s biggest city, Ahmedabad. This bustling metropolis, some eight hours north of Mumbai by train (or 1 hour by air) is pure India, and deserves at least a day to explore.

The historic old town is a maze of alleyways, where communities have traditionally lived in craftsmen’s guilds in enclosed courtyards. Spectacular temples abound; check out the Hindu Swaminarayan temple and Jain Ashtapa Derasan temple, and don’t forget the Friday Mosque (Jami Masjid) where the Muslim faithful come to pray.

The Calico Museum of Textiles is highly regarded – advance booking is necessary. The Ahmedabad region also has a number of spectacular stepwells to visit.

Gandhi’s home at the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad

Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Gujarati boy, born in the western city of Porbandar. But it is in Ahmedabad that one of the more visible legacies of his incredible life can be found in the form of the Mahatma Gandhi ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati River. Still a working place of religious study to this day, the ashram is a peaceful, sandy oasis in the heart of the bustling city. As a day visitor, discover Gandhi’s own house including one of his famous spinning wheels where local women can teach you to spin cotton. Learn more about his life, and about the work of the ashram, in the displays in his house and the nearby visitors’ centre.

Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara

Vadodara and Champaner-Pavagadh

A couple of hours south of Ahmedabad lies the city of Vadodara, formerly known as Baroda. Home to the Gaekwad dynasty until 1949, the family seat of the Laxmi Vilas Palace is a fascinating place to visit and discover the way of life of the maharajahs. Just north of the city lies the historic site of Champaner-Pavagadh, where a fabulous complex of mosques and mausoleums is overlooked by the Pavagadh Fort high on a hilltop above. It is possible to visit the fort, however the vehicles providing the shuttle service are in poor condition and this is not recommended.

Rani Ki Vav stepwell, Patan

Rani Ki Vav stepwell and Sun Temple, Patan

Gujarat has a number of spectacular stepwells, and none so famous as the Rani Ki Vav well at Patan in the northeast of the state. Constructed in the 11th century but buried under mud and silt for many centuries, it is incredibly well preserved, and it is possible for visitors to descend to the very bottom of the well to explore the extravagant architecture. The stepwell is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also in the Patan area is the Surya Mandir at Modhera, a spectacular Sun Temple together with an elaborate stepped temple tank. Formed of sandstone with intricate carvings, the temple is one of the best examples of Sun Temples in India and is well worth a visit.

Sun Temple, Modhera

Little Rann of Kutch

In the heart of Gujarat lies the Little Rann of Kutch. This barren desert landscape comes to life during the rainy season, but spends much of the year as a sandy wasteland. The wild asses of the Little Rann of Kutch are rare and endangered; take a jeep safari to see them in their natural habitat. This area is also home to salt farms, mainly on a cottage scale, unlike those further north which are doing considerable damage to the local ecology. Nonetheless, visiting a farm is an impressive experience, and a good form of income for local people.

Wild asses in the Little Rann of Kutch

Great Rann of Kutch

If the Little Rann of Kutch is barren desert, the Great Rann of Kutch takes it to another level. Extending many kilmetres to the Pakistan border, the Great Rann is a vast salt pan stretch far away to the horizon. During the wet season the area floods, depositing the salt of which it is formed and transforming the area into a vast ocean of water as far as the eye can see. The Great Rann is home to the Rann Utsav festival which is held every year during the wet season and can last up to 3 months. During the dry season, however, the salt desert is an impressive and peaceful place to visit.

True desert. The Great Rann of Kutch

Bhuj

The city of Bhuj, in the heart of Kutch, came to the world’s attention in 2001 as the epicentre of a huge earthquake which shattered the region – figuratively and literally. Bhuj today is a bustling and vibrant city, but the scars still remain. Visit the Prag Mahal, a beautiful palace building where earthquake damage can still be clearly seen. The Aina Mahal next door holds a small museum packed full of artefacts from Bhuj’s time under the maharajahs.

The city of Bhuj makes a great jumping-off point to explore the many tribal villages of Kutch.

Aina Mahal, Bhuj. Check out the earthquake damage to the right of the picture

Tribal villages of Kutch

The Kutch area of Gujarat is home to more than salt pans and cities. Dotted across the region, tribal villages maintain strong links with the past. Handicrafts are manufactured here, especially textiles and a variety of weaving, block printing and embroidery; communities also maintain their decoratively-painted houses and colourful tribal costumes which are part of everyday life, not a tourist attraction. Visit these villages at your peril; the people are skilled craftsmen, incredibly friendly and you are sure to depart with your pockets a little lighter – but knowing that you are helping to sustain a vibrant piece of Gujarat’s heritage.

The beautifully-decorated village homes of Kutch

Jamnagar Marine Park

Heading south and west of Kutch will bring you to the city of Jamnagar, where the local markets and Lakhota Lake and Palace are worth a stop in themselves. But the real draw in this area is the Jamnagar Marine Park. A huge mangrove forest gives way to coral reef extending far out into the Arabian Sea. At low tide, head out across the reef (which admittedly hasn’t been in the best condition for many years) to discover the marine life including starfish, crabs and octopus which call these waters home.

Jamnagar Marine Park

Dwarka

The city of Dwarka is located about as far west in India as it’s possible to go. The Shree Dwarkadish Temple, therefore, is one of the holiest in India, part of a quartet of sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites at the four extremities of this huge country.

Walk through the bustling streets, which seem to have changed little over the centuries, to the historic temple where you can join the crowds as the temple flag is lowered and raised five times a day. There has been a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna on this site for over 2000 years, and a visit can be overwhelming for the senses. Explore the many shrines dotted around the complex, and soak up the atmosphere; far from a sobering place of silent prayer, the Hindu temple experience can be chaotic, noisy and joyous. Just relax and soak it all in.

The back streets of Dwarka

Gir National Park

Gir National Park, some 7 hours’ drive west of Ahmedabad and a few hours from Dwarka, is home to arguably Gujarat’s greatest highlight: the Asiatic Lion. Once found over a vast area from Syria in the west to Bihar in the east, the Asiatic Lion is now only found in Gir National Park, where there are currently around 650 animals and rising.

Take a safari through the park to see not only the lions, but also sambar and spotted deer, monkeys, eagles, owls and, if you are really lucky, honey badgers and leopards.

On the edge of Gir National Park is an unusual village, populated entirely by people of African descent. Descended from Africans who came to Gujarat centuries ago, the inhabitants of the village are Indian nationals and Gujarati speakers, but maintain their African physical characteristics. The village is most definitely not a tourist attraction, but some safari routes do pass through as you explore Gir National Park.

Asiatic lion, Gir National Park

Shatrunjaya

One of the holiest sites in the Jain religion, the temple complex at Shatrunjaya has to be seen to be believed. But seeing it is not without effort; built on a hilltop which can only be reached by climbing 3300 steps, it is a true pilgrimage for Jains and non-Jains alike. Porter carry the less able in modern-day palanquins, but most walk, including a number of white-clad monks and nuns who scamper up and down the hillside up to 7 times a day (the number of times you should climb if you really take the pilgrimage seriously!).

At the top, you are more than rewarded with a spectacular temple complex of almost 900 individual temples, all intricately carved, at which the Jain faithful pray. Discreetly watching their worship is a fascinating insight into the Jain religion. If you are planning to make the climb, especially in the summer months, make sure you start early; the climb alone takes up to 2 hours, and can become particularly challenging as the temperature rises; there is very little shade on the path.

For more details on visiting Shatrunjaya, check out my post Shatrunjaya: Exploring the Jain pilgrimage site of Palitana, Gujarat.

Some of the 3300 steps to the Jain temples at Shatrunjaya



If you, like me, are an India fan, check out the following guides to almost every state in the country. I guarantee there is inspiration awaiting!

North and East India: What to see and do in (almost) every state!
Central and Southern India: What to see and do in (almost) every state!

Check out my other posts on India here.


Enjoyed discovering these Gujarat highlights? Pin this post for later!

The Indian state of Gujarat is little-visited but full of gems to discover. Check out these Gujarat highlights and plan your own itinerary! | Gujarat itinerary | Gujarat highlights | Gujarat tour itinerary | Ahmedabad Gujarat | Gandhi ashram Ahmedabad | Bhuj | Great Rann of Kutch | Little Rann of Kutch | Kachchh | Gir National Park Gujarat | Dwarka | Shree Dwarkadish Temple | Shatrunjay Palitana | Jamnagar Marine Park | Rani Ki Vav Patna | #visitgujarat #gujaratindia #incredibleindia The Indian state of Gujarat is little-visited but full of gems to discover. Check out these Gujarat highlights and plan your own itinerary! | Gujarat itinerary | Gujarat highlights | Gujarat tour itinerary | Ahmedabad Gujarat | Gandhi ashram Ahmedabad | Bhuj | Great Rann of Kutch | Little Rann of Kutch | Kachchh | Gir National Park Gujarat | Dwarka | Shree Dwarkadish Temple | Shatrunjay Palitana | Jamnagar Marine Park | Rani Ki Vav Patna | #visitgujarat #gujaratindia #incredibleindiaThe Indian state of Gujarat is little-visited but full of gems to discover. Check out these Gujarat highlights and plan your own itinerary! | Gujarat itinerary | Gujarat highlights | Gujarat tour itinerary | Ahmedabad Gujarat | Gandhi ashram Ahmedabad | Bhuj | Great Rann of Kutch | Little Rann of Kutch | Kachchh | Gir National Park Gujarat | Dwarka | Shree Dwarkadish Temple | Shatrunjay Palitana | Jamnagar Marine Park | Rani Ki Vav Patna | #visitgujarat #gujaratindia #incredibleindia

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!

Central and Southern India: What to do in almost every state

Central and Southern India: What to do in almost every state

India. It’s my favourite destination by far – for the colour, the heat, the swirling crowds and the incredible culture.

But what destination in India should you pick for your own visit? Well, I asked the experts to weigh in with their own suggestions! A mixture of local Indian bloggers and regular visitors to the subcontinent, find out their favourite Indian states – and why you absolutely should visit them for yourself…

This post covers the states of Central and Southern India. For North and East India, check out my other post!

Click to jump straight to your favourite!

Andaman & Nicobar Islands Goa – Gujarat KarnatakaKerala – Madhya Pradesh – MaharashtraOdisha – Tamil Nadu


Madhya Pradesh

Mariellen Ward – Breathedreamgo

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Madhya Pradesh is known as the heart of India, partly because of the warmth of the people and the antiquity of the traditions, and partly because it’s in the centre, the heart, of the country. In spite of its central location, however, it is considered a remote region, and doesn’t attract as many tourists as other parts of India. This is perhaps a blessing in disguise as one of the reasons I love Madhya Pradesh is because it is so green and unspoilt.

Unlike many other states in India, Madhya Pradesh still has about 44 per cent forest cover. After a healthy monsoon, it’s a very green state, with lush jungles and forests carpeting vast regions. These tracts of green are home to some of India’s largest and most abundant national parks and India’s national animal: the tiger. Madhya Pradesh is known as tiger country because tiger reserves like Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park are two of the best places in the country to see wild tigers!

Culture and spirituality are also very well represented in Madhya Pradesh. The state plays host to one of the largest spiritual gatherings on earth, the Kumbh Mela, at Ujjain every 12 years. The temples of Madhya Pradesh are world-renowned, and there are three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the state, though one of them greatly overshadows the other two. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in the northern part of the state is a cluster of magnificent, thousand-year-old temples. They are architecturally stunning and covered with sublimely beautiful carvings that evoke every aspect of human life including the erotic.

One final observation. I have spent about two months in Madhya Pradesh, in total, and have driven from one end of the state to the other about two or three times. Never have I seen so many neat, clean, and tidy villages. They are charming, filled with bright white-and-blue painted houses and friendly people who are quick to wave and smile.

For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

On safari in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh


Gujarat

Jill Bowdery – Reading the Book Travel

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The state of Gujarat, on India’s west coast, might just be the undiscovered jewel of the country. With very few visitors compared to many other states, Gujarat has a rich cultural and geographical diversity.

Check out the bustling cities of Gujarat, like Ahmedabad with its historic city centre and Gandhi’s ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati River. Or explore the cities of Bhuj, Jamnagar and Dwarka, each with something quite different to offer, be it historical, cultural or spiritual.

Go in search of Gujarat’s wildlife: the state is home to Gir National Park, with the world’s only surviving population of wild Asiatic lions, as well as a wealth of other animal and bird life. Visit the wild asses of the Little Rann of Kutch, or check out Jamnagar Marine Park, where you can wander miles upon miles of offshore reef to examine the sea life that makes its home close to the mangroves of the shoreline.

Gujarat is a desert state, home to the Great Rann of Kutch with its salt pans which spread out to the far distant horizon. Salt is a cash crop in these parts, harvested in many locations around the Gulf of Kutch. But it is also home to an incredibly rich human diversity, with the many different tribes of the Kutch region continuing a proud heritage which includes their own distinct ways of dressing, as well as handicrafts which have been passed down the generations.

Gujarat is home to two of the holiest sites in India, the Dwarkadish Temple which is one of the four principal temples of Hinduism, and Shatrunjaya and its Jain hilltop temples to which pilgrims toil under the hot sun. And check out some of India’s most amazing heritage sites, including the incredible Rani Ki Vav stepwell near the city of Patan. All this, in a state with delicious food and friendly people. There are so many places to visit in Gujarat – so if it isn’t on your India itinerary, you don’t know what you’re missing.

For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

One of the many tribal villages of the Kutch region of Gujarat


Maharashtra

Mitali Deshmukh – Mitali’s Travel Diary

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Maharashtra is a state located on the western coast of India, and is the second most populous and third largest by area in the country.

The state is divided into 36 districts, and each district has something unique to offer to a tourist historically, geographically and culturally. Multiple modes of transportation are available to travel from city to city in the state, and you can choose anything from bus, train, flight or a private car. Mumbai is the capital city of Maharashtra and known as the financial capital of India and the city of dreamers, whereas Pune is known as the cultural capital and is also famous as the “Oxford of The East” for its numerous well-known universities. Nagpur is also an important city, hosting the State Legislature Winter Session.

The state of Maharashtra is the home to one of the biggest film industries in the world – Bollywood. It is the highest producer of the king of fruits in India, the mango.

The primary language of the state is Marathi, but Hindi and English is widely spoken and understood by locals. Many festivals are celebrated on a large scale in Maharashtra, the biggest one being the Ganesha Festival. This is the time when you get to see idols of Lord Ganesha being worshipped from small houses to huge open grounds.

One of the greatest kings from History Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj hails from Maharashtra, and the forts built by him in various districts are a huge attraction to locals and tourists especially during monsoon. The history of Maharashtra would be incomplete without Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The state is equipped with multiple airports, the busiest being Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, which was awarded the title of Best Airport in India and Asia at Skytrax 2016 World Airport Awards.

For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, one of India’s greatest warriors, hailed from Maharashtra.


Odisha

Shivani Sharma – The Wandering Core

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Odisha is a state incredibly underrated in Indian tourism. The coastal state of Odisha is rich in culture, pilgrimage and wildlife.

Jagannath Temple in Puri attracts millions of tourists from India. The annual Rath Yatra in Puri is an amazing cultural event to attend when in India. Puri is not only a religious destination, but is also home to a marvellous coastline. The sunrise at the Puri’s Golden Beach must not be missed when in Puri. Thus said the seafood in the region is unmatched.

The state is rich in history, and the Sun Temple in Konark is a terrific example of this. Konark is also another coastal city with deep historical ties in its Sun Temple and Chandrabhaga beach. A UNESCO world heritage site, not a usual temple, no shoes need to be removed outside, and no idols to worship. The architecture of the temple is phenomenal and is a paradise for architecture lovers.

Another highlight from Odisha is Chilika Lake, which is Asia’s largest brackish water lake merging with the Bay of Bengal. The lake also attracts migratory birds in the winter season and the lake is also home to Irrawaddy Dolphins. The Shanti Stupa and over 700 temples of Bhubaneswar are something unique to this state. To experience an unexplored state, visit Odisha when planning a trip to India.

For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

The sparkling waters of Chilika Lake, Odisha


Goa

Rhiannon Thatcher – Wales to Wherever

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Although Goa is typically known as somewhat of a “hippie paradise”, with famous night-long full moon parties and beaches that could rival the Caribbean, that’s not what attracted me to the state in the first place. Having spent 3 months in Kerala, I went to Goa in an attempt to get some rest and relaxation away from the crazy hustle and bustle of everyday India. It’s a lot more chilled out in Goa than the rest of India – so much so that, at times, you could easily forget where you are.

Ruled by Portugal until as recent as 1987, when it was handed over to India, there is still a lot of Portuguese influence throughout the state, from the food to the language (Português de Goa is a specific dialect that’s still spoken by some in the state) to the architecture and the relaxed way of life.

The North Goa beaches are definitely the most frequented by Western and national tourists – Baga, Calangute and Panaji are all extremely popular places to stay, with miles and miles of beachfront restaurants to enjoy unique Goan cuisine (popular dishes include pork vindaloo, chicken xacuti and, of course, Goan fish curry) in the sun.

As great as North Goa is (especially if you want to party!), South Goa is definitely my favourite part of the state! The South Goa beaches such as Agonda, Canacona and Palolem are absolutely stunning, and a lot less crowded than their Northern brothers and sisters. South Goa is also home to Cabo de Rama Fort, an old ruined fortress which gives some of the most dramatic and beautiful views of the Goan coastline.

All in all, Goa is definitely referred to as the sunshine state of India for good reason! With its picture-perfect beaches, historic buildings and ruins, and undeniably beautiful nature, Goa really does have something for everyone.

For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

Baga Beach, Goa


Karnataka

Ellis Veen – Backpack Adventures

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Karnataka had never been on my radar. Even though I had travelled to India before, I was unaware of this large state in the South of India until I applied for my research internship in Bangalore, its capital. Little did I know that there are so many places to visit in Karnataka and that its beauty equals that of the more popular states of Rajasthan and Kerala. I left surprised that Karnataka is not getting the attention it deserves and that few tourists even know about it.

I spent almost 4 months in Karnataka and luckily got some time to travel around as well. It quickly became my favourite state in India for several reasons. First of all, I love wildlife and nature. Karnataka is home to several wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Both Nagarhole and Bandipur National Park are some of the best places to see tigers, elephants and other animals in India.

Second, I love mountains and hiking. Karnataka has some of the most beautiful hill stations in southern India, with exciting trekking opportunities. The green rolling hills of Madikeri and Chikmagalur are full with organic coffee plantations and cosy homestays. Then there is the adventurous Kudremukh trek to Karnataka’s third highest peak and the Tadiandamol trek in Coorg, also called the Scotland of India.

Third, Karnataka is rich in culture and history. The old temples in Hampi, Belur and Halebid are some of the best I have seen in the country. The intricately detailed carvings tell hundreds of stories of an intriguing past of war, love and gods. Add the great food, friendly people, a wonderful coastline with palm-fringed beaches and the pleasant cities of Bangalore and Mysore full of parks and gardens and it is difficult not to fall in love with Karnataka.

For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

Maharajah’s Palace, Mysore, Karnataka


Kerala

Sinjana Ghosh – Backpack & Explore

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A small coastal state that has everything a traveller seeks – hill stations, beaches, forests, history and culture. With such incredible beauty, no wonder it is widely recognized as “God’s own country”! Here are the top things to do in Kerala:

  • Explore the monsoon Ghats – hike to the Chembra peak of Wayanad, or drive along the winding roads of Munnar during rains, or take a bumpy ride to the world’s highest tea estate at Kolukkumalai for the tea and the view.
  • Take a safari and see some exotic animals in their natural habitat – apart from wild elephants, deer and tiger, you can see some endangered species like the Nilgiri Tahr at the mystical Eravikulam National Park and the great grizzle squirrel at Chinnar Sanctuary.
  • Romance in the backwaters – take a boat ride in the serene backwaters flowing through coconut groves, on your way to some distant island followed by a candle-light dinner in one of the cosy Kerala houseboats while relishing on authentic local cuisine. Alleppey, Poovar and Kumarakom are some of the best places for this experience.
  • Taste the Indian Ocean in one of the numerous beaches of Kerala – travel along the coastline from Kovalam in the south to Bekal in the north and see how the sea changes in colour and mood.
  • Gaze in awe at the historic monuments – the man-made wonders are often ignored over the natural beauty of Kerala in travelogues. Apart from temples and medieval forts, Kerala is home to the prehistoric Edakkal Caves, reminiscent of the Stone Age!
  • Immerse yourself in the rich culture – Kerala is home to over 50 forms of dance and music, most famous being the dramatic dance form Kathakali.
For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

Kerala – God’s Own Country!


Tamil Nadu

Laia Moret – Dream Travel Girl

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Tamil Nadu was the first place I visited in India, and it is still one of my favourite states.

How come I went to Tamil Nadu first, if it’s not one of the most famous regions? The answer is simple: I was invited to a wedding there. But, of course, I took the opportunity to go around.

My best memory of Tamil Nadu is the people. I found people to be genuinely friendly and helpful. Compared to the more touristy states, as Kerala, I’d say that Tamilians don’t speak English as much but they tried to help much more.

I remember the day we were looking for a bus station. A woman stopped a tuk-tuk driver, asked him to take us there, and we were charged a normal price, no scams. When I was travelling alone, a group of women started talking to me and asked to have a photo together. They made me feel like a star!

I also enjoyed the historic and cultural sites. Tamil Nadu (and its neighbour Karnataka) has some of the most amazing temples I’ve seen.

For example, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) is a coastal city with ancient temples and rock carvings. The Mahabalipuram shore temple is world-famous. Tiruvannamalai has one of the biggest temples in India, peaceful and colourful. Kanchipuram also has an interesting temple, though the city is famous for silk sarees. And Kanyakumari is the southernmost point of India and so the sun rises and sets over the sea.

For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

Tamil Nadu – Mamallapuram temple images


Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Sonal Kwatra Paladini – Drifter Planet

Thousands of kilometres away from the mainland, India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands are perhaps the most remote spots on the planet. Out of the 600ish islands in the group of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, only 9 are open for international travellers after they obtain a permit. Out of those nine, Havelock and Neil are the most visited ones.

I have visited many islands but nothing compares to the beauty of Andaman’s snow-white sand beaches, clear blue water and colourful marine life. Needless to say, these islands are very popular amongst scuba divers. The best time to visit the Andaman Island group is from November to March.

ian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar” width=”960″ height=”720″ /> The stunning beaches of Havelock Island, Andaman & Nicobar

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For a different Indian experience, why not check out Central and Southern India? Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | Visit Central India | Visit South India | Visit Southern India | Visit Madhya Pradesh | Visit Gujarat | Visit Goa | Visit Odisha | Visit Maharashtra | Visit Goa | Visit Karnataka | Visit Tamil Nadu | Visit Kerala | Visit Andaman and Nicobar | #centralindia #southindia #southernindia #madhyapradesh #gujarat #goa #odisha #maharashtra #goa #karnataka #tamilnadu #andamanislands #andamanandnicobar

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!

North and East India: What to do in almost every state

North and East India: What to do in almost every state

India. It’s my favourite destination by far – for the colour, the heat, the swirling crowds and the incredible culture.

But what destination in India should you pick for your own visit? Well, I asked the experts to weigh in with their own suggestions! A mixture of local Indian bloggers and regular visitors to the subcontinent, find out their favourite Indian states – and why you absolutely should visit them for yourself.

This post covers the states of North and East India. For Central and Southern India, check out my other post!

Click to jump straight to your favourite!

BiharJharkhandHimachal PradeshMeghalayaNational Capital Region (Delhi)PunjabRajasthanSikkimUttarakhandUttar PradeshWest Bengal (Kolkata)

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

The stunning views of Sangla, Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh

Shivani Sharma – The Wandering Core

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A mountainous state in the north of India, Himachal Pradesh is a tourists’ haven. Welcoming visitors from all over India, Himachal Pradesh is a captivating destination for families, solo travellers and couples alike.

The state is an oasis for pilgrimage destinations with valued temples of various Hindu Gods. Numerous avatars of Goddess Parvati in Naina Devi, Chintpurni, Jwala Ji or Chamunda Devi, these temples attracts millions of tourists every year.

The famous and extremely difficult trek of Maninesh (Lord Shiva) is not only on a beautiful steep mountain but it also holds incredible religious value. The state is incredibly safe for solo travellers, going trekking in Dharamshala, Kasol or Sangla valley.

Stunning Manali is routinely picked by couples as a honeymoon destination which is completely justified by its natural beauty, historical temples and higher altitude Rohtang Pass nearby. For serious travellers, upper Himachal is true heaven. Be it Sangla valley, the end of India at Chitkul village, Spiti for starry nights and rugged mountains, travellers are mesmerized once they visit these gorgeous places. The snowy mountains of Sangla, rugged terrain of Kaza and humble people all over the state will make the road trip worthwhile in this landscape.

The food of Himachal is as unique as the state itself. The distinguished marriage receptions and functions are a memorable experience. The food is served in batches. Guests sit down on the floor with a leaf plate in front and the kitchen team serving one dish at a time. A must-try experience in itself. When in India, don’t miss out a trip to Himachal Pradesh.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

The Viceregal Lodge, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh


Uttarkhand

Shweta Singhal – Zest in a Tote

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Mountains make for a great escape from the urban chaos that most of us live in. And Uttarakhand in northern India is our go-to place for short family getaways every year. The northern part of the state is covered by high Himalayan peaks and glaciers.

Some of the most well-known Indian hill stations are in Uttarakhand –  Mussoorie, Nainital, Dhanaulti, Lansdowne, Almora, Kausani, Bhimtal, and Ranikhet to name a few. Be it boutique resorts or lovely homestays – you will find something that appeals to you and makes you stop to soak in the cold, clean mountain air.

The major attractions in the state include 4 holy pilgrimage spots for Hindus – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri (the sources of the Ganges and Yamuna). For wildlife enthusiasts, there is Bengal Tiger and other animals to be spotted at the Jim Corbett National Park. Yoga enthusiasts usually head to Rishikesh.

Uttarakhand is home to rare species of plants and animals – many found in Valley of Flowers national park and Nanda Devi national park, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Besides the lovely views of the Himalayan range, what works for us living in the National Capital Region is the connectivity to Uttarakhand. Some people prefer to do a road trip. There is easy connectivity via air to Dehradun, the capital city. But we prefer taking the overnight train, reaching early to a lovely resort nestled in the hills or the jungle.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

The beautiful Sitla mountain range in Uttarakhand


Rajasthan

Sapna Kapoor – My Simple Sojourn

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It is difficult to choose one state of India as my favourite, because I am biased and love every state of my country. Still, Rajasthan has a special place in my heart because this is the first state where I travelled with my girlfriends on my own.

My first trip to Rajasthan was more than 20 years back, and it’s still fresh in my mind.

Apart from the emotional factor, I like Rajasthan for its rich cultural heritage. I am a history buff and love exploring monuments, forts, and palaces. There are so many forts and palaces in Rajasthan but each one is unique in its own way. You can’t compare Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur with Kumbhalgarh Fort or the Nahargarh Fort of Jaipur because they are so different.

Every city of Rajasthan is different. Jaipur is the Pink City with grand forts and palaces; Udaipur has a beautiful palace built at the shores of the lake & is also known as the city of lakes and is predominantly white; Jodhpur’s Fort or Cenotaphs complex of Jaswant Thada and its blue houses define it as the Blue City; and Jaisalmer’s fort is the world’s biggest living fort & it’s known as the Golden City.

There are beautiful havelis (mansions), some of them have colourful fresco paintings and others have intricate Jalii (mesh design) work in stone.

The Thar desert is one of the biggest clusters of sand dunes in this part of Asia and has a unique feel. A desert safari is a must experience here.

Other than the grand monuments of Rajasthan, the state also offers a rich cultural experience in terms of performing arts, handicrafts, textile, and food. The hospitality of Rajasthan’s people makes the experience unique.

I can simply say that if you have not visited Rajasthan then you are missing a big cultural experience in India.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

Spectacular Mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan


Punjab

Shivani Sharma – The Wandering Core

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Punjab is one of the famous states of India, mainly because of the presence of the Golden Temple and because of its food. Every city in Punjab is unique in itself, bringing business to locals in a different manner. Amritsar is the centre of attraction of the tourism industry. But there are a number of other places to see in Punjab signifying the state’s history.

Sikhism originated in Punjab and spread throughout the world, thus Harmandir Sahib is a major attraction from the state. Amritsar is close to Pakistan, and hence another must-see place in Punjab is the Wagah Border and the beating retreat ceremony.  Patiala is an underdog in Punjab, with various palaces, Gurudwaras and temples to see. Don’t miss out the picturesque Qila Mubarak and Sheesh Mahal when exploring the town.

Chandigarh is a unique city in India which is a capital of two different states – Punjab and Haryana. Chandigarh is an amazing place where most of the places to see are man-made. A perfect example of sustainable living in Rock Garden, the man-made Sukhna Lake feeding waters from the Himalayas.

The Bhangra is a folk dance from Punjab which is a delight to watch. The food from Punjab is absolute delicious – the aloo kulcha, the choley bathure, kulcha and much more. Spend a few days in Punjab to learn about the culture of this beautiful state.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

The Open Hand monument in Chandigarh, capital of Punjab


National Capital Region (Delhi)

Ellie Cleary – Soul Travel

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Still almost universally known as “Delhi” – without the New (or the Old), the National Capital Region is the entry and exit point for many travellers to India – and deserves far more time than the usual 1 or 2 days many travellers plan for it.

Delhi has suffered from something of a bad reputation over recent years – from concerns about air quality to female safety to scamsters hungry for a foreign dollar (or two). But to skip Delhi for these reasons would be to miss out on some of India’s most incredible architecture, buzzing bazaars, and much more. As a city of more than 20 million people, there are multiple sides to Delhi – and we even managed to find tranquillity, greenery and luxury in Delhi’s southern enclaves.

The NCR (National Capital Region) extends to Gurgaon (the modern and unremarkable business district in the south), Noida, and Ghaziabad in the east. Most of the action, though is in the city of Delhi itself.

Old Delhi is best for its stunning Friday Mosque – an identical twin of the one in Lahore, Pakistan – its fragrant spice market, sprawling bazaars and crumbing havelis. For the best view, climb up hidden stairwells to one of the rooftops that overlook Old Delhi. Nearby Chandni Chowk is home to some of Old Delhi’s most famed street food (go easy here if you’ve just arrived in India as the hygiene is not necessarily the best), and New Delhi Railway station is an experience of its own.

Further south in the city, Humayan’s Tomb is unmissable as an example of Persian architecture. The wide avenues of the city give way to parks dotted with monuments and crumbling tombs, such as the Lodi Gardens. Hauz Khas is home to the city’s chicest eateries and some of the city’s best (and safest) spots to stay.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

Old Delhi


Uttar Pradesh

Andra Padureanu – Our World to Wander

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If you tell most people the name of the Indian state Uttar Pradesh, they will most likely shrug. But if you say the magic words Taj Mahal they will instantly know what you are talking about. And yes, Uttar Pradesh is the proud Indian state which is home to the most famous Indian attraction, the Taj Mahal. However, that is not the only place that is worth visiting in Uttar Pradesh. And you should take in consideration other attractions as well.

Indeed, you should start with Agra, where you will not only find the Taj Mahal, as well as the Agra Fort, an exquisite example of Mughal architecture, and Fatehpur Sikri, a must-see if you are in Agra. But also include Itmad-Ud-Daula, or better known as Baby Taj, given its resemblance with the Taj Mahal but its much smaller size.

If you want to follow Buddha’s footsteps then definitely head to Sarnath, the place where the Buddha held its first sermon. It’s a place where you will find a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. And since we are referring to religion, your next stop should be Varanasi, a place infused with Hinduism and spirituality. In Varanasi, you can walk along the ghats which are spread along the holiest river in India, the Ganges, and make sure not to miss the fire ceremony which is held each evening.

Other places which shouldn’t be missed in Uttar Pradesh include Lucknow, the state’s capital city, a places known for its rich cuisine, as well as Allahabad, a city at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, known for its Kumbh festival, which is the largest human gathering on the planet.

So start packing and planning, and head to India’s Uttar Pradesh.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

The breathtaking Taj Mahal, the jewel of Uttar Pradesh


Bihar

Jill Bowdery – Reading the Book Travel

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The state of Bihar in India’s northeast has the third largest population of any state in the country. Formerly renowned as a seat of learning in ancient times, over the years it has unfortunately become one of the poorest states in India, with more than 88% of the Bihar population living in rural areas.

A visit to Bihar state, then, is to experience India without the tourist luxuries and infrastructure of its more popular regions. Instead, Bihar offers a more authentic look at Indian life – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some spectacular places to visit!

Because of its former glory as a centre of culture, Bihar is littered with cultural monuments that can be visited today, and is a centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Jains alike. Temples, caves and forts abound; but the crowning glory of them all is the magnificent site of Bodhgaya, close to the city of Gaya in the heart of the state. Bodhgaya is one of the four holiest sites in Buddhism, for it is here that Buddha sat beneath a Bodhi tree and gained the enlightenment that inspired a new religion which is followed by billions today.

The focus of worship in Bodhgaya is the Mahabodhi temple, which rings out with the chanting of the faithful. The Bodhi tree still stands, now a descendant of the original, and Buddhists from all over the world make pilgrimages here to pray and make offerings. Watch the worship, most of which takes place outdoors, receive a blessing from a Buddhist monk, or simply watch the local people as they string flowers to make garlands to be offered in worship. The local area is also home to a number of other temples, including a spectacular Thai temple. Truly, Bihar state is a jewel not to be missed.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

The holy Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar


Jharkhand

Seemah Gurnani – PandaReviewz

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Jharkhand is located in the Eastern side of the country, and was born out of the southern part of Bihar. Jharkhand is an important state to India because of its rich treasury of minerals – it holds 40% of the resources of the country. Ranchi is the capital of the state.

The people of Jharkhand are very colourful and culturally rich. A huge part of it falls in the Chotanagpur plateau which gives it a rich diversity, and several rivers flow through it: the Sone, Subarnarekha, and Damodar are the most prominent among them. Jharkhand food is an amazing part of the state; it is filled with spices which make it delicious.

Places to visit in Jharkhand:

There are several unique places to visit in Jharkhand:

  • Ranchi: The capital city of the state is well known for its waterfalls. Dassam is the most notable among them. But others include the Hundru, the Jonha and the Panch Gagh Falls.
  • Deoghar: This is another notable place because of its temples. You can visit the Baba Baidyanath Temple, Trikuta Hills etc.
  • Palamu: An ecological retreat and a nice place for history enthusiasts. Notable places to visit are the Palamu Wildlife Sanctuary and the Betla National park along with the Palamu Fort.
  • Hazaribagh: If you want to spend your time amidst nature then this place is perfect. The lake, Canary Hills, and the Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary are frequently visited spot.

Jharkhand is a remarkable state filled with forests, culture, and people. All Indians should visit this state to have a look at its beauty and the reserves. People from the nearby states of Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal love to visit them as weekend trips. It is quite an underrated state but the place is getting the love that it should have a long time ago.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

Spectacular Jonha Falls, Jharkhand


Sikkim

Aditi Carapurcar – Goan Girl Zindagi

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Located in the northeastern part of India is Sikkim, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Surrounded by mist-shrouded mountains, this small picturesque state is blessed with the most spectacular views including Mount Kanchendzonga (the 3rd highest mountain in the world), Mount Makalu, Mount Pandim, Mount Sinoulchu and served as the entry point for Tibet and China during the historic period. Sandwiched between the kingdoms of Nepal in the west and Bhutan in the east, Sikkim is blessed with spectacular natural beauty and vibrant culture. My favourite memories from Sikkim are the alpine landscapes, subtropical forests, peaceful lakes, Buddhist monasteries and the welcoming locals (they are really kind and helpful). The best season to visit will vary depending on which part you would be travelling to.
 
The first time I travelled to this mystical wonderland was back in 2017. I was backpacking with a friend I met on a trek and it was the first time we had couchsurfed. We were exploring Aritar, a beautiful hill station located on the Silk Route in Sikkim, set amidst sweeping hills of paddy fields and placid lakes. We had the most amazing host who had arranged local sight-seeing for a couple of days. For a unique experience try the local cuisine and interact with the locals. This part of the country is largely unexploited, and the entire time I was there I was surrounded by snow capped mountains. My second visit to Sikkim was this year when I did the Goechela trek and travelled solo for a week in Pelling, Gangtok, Lachung and Yumthang Valley. The landscape is lined with rhododendrons and mountains that seem to touch the heavens.
North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

The gorgeous snow-capped peaks of Sikkim


Meghalaya

Neha Sharma – Nomadic Dreamz

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Meghalaya is one of the seven states that form the northeastern region of India. It is not yet as well known to tourists as some of the more popular Indian states like Kerala or Rajasthan, but those who visit once tend to fall in love with the destination. Meghalaya is a small hilly region known for its natural beauty in the form of scenic waterfalls, rolling green hills and emerald lakes. When you realise that the world’s wettest places (Cherrapunji and Mawsynram) are located in this state, you will understand how aptly named it is. Meghalaya is Sanskrit for “Abode of the Clouds”!

The capital, Shillong, is the largest town and the most convenient place to base yourself for visits around the area. Within Shillong, there are quite a few places worth visiting, such as the Umiam lake, the Don Bosco Museum, Elephant Falls etc. If you have sufficient time you could also go for a stroll around Ward’s Lake. The true beauty of Meghalaya lies outside its main towns though, so get a cab and take day-trips to Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong and Dawki from Shillong.

Cherrapunji, or Sohra as it is also known locally, has some really gorgeous waterfalls, such as the Dainthlen Falls, the Nohkalikai Falls (the tallest waterfall in India) and the Seven Sisters Falls. Cherrapunji is also a caver’s delight, with a number of limestone and sandstone caves that can be visited and explored.

Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in Asia, is quaint, calm and very clean indeed. Its second claim to fame is the Living Root Bridge close by. These bridges were made by the tribals by training tree roots to grow in a certain direction and then weaving them into a mesh along with mud to form a bridge to cross over streams. From Mawlynnong you can continue towards Dawki near the India-Bangladesh border, where the river Umngot has the clearest water you could ever imagine.

Getting there: Shillong’s airport is only served by a single Air India flight, so most people take a flight or train into Guwahati and then drive three hours to Shillong.

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya – the cleanest village in Asia!


West Bengal (Kolkata)

Nafisa Habib – My Own Way To Travel

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So far I’ve visited many states in India. Every state has different traditional and cultural values, languages and food habits. I have extra love for West Bengal because of the Bengali traditions, customs, and food. My favourite is Kolkata. It is an ultimate rejoice to travel Kolkata. A Kolkata city tour is always fun to me. There is so much to do and see in this oldest historical capital of West Bengal.

The best part is here in Kolkata you can enjoy budget travel; you don’t have to spend much to live or do many fun activities in the city. You’ll find plenty of budget accommodations, restaurants, markets to stay, eat and shop a lot. There are many easy public transport services to move around the city, even walking tour is fun here. Most of all I love to travel like a local in Kolkata. Old Kolkata is the touristic area where you’ll find many tourists all around the year comes to explore many historical sightseeing attractions. You’ll also get standard medical treatments in Kolkata. There are many leading hospitals in Kolkata city.

Some must-visit tourist attractions in Kolkata are Victoria Memorial Hall, Indian Coffee House, Indian Museum, Howrah Bridge, Mother House. Moreover, don’t miss to try Bengali sweet dishes and curd, and also fish curry with plain rice. You might too love to attend many Bengali festivals during your trip to Kolkata. 

North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata


If you’re as much of an India fan as I am and enjoyed reading about northern and eastern India, don’t miss my other post on India’s central and southern states. Coming soon!


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North and east India offers a variety of sights sounds and tastes for visitors. Check out the best of the region from those who know it well! | North India | East India | Himachal Pradesh | Uttarakhand | Rajasthan | Punjab | Delhi NCR | Uttar Pradesh | Bihar | Jharkhand | Sikkim | Meghalaya | Kolkata | Calcutta | #northindia #eastindia #indianstates #visitindia

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!

Shatrunjaya: The Jain pilgrimage site of Palitana, Gujarat

Shatrunjaya: The Jain pilgrimage site of Palitana, Gujarat

We arrived at Shatrunjaya early in the morning, and it was just as well.

Situated in the town of Palitana, just over an hour’s drive from Bhavnagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Shatrunjaya holds tremendous significance to followers of the Jain religion. A massive temple complex built on top of a hill that dominates the surrounding landscape, 23 of the 24 tirthankars who founded the Jain religion visited here, making it a very holy site. Today it is a place of pilgrimage, as devotees climb the 500m-high hill via a series of 3300 steps to pray at the massive temple complex at its summit.

We were promised that the climb up Shatrunjaya would be easy and the steps shallow, and to be fair, the path to the top is well-maintained with sturdy, regular steps of stone, partially coated with the lime that keeps the insects at bay and reduces the risk of accidentally stepping on one. Followers of Jainism believe strongly in living as peaceably as possible, which includes going to some lengths to preserve living beings. Strict vegetarians, Jains forego not only meat but also all root vegetables such as onion, potato and garlic, since the process of harvesting the vegetable disturbs the soil and risks killing the worms and microorganisms that call it home. For the same reason, Jains will often cover their mouths and noses, especially in a temple, to ensure that no insects, spores or bacteria are accidentally inhaled.

The hills of Shatrunjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, are home to the holiest pilgrimage site in the Jain religion. Discover the reality of climbing the 3300 steps to the hilltop temple, and why the temple complex is absolutely worth the effort! | Shatrunjaya Gujarat | Palitana pilgrimage | Jain religion | Jain pilgrimage Shatrunjaya | Gujarat India |

Street vendors sell walking sticks alongside their regular wears in the town of Palitana below the mountain

Arriving at the base of the mountain at 07:20 am, we started our climb. In truth, the adventure started the second we pulled up, as swarms of local men crowded around our van, vying for work as porters. The job of a porter is not an easy one as they are not carrying bags, they are carrying people. Palanquins come in either the two-man or four-man variety. With the two-man version, the passenger – normally an Indian lady of a certain age – sits cross-legged and often sideways on a woven straw platform dangling from a pole carried by two (presumably very fit) porters. The four-man palanquin, which I had imagined as some sort of exotic covered box, turned out to be an ordinary garden deckchair tethered to two poles, with one man at the front and back of each.

It was fascinating watching the porters at work, as they negotiated the 3300 steps with their heavy load, a clear routine in place each time they negotiated a turn in the path or stopped for a break. Almost as fascinating was watching the person being carried. At one point a two-man contraption overtook us, with the lady passenger chattering away on her cell phone. Modern India.

The hills of Shatrunjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, are home to the holiest pilgrimage site in the Jain religion. Discover the reality of climbing the 3300 steps to the hilltop temple, and why the temple complex is absolutely worth the effort! | Shatrunjaya Gujarat | Palitana pilgrimage | Jain religion | Jain pilgrimage Shatrunjaya | Gujarat India |

Porters carry the less able-bodied to the top

The path to the top wasn’t especially steep, but 3300 steps is a long way in anybody’s language. It didn’t take me long to work out that the steady pace I had set myself wasn’t sustainable, especially since the temperature was 29ºC even at the start of the climb. The further we climbed, the hotter it got, and the more my legs ached. If you are planning to make the climb yourself, be prepared. It took me 2 hours to reach the top – if you are really fit you might make it in 1-1.5 hours – and I was regularly shamed by the much older, whippet-thin nuns and monks steaming past me. About halfway up I was seriously considering converting to Jainism just because I had put so much effort into the pilgrimage, but to really show your faith you are apparently supposed to make the climb 7 times in a single day, between dawn and dusk. That wasn’t going to happen, and my plans were quickly abandoned!

Every now and again we passed porters desperate for business, so bottling out and getting a lift is possible, but I was determined to make it by myself. And I did. Two hours after I set off, I emerged, sweaty and hyperventilating, at the top of the mountain – and the temple complex took my breath away. Jainism is a comparatively affluent religion, and the temples are accordingly ornate; at Shatrunjaya the majority are in marble. The main temple is dedicated to a single tirthankar or spiritual leader, but the other 23 are celebrated in smaller peripheral temples, and wherever you turn there are icons and places to pray – in fact, I have never seen so many in one place.

The main temple itself is staggeringly beautiful, consisting of a tall stupa carved so ornately it was like looking into a series of images where each one contains a smaller reflection of the one before. Each ornate carving is made up of many more ornate carvings, and the effect is hypnotic. Outside the main temple is a smaller replica made entirely of silver, and everywhere people were praying, reading one of the many small Jain religious texts and shaping piles of rice and other offerings into delicate patterns of the swastika which is used in Jainism to represent the 7th tirthankara, Suparshvanatha.

The hills of Shatrunjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, are home to the holiest pilgrimage site in the Jain religion. Discover the reality of climbing the 3300 steps to the hilltop temple, and why the temple complex is absolutely worth the effort! | Shatrunjaya Gujarat | Palitana pilgrimage | Jain religion | Jain pilgrimage Shatrunjaya | Gujarat India |

An aerial shot shows just a small part of the temple complex.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons – Bhavyesh Acharya)

Traditional offerings in Jainism include such items as uncooked rice and cloves, natural treats which have reached the end of their cycle of regeneration and will never grow into something else. In this way, the person prays that they will cast off worldly indulgences and end the cycle of rebirth themselves to transcend to what lies beyond. Wherever I looked there were devotees sitting cross-legged on the ground with their tiny texts and patterns of offerings on a raised platform. Once the selected text has been read (there are many different ones in Jainism, rather than a single larger text), the offerings are collected back up and distributed among the many temple icons. And how many there were. The Shatrunjaya complex is a labyrinth of temples and stupas, and it is easy to slip down a side passage and find yourself alone in a quiet courtyard, away from the hustle and bustle, or in a tiny temple with only a monk in attendance. I could have got lost there for hours. And every surface is decorated, carved, or adorned with marble icons. It’s a magical place.

The hills of Shatrunjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, are home to the holiest pilgrimage site in the Jain religion. Discover the reality of climbing the 3300 steps to the hilltop temple, and why the temple complex is absolutely worth the effort! | Shatrunjaya Gujarat | Palitana pilgrimage | Jain religion | Jain pilgrimage Shatrunjaya | Gujarat India |

Entrance to the temple complex.
(Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons – Bernard Gagnon)

All too soon it was time to make the descent down the mountain. By this time it was 10:30 am, and the day was hotting up. Climbing down 3300 steps is, of course, a lot easier than climbing up them, but still no laughing matter. Setting off, I started a gradual but steady descent, heeding the advice we were given to keep moving and not stop for too long to avoid shaky legs. But I couldn’t help stopping when a lone Jain monk, clad all in white cloth (draped around the body rather than stitched into clothing – unstitched cloth is considered more pure and therefore better), shaven-headed and carrying a sturdy walking staff, wanted to stop to chat. He spoke good English, and asked if we’d enjoyed the temple. On hearing our enthusiasm, he proceeded to explain that we would really see the benefit of our pilgrimage if we would give up all meat and alcohol from this day forward. Since we were both vegetarians, we were happy to agree to the meat, but alcohol was more of a challenge. Sensing our reluctance, our monk friend urged us to promise. Not prepared to lie outright to a monk, he unfortunately left disappointed, but the fact that this holy man took time to stop and encourage us was a special moment.

The hills of Shatrunjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, are home to the holiest pilgrimage site in the Jain religion. Discover the reality of climbing the 3300 steps to the hilltop temple, and why the temple complex is absolutely worth the effort! | Shatrunjaya Gujarat | Palitana pilgrimage | Jain religion | Jain pilgrimage Shatrunjaya | Gujarat India |

An example of many of the ornate temples at the top of the mountain.
(Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons – Bernard Gagnon)

As we descended, the temperature continued to rise, eventually reaching 39ºC with blazing sunshine. There is very little shade on the path, and a hat and plenty of drinking water are essential, but even so, I was starting to struggle. I’m not the best at coping with heat and tend to know my limits, but there was nowhere to escape. There is really not much you can do – I could have taken a palanquin as there were still plenty of offers, but that wasn’t going to get me down much faster OR get me out of the sun.

The path passes through gates at regular intervals, and at one of these a local lady called me over. She was manning a water stand, and offered me a metal beaker of water to cool me down. Seeing me carefully splashing it on my face, she took over and proceeded to throw fistfuls of water straight at my face, leaving me spluttering but feeling distinctly better. I gave her 10 rupees for the privilege, but at that point I would have happily given her every note in my wallet if she’d asked for it. That water was just what I needed at that time to continue on.

In total it took me about 1h15 to reach the bottom of the hill, legs wobbling from the climb down and lightheaded from the sun. Collapsing in a cafe in the street below the temple, downing lime soda with salt to help with rehydration, it would be easy to feel that it wasn’t worth the effort. But the sense of pride in making it up and down the mountain unaided more than made up for the hardship. And the wonders of the temple at the top of the mountains are something which will stick with me for many years to come.

The hills of Shatrunjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, are home to the holiest pilgrimage site in the Jain religion. Discover the reality of climbing the 3300 steps to the hilltop temple, and why the temple complex is absolutely worth the effort! | Shatrunjaya Gujarat | Palitana pilgrimage | Jain religion | Jain pilgrimage Shatrunjaya | Gujarat India |

Nuns negotiate the steps down the mountain


Photography is not permitted inside the temple complex. For this reason, I have used stock images for any pictures of the temple itself. All photos not otherwise credited are my own.


Why not check out my other posts about amazing India?

Dharavi slum: The entrepreneurial heart of Mumbai
Visit Kolkata: Top sites you shouldn’t miss in India’s former capital
6 Incredible Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu
Amritsar: the jewel of the Punjab
What’s it like to visit the Taj Mahal? Your top 8 questions answered!
Monkey business: or why monkeys aren’t as cute as they seem…
A blessing from Mother Ganges
5 Reasons you will love India!


Enjoyed reading about Shatrunjaya? Pin it!

The hills of Shatrunjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, are home to the holiest pilgrimage site in the Jain religion. Discover the reality of climbing the 3300 steps to the hilltop temple, and why the temple complex is absolutely worth the effort! | Shatrunjaya Gujarat | Palitana pilgrimage | Jain religion | Jain pilgrimage Shatrunjaya | Gujarat India | #jainism #jainpilgrimage #incredibleindia #gujaratindia #visitgujarat #shatrunjaya #palitana

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!

Life in Dharavi slum: the entrepreneurial heart of Mumbai

Life in Dharavi slum: the entrepreneurial heart of Mumbai

Slumdog Millionaire. That is what most people know of life in Dharavi slum, Mumbai. Images of young boys running barefoot through narrow alleyways, of poverty and hardship. Or maybe rough shanties leaning up against the railway lines, corrugated lean-tos housing entire families. However you’ve heard of it, the images of Dharavi that come to mind are bound to be negative.

I’ve visited slums before, notably Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, so was keen to experience what Dharavi slum tours are like and how life in Dharavi differed from slum life in Africa. Kibera is all about community, people helping each other and striving for a better life through community projects. Dharavi, I wasn’t surprised to hear, has an entirely different approach to dealing with life’s difficulties, and it all boils down to entrepreneurship.

Life in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindia

Local workers carry out the day-to-day work of recycling the city’s plastic and cardboard

One of the primary industries in Dharavi is recycling. Early each morning, residents (usually women) leave their homes and tour the city streets, picking up discarded plastic. This plastic is sold to brokers by the kilo, before being shipped back to Dharavi for processing.

Plastics are sorted very specifically, and each individual workshop will only handle a small range of colours. Dark blue plastic; white plastic strapping used to secure boxes and piles of newspapers; the black bases of coathangers – all are processed separately. The plastic is melted down, impurities removed, and the melted plastic pushed through an extruder to form tiny pellets. These pellets will then be sold for use in the manufacture of buckets, household goods… basically anything that doesn’t require food grade plastic.

But it’s not just plastic that is recycled. We passed piles of cardboard boxes, dismantled and stored flat ready to be reassembled for reuse by local cottage industries. Clothing is also made in the Mumbai slums; the leather market in Dharavi is well established, and we took a look around a sweatshop making jeans, where large swathes of denim are spread out, many layers thick, to be cut to size en masse. The men do the cutting, while female machinists sit in the back of the workshop, crammed into a small enclosed space, turning out piles of cheap jeans for sale on the streets outside. The owners were adamant – no photos. We weren’t surprised.

Dharavi’s many narrow alleyways of concrete buildings have industrial space on the ground floor, with living above. It’s not just the residents who work here; some units have been sold or let to affluent business people, who create fancy offices in the heart of the slum to stay close to their staff. There is no beneficence in this arrangement, no avuncular desire to be on hand to look after their team. The benefit is all for the businessman – space is cheap and they can keep a close eye on their workforce. Many bosses also rent storage units in Dharavi; rules are more relaxed than in the large professional warehouses, so they can keep a stock of goods ready to send out at a moment’s notice. And, of course, the rent is cheap.

Life in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindia

One of Dharavi’s many pottery communities

Aside from recycling and textiles, Dharavi pottery is big business, and a visit to the potters’ district took me into another world altogether. Clay pots of various sizes are produced here and sold all over India. Moulds and mechanised processes have partly replaced the old methods in recent years, but potters still throw out dozens of tiny pots on one wooden pallet, as well as huge jugs which are used to store water, the earthenware keeping the contents cool in the summer heat. Pots are turned on a wheel, then left out to dry in the sun before firing. Even the firing is done within the community; traditional pits are dug into the ground, ready for the pottery to be placed inside, or large enclosures above ground fill the same purpose, two or three metres long with solid brick walls. Either way, the pots are placed in the kiln and covered by a wooden plank, before a thick layer of cotton is placed on top to retain the heat. Finally, a fire is lit below. It’s hard to understate the heat and smoke that the kilns generate in a district where many families live in close quarters. The smoke chokes the lungs, and I had to cover my mouth and nose even for the short time I was there. It can’t be a healthy environment in which to live.

Life in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindia

Newly thrown pots dry in the open air

But people do live there. According to our guide, 42% of the residents of Mumbai live in slums (defined as any home without an indoor toilet). Dharavi’s labyrinth of alleyways, workshops and pottery-makers rings to the sound of children’s laughter, while the women remain largely out of sight, running the home in the rooms upstairs. Work here, work outside the home, is primarily a male occupation.

Life in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindia

A pottery kiln chokes the atmosphere with smoke. The heat the kiln gives off is intense, yet people still live in the surrounding buildings

We passed a little girl, probably no more than 3 or 4 years old, standing on her doorstep clutching a bundle of straw which she was using to sweep the entrance to her house. Playing at being a grownup, like children the world over. Her life is likely to be hard, but the people of Dharavi slum have been offered government accommodation of a higher standard and yet still choose to stay in their communities, close to their work. The industry in this district is eye-opening, and the chance to see slum life up close was a privilege. They may have been dealt a rough deal in life, but the Dharavi population hasn’t taken it lying down. A more enterprising, hard-working community is difficult to imagine.


Why not check out my other posts about amazing India?

Visit Kolkata: Top sites you shouldn’t miss in India’s former capital
6 Incredible Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu
Amritsar: the jewel of the Punjab
What’s it like to visit the Taj Mahal? Your top 8 questions answered!
Monkey business: or why monkeys aren’t as cute as they seem…
A blessing from Mother Ganges
5 Reasons you will love India!



Inspired to witness life in Dharavi first-hand? Considering your own Dharavi tour? Pin this post for later!

Life in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindiaLife in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindiaLife in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindia

Life in Dharavi is hard, but this Mumbai slum is home to some of the most enterprising communities I have ever encountered. | Images of Dharavi | Life in Dharavi | Dharavi pottery | Dharavi tour | Dharavi population | Mumbai slums | Leather market in Dharavi | Dharavi slum facts | The real Slumdog Millionnaire | #dharavitour #dharavislum #slumsofmumbai #dharavimumbai #mumbaiindia #incredibleindia

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!